Forget Malthus: upside of population growth

Once again population growth is being discussed worldwide as a major factor behind environmental destruction. But watching Indian villages trying to survive in their degraded environment, we have an interesting question to ask: Could this be an optimum level of demographic pressure to promote community-based environmental management?

Few social scientists have tried to understand what societal responses are emerging at the grassroots to growing population and increasing pressures on natural resources. In India, for instance, population densities have nearly doubled in 40 years. This is unprecedented in India’s history. Should we assume that people are not going to respond rationally but just breed themselves to a mass societal death? Surely not.

The 1980s saw, in India, numerous micro-experiments to organise communities to manage their natural resources. Some of these experiments have had dramatic success in ecological regeneration and have led to equally dramatic improvement in the local economy.

Can we simply dismiss all this work as the result of a few dedicated social activists or is this a sign of a nascent societal response?

— source | Anil Agarwal | 02 Jan 2022

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ALEC Launches Attack on Banks That Divest From Fossil Fuels

As climate change accelerates and environmental disasters proliferate around the world, a Big Oil-funded business lobbying group has decided to attack financial firms that are taking their money out of fossil fuel companies, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) has learned.

Today at the annual States and Nation Policy Summit of the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a pay-to-play organization that brings together corporate lobbyists and mostly Republican state lawmakers to author model legislation, members of the group’s energy task force voted unanimously to approve a new model policy that would prevent financial companies that end investments in oil, gas, and coal companies from receiving state government contracts or managing state funds.

The bill, the Energy Discrimination Elimination Act, directs state treasurers or comptrollers to maintain a list of firms that boycott fossil fuels. Each government contract with a business that has more than 10 employees must include a verification that the company does not boycott fossil fuel businesses.

The act and its backers claim that fossil fuel divestment will hurt workers and state pension funds, yet it ignores the growing U.S. renewable energy industry and its lucrative

— source | Alex Kotch | Dec 3, 2021

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Humans Have Broken a Fundamental Law of the Ocean

On November 19, 1969, the CSS Hudson slipped through the frigid waters of Halifax Harbour in Nova Scotia and out into the open ocean. The research vessel was embarking on what many of the marine scientists on board thought of as the last great, uncharted oceanic voyage: The first complete circumnavigation of the Americas. The ship was bound for Rio de Janeiro, where it would pick up more scientists before passing through Cape Horn—the southernmost point in the Americas—and then head north through the Pacific to traverse the ice-packed Northern Passage back to Halifax Harbour.

Along the way, the Hudson would make frequent stops so its scientists could collect samples and take measurements. One of those scientists, Ray Sheldon, had boarded the Hudson in Valparaíso, Chile. A marine ecologist at Canada’s Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Sheldon was fascinated by the microscopic plankton that seemed to be everywhere in the ocean: How far and wide did these tiny organisms spread? To find out, Sheldon and his colleagues hauled buckets of seawater up to the Hudson’s laboratory and used a plankton-counting machine to total up the size and number of creatures they found.

Life in the ocean, they discovered, followed a simple mathematical rule: The abundance of an organism is closely linked to its body size. To put it another way, the smaller the

— source | Matt Reynolds | Dec 2, 2021

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High levels of toxic pollutants in stranded dolphins and whales

A study led by researchers at Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute examined toxins in tissue concentrations and pathology data from 83 stranded dolphins and whales along the southeastern coast of the United States from 2012 to 2018. Researchers examined 11 different animal species to test for 17 different substances in animals found on the shores in North Carolina and Florida.

This is the first study to date to publish a report examining concentrations in blubber tissues of stranded cetaceans of atrazine, an herbicide, DEP, (a phthalate ester found in plastics), NPE or nonylphenol ethoxylate commonly used in food packing, and triclosan, an antibacterial and antifungal agent present in some consumer products, including toothpaste, soaps, detergents and toys.

They also analyzed liver samples for five non-essential elements (arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury, thallium), six essential elements (cobalt, copper, manganese, iron, selenium, zinc) and one toxicant mixture class (Aroclor, a highly toxic industrial compound).

— source Florida Atlantic University | Aug 6, 2020

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Her freedom is bound to the state, as FIR number keeps staying

Climate activist Disha Ravi has said that her passport application was deliberately not processed to keep her from attending the COP26 summit in Glasgow. The activist was arrested earlier this year in the infamous ‘toolkit case‘. She says though she got bail, the “FIR number keeps staying” with her.

