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converging crises

Engineered for Dystopia

David A. Banks writes in The Baffler: Engineering has not strayed far from its military origins… Engineers are trained to “plug into chain-of-command decision making structures… In times like these it is important to remember that border walls, nuclear missiles, and surveillance systems do not work, and won’t even exist, without the cooperation of engineers.

Raj Patel: Capitalism made simple, or world history in 7 cheap things

Nature, money, work, care, food, energy, and lives: the seven things that have made our world and will shape its future. Award-winning writer and activist Raj Patel makes the case that in making these things cheap, modern commerce has governed, transformed and devastated the earth. Also included, an interview with Patel and co-author Jason Moore.

Memo to The New York Times: How not to talk about climate change

From Jacobin Magazine: The New York Times’ blockbuster story on climate change concludes that democracy and human nature are to blame for the climate crisis. They’re wrong. You cannot tell the story of climate change without telling the story of twentieth-century capitalism. This isn’t just a missed opportunity or a partial story—it’s the wrong story.

How the wealthy are plotting to leave us behind: An inside account

Douglas Rushkoff writes: (The billionaires I recently met) were preparing for a digital future that transcends the human condition altogether while insulating themselves from a very real and present danger of climate change, rising sea levels, mass migrations, global pandemics and resource depletion. For them, the future of technology is really about just one thing: escape.

Science in the Anthropocene: The emerging field of Planetary Health

It’s no longer possible to separate the health of the planet from the health of its people. Disease patterns are changing as the climate does, and human health is at risk from loss of biodiversity, depleted water supplies, environmental toxins, and collapsing food systems. From this realisation has come a new research field: planetary health.

How Andhra Pradesh built India’s first police state using Aadhaar and a Census

Gopal Sathe writes: The AP government now has access the intimate personal details of 43 million of the state’s 50 million residents: GPS coordinates of their homes, medicines they use, the food rations they eat, real-time feeds of thousands of security cameras, their castes and sub-castes, their religion, and of course — their Aadhaar numbers.

The world is hot, on fire, and flooding. Climate change is here.

From Grist Magazine: It’s the hottest month of one of the hottest years in the history of civilization, and the world is being battered by extreme weather events – unprecedented heatwaves in japan, wildfires in Greece and the Arctic Circle, and flooding in Philippines and Laos, where a dam was washed away, forcing thousands to flee.

Charles Eisenstein: Why I am afraid of global cooling

Climate science has consistently underestimated the effect of biology on climate. A geomechanical bias holds sway, seeing life as hostage to fluctuations in atmospheric components. In contrast, a living planet view holds that fundamentally it’s life itself that maintains the conditions for life, and the depletion of life is the biggest threat to the climate.

Shiv Visvanathan: An emerging wave of environmental politics

From Asian Age: Just as one wonders if one has reached a dead end, a new wave of environmental politics is emerging. The struggle against the Sterlite plant in Thoothukudi stands is a major symbol of these movements. The politics of environment and the battles for livelihood become a microcosm for the democratic struggles today.

There is nowhere left to run

Ratheesh Pisharody writes: There’s really nowhere to run whether we are mammals, trees, insects or even indigenous tribes. What chances do we see for the planet’s revival? When humans take away both “space” and “time” from our co-passengers on this planet, we’re leaving no “leverage” for the others to “somehow” adjust and make it through.

Special Feature: Three views from the global economy’s energy cliff

Here are three leading observers on the world’s increasingly shaky energy situation. Minqui Li presents a through-going analysis of the global energy scenario from 2018-2050 based on the latest data, Kurt Cobb suggests that ‘peak oil’ maybe a process, rather than a event, while Chris Martenson issues a stark warning on the coming oil crash.

Cross-border environmentalism and the future of South Asia

Kanak Mani Dixit, founding editor of ‘Himal Southasian’, writes: When ‘organic environmentalism’ rises from the grassroots and makes state authority accountable, South Asia and its peoples will be protected. At that point, no force will be able to stop activism across the frontiers and South Asia will begin to tackle pollution and dislocation as one.

Half-Earth: A biologist’s manifesto for preserving life on Earth

Here is the ambitious (and controversial) proposal by E.O. Wilson —arguably the world’s most lauded living evolutionary biologist— to save life on Earth by setting aside around half the planet in various types of nature reserves. Also included is a research paper exploring the viability of Wilson’s proposal, along with a sharp critique of it.

The Age of Peaking Resources: A Personal Take

During my first encounter with resource depletion issues I thought re-localisation would be a strategy to defy the odds. One relocates to a resource abundant small geography and maintains it through a community driven process. But then, I never pursued it. However, the recent news of India’s looming water crisis has got me thinking again.

‘Tail Risk’: What the scientists are not telling you about climate change

Kerry Emanuel writes: There are strong cultural biases against discussion of ‘tail risk’ in climate science; particularly the accusation of “alarmism”. Does the dictum to tell “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” not apply to climate scientists? If we omit discussion of tail risk, are we really telling the whole truth?

Franklin Foer on the existential threat of big tech

“These machines shape the way we view reality. We’re not just merging with machines, but with the companies that run these machines—who run these machines for profit. And here’s the existential threat… these technologies will change what it means to be human. Once we take this leap, it will be very hard to reverse course.”

Gail Tverberg: Our energy problem is about quantity, not just quality

Reading about energy today, it’s easy to get the impression that our energy problem is a quality problem—some energy is polluting; other energy is hoped to be less polluting. There’s a different issue that we are not being told about. It’s the fact that having enough energy – quantity – is extremely important, as well.

Book review: The Water Will Come

‘As the waters rise,’ Jeff Goodell writes, ‘millions of people will be displaced, many of them in poor countries, creating generations of climate refugees that will make today’s Syrian war refugee crisis look like a high school drama production.’ There’s no longer any doubt that the rise in global sea levels will reshape human civilisation.

Hope from chaos: could political upheaval lead to a new green epoch?

Kevin Anderson writes in The Conversation: Most political and economic pontificators, buttressed by naysayers and established elites, remain incapable of seeing beyond their familiar 20th century horizon. But the 21st century is already proving how the future is a different country –one that could yet be shaped by alternative interpretations of prosperity, sustainability and equity.

Inside Antarctica: the continent whose fate will affect millions

From Financial Times: Antarctica is changing fast, including sections of the massive ice sheet that covers it. This holds so much water that if it ever melted completely, global sea levels would rise by nearly 60m. The race to understand Antarctica has become more urgent. Also watch, the documentary ‘The Antarctica Challenge: A Global Warning.’

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