From Vice.com: Just like an animal species, our languages evolved in the context of the environments that surrounded them. When we change those environments, we threaten much more than just the physical living things that thrive there. In the parts of the world where biodiversity is most at risk, words and phrases also face extinction.
From The Atlantic: In the 18th century, European colonizers virtually eliminated the American bison. When we lose animals, we also lose everything those animals do. When insects decline, plants go unpollinated. When birds disappear, pests go uncontrolled and seeds stay put. When bison are exterminated, springtime changes in ways that we still don’t fully understand.
From The Guardian: A recent scientific study has found that 42% of fields in Britain surveyed by farmers were seriously deficient in earthworms; in some fields they were missing altogether. Particularly hard-hit were deep-burrowing worms, which are valuable in helping soil collect and store rainwater, but were absent from 16% of fields in the study. Jules
From The New York Times: Scientist Monica Gagliano’s botanical research, which has broken boundaries in the field of plant behavior, indicate that plants are, to some extent, intelligent. Her experiments suggest that they can learn behaviors and remember them. Her work also suggests that plants can “hear” running water and even produce clicking noises, perhaps to communicate.
From The Atlantic: When Leuzinger saw the stump on a walk with fellow botanist Martin Bader, his head turned. He saw that even though it had no leaves, stems, or greenery of any kind, it did still contain living tissue—and when he knocked, it sounded different from deadwood. All appearances to the contrary, it’s still alive. But how?
The most disquieting thing wasn’t the disappearance of certain insect species; it was the deeper worry that a whole insect world might be quietly going missing, a loss of abundance that could alter the planet in unknowable ways. “We notice the losses,” says David Wagner. “It’s the diminishment that we don’t see.” (New York Times)
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.
Nanduwali in east Rajasthan started flowing again when the villagers decided to work with nature and not against it. There was a time when they believed that crops grow only with rainfall -lacking knowledge about the underground movement of water and how it can be enhanced. Today, the revived river is a lifeline to them.
José Mujica was the President of Uruguay between 2010 and 2015 and was a former urban guerrilla fighter who was imprisoned for 13 years during the military dictatorship in the 1970s and 1980s. Often referred to as the “world’s most humble president”, he retired from office in 2015 with an approval rating of 70 percent.
Tribals make up 26% of Jharkhand’s population. Recently, many Adivasi villages in Jharkhand have put up giant plaques declaring their gram sabha as the only sovereign authority and banning ‘outsiders’ from their area. The Hindu reports on a political movement that is gathering steam across the State’s tribal belt, originally inspired by the PESA Act.
From The Conversation: Are Indigenous and Western systems of knowledge categorically antithetical? Or do they offer multiple points of entry into knowledge of the world? As ways of knowing, both systems share important and fundamental attributes. There are also many cases where science and history are catching up with what Indigenous peoples have long known.
From The Guardian: This indigenous Purépecha town was dominated by illegal loggers, who clearcut local forests with the protection of a drug cartel, and the collusion of corrupt police and politicians. Eventually, the townspeople decided they had enough. In April 2011, local residents ran off the loggers, kicked out the mayor and banished political parties. David
Brazil, Colombia and Mexico top the list of countries where the most people die defending a patch of earth, a mountain, or a river. The region where most environmental activists die annually is taking action with a new landmark agreement. The “Escazu Accord” is only the second regional agreement on environmentalists’ rights in the world.
A tribute to Romulus Whitaker, recently awarded the Padma Shri, among India’s highest civilian honours. Here, the acclaimed herpetologist talks about his decades of work with reptiles which led to setting up of six pioneering institutions including the famous Madras Crocodile Bank, apart from giving snakes and reptiles a positive place in the Indian public’s mind.
Some of the most celebrated scientific ideas and books of the 20th century may not be useful for us in this century, while lesser-known works of the past acquire new relevance. Here, then, is a selection of such works, along with an invitation for readers to critique and contribute their own suggestions to this list.
From Down to Earth: Kathalekan, in Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka, is a relic forest with Myristica swamp ecosystem. It has remained unchanged for over 100 million years. It’s spread across an area of 25 square kilometres. Today this ancient forest is under severe threat from human interventions in the region, including a proposed highway.
From The Third Pole: In 2004, the world’s second largest mangrove forest, Pichavaram in Tamil Nadu, helped moderate the tsunami wave and protected 18 villages. ‘Let mangroves recover’, a film on Pichavaram by Adarsh Prathap, a 23-year-old from Kerala, has won one of two prizes in the 2017 global youth video competition on climate change.
From Live Mint: In October 2012, Bano Haralu led a small group of conservationists to Nagaland’s Doyang reservoir to check on large-scale falcon hunting. What they witnessed that balmy October day shook them to the core. Nagaland was and still is infamous for hunting, but this was something even the conservationists had not bargained for.
Madhu Ramnath writes: Time and again we have heard that the Naxal insurgency is due to “under development” in areas like Bastar. Education is also supposed to deter Naxalism, according to some, but one may ask whose education? Fundamentally it’s about respect, dignity and trust in our behaviour towards others, in this case the Adivasi.
From Greenpeace International: We’ve come a long way since 1971, when on this day, a small group of courageous people set off to stop nuclear testing in a small fishing boat. Today, we operate in more than 40 countries and are part of a global movement of millions, striving for a greener, more peaceful planet.