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ideas & ideology

Tribute: Eugene Odum – ‘Father of modern ecology’

In a meeting with his colleagues, Odum suggested that his ecology class be required of all new biology majors. His fellow scientists looked at him and laughed. Odum stormed out of the room but was not deterred. That night, he began writing a note that would ultimately become the foundation for the first ecology textbook.

“Two” – A film fable by Satyajit Ray

In 1964, renowned filmmaker Satyajit Ray was asked to create a short film for a TV-showcase by American oil company Esso. Asked to write and direct the film in English, Ray opted instead to make a film without words. The result is a poignant fable of modernity and ‘development’, which remains just as relevant today.

How the Great Transition was made: A brief history dated 2050

“The core issues would’ve gone on being ignored until the system broke down irretrievably. It should’ve been obvious that there had to be a shift to radical localism and simpler ways, but as long as rich world supermarket shelves remained well-stocked no one would take calls for downshifting seriously.” A futuristic vision from Ted Trainer.

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.

Ecologies of scale: An interview with ecological economics guru Herman Daly

From The New Left Review: If fidelity to GDP growth amounts to the religion of the modern world, then Herman Daly surely counts as a leading heretic. Benjamin Kunkel interviews the preeminent figure in ecological economics, and the author of perhaps the most fundamental and eloquently logical case against endless economic growth that’s yet produced.

Economy of Permanence: The enduring legacy of J.C. Kumarappa

J.C. Kumarappa was a stalwart of India’s freedom movement, Gandhian economic philosopher, pioneer in the development of village and cottage industries and advocate of a decentralised, localised economy of permanence and freedom. Yet, he remains practically unknown to the present generation of Indians. A tribute to Kumarappa by Pranjali Bandhu, editor of his collected writings.

We have invented a mountain of superflous needs, says ‘the world’s poorest president’

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.

Why we should bulldoze the business school

Martin Parker writes: B-school market managerialism sells a utopia for the wealthy and powerful, one which students are encouraged to imagine themselves joining. But it comes at a very high cost: environmental catastrophe, resource wars and forced migration, inequality within and between countries, the encouragement of hyper-consumption as well as persistently anti-democratic practices at work.

Energy, money and technology – From the lens of the Superorganism

In this keynote address delivered at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, the Post Carbon Institute’s Nate Hagens discusses how our lives will be influenced by how we react to the coming era of harder to extract and more costly fossil fuels that will be combined with cleaner but less concentrated energy types.

The ZAD will survive: Dispatches from Europe’s largest ‘liberated territory’

It was supposed to be the site of western France’s biggest airport, but instead, it became the center of a utopian experiment. Hundreds of squatters –eco-warriors to some, green jihadis to others– now live in the ZAD, which resisted a eviction operation after a 2,500 strong police unit recently forced their way into the camp.

Farmers’ protests reveal growing anger against India’s development model

Ashish Kothari & Aseem Shrivastava write: The growing protests of farmers around the country-last month’s protests in Mumbai being the latest-is not just a claim for dignity. Even more portentously, it calls into question the paradigmatic rationality of the reigning development model. Alternatives do exist, practised and conceived of at hundreds of sites in India.

Western science is finally catching up with Traditional Knowledge

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.

[email protected]: Revisiting India’s legendary ecological movement

Forty five years ago, villagers in the Alakananda valley stopped a group of loggers from felling a patch of ash trees. Thus was born the Chipko Andolan, the peasant movement that focused popular attention on the depredations of commercial forestry in India. A tribute to India’s original ecological movement, which inspired many more to come.

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.

Announcing the ‘Atlas of Utopias’

From Transformative Cities: The Atlas of Utopias is a global gallery of inspiring community led transformation in water, energy and housing. The atlas features 32 communities from 19 countries who responded to the Transformative Cities initiative which seeks to learn from cities working on radical solutions to our world’s systemic economic, social and ecological crises.

Tribute: Vladimir Vernadsky on the Biosphere and the Noösphere

Russian geochemist Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky (1863-1945), founder of biogeochemistry, also laid the foundations for the ‘Gaia hypothesis’ with his idea that life is a geological force that can change Earth’s landforms, climate, even the contents of its atmosphere. “What Darwin did for life through time, Vernadsky did for life through space on a geological scale”.

Cracks in capitalism’s wall: Zapatistas and the struggle to decolonise science

From Toward Freedom: The second iteration of ConCiencias, a conference creating dialogue between the Zapatista’s and leading left wing scientists from throughout the world, took place at San Cristobal de Las Casas. The struggle to decolonize knowledge is part and parcel of the Zapatista’s broader project of resisting indigenous genocide, neoliberal capitalism, and political repression.

Pablo Solon: Vivir Bien – Old cosmovisions and new paradigms

From GreatTransition.org: The concept of Vivir Bien (or Buen Vivir), reflecting an indigenous cosmovision that emphasizes living in harmony with nature and one another, gained international attention as an alternative to the rampage of neoliberalism. As its popularity has grown, however, its meaning has been compromised, warns Pablo Solon, Bolivia’s former ambassador to the UN.

Melvin Kranzberg’s Six Laws of Technology, a metaphor, and a story

Michael Sacasas writes: Melvin Kranzberg was a professor of the history of technology and the founding editor of the journal Technology and Culture. Here are Kranzberg’s Laws of Technology — “a series of truisms,” according to him, “deriving from a longtime immersion in the study of the development of technology and its interactions with sociocultural change.”

Seven lessons on starting a worldwide movement for change

“There was no name for what we were proposing. It was bold, imaginative, and beyond what most folks thought of as environmentalism. It wasn’t environmentalism, it was much more than that.” A blog by Naresh Giangrande Co-founder of Totnes, the world’s first Transition-Town, as he signs off after a ten-year adventure in global social change.

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