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ideas & ideology

This is not the Sixth Extinction. It’s the first Extermination Event.

Justin McBrien writes: The planetary atrocity of ecocide has no geological analogue. To call it the “sixth extinction event” is to make an active, organized eradication sound like some kind of passive accident. We’re in the midst of the First Extermination Event, wherein capital has pushed all life on Earth to the brink of extinction. What we are witnessing

How the land cured my daughter’s eczema

We’re mindful of what we provide for her. She has a relationship to the Land in a way that most Indigenous children do. She’s untangling the idea of growing food, of what it means to eat the food that we grow, and how to give thanks to the Land for growing the foods she eats.

Catastrophic climate change is not a problem for Fascists — It is a solution

Umair Haque writes: The tables have turned. The problem isn’t climate change anymore, and the solution isn’t global cooperation — given today’s implosive politics. The problem is you — if you are not one of the chosen, predatory few. And the solution to the problem of you is climate change. To the fascists, that is.

Vaclav Smil: ‘Growth must end. Our economist friends don’t realise that’

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.

Helena Norberg-Hodge: The promise and pitfalls of localism

The fact that the language of localism is being increasingly co-opted by authoritarians around the world is itself a sign of localism’s appeal. Left uprooted and adrift by the globalized economy, people are desperate for a sense of connection: to one another, to the living world, to a place and culture that’s familiar to them.

Why science needs the humanities to solve climate change

When thinking about climate solutions, people often picture technical fixes. In principle, scientists and engineers could deploy any these–but should they? To answer this, society needs the humanities and its intangible tools, argues Steven Allison & Tyrus Miller. Also included, a talk on ‘Climate Change and the Humanities’ by Subaltern Studies pioneer Dr Dipesh Chakrabarty.

Thus Spoke the Plant: A Remarkable Journey of Groundbreaking Scientific Discoveries

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.

Andrew Simms: Economics is doing great harm – so let’s rethink it

From The Guardian: Roasted by heatwaves, this year the world went into ecological overshoot on 29 July, the earliest yet. Unless we begin again with economics, understanding and letting go what has gone wrong, one day soon everything will have fallen apart and nobody will quite know why. But the answer will be: it was the economy, stupid.

Super-organism, or the mystery of the undead kauri tree

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 European Far Right’s environmental turn

Kate Aronoff writes: Until now, European far-right parties have tended to question climate science as another example of cosmopolitan groupthink, if they mentioned it at all. But some have begun to embrace the fact that climate is on European voters’ minds. France’s National Rally recently unveiled a climate policy platform just before the European election.

An apology from an environmentalist

Jack Thomas writes: I have worked for the last 15 years or so as a professional in various parts of the environmental movement. And I’m sorry. All of us who have feasted off the carcass of a dying planet bear some responsibility, but those of us who got paid to know what was happening and

Anthropocene now: influential panel votes to recognise Earth’s new epoch

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.

Paul Kingsnorth: Confessions of a recovering environmentalist

Paul Kingsnorth was once an ardent environmentalist. But as it began to focus on ‘sustainability’ rather than the defence of wild places for their own sake and as global conditions worsened, he grew disenchanted with the movement he once embraced. Here is Kingsnorth’s classic essay, full of grief and fury and passionate evocations of nature.

Jasper Bernes: Between the Devil and the Green New Deal

The Green New Deal seeks to generate growth and reduce emissions. The problem is that growth and emissions are profoundly correlated. The Green New Deal thus risks becoming a sort of Sisyphean reform, rolling the rock of emissions reductions up the hill each day only to have a growing, energy-hungry economy knock it back down.

Caretaking: A conversation

Wendell Berry and Helena Norberg-Hodge discuss human nature, experiential knowledge, technology, happiness, wildness, and local food systems — topics which they have always commented on, but which have taken on a new urgency. They offer a critique of our economic system and show how the caretaking of the natural world and local communities are one and the same.

Richard Greeman: France’s Yellow Vests struggle to reinvent democracy

Many working-class Yellow Vests can’t help seeing environmentalists as bourgeois on bicycles wanting to be nice but unwilling to struggle directly against the establishment. So their call for unity is also, in part, a challenge to the environmental movement: “Join us in the struggle for social equality and be ready to fight the whole system.”

Why the ‘polluter pays’ principle should be abandoned

Nupur Chowdhury writes: The ‘polluter pays principle’ is seen as an effective remedy to address environmental degradation. The PPP allows the polluter to evade punitive action by paying for environmental damage, the presumption being that the monies collected would then be used for restoring the environment. We’ve failed to understand that environmental damage is irreversible.

Paul Kingsnorth: Dark ecology

Ted Kaczynski, known to the FBI as the Unabomber, sent parcel bombs from his shack to those he deemed responsible for the promotion of the technological society he despises. Is it possible to read someone like Kaczynski and be convinced by the case he makes, even as you reject what he did with the knowledge?

Arturo Escobar: Farewell to Development

Over the years, ‘development’ has undergone multiple modifications, such as sustainable development, participatory development, development with gender equity, integrated rural development, and so forth. All these approaches stay within the conventional understanding of development: they don’t constitute a radical departure from the prevailing paradigm. What we need to do is get rid of ‘development’ itself

Getting to the heart of democracy’s decline

The crisis in democracy is much discussed these days, but almost entirely in political terms that ignore its deeper causes. It’s the continuing failure to have this deeper discussion that has led to the democratic crisis we have. In this sense, the mainstream news media can be considered ‘enemies of the people’, peddling ‘fake news’.

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