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How conservation became colonialism

From Foreign Policy: Conservationism often conflicts with indigenous traditions of stewardship that have kept the rainforests in balance for thousands of years. The tension has its roots in the founding worldview of modern conservationism, which was conceived not during today’s battle to save the rainforests, but during the genocidal Indian wars in the American West.

What’s the truth behind the Botswana elephant deaths?

The news is awash with reports of 87 elephants having been “killed by poachers” in Botswana, supposedly a result of wildlife guards no longer carrying firearms. The story originates with “Elephants Without Borders,” an NGO which is getting massive publicity, and presumably donations, as a result. Survival International’s Stephen Corry digs up the real story.

Let Malibu burn: A political history of California’s Fire Coast

From Los Angeles Times: As yet another mega-fire rages through California, we present the powerhouse 1996 essay by Mike Davis, covering history, science, Marxist analysis— and a certain amount of trolling. Its main point is that Californians will never accept that fire is not only common there, but part of its ecology going back centuries.

How to Be a Good Creature: A Memoir in Thirteen Animals, by Sy Montgomery

From The Millions: When human leaders fail us as role models, we should look to animals, says Sy Montgomery. “I can tell you that teachers are all around to help you: with four legs or two or even eight. All you have to do is recognize them as teachers and be ready to hear their truths.”

Extinction is now outpacing evolution; humans are ‘cutting down the tree of life’, warn scientists

From The Guardian: Humanity’s ongoing annihilation of wildlife is cutting down the tree of life, according to a stark new analysis. More than 300 different mammal species have been eradicated by human activities. The new research calculates the total unique evolutionary history that has been lost as a result at a startling 2.5 billion years.

Classic in Focus: The Natural History of Selborne, by Gilbert White

From The Guardian: White’s Natural History, a founding classic of its genre, is deemed the fourth most-published book in the English language, after the Bible, Shakespeare and Bunyan, and has certainly been in print since first publication, while the benign White himself is now recognised equally as a great stylist and pioneer ecologist. A tribute.

There is nowhere left to run

Ratheesh Pisharody writes: There’s really nowhere to run whether we are mammals, trees, insects or even indigenous tribes. What chances do we see for the planet’s revival? When humans take away both “space” and “time” from our co-passengers on this planet, we’re leaving no “leverage” for the others to “somehow” adjust and make it through.

Half-Earth: A biologist’s manifesto for preserving life on Earth

Here is the ambitious (and controversial) proposal by E.O. Wilson —arguably the world’s most lauded living evolutionary biologist— to save life on Earth by setting aside around half the planet in various types of nature reserves. Also included is a research paper exploring the viability of Wilson’s proposal, along with a sharp critique of it.

A tribute to Romulus Whitaker, the ‘Snake man of India’

A tribute to Romulus Whitaker, recently awarded the Padma Shri, among India’s highest civilian honours. Here, the acclaimed herpetologist talks about his decades of work with reptiles which led to setting up of six pioneering institutions including the famous Madras Crocodile Bank, apart from giving snakes and reptiles a positive place in the Indian public’s mind.

The Inner Life of Animals: Surprising Observations of a Hidden World

Peter Wohlleben, author of the best-selling ‘The Hidden Life of Trees’, explores the emotions and intelligence of animals in his new book. New scientific discoveries in this field have big moral implications, he says. A review and an excerpt, plus the video of an eye-opening talk by animal ethologist Jonathan Balcombe on the inner life of animals.

On the wildness of children

Carol Black writes: Some of our children, it turns out, are more like pigeons and squirrels, and some are more like bears. Some of them adapt to the institutional walls we put around them, some pace till their paws bleed. The bleeding of these children, if we listen, can tell us many stories about ourselves.

The lady who saved the falcon

From Live Mint: In October 2012, Bano Haralu led a small group of conservationists to Nagaland’s Doyang reservoir to check on large-scale falcon hunting. What they witnessed that balmy October day shook them to the core. Nagaland was and still is infamous for hunting, but this was something even the conservationists had not bargained for.

River inter-linking: India’s $168 billion ‘development’ nightmare

Swati Bansal writes: The project envisages the building of many dams, canals and tunnels, which will lead to a huge social and environmental cost. The proposed Ken-Betwa link alone will destroy over 4,100 hectares of forests. If a single project of interlinking could accrue such an environmental cost, what will be the impact of 30?

Being human, in a more-than-human world

David Abram writes: I am dazzled, yes, by the creativity of the human mind, but I’m also struck dumb by the ability of various aspen groves to maintain and replenish themselves, through their common root system, for eighty thousand years and more. Are we humans unique? Sure we are. But then, so is everyone else around here.

Stark evidence: A warming earth is sparking more and bigger wildfires

From Yale Environment 360: The wildfires presently raging in California are no exception. The increase in forest fires, seen from North America to Brazil, from the Mediterranean to Siberia, is directly linked to climate change, scientists say. And as the world continues to warm, there will be greater risk for fires on nearly every continent.

We’ll never see these animals again

From Mother Jones: Most scientists now agree that we are experiencing a sixth mass extinction, but unlike before, humans are responsible for this one. Here are some of the highlights from the Red List, the most comprehensive roster of threatened species available, including three that went extinct last year and others to watch out for in 2017.

Report: How Big Conservation funds the destruction of tribal people

A new report details widespread human rights abuses in the Congo Basin, by wildlife guards funded and equipped by the World Wildlife Fund and other big conservation organisations. It lists more than 200 instances of abuse since 1989, which are likely just a tiny fraction of systematic and ongoing violence, beatings, torture and even death.

Howling with wolves: A classical pianist’s testimony

From Orion Magazine: Wolves actually harmonize their voices with us, says Helene Grimaud. “When a human joins in a howl and his pitch lands on the same note, wolves will alter their pitch to prolong the harmonization. If you end up on the same pitch as a wolf, he‘ll modulate his voice to match yours.”

A manifesto for the green mind

We consume more, we fill the atmosphere with carbon dioxide. We have more stuff, our lives are more convenient, yet we’re not happier. Prof. Jules Pretty sets out a plan to engage people with Nature and create more sustainable and enjoyable living for everyone. The first call to action is: “Every child outdoors every day”.

Module 6: Exploring Sustainability in the Indian Context

Ecologise has consistently driven home that humanity needs to prepare for unprecedented environmental, economic and socio-political upheaval and uncertainty in the 21st century. In this new series, we showcase free short-duration online courses that focus on these various emerging crises and possible responses. Created by the world’s leading universities, they offer a good starting point to explore these complex challenges.

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