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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India: One square meal: How this non-tribal forest-dweller family survives without FRA recognition in Odisha

Sanghamitra Dubey, Ravisha Poddar

Down to Earth | November 28, 2021

Srikumar Khadi’s great-grandparents moved to Bhuin-Jor from Dhamakpur in Odisha’s Sundergarh district around 100 years ago. They were offered a small piece of land in the forest by Bhuin-Jor’s inhabitants.

They settled in the forest with the passage of time and started using the land as a homestead. They also used to cultivate basic food products for their livelihood.

Today, a few generations later, Srikumar Khadi, a 55-year-old descendent of the Khadi family, lives on the same land. The land, which is about 12 to 20 decimals in area, serves as a home for his family of seven.

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FACE OF AN ECONOMY: U.S.: Land: This Land is Not Your Land, This Land is My Land

A Journal of People report

By landmass, the U.S. is the third largest country in the world. It spans over 3.5 million square miles – a huge landmass. In size, the U.S. trails behind China and Russia.

The federal government owns over a quarter of all land in the U.S. However, a vast chunk of this landmass is owned by just a handful of individuals and families.

On the basis of The Land Report magazine’s 2018 Land Report, the 50 largest private landholders in the U.S. as mentioned in this report own a huge mass of land.Read More »

Love the land or watch it die


Counterpunch | January 07, 2020

Sagebrush, Ponderosa Pine, Juniper Trees, and Piñón Pine are important flora in the western United States. Juniper can live more than 1,000 years, as can some Piñón. Ponderosa live up to 400 years. Sagebrush is a perennial and can survive for 100 years. All have been and are used for a variety of purposes by native peoples. They are also integral parts of what were once vibrant ecosystems in some of the most beautiful and astonishing parts of the United States. The ways in which plants, grasses, trees, and wildlife interreacted, in what are harsh environments, was remarkable. Not only could we learn much from studying these ecosystems, but their sheer beauty made them places worthy of contemplation and awe. We know that biodiversity is essential to any efforts to limit global warming, to avoid devastating fires, to, in a word, the maintenance of a healthy, habitable earth. Where a part of the planet is healthy, it should not be made unhealthy. John Donne said, “No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” But then he wrote, “if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were.” That is, the human and the non-human world are intimately connected, in ways increasingly known by scientists but little understood by most of us, to our detriment.Read More »

Bolivia Bans Profiteering in Lands Affected by Amazon Fires

teleSUR | August 28, 2019

Evo Morales speaking to media after having helped frontline staff combat the fires in the Chiquitania.
Evo Morales speaking to media after having helped frontline staff combat the fires in the Chiquitania. | Photo: Twitter: @telesurenglish

“I want to tell you that I have decided to declare an ‘ecological pause’, which means that in areas affected by the fires, land sales are prohibited”

Bolivia’s President Evo Morales has announced that the sale of land will be banned in regions affected by the Amazon fires, in order to stop ranchers and agro-capitalists from profiting off the fires once they recede, and so that those areas can be reforested rather than exploited. Morales also announced that fires in one forest area of Bolivia’s Amazon region have been entirely extinguished thanks to the work of the ‘Supertanker’.

Western Sahara: “We ask for nothing more but to live freely on our land”

Bachraya Abahazem, an activist from Western Sahara was “disappeared” for more than a decade in one of Morocco’s clandestine detention centers. He talks about the torture in these centers and the struggle of his people for freedom

by Zoe PC

People’s Dispatch | June 08, 2019

Bachraya Abahazem. Photo: Ihsaan Haffejee of New Frame

The people of Western Sahara have been waging a valiant battle against their colonial masters for their independence and self-determination for the past several decades in spite of harsh repression.

The Moroccan regime has occupied and controlled the majority of Western Sahara since Spain relinquished control in 1975 and has gone to extreme lengths to preserve this control and suppress all popular resistance. One of methods it used to instill fear in the population and discourage further mobilizing, was the illegal detention of hundreds in clandestine detention and torture centers.

Bachraya Abahazem, an activist from Western Sahara, was one of the hundreds who was “disappeared” in one of these centers for nearly a decade. Peoples Dispatch spoke to him about his experience and the importance of the cause of Western Sahara today.

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