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Transition

Vaclav Smil: ‘Growth must end. Our economist friends don’t realise that’

Over more than 40 years, Vaclav Smil has grown in influence, and is now seen as one of the world’s foremost thinkers and a master of statistical analysis. Bill Gates says he waits for new Smil books the way others wait for the next Star Wars movie. Smil’s latest is Growth: From Microorganisms to Megacities.

Helena Norberg-Hodge: The promise and pitfalls of localism

The fact that the language of localism is being increasingly co-opted by authoritarians around the world is itself a sign of localism’s appeal. Left uprooted and adrift by the globalized economy, people are desperate for a sense of connection: to one another, to the living world, to a place and culture that’s familiar to them.

Why science needs the humanities to solve climate change

When thinking about climate solutions, people often picture technical fixes. In principle, scientists and engineers could deploy any these–but should they? To answer this, society needs the humanities and its intangible tools, argues Steven Allison & Tyrus Miller. Also included, a talk on ‘Climate Change and the Humanities’ by Subaltern Studies pioneer Dr Dipesh Chakrabarty.

In Bolsonaro’s burning Brazilian Amazon, all our futures are being consumed

Elaine Brum writes: Believing the Amazon is far away, on the periphery, when the only chance of controlling climate change is to keep it alive, reflects ignorance of continental proportions. Our eyes have been contaminated, distorted, colonised. The forest is at the very core of all we have. This is the real home of humanity.

Climate change: 12 years to save the planet? Make that 18 months

From BBC: “The climate math is brutally clear: While the world can’t be healed within the next few years, it may be fatally wounded by negligence until 2020,” said Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, founder of the Potsdam Climate Institute. The sense is that the end of next year is the last chance saloon for climate change.

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.

Richard Greeman: France’s Yellow Vests struggle to reinvent democracy

Many working-class Yellow Vests can’t help seeing environmentalists as bourgeois on bicycles wanting to be nice but unwilling to struggle directly against the establishment. So their call for unity is also, in part, a challenge to the environmental movement: “Join us in the struggle for social equality and be ready to fight the whole system.”

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

The Nobel Prize for climate catastrophe

Jason Hickel writes: Many people were thrilled when they heard that the Economics Nobel went to William Nordhaus, known for his work on climate change. But many climate scientists and ecologists believe that the failure of the world’s governments to pursue aggressive climate action is in large part due to arguments that Nordhaus has advanced.

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.

Why Ecosocialism: For a Red-Green future

Michael Löwy writes: Capitalism, driven by the maximization of profit, is incompatible with a just and sustainable future. Ecosocialism offers a radical alternative that puts social and ecological well-being first. Attuned to the links between the exploitation of labor and the exploitation of the environment, ecosocialism stands against both reformist “market ecology” and “productivist socialism.”

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.

Herman Daly reviews ‘Collision Course: Endless Growth on a Finite Planet’

In this book, Kerryn Higgs traces the rise of economic growth to the status of the number one goal of nations, and how this pernicious idea prevailed over carefully reasoned counter-arguments through well-funded, carefully orchestrated propaganda. Its a kick in the head for those of us who believe in the persuasive power of reasoned argument.

The Yellow Vests: Is Europe seeing the world’s first climate riot?

What started as an online protest movement against the hike in fuel taxes, France’s ‘Yellow Vest’ movement has led to the worst riots witnessed by the country in half a century. With six dead, 12,000 arrested, and the unrest spreading to the rest of Europe, it may be the world’s first ‘climate riot’ of consequence.

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.

Could one man single-handedly ruin the planet?

David Wallace-Wells writes: Brazil’s newly elected president Jair Bolsonaro just might test the proposition that no individual matters all that much to the climate. He plans to open the entire Amazon rainforest to agricultural development — the industrial-scale felling of trees, which, will release into the atmosphere all the CO2 they have stored inside them.

The IPCC Special Report on climate change: A dissection

The recent Special Report by the IPCC was widely described as giving a stark warning about risks faced by humanity if climate change is not dealt with urgently. What exactly does this imply, and how reliable is this document? We present analyses by Michael Mann, Richard Heinberg, Ratheesh Pisharody, Adam Markham, Kevin Anderson and Padmini Gopal.

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.

Charles Eisenstein: Initiation into a living planet

Most people have passed through some kind of initiation; a crisis that defies what you knew and what you were. Societies can also pass through a similar initiation. That is what climate change poses to the present global civilization. A key element of this transformation is from a geomechanical worldview to a Living Planet worldview.

Why growth can’t be green

Jason Hickel, Foreign Policy: Many policymakers have responded to ecological breakdown by pushing for what has come to be called “green growth.” It sounds like an elegant solution to an otherwise catastrophic problem. There is just one hitch: New evidence suggests that green growth isn’t the panacea everyone hopes for. In fact, it’s not even possible.

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