EcoUniv Weekend Reads: May 2021

EcoUniv Weekend Reads #64

2 May 2021

 

Mammals: Brain sizes in mammals evolved as a results of many complex factors. “The largest-brained mammals achieved large relative brain sizes by highly divergent paths”.

Article: https://phys.org/news/2021-04-scientists-re-evaluating-relative-brain-size.html

Research article: https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/7/18/eabe2101

 

Ecological engineering: Wild horses and donkeys dig “wells” up to 6 feet deep in deserts. This creates an oases of water and attracts other species, supporting ecosystems and biodiversity.

Article: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/article/donkeys-horses-dig-desert-wells-helping-other-animals-survive

Research article: https://science.sciencemag.org/content/372/6541/491

 

EcoUniv Weekend Reads #65

9 May 2021

 

Animal Behaviour: Humans are not the only ones who laugh. Other animals do it too – at least 65 other species.

Listen to and read transcript of a radio interview of the researcher: https://www.npr.org/2021/05/22/999491591/dozens-of-animals-laugh-too-study-shows

Research abstract:  https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09524622.2021.1905065

 

Environmental Education: In the “Understanding the Learner” series, this week we focus on fifteen-year olds (tenth grade).

http://ecouniv.in/ecouniv-environmental-education-framework-understanding-the-learner-fifteen-year-old-tenth-grade/

 

EcoUniv Weekend Reads #66

16 May 2021

 

Research – Evolution & Ecology: Bird species central to seed-dispersal networks have stable evolutionary lineages

Article: https://phys.org/news/2021-05-bird-species-central-seed-dispersal-networks.html

Research: https://science.sciencemag.org/content/372/6543/733

 

Research – Climate Change: Melting ice in Antarctica could trigger chain reactions, bringing monsoon rains to the ice cap

Article: https://edition.cnn.com/2021/05/17/weather/weather-climate-antarctica-ice-cap-melt/index.html

Research: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41561-021-00745-w.epdf

 

पर्यावरण शिक्षण: पर्यावरणाचा सर्वंकष दृष्टिकोन

https://bit.ly/36sJr8w

 

EcoUniv Weekend Reads #67

23 May 2021

 

Evolution: How Darwin foreshadowed modern scientific theories.

https://phys.org/news/2021-05-darwin-foreshadowed-modern-scientific-theories.html

Population Studies: The global population decline has already started happening in countries like Italy and S. Korea. It is here to stay and difficult to reverse. The global population is likely to peak around 2060.

Article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/22/world/global-population-shrinking.html

Play with the data: https://vizhub.healthdata.org/population-forecast/

Pollution: Half of the world’s single use plastic is produced by only 20 companies.

Article: https://edition.cnn.com/2021/05/18/world/single-use-plastics-scli-intl/index.html

Report: https://cdn.minderoo.org/content/uploads/2021/05/18065501/20210518-Plastic-Waste-Makers-Index.pdf

Explore the data: https://www.minderoo.org/plastic-waste-makers-index/data/indices/producers/

 

EcoUniv Weekend Reads #68

30 May 2021

 

Anthropology: Environmentalist are fond of the notion that “Hunter gatherers must have been a happy lot”. But this view is punctured when research shows evidence of violent fights among hunter gatherers or similar subsequent tribes. Such fights could be due to scarcity of natural resources or environmental pressures.

Article: https://edition.cnn.com/2021/05/27/africa/violence-war-climate-jebel-sahaba-scn/index.html

Research Article: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-021-89386-y

 

Nature Writing: Obituary of Barry Lopez, renowned nature writer, who passed away earlier this year.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/26/obituaries/barry-lopez-dead.html

Below is a para from his famous work, Arctic Dreams.

EcoUniv Weekend Reads: April 2021

EcoUniv Weekend Reads #60

4 Apr 2021

 

Alternative Living: Bhutan’s adoption of Gross National Happiness is fervently celebrated by environmentalists. But does anyone bother to read a critical point of view? Here’s one such article.

http://www.gsdmagazine.org/the-false-promises-of-bhutans-gross-national-happiness/

Pollution: A primer on the important greenhouse gases and their sources (slide show)

https://www.allianz.com/en/press/extra/knowledge/environment/140912-fifteen-sources-of-greenhouse-gases.html

Animal Behavior: Do animals have minds? A review of the related research in an essay from The Economist.

https://www.economist.com/news/essays/21676961-inner-lives-animals-are-hard-study-there-evidence-they-may-be-lot-richer-science-once-thought

 

 

