Stockholm syndrome: What should ‘+50’ be about

The 50th anniversary celebration of the Stockholm conference should be about our common future, not the divisions of the past

Sunita Narain

Down To Earth | June 01, 2022

The Stockholm conference on the human environment marked the initiation of global consciousness on sustainability. It brought the world together to discuss the big issues of growth and environmental management.

This was the time when Rachel Carson, through her seminal book Silent Spring, had told the story of poisoning of nature. It was also the time when the industrialised West was battling against pollution and toxification.

Our colleague Anil Agarwal, who was at the conference in 1972, often recalled how Stockholm’s lakes were so contaminated with chemicals that you could develop a film negative in the water.

This conference was about the fallout of industrialisation and how to cope and mitigate its harmful impacts.

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Environment and war today

Farooque Chowdhury

Countercurrents | June 05, 2022

War environs environment.

War destructs and demolishes life, all forms of environment. It’s war’s powerful approach to contradictions within and with environment surrounding life. Wars including the current Ukraine War bear this signature of destruction of and on environment and ecology. The first victim is life; and, then comes surroundings of life that help sustain life. Activities to secure, nourish and sustain environment are hampered/suspended during war, and in war zones also.

Military activities, preparatory to war including training/drills/exercises, itself is threat to environment and ecology. Military/war expenditure is in direct and hostile contradiction with environment and ecology. The expenditure takes away a lot of resources, which can be allocated for life, steps to nourish and secure environment and ecology. The sphere of destruction of environment and ecology widens as the sphere of war widens. Today’s Ukraine is the witness. Iraq and Afghanistan, Yugoslavia and Vietnam are witnesses. Hiroshima and Nagasaki stand as witnesses.

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Stockholm+50: Is science for just solutions

If science-policy interfaces are to deliver just and effective solutions to climate change, they must involve indigenous peoples and local communities

Pia M Kohler

Down To Earth | June 04, 2022

When presenting my research on global institutions established to guide policymaking on environmental challenges, my (mostly North American and European) audiences will often wonder at the need to scrutinise these science-policy interfaces. Isn’t the only thing that matters, someone will inevitably ask, is that we have asked the best scientists on the planet to guide us?

This is typically when I draw from Anil Agarwal and Sunita Narain’s seminal 1991 piece, ‘Global warming in an unequal world’. Agarwal and Narain called out the environmental colonialism evident in a 1990 report by the US-based World Resources Institute purporting to measure a country’s greenhouse gas emissions.

I invite my interlocutors to consider the distinction Agarwal and Narain draw between “luxury” and “survival” emissions. We then consider what gets erased when we take up the now commonplace unit: the metric tonne of carbon dioxide (CO2) or of CO2 equivalent.

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Stockholm+50: We need decentralisation of ‘power’

Power generation and transmission models that are local and self-sustaining can increase access to energy in the future

Koshy Mathew Cherail

Down To Earth | June 03, 2022

Availability and access to uninterrupted and reliable energy sources is a prerequisite to enable an equitable and just development of communities, nations, and regions at large.

Countries that have clear goals of raising the socio-economic conditions of their population have prioritised access to energy above other development goals.

Construction and operation of power plants, as well as ensuring a steady supply of fuel of consistent quality, is a time-consuming and capital-intensive process.

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50 years since Stockholm conference: The summer lingers

Richard Mahapatra

Down To Earth | May 31, 2022

From June 5 to June 16, 1972, countries across the world shed a bit of their sovereignty. The aim was to create a common governance structure for the planet’s environment and natural resources.

The occasion was the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm, the first such worldwide convergence on planetary environment, with the theme ‘Only One Earth’.

When the participating 122 countries — 70 of them developing and poor countries — adopted the Stockholm Declaration on June 16, they essentially committed to 26 principles and an action plan that set in a multilateral environmental regime.

One of the overarching principles was that sovereignty should be subject to not causing harm to the environment of other countries as well.

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Metal-lifespan analysis shows scale of waste

Mining metals has a rising environmental cost. But high losses and low recycling rates mean that many last only a short time.

Freda Kreier

Nature | May 26, 2022

Metals can be lost at any stage of their commercial lifespan — including during smelting. Credit: He Huawen/VCG via Getty

Metals might be the foundation of the modern economy, but that doesn’t mean they stick around.

A study looking at the economic lifetimes of 61 commercially used metals finds that more than half have a lifespan of less than 10 years. The research, published on 19 May in Nature Sustainability1, also shows that most of these metals end up being disposed of or lost in large quantities, rather than being recycled or reused.