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Disha Ravi Couldn’t Attend COP26 Because Passport Was ‘Deliberately’ Not Processed

Bangalore-based climate activist Disha Ravi (22) has accused the Union government of deliberately not processing her passport and thus denying her an opportunity to attend the COP26 summit in Glasgow. She said she had applied for the passport 88 days back and yet she hadn’t received any response. Ravi was earlier charged with “sedition” and “promoting enmity among groups” by the Delhi police in connection with the January 26 violence [by a govt supporting small group] during the farmers’ tractor rally in Delhi, but was later granted bail after a court held that “there is no direct evidence establishing the link between the applicant/accused and the violence”.

— source | 14/Nov/2021

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Conservation or Land Grab? The Financialization of Nature

Just in time for the UN’s policy push for “30 x 30” – 30% of the earth to be “conserved” by 2030 – a new Wall Street asset class puts up for sale the processes underpinning all life.

A month before the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (known as COP26) kicked off in Scotland, a new asset class was launched by the New York Stock Exchange that will “open up a new feeding ground for predatory Wall Street banks and financial institutions that will allow them to dominate not just the human economy, but the entire natural world.” So writes Whitney Webb in an article titled “Wall Street’s Takeover of Nature Advances with Launch of New Asset Class”:

Called a natural asset company, or NAC, the vehicle will allow for the formation of specialized corporations “that hold the rights to the ecosystem services produced on a given chunk of land, services like carbon sequestration or clean water.” These NACs will then maintain, manage and grow the natural assets they commodify, with the end goal of maximizing the aspects of that natural asset that are deemed by the company to be profitable.

The vehicle is allegedly designed to preserve and restore Nature’s assets; but when Wall Street gets involved, profit and exploitation are not far behind. Webb writes:

[E]ven the creators of NACs admit that the ultimate goal is to extract near-infinite profits from the natural processes they seek to quantify and then monetize….

— source | Ellen Brown | Nov 5, 2021

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Economists helped Big Oil obstruct climate action for decades

For more than a decade, researchers and journalists have tried to lay bare the PR machine employed by fossil fuel companies to delay climate action. Science historian Naomi Oreskes’ Merchants of Doubt detailed the critical role some scientists played in denying the soundness of climate science. Later, an investigation by InsideClimate News revealed that while Exxon denied climate change publicly, its own scientists were aware for decades of how fossil fuels warm the planet.

Political leaders have long cited economic research on how taking action on climate change would be prohibitively expensive. President Donald Trump even used the findings as part of his reasoning to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement.

But who exactly is behind that economic research? Legal expert, physicist, and now science historian Benjamin Franta, of Stanford University, decided to take a deeper look. He recently published his findings in the journal Environmental Politics: Since the late 1980s, economists at private consulting firms, funded by the fossil fuel industry, have played a key role in shaping public discourse about climate policy in the U.S., hawking flawed research and spreading disinformation everywhere from newspapers to congressional

— source | María Paula Rubiano A. | Oct 08, 2021

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Over 530 Arrested in Historic Indigenous-Led Climate Protests in D.C.

This week over 530 climate activists were arrested during Indigenous-led civil disobedience actions in Washington, D.C., calling on President Joe Biden to declare a climate emergency and stop approving fossil fuel projects. Indigenous leaders have issued a series of demands, including the abolition of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, whose offices they occupied on Thursday for the first time since the 1970s. The protests come just weeks before the start of the critical U.N. climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, which President Biden and senior Cabinet members are expected to attend. “We’re not going anywhere,” says Siqiñiq Maupin, with Sovereign Iñupiat for a Living Arctic, who traveled from Alaska to D.C. and was among those arrested during the BIA occupation. “We do not have time for negotiations, for compromises. We need to take this serious and take action now.”

The BIA was created to erase Indigenous people. It has always been against us. And today, or yesterday, and every day, we demand that it be abolished. We do not need a blood quantum to say how Indigenous we are or to qualify that. We know our Indigenous ways to protect this land, this Earth, this water. And we understand that the Earth is unbalanced. And we do not have time for negotiations, for compromises. We need to take this serious and take action now.

— source | Oct 15, 2021

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