EcoUniv Weekend Reads #61

11 Apr 2021

Sapiens: Among all the members of the family Hominidae, why are we the only ones that still exist?

http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20150929-why-are-we-the-only-human-species-still-alive?ocid=fbert

Economics: Alternative economics demands that rich countries “de-develop”. Either growth must come to zero or climate change will do it for us.

http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20150929-why-are-we-the-only-human-species-still-alive?ocid=fbert

Agriculture: How Sikkim became an all-organic state.

https://www.livemint.com/Leisure/9sNTIExpMCPEEu8T2BycjM/Sikkim-against-the-machine.html

 

EcoUniv Weekend Reads #62

18 Apr 2021

Water: A study flags that what we call ‘freshwater’ is also turning salty, primarily due to introduction of man-made salts into the landscape for various reasons.

Article: https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/water/fresh-water-is-turning-saltier-flags-study-76529

Paper: https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/s10533-021-00784-w.pdf

 

Environmental Law: Most of the nature-modifying industrial activities happen because capital is available for them. New Zealand now creates a law for financial firms to report the climate impacts of their businesses and explain how they will manage risks.

https://news.trust.org/item/20210412215324-ltw9o/

 

Environmental Education: In the “Understanding the Learner” series, this week we focus on thirteen-year olds (eighth grade).

http://ecouniv.in/ecouniv-environmental-education-framework-understanding-the-learner-threteen-year-old-eighth-grade/

 

EcoUniv Weekend Reads #63

25 Apr 2021

 

Pollution: Aquaculture is the fastest growing segment of the global food industry. But fish farming and fishing are sounding the death knell for aquatic ecosystems, including the oceans.

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2021/03/08/fish-farming-is-feeding-the-globe-whats-the-cost-for-locals

Ornithology: In birds with flashy, eye-catching colours who are trying to impress females, evolution has provided a “show off” mechanism (elaborate microstructures which amplify color) along with the default, “honest” mechanism (carotenoid pigments).

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/21/science/birds-tanagers-mating-color.html

Research Article: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-021-88106-w

Environmental Education: In the “Understanding the Learner” series, this week we focus on fourteen-year olds (ninth grade).

http://ecouniv.in/ecouniv-environmental-education-framework-understanding-the-learner-fourteen-year-old-nineth-grade/

EcoUniv Weekend Reads: March 2021

EcoUniv Weekend Reads #56

6 Mar 2021

 

Consumerism: The average carbon footprint of a billionaire is 8190 ton/year, compared with 15 ton/year for an American and 5 ton/year as the global average. Most of it can be traced to yachts and private planes.

https://theconversation.com/private-planes-mansions-and-superyachts-what-gives-billionaires-like-musk-and-abramovich-such-a-massive-carbon-footprint-152514

 

 

Forests: Cumulative impact of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest is not causing it to release more CO2 than it absorbs on an annual basis.

Article: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/amazon-rainforest-now-appears-to-be-contributing-to-climate-change

Paper: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/ffgc.2021.618401/full

 

Agriculture: Intense monoculture driven by the green revolution accelerated desertification in India.

https://www.downtoearth.org.in/blog/environment/desertification-in-india-how-green-revolution-hastened-the-man-made-soil-degradation-75859

 

EcoUniv Weekend Reads #57

14 Mar 2021

 

Indigenous communities: A recent report by the UN on indigenous communities promotes awareness of indigenous peoples’ issues.

Article: https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/governance/reform-restitution-justice-un-report-suggests-host-of-measures-to-protect-indigenous-rights-75961

Report: https://www.un.org/development/desa/indigenouspeoples/publications/state-of-the-worlds-indigenous-peoples.html

 

Economics: To provide a fillip to markets after Covid-19, governments borrowed mountains of money ($16.3 T to be precise), in the name of fiscal and monetary stimuli. But as we know, there is no free lunch.

https://edition.cnn.com/2021/03/11/investing/government-debt-bond-yields-interest-rates/index.html

 

EcoUniv Weekend Reads #58

21 Mar 2021

 

Wildlife Management: A change in government highlights debate over predator control in a wildlife-friendly US state, Montana.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/28/us/montana-wolves-grizzlies-hunting.html

 

Biodiversity: An opinion piece by several high profile environmental workers and officials.

https://edition.cnn.com/2021/03/24/opinions/biodiversity-nature-survival-azoulay-lee-salgar/index.html

 

EcoUniv Weekend Reads #59

28 Mar 2021

 

Green Finance: An invention of market-liberal environmentalism, Green Bonds / Sustainability Bonds market is expected to grow 13X this year. The question is: Is it really green? Are countries and companies getting away with greenwashing and cheating?