Billions of tonnes of metal are mined each year, and metal production accounts for around 8% of all global greenhouse-gas emissions. So, recycling more metal could help to lower its environmental impacts, says co-author Christoph Helbig, an industrial ecologist at the University of Bayreuth in Germany.

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National responsibility for ecological breakdown: a fair-shares assessment of resource use, 1970–2017

Prof Jason Hickel, PhD, Daniel W O’Neill, PhD, Andrew L Fanning, PhD & Huzaifa Zoomkawala, BS

The Lancet | Open Access | Published: April, 2022| DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/S2542-5196(22)00044-4

Summary
Background
Human impacts on earth-system processes are overshooting several planetary boundaries, driving a crisis of ecological breakdown. This crisis is being caused in large part by global resource extraction, which has increased dramatically over the past half century. We propose a novel method for quantifying national responsibility for ecological breakdown by assessing nations’ cumulative material use in excess of equitable and sustainable boundaries.

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Good while it lasted – I: 6th mass extinction underway, courtesy humans

Earth is losing species at an unprecedented rate; This marks the beginning of the Anthropocene Epoch, a self-aggrandising nomenclature that highlights our disproportionate and irreversible impacts on the surroundings

Richard Mahapatra

Down To Earth | April 11, 2022

This is the first part in a four-part series

My growing-up years on the banks of the Mahanadi — one of the planet’s oldest rivers, flowing for the last 160 million years through the land we now call Odisha — offered more ecological and geological experiences than I would encounter later in life. As I jog my memory, it becomes clear that our lives were marked, in fact, dictated, by ecological indicators.

Every tree, every creature, even the speed and direction of the wind, declared the arrival and departure of something.

When the dragonflies swarmed around in September, we rejoiced at the arrival of the winter festival season. In the post-monsoon season, around every puddle of water, or wetland, they had their merry world. Just before this, when the damselflies flew around our house, it was time for the monsoon.

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At doom’s doorstep: It is 100 seconds to midnight

2022 Doomsday Clock Statement

Science and Security Board | Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists | January 20, 2022

Editor, John Mecklin

Editor’s Note: Founded in 1945 by Albert Einstein and University of Chicago scientists who helped develop the first atomic weapons in the Manhattan Project, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists created the Doomsday Clock two years later, using the imagery of apocalypse (midnight) and the contemporary idiom of nuclear explosion (countdown to zero) to convey threats to humanity and the planet. The Doomsday Clock is set every year by the Bulletin’s Science and Security Board in consultation with its Board of Sponsors, which includes 11 Nobel laureates. The Clock has become a universally recognized indicator of the world’s vulnerability to catastrophe from nuclear weapons, climate change, and disruptive technologies in other domains.

To: Leaders and citizens of the world

Re: At doom’s doorstep: It is 100 seconds to midnight

Date: January 20, 2022

Last year’s leadership change in the United States provided hope that what seemed like a global race toward catastrophe might be halted and—with renewed US engagement—even reversed. Indeed, in 2021 the new American administration changed US policies in some ways that made the world safer: agreeing to an extension of the New START arms control agreement and beginning strategic stability talks with Russia; announcing that the United States would seek to return to the Iran nuclear deal; and rejoining the Paris climate accord. Perhaps even more heartening was the return of science and evidence to US policy making in general, especially regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. A more moderate and predictable approach to leadership and the control of one of the two largest nuclear arsenals of the world marked a welcome change from the previous four years.

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Environment, human rights and class power

Farooque Chowdhury

MR Online | March 12, 2021

| Earth man | MR Online

Environment is human right, said and resolved a recent UN meet. It’s a reiteration of an already discussed issue–essential to all of the human society. It’s a much important issue to the peoples in countries facing forces ravaging environment; and, ravaging of environment is an act against people as the act denies people’s right to life and existence.

Reiterating and implementing the environment right empowers people, created/widens people’s space for a democratic life, as environment itself is an area for democracy, for people’s participation. There’s no scope for individualism, neither for person nor for capital–irrespective of capital’s power–in the area of environment. The reasons:

[1] No individual or a coterie of individuals create/can create livable environment at no level. Having a livable environment is collective contribution.

[2] No capital or an alliance of capitals create/can create livable environment with its own power. Without labor, capital is lame, useless–incapable of moving a single grain of sand a millimeter.

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