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The electric car must fail

Ratheesh Pisharody writes: A classic method of avoiding personal sacrifice is to explore “alternatives”. The individual thought behind this is simple. “Can I keep sitting on my privileges by pretending to make a dramatic change with sufficient optics and industry backing, but with no personal cost/effort?”. And the pop-icon of “alternatives” is the electric car.

Hopepunk, Solarpunk: Here are climate narratives that go beyond the Apocalypse

Alyssa Hull writes: We desperately need narratives that move past apocalypse as an endpoint, not only because there are people and societies already living through the Western world’s vision of climate apocalypse, but also because it can only inspire a helpless waiting for the post-apocalypse to arrive, suddenly, to cleave the past from the future.

2020: The Incipient Bet

From CounterPunch: He whipped out a check for a thousand dollars and said, “I bet you US$1000 that in the year 2020, we’re not even close to the kind of disaster you describe.” He had obviously planned to maneuver me into this kind of challenge. “We won’t even be close. I’ll bet on my optimism.”

“Humanity’s mortality moment”: Scientists’ restate climate warning

Earlier this year, over 11,000 scientists from around the world issued a signed warning stating “clearly and unequivocally that planet Earth is facing a climate emergency”. At the ongoing CoP-25 climate talks at Madrid, Dr. William Moomaw, one of the report’s co-authors, explains the nature of that emergency, and what we must do about it.

Why technological solutions cannot combat ecological challenges

From The Hindu: More fuel-efficient cars usually mean that car owners take many more trips, in effect nullifying the saving of fuel from the technical innovation. This simple example shows why any advocacy of a lasting technological solution to ecological challenges is only destined to set the stage for the next generation of ecological problems.

Air Conditoning: The all-too costly feeding and care of a familiar beast

The task of explaining the wider issues associated with air conditioning is a daunting task as the weather gets warmer. In ‘Losing Our Cool: Uncomfortable Truths About Our Air Conditioned World (and Finding New Ways to Get Through the Summer)’, author Stan Cox shows how indoor climate control is colliding with an out-of-control outdoor climate.

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?

Why technology favors tyranny: Yuval Noah Harari

Artificial intelligence could erase many practical advantages of democracy, and erode the ideals of liberty and equality. It will further concentrate power among a small elite if we don’t take steps to stop it. “We’re facing not just a technological crisis but a philosophical crisis,” says the author of ’21 Lessons for the 21st Century’.

Chris Martenson: Collapse is already here

From PeakProsperity.com: Many people are expecting some degree of approaching collapse — be it economic, environmental and/or societal — thinking that they’ll recognize the danger signs in time. As if it’ll be completely obvious, like a Hollywood blockbuster. That’s not how collapse works. Collapse is a process, not an event. And it’s already underway, all around us.

Just how prepared are nuclear plants for climate threats?

From Ensia: Research suggests that at least 100 U.S., European and Asian nuclear power stations built close to sea level could be threatened by serious flooding from accelerating sea-level rise and more frequent storm surges. Meanwhile, scientific papers published in 2018 suggest that safety standards set by national and international nuclear regulators are out of date.

2018: The year things fell apart — or the year the tide turned?

From The Revelator: In the year ahead we all need to stand up and let our elected officials and unelected corporate power-brokers know what really matters to us and to the planet. We need to demand transparency and the truth, rapid change, renewed protections for imperiled species and a commitment to sustainability on all fronts.

Jacques Ellul: The Karl Marx of the 20th century

From The Tyee: Ellul predicted the chaotic tyranny we pretend is the good life in technological society. Just as Marx deftly outlined how capitalism threw up new social classes, political institutions and economic powers in the 19th century, Ellul charted the ascent of technology and its impact on politics, society and economics in the 20th.

Portrait of a planet on the verge of climate catastrophe

From The Guardian: On the eve of the UN’s annual climate conference, many experts believe the world may no longer be hovering at the edge of destruction but has probably crossed a crucial point of no return. Climate catastrophe now looks inevitable; we’ve simply left it too late to hold global temperatures to under 1.5C.

Modi’s other dubious French deal: The world’s largest nuclear plant at Jaitapur

Building the world’s largest nuclear power project in an ecologically fragile region like Konkan, along with attendant concerns of the safety, an unsteady French nuclear industry, will pose serious challenges to the environment, biodiversity, health and livelihoods of lakhs of people in the region. Is the Modi government courting a nuclear Bhopal, asks Sonali Huria.

David Wallace-Wells: UN says climate genocide is coming. It’s actually worse.

We’re on track for four degrees of warming, more than twice as much as most scientists believe is possible to endure without inflicting climate suffering on hundreds of millions or threatening at least parts of what we call, grandly, “civilization.” The only thing that changed is that the scientists, finally, have hit the panic button.

Engineered for Dystopia

David A. Banks writes in The Baffler: Engineering has not strayed far from its military origins… Engineers are trained to “plug into chain-of-command decision making structures… In times like these it is important to remember that border walls, nuclear missiles, and surveillance systems do not work, and won’t even exist, without the cooperation of engineers.

The social ideology of the motorcar

“The worst thing about cars is that they are like castles or villas by the sea: luxury goods invented for the exclusive pleasure of a very rich minority, and which in conception and nature were never intended for the people”. So starts Andre Gorz’s justly famous 1973 essay which remains as relevant today as ever.

“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 Andhra Pradesh built India’s first police state using Aadhaar and a Census

Gopal Sathe writes: The AP government now has access the intimate personal details of 43 million of the state’s 50 million residents: GPS coordinates of their homes, medicines they use, the food rations they eat, real-time feeds of thousands of security cameras, their castes and sub-castes, their religion, and of course — their Aadhaar numbers.

Franklin Foer on the existential threat of big tech

“These machines shape the way we view reality. We’re not just merging with machines, but with the companies that run these machines—who run these machines for profit. And here’s the existential threat… these technologies will change what it means to be human. Once we take this leap, it will be very hard to reverse course.”

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