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-02-18/esg-debt-boom-sparks-concern-firms-get-away-with-bare-minimum

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-03-29/bond-investor-revolt-brews-over-bogus-green-debt-flooding-market

 

Moreover, such bonds mainly serve developed markets, not the poor countries who are likely to suffer more from climate change.

https://www.bloombergquint.com/global-economics/green-bond-boom-is-leaving-out-countries-most-at-climate-risk

 

Environmental Education: We resume the “Understanding the Learner” series, this week we focus on twelve-year olds (seventh grade).

http://ecouniv.in/ecouniv-environmental-education-framework-understanding-the-learner-twleve-year-old-seventh-grade/

EcoUniv Weekend Reads: Feb 2021

EcoUniv Weekend Reads #52

7 Feb 2021

 

EcoUniv Weekend Reads completes 1 year.

 

Technology: How the Internet has rewired our brains to seek, command and pay attention.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/04/opinion/michael-goldhaber-internet.html

 

Animal Rights & Food: Cheap and delicious chicken sold at a large US retail chain has a dark story.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/04/opinion/michael-goldhaber-internet.html

 

Climate Change – Impacts: A study suggests that climate change caused increase in bat species richness at select hotspots, and influenced COVID-19 and SARS outbreaks

https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/climate-change-influenced-covid-19-and-sars-outbreaks-study-suggests-so-142914

Paper: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969721004812

 

EcoUniv Weekend Reads #53

15 Feb 2021

 

Economics: Around 50 years ago, famous economist Milton Friedman wrote an influential essay, ‘The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits’

http://www.umich.edu/~thecore/doc/Friedman.pdf

 

Today’s economists would do well to revisit the basic premise of this essay and whether capitalism has evolved morally based on such a foundation. An NYT podcast offers such a discussion.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2XvDstDwk0c&feature=emb_logo

 

Climate Change: A new book by Bill Gates on the climate disaster is found underwhelming in a review by NY Times. Do read to capture some key ideas from the book.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/15/books/review/bill-gates-how-to-avoid-a-climate-disaster.html

 

Pollution: Air pollution due to fossil fuels is already causing deaths in millions in India, per year.

https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/pollution/fossil-fuel-combustion-caused-2-5-million-premature-deaths-in-india-in-2018-75514

Paper: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2542519620302989

 

EcoUniv Weekend Reads #54

21 Feb 2021

 

Biodiversity: A new comprehensive report connecting biodiversity and economics

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/957291/Dasgupta_Review_-_Full_Report.pdf

 

Ecology: Cuba has less invasive species compared to other Caribbean islands. The reason: It was isolated from most of the world due to a communist regime.

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/the-unintended-environmental-benefit-of-cubas-isolation

 

Earth: 42,000 years ago, the Earth’s magnetic field is thought to have reversed. During this period, the magnetic field vanished for some time, letting solar winds in, and causing climate change and extinction.

https://edition.cnn.com/2021/02/19/world/magnetic-fields-earth-intl-scli-scn/index.html

 

EcoUniv Weekend Reads #55

28 Feb 2021

 

Restoration: In England, a golf course, of all places brings back flora and fauna.

https://edition.cnn.com/2021/03/05/golf/golf-sustainability-royal-st-george-piz-nairn-cmd-scn-spc-spt-intl/index.html

 

Greening: A mini-forest, which is also an art installation in Central London should serve as inspiration to other cities for greening.

https://edition.cnn.com/style/article/es-devlin-forest-for-change-london-design-biennale/index.html

 

Extinct species: The Dodo’s anatomy and intelligence is re-imagined.

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/graphics/the-dodo-gets-a-makeover

EcoUniv Weekend Reads: Jan 2021

EcoUniv Weekend Reads #47

3 Jan 2021

 

Pollution: From a book that talks about the public health emergency due to air pollution in India.

https://theprint.in/pageturner/excerpt/compare-lung-sizes-of-indian-and-us-children-air-pollution-effect/572421/

 

Technology: What does the termination of an AI researcher from Google  have to do with the environment? Think of carbon footprint of large AI models.

https://www.technologyreview.com/2020/12/04/1013294/google-ai-ethics-research-paper-forced-out-timnit-gebru/

 

A more in-depth article on related data: https://www.technologyreview.com/2019/06/06/239031/training-a-single-ai-model-can-emit-as-much-carbon-as-five-cars-in-their-lifetimes/

 

