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ecological footprint

Why growth can’t be green

Jason Hickel, Foreign Policy: Many policymakers have responded to ecological breakdown by pushing for what has come to be called “green growth.” It sounds like an elegant solution to an otherwise catastrophic problem. There is just one hitch: New evidence suggests that green growth isn’t the panacea everyone hopes for. In fact, it’s not even possible.

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.

Junk Planet: Is Earth the largest garbage dump in the Universe?

Robert J. Burrowes writes: Just listing the types of rubbish generated by humans is a staggering task. Nevertheless, I will give you a reasonably comprehensive summary of the types of garbage being generated, the locations into which it’s being dumped and some indication of what’s being done about it and what you can do too.

George Monbiot: Why ‘conscious consumption’ won’t save the world

Recent studies show that those who identify themselves as conscious consumers use more energy and carbon than those who do not. Why? Because, environmental awareness is higher among wealthy people. It’s not attitudes that govern our impacts on the planet, but income. The richer we are, the bigger our footprint, regardless of our good intentions.

The high cost of an easy-care, low-maintenance world

Kurt Cobb writes: We’ve created a world of low-maintenance objects which are low-maintenance merely because they are disposable… Philosophers bemoan our love of material things. But I believe that we modern, industrialized people don’t actually love material things. We wouldn’t treat material things the way we do if we truly loved and cared for them.

Humans are creating a new geological layer of techno-fossils

From Slate.com: Industrial civilisation’s impact is so massive that it goes way beyond climate change. Earth scientists now suggest that it is creating a distinct geological layer made of ‘technofossils’. The scale of our stuff is so gargantuan, that it is throwing off the quite robust balance of our natural systems—that’s how powerful it is.

Jason Hickel on BBC: Our addiction to economic growth is killing us

From BBC: A recent episode of Newsnight, BBC’s programme on ideas, had a surprising guest: Anthropologist Jason Hickel, who went on to make a case against the lethal addiction to economic growth and in its place proposed “planned de-growth”. Hickel is the author of The Divide: A Brief Guide to Global Inequality and its Solutions.

Dam busters! The nascent green movement liberating rivers and freeing fish

From Hakai Magazine: For almost 15 years, Harold and Gephard have removed five dams from Connecticut waterways. They spend most of their time meeting owners whose ties to their dams can go back centuries. “It’s about trying to get dam owners to do something that they can’t quite decide. You have to basically say, ‘trust me.’”

Study: A minor change in your diet can reduce water use for agriculture

A new modeling study published in The Lancet suggests that India’s agricultural need for water can be met if Indians introduce minor diet changes. Research team leader Alan Dangour tells Down to Earth that “dietary change is a potential way to improve resilience of the Indian food system in the face of future groundwater decline.”

Forget ‘developing’ poor countries, it’s time to ‘de-develop’ rich countries

Jason Hickel writes: Growth isn’t an option any more–we’ve already grown too much. Scientists are now telling us that we’re blowing past planetary boundaries at breakneck speed. The hard truth is that this global crisis is due almost entirely to overconsumption in rich countries. Rich countries must “catch down” to more appropriate levels of development.

Earth’s ‘technosphere’ now weighs 30 trillion tons, research finds

CBC News reports: A new report has calculated the total mass of all manmade things-from buildings to cars and computers- to be an astounding 30 trillion tons, seven times more than the total amount of living matter on Earth. It shows the sheer magnitude of the human impact on our planet, which is still growing.

Bookshelf: Facing the Anthropocene: Fossil Capitalism and the Crisis of the Earth System

John Bellamy Foster writes in the foreword: It’s capitalism and the alienated global environment it has produced that constitutes our “burning house” today. Mainstream environmentalists have generally chosen to do little more than contemplate it, while flames lick the roof and the entire structure threatens to collapse around them. The point, rather, is to change it.

The trajectory of the Anthropocene: The Great Acceleration

The Great Acceleration marks the phenomenal growth of the global socio-economic system, the human part of the Earth System. It is difficult to overestimate the scale and speed of change. In little over two generations –or a single lifetime –humanity (or until very recently a small fraction of it) has become a planetary-scale geological force.

Bookshelf: Tending Our Land – A New Story

In ‘Tending Our Land’, authors M.G. Jackson and Nyla Coelho present a vivid, historical account of the great human enterprise of food production, an entirely new story– one that reinstates an ancient but eminently relevant imperative for our times. It makes essential reading for policy makers, academia and the budding bold generation of land tenders.

Bookshelf: Tending Our Land – A New Story

In ‘Tending Our Land’, authors M.G. Jackson and Nyla Coelho present a vivid, historical account of the great human enterprise of food production, an entirely new story– one that reinstates an ancient but eminently relevant imperative for our times. It makes essential reading for policy makers, academia and the budding bold generation of land tenders.

The hydropower paradox: is this energy as clean as it seems?

Hydropower is a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions: a new study shows that the world’s hydroelectric dams are responsible for as much methane emissions as Canada. The study finds that methane, which is at least 34 times more potent than carbon dioxide, makes up 80% of the emissions from water reservoirs created by dams.

The Anthropocene myth: Blaming all of humanity for climate change lets capitalism off the hook

Andreas Malm writes: Mainstream climate discourse is positively drenched in references to humanity as such, human nature, the human enterprise, humankind as one big villain driving the train. Enter Naomi Klein, who in ‘This Changes Everything’ lays bare the myriad ways in which capital accumulation pour fuel on the fire now consuming the earth system.

The Anthropocene is here: Scientists declare dawn of human-influenced era

The Guardian reports: Planet Earth has entered a new geological epoch dubbed the Anthropocene because of the extent of humanity’s impact on the planet, according to a group of scientists. An international working group set up to consider the question voted by 30 to three, with two abstentions, that the Anthropocene was real in a geological sense.

What we’re doing to the environment may be costing us our drinking water

Chelsea Harvey reports: The human footprint on the environment may have affected drinking water in a major way throughout the last century, new research shows. The researchers estimated that declines in water quality —because of human activity— caused water treatment costs to rise by 50 percent in nearly a third of all large cities worldwide.

Clean energy won’t save us – only a new economic system can do that

Jason Hickel writes: When it comes to climate change, the problem is not just the type of energy we are using, it is what we’re doing with it. What would we do with 100% clean energy? Exactly what we are currently doing with fossil fuels: raze more forests, build more meat farms, expand industrial agriculture.

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