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planning & policy

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

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/27/jose-mujica-uruguay-maverick-president   World’s Poorest President Warns Public: ‘Remove Wealthy Elites from Politics’

Storms in India: The Science of Severity

Around 127 people died and 300 others injured during the severe dust and thunderstorms that shook north India on May 2; wind speeds of 126 kilometres making it the strongest storm in six years. The world may see more such freak storms due to rising temperatures; reducing pollution and protecting forests are perfect preventive measures.

How Wal-Mart shapes the world: A warning for India

With $405 billion in sales last year, Wal-Mart is so big, it casts a global shadow across the lives of hundreds of millions of people, from California to China. David Moberg takes closer look at the controversial policies of the retail giant, which recently made a backdoor entry into India by acquiring e-commerce major Flipkart.

Caged in concrete: an Adivasi urban nightmare in Mumbai’s Aarey Colony

From PARI: The people of Aarey find their eviction and ‘rehabilitation’ absurd. Prakash Bhoir, 46, who lives in Keltipada, says, “We are Adivasis [he is a Malhar Koli]. This land is a source of income and survival for us. Can we do cultivation in those high-rise buildings? We just cannot live without soil and trees.”

The Char Dham road project: Narendra Modi’s Himalayan blunder

The 900km, all-weather road enhancing connectivity between four major Hindu pilgrimage sites is PM Modi’s pet project. It will not only displace hundreds of people, but create a massive rush of pilgrims, putting untold pressure on the delicate Himalayan ecology. Experts say it’s also ill-conceived, given its location on the ‘floodway’ of the Ganga basin.

Charles Eisenstein: Opposition to GMOs is neither unscientific nor immoral

The pro-and anti-GMO positions will remain irreconcilably polarized as long as larger questions remain unexamined. What’s at stake here is much more than a choice about GMOs. It is a choice between two very different systems of food production, two visions of society, and two fundamentally different ways to relate to plants, animals, and soil.

Missing the forest for the trees? A perspective on the draft forest policy

Ramesh Venkataraman writes: A common theme running through the policy document is increasing tree and canopy cover in all areas with low tree cover at present. While prima facie this seems to be a laudable objective that is aligned with climate change mitigation goals, this raises a number of questions from ecological and sustainability perspectives.

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.

How much ‘carbon budget’ is left to limit global warming to 1.5C?

Limiting global warming to 1.5C requires strictly limiting the total amount of carbon emissions between now and the end of the century. However, there is more than one way to calculate this allowable amount of additional emissions, known as the “carbon budget”. In this article, Carbon Brief assesses nine new carbon budget estimates released recently.

Bookshelf: River of Life, River of Death: The Ganges and India’s Future

The Ganges and its tributaries are now subject to sewage pollution ‘half-a-million times over the recommended limit for bathing’ in places, not to mention unchecked runoff from heavy metals, fertilisers, carcinogens and the occasional corpse. ‘Where is this going?’ That’s the question at the heart of Victor Mallet’s book on the river, writes Laura Cole.

A blow from an axe: Ramachandra Guha on India’s new forest policy

Both social equity and environmental sustainability are critical to our republic’s future. The present government seems bent on reversing the modest gains of the past three decades by making the corporate sector, once more, the key beneficiary of State forest policies. This is the inescapable conclusion one reaches after reading the ‘Draft Forest Policy, 2018’.

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.

Growth and garbage: A tour of India’s waste mountain

From Nature: In this in depth investigation of India’s feeble fight against consumerist waste, are robust statistics, compelling history and telling case studies. The authors, anthropologist Assa Doron and historian Robin Jeffrey, also throw the occasional philosophical curve ball, such as: “waste is in the eye of the beholder”. The result is both beguiling and disturbing.

Red alert: Runaway climate change begins as glacier melt passes point of no return

This latest news immediately brings some questions to mind: Does this mean that we should stop working toward mitigating climate change? Should we stop worrying and enjoy mindlessly by indulging ourselves in senseless consumerism? I really don’t know. But what I definitely know is that the window of opportunity to act is closing really fast.

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.

J.M. Korhonen: I’m no longer advocating for clean energy; here’s why

We’re not going to get a decarbonized energy system by 2050. We’re going to fail the climate targets, probably by a large margin, and I suspect that a warming of about 3 degrees centigrade is going to be almost inevitable. It’s perfectly possible that self-amplifying feedback mechanisms under way will amplify this change even more.

Uttarakhand’s Kosi river is dying; only an immediate intervention will save it

From Catch News: Uttarakhand’s Kosi river is dying, which could spell doom for the region. Data from the last 25 years shows that the lean flow capacity of the river during summers has witnessed a massive, over 700%, drop, while the river’s total length has reduced from 225 kilometers to just 41 in 40 years.

A zero sum game: The rail projects that spell doom for the Cauvery

The fracas over water sharing has obscured the fact that the Cauvery itself is facing a major threat: two railway lines to be constructed through Kodagu, the forested hill district where the river originates. A river’s fate – and those of the millions that depend on it – now hangs in balance, writes Chirag Chinnappa.

What urban waste has to do with global warming

From The Indian Express: Greenhouse gas emissions from solid waste disposal by India increased at the rate of 3.1% per annum between 2000 and 2010, and by China at 4.6% per cent between 2005 and 2012. In both cases it is likely that the figures are underestimated, since they don’t consider emissions from waste transportation.

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