New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has presented a pioneering national budget where spending is dictated by the “well-being” of citizens, rather than productivity and economic growth. But as long as other major economies continue to prioritise growth, New Zealand may become a lone wolf trapped in an increasingly hungry bear pit, writes Jack Peat.
From The Conversation: The pharmaceutical industry rarely conjure up images of pollution and environmental damage. Yet, this recent study found that the global pharmaceutical industry is not only contributes significantly to global warming, but is also dirtier than the global automotive production sector. Also watch a video on extreme pharmaceutical waste pollution in Patancheru, Telangana.
From Al Jazeera: Scandinavian countries have some of the highest levels of happiness on the planet, and top virtually every ranking of human development. They re worth celebrating for all they get right. But there’s a problem. They’re an ecological disaster, with some of the highest levels of resource-use and CO2 emissions in the world.
Big Agri, Big Pharma, Big Tech, Big Food, Big Banking, Big Oil and Big Government aren’t there to make our lives better. They’re there to control us and make as much money as possible; and they’ll run you over if you’re in their way. Daisy Luther on how to fight back and starve the Beast.
Thanks to the capitalist propaganda machine, we’ve forgotten the difference between ‘conscious’ and ‘compulsive’ consumption. Frugality, which once used to be the essence of responsible living has been labelled as ‘shame’. Though rarely discussed, this was the beginning–and now the core–of the climate crisis. And it has begun to control all aspects of our lives.
From The Intercept: Industrialized militaries are a bigger part of the climate emergency than we know. If the US-military were a country, its fuel usage alone would make it the world’s 47th largest greenhouse gas emitter, says a new study. Another study found that America has spent an astonishing $5.9 trillion on wars since 2001.
Ayushi Uppal writes: While the concept of Anthropocene remains contested, there is consensus on the human-led changes to the climate and the need for intervention. Humanity must create a pathway from a possible ‘Hothouse earth’ to a ‘Stabilized Earth’ state, where human activities create biogeophysical feedbacks that sustain the Earth System within the planetary threshold.
Over more than 40 years, Vaclav Smil has grown in influence, and is now seen as one of the world’s foremost thinkers and a master of statistical analysis. Bill Gates says he waits for new Smil books the way others wait for the next Star Wars movie. Smil’s latest is Growth: From Microorganisms to Megacities.
From Trophic Tales: The focus on the welfare of individual domesticated animals might be an extension of the modernist tendency to simplify and discriminate. The morality of living, eating, and dying is more complex than two-word slogans can prescribe. If we care about animals —wild or domesticated— we’ve to think in terms of entire ecosystems.
From NewsClick: The Anthropocene Working Group (AWG), a panel that consists of 34 scientists and academics, has voted in favour of making the Anthropocene a formally defined geological unit within the official geological time scale. The term ‘Anthropocene’ denotes the current geological period, where many conditions and processes on Earth are altered by impacts of human activities.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.’”
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.”
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.