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inspiration & musings

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

Diary of a Space Zucchini: An Astronaut Imagines His Vegetable’s Voice

“I sprouted, thrust into this world without anyone consulting me…” Thus starts US Astronaut Don Pettit’s quasi-fictional account of ten days in the life of a plant growing on the International Space Station. Among other things, the plant expresses its growing awareness of people it interacts with, and the fact that they eat its ‘kind’.

Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life

David R. Montgomery writes: Conventional wisdom says that fertile soil is not renewable. That’s not really true. Fertility can be improved quickly through cover cropping and returning organic matter to the land. Soil-building is about getting the biology, mineral availability, and organic-matter balance right, rolling with the wheel of life instead of pushing against it.

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.

Aseem Shrivastava: Meher Engineer RIP… “Ami ki korbo?”

Prof. Meher Engineer, physicist and formerly Acting Director, J. C. Bose Institute, Kolkata and former Chairperson, Indian Academy of Social Sciences, passed away on April 24, 2019. Involved in many people’s movements working on human rights, livelihood and environmental issues, he was also an authority in climate science and active in the climate justice movement.

The Greta Thunberg controversy

This series by Cory Morningstar charges Greta Thunberg—the face of the youth climate activism, and an inspiration to millions—with being a pawn of a ‘Non-Profit Industrial Complex’ seeking to hijack the movement to usher in the next stage of global capitalism, dubbed the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’. Also included here is Thunberg’s response to her critics.

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.

International Rebellion: UK’s Extinction Rebellion movement goes global

From The Ecologist: Extinction Rebellion, the activist group spearheading mass civil disobedience for climate action in the UK, has drawn people of all ages into their effort to draw attention to the unfolding climate emergency. Now, they are inspiring similar actions everywhere “from Auckland to Accra, Mexico City to Vancouver”, as the movement goes international.

Greta Thunberg’s problem. A problem without a solution?

Thunberg, the face of school climate-strikes, writes, “Either we go on as a civilization, or we don’t”. But who said we must go on with this civilization? If we drop this idea, then the survival of the human species (not of the current Western civilization) is possible – with a different, yet to be fully described, kind of civilization.

Cuba embarks on a 100-year plan to protect itself from climate change

From Science Magazine: Cuba has become the latest country to enshrine the fight against climate change in its constitution. A team of Cuban experts has just finished drafting a $100 million proposal that the government plans to submit early this year to the Global Climate Fund, an international financing mechanism set up by the U.N.

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?

Thank you, climate strikers. You are the force of possibility that runs through the present like a river through the desert.

Rebecca Solnit writes: I want to say to all the climate strikers: thank you so much for being unreasonable. You may be told that what you are asking for is impossible. Don’t listen. Don’t stop. Don’t let your dreams shrink an inch. Don’t forget; this might be the year when you rewrite what is possible.

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

Our new, happy life? The ideology of development, by Charles Eisenstein

People in older cultures, connected to community and place, held close in a lineage of ancestors, woven into a web of personal and cultural stories, radiate a kind of solidity and presence that I rarely find in any modern person. Whatever the measurable gains of the Ascent of Humanity, we have lost something immeasurably precious.

Tribute: Dr. G. Nammalvar, messiah of Tamil Nadu’s organic revolution

It’s been five years since the passing of G. Nammalvar, the icon of sustainable farming who died on December 30, 2013, while leading a campaign against the plan to extract methane gas in Cauvery delta. An agriculture scientist, he left his job and travelled across Tamil Nadu spreading the message of organic farming using story-telling.

The Sunrise Movement and the ‘Green New Deal’: Climate hope from Trump’s America?

Naomi Klein writes on the game-changing proposal for a ‘Green New Deal’ mooted by popular U.S. politician Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Also, an inside view of the youth climate movement unexpectedly making waves in Trump’s America, and an interview with co-founder Varshni Prakash. Also included is a critical take on the Green New Deal by Don Fitz.

Hope and mourning in the Anthropocene: Understanding ecological grief

From The Conversation: The eminent American naturalist Aldo Leopold described the emotional toll of ecological loss thus: “One of the penalties of an ecological education,” he wrote, “is to live alone in a world of wounds.” Ecological grief reminds us that climate change is not just some abstract scientific concept or a distant environmental problem.

‘It is time to rebel’: Meet Greta Thunberg, 15-year-old climate firebrand

This September, Greta Thunberg went on strike and sat on the steps of Sweden’s parliament building in Stockholm. Her demand? That the government take radical action on climate change. Since then, this autistic 15-year-old has become the face of climate resistance in Europe. Her motto? “We can’t save the world by playing by the rules.”

J.C. Bose: Why the great scientist’s legacy remains astonishing a century later

Stefany Ann Goldberg writes: Famous for his plant-response studies, J.C. Bose was also the first scientist to study inorganic matter the way a biologist examines a muscle or a nerve. Bose performed his plant experiments on rocks and metals, too. Remarkably, he found that the “non-living” responded when subjected to mechanical, thermal, and electrical stimuli.

Extinction Rebellion: The green movement making waves in the UK

A new group called Extinction Rebellion, has called for mass civil disobedience in the UK starting next month and promises it has hundreds of people – from teenagers to pensioners – ready to get arrested in an effort to draw attention to the unfolding climate emergency. The group is backed by almost 100 senior academics.

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