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ideas & ideology

Easter Island: A sustainable society falsely blamed for its own demise

Catrine Jarman writes: Recently, the Easter Islands have become the ultimate parable for humankind’s selfishness; a moral tale of the dangers of environmental destruction. But 60 years of archaeological research and recent genetic data shows that this dark tale of ecocide and Malthusian collapse has more to do with Western ignorance and prejudice than facts.

Learning to see in the dark: An interview with deep ecologist Joanna Macy

Joanna Macy, an eco-philosopher and a scholar of Buddhism, general systems theory and deep ecology, coined the phrase “The Great Turning” to describe “the essential adventure of our time”: the shift from what she calls the “industrial growth society” that is consuming the planet to a life-sustaining civilization. Here’s Macy’s interview with Truthout.org’s Dahr Jamail.

Sulak Sivaraksa on the structural violence of the global economy

Sulak Sivaraksa, the 85-year-old Thai Buddhist monk, thinker and peace activist, is currently facing the prospect of a fifteen-year jail sentence, for criticising his country’s royal family and military junta. Here, he speaks on the global economy’s built-in inequities and biases. Also included is ‘Heavenly Messengers,’ an excerpt from his book, ‘The Wisdom of Sustainability.’

Bookshelf: A New Politics for an Age of Crisis by George Monbiot

George Monbiot‘s powerful new book looks at how democracy and economic life can be radically organised from the bottom up. He argues against the “society-crushing system of neoliberalism”, and for a political agenda “that isn’t destined to destroy the living planet”, power given back to people so that wealth isn’t continually distributed to the rich.

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.

The case against civilisation: Did our hunter-gatherer ancestors have it better?

From The New Yorker: Recent research shows a gap of 4000 years separating the “two key domestications,” of animals and cereals, from the first agrarian economies based on them. Our ancestors evidently took a good, hard look at the possibility of agriculture before deciding to adopt it; because the life they lived was remarkably abundant.

Is there a way out? Announcing the new Radical Ecological Democracy website

Ashish Kothari & Pallav Das write: Genuine alternatives to the destructive juggernaut of corporate and finance capital are emerging as much from contemporary progressive resistance as from the wisdom of indigenous peoples’ and other traditional community world-views. “Radical Ecological Democracy” (RED) is one such emerging paradigm based on which we can fashion a meaningful future.

Resolutions of the National Convention of Green Socialists, Karnataka

The National Convention of Green Socialists was held at Tumakuru, Karnataka on 24 Sep 2017, as part of the ongoing ‘Tax Denial Satyagraha’ against the imposition of G.S.T. on handmade products. Among other things, the protesters demanded zero-tax on natural products, grown through natural farming, such as natural foods, etc, treating them as handmade products.

Why political correctness fails – Why what we know ‘for sure’ is wrong

Gail Tverberg writes: The Politically Correct (PC) worldview has been called the “religion of success”. In this post, I explain why many popular (or politically correct) understandings are just plain wrong. I cover many controversial topics, including environmentalism, peer-reviewed literature, climate change models, and yes, religion. I expect that the analysis will surprise almost everyone.

Totnes: The world’s most forward-thinking eco settlement?

From The Guardian: Totnes has been called ‘Britain’s town of the future’. This month, the small town which kick-started a worldwide movement of sustainable urban living, completes 11 years of being a Transition Town. As fossil-fuel reserves dwindle and the economy contracts, will resident-led Transition Towns prove to be a viable model for the future?

Earth Jurisprudence: Learning from nature’s laws and lore

From The Ecologist: It’s the very conception of law that needs to change, and thereby our relationship with Nature. Once we recognise that we are born into a lawful and ordered universe and that our wellbeing is derived from complying with these laws, this understanding should permeate the transformation of all the other modern institutions.

Food sovereignty in rebellion: The Zapatista Solution

From Solutions Journal: The stunning manner in which the Zapatistas presented themselves to the Mexican government, as well as the world, saw them descend upon several towns, cities, prisons, and wealthy landowners. During the revolt, guerillas liberated political prisoners, stormed military barracks, occupied government offices, set fire to trumped-up files that unfairly criminalized Indigenous people.

Aseem Shrivastava: Who killed Swaraj?

Nehru’s grand illusion was to imagine that the ‘good’ in the modern world could be somehow magically preserved while allowing the ‘evil seed’ (gluttony of power?) to flourish into a ravishing rainforest of destructive avarice, an inevitability our times are having to face, as barbarism knocks on every door. Gandhi’s fears are globally vindicated today.

Bookshelf: Why dystopia is for losers

From International Socialist Review: Catastrophism explores the politics of apocalypse —on the left and right, in the environmental movement, and from capital and the state —and examines why the lens of catastrophe can distort our understanding of the dynamics at the heart of these numerous disasters —and fatally impede our ability to transform the world.

Why climate change isn’t our biggest environmental problem, and why technology won’t save us

Richard Heinberg writes: Over the past century-and-a-half, fossil fuels enabled the rapid growth of resource extraction, manufacturing, and consumption; and these in turn led to population increase, pollution, and loss of natural habitat and hence biodiversity. Our core ecological problem is not climate change. It is overshoot, of which global warming is only a symptom.

Suprabha Seshan: The music of everything

I’m no elephant whisperer, nor do I claim to have complex exchanges with them by moonlight, but the reverse is true: when they come by, I’m whispered out of my den by their calls and cries, by their trumpets, rumbles and whooshing sighs. When elephants arrive in the valley, I scoot out of my sheets.

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.

Richard Heinberg: Ecological collapse? There’s no app for that

Even when we question the personal impacts of modern technology, how many of us consider how our dependence on technology might be harming us? Or question the belief that technological advances will save us from our most pressing environmental and societal challenges? Richard Heinberg tackles this thorny issue in this brilliant essay and animation feature.

Art Eco 1: The ethereal beauty of ‘Bioluminescent Forest’

Nature has always inspired art, but in our own age of ecological crisis, it’s taking on a special significance for many contemporary artists. This series looks at path-breaking artists and works that reflect this growing awareness. Here, watch artist-filmmakers Friedrich van Schoor and Tarek Mawad turn trees, mushrooms, and even toads into pulsing, projection-mapped creatures.

Can you feel capitalism dying?

Joe Brewer writes: There is a reason only 5 men have the same aggregate wealth as half the human population. And that the Earth’s climate is ramping up for a phase transition that threatens our entire civilization. It’s because the 500 year old Global Architecture of Wealth Extraction is designed to produce exactly these outcomes.

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