Man & Wildlife: We are getting Covid-19 under control after it caused severe damage to our ‘advanced’ civilization. But what were the root causes and what’s the guarantee that zoonotic diseases won’t recur?

https://edition.cnn.com/2020/12/22/africa/drc-forest-new-virus-intl/index.html

 

Environmental Education: In the “Understanding the Learner” series, this week we focus on eleven-year olds (sixth grade).

http://ecouniv.in/ecouniv-environmental-education-framework-understanding-the-learner-eleven-year-old-sixth-grade/

 

EcoUniv Weekend Reads #48

11 Jan 2021

 

Climate Change: Uttarakhand may see forest fires last through the year.

https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/climate-change/climate-crisis-uttarakhand-may-see-forest-fires-round-the-year-74926

 

Research – Pollution: Air pollution in S. Asia is causing increased risk of pregnancy loss, miscarriage, and stillbirth.

Article: https://edition.cnn.com/2021/01/06/asia/air-pollution-south-asia-pregnancy-losses-intl-hnk/index.html

Paper: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanplh/article/PIIS2542-5196(20)30268-0/fulltext

 

Energy: The changing dynamic of drilling for fossil fuels in the Alaska region.

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2021/01/wilderness-crown-jewel-opening-for-drilling-industry-interest-weak/

 

EcoUniv Weekend Reads #49

18 Jan 2021

 

Animal Behavior:  ICARUS, a technology-based project to track animal movements in great detail.

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/01/12/magazine/animal-tracking-icarus.html

 

Research – Climate: Most land-based ecosystems are becoming less and less efficient in absorbing atmospheric CO2.

Article: https://www.downtoearth.org.in/blog/forests/huge-implications-for-climate-policy-as-new-study-confirms-truth-about-land-sink-75059

Paper: https://science.sciencemag.org/content/370/6522/1295.full

 

EcoUniv Weekend Reads #50

26 Jan 2021

Today is Republic Day in India and this is a special on the concept of nation-states and environment.

Nation-States and the environment in the 20th century

Paper 1: This article reviews the global institutional process led by nation-states in the 20th century to respond to environmental challenges. However it acknowledges the crisis is far from over.

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/247933020_The_Nation-State_and_the_Natural_Environment

 

Paper 2: This article points out that while the concept of a nation-state is not threatened by the environmental crisis, it is certainly being stress-tested, and this will continue.

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/24089815_Global_Environmental_Change_and_the_Nation_State

 

Collapsing nation states: A book chapter exploring the failure of nation-states. Most thought so far has seen collapse of nation-states in binary terms. However I feel more nuanced, multi-dimensional yardsticks are needed. A nation-state may do well on some parameters (e.g. technology or lack of corruption) while fail on some others (equity or care of natural resources).

http://assets.press.princeton.edu/chapters/s7666.pdf

 

EcoUniv Weekend Reads #51

31 Jan 2021

 

Environmental education: An urgency for environmental action sweeps across elite college campuses in France…and new ideas emerge.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/30/world/europe/france-elite-universities-environment.html

 

Green business: Tesla, whose market value is more than the 12 largest car companies combined, does not make profits selling electric cars. It makes more money selling regulatory credits to other companies.

https://edition.cnn.com/2021/01/31/investing/tesla-profitability/index.html

 

Environmental justice: Plenty of environmental injustice exists even in a developed nation like the US, and things can change for the better with Biden as president.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2021/01/26/biden-environmental-justice-climate/

 

Climate and species: How whales impact the carbon cycle and keep the earth cool.

https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20210119-why-saving-whales-can-help-fight-climate-change

EcoUniv Weekend Reads: Dec 2020

EcoUniv Weekend Reads #43

6 December 2020

 

Pre-historic art: Rock art from around 12000 years ago in the Amazonian rainforests shows humans living with (and hunting) megafauna.

https://edition.cnn.com/style/article/amazon-rainforest-ice-age-paintings-scli-intl/index.html

 

Animal Behavior: Breakthrough theory suggests emotions and mood underpin animal behaviour, much like in humans

https://www.qub.ac.uk/News/Allnews/featured-research/Breakthroughtheorysuggestsemotionsandmoodunderpinanimalbehaviourmuchlikeinhumans.html

 

Green Business: Nestle reveals a plan to get to net zero emissions by 2050. It involves working with over 500K farmers and 150K suppliers to support them in implementing regenerative agriculture practices. The company also plans to plant 20 million trees every year for the next 10 years in the areas where it sources ingredients.

Press Release: https://www.nestle.com/media/pressreleases/allpressreleases/nestle-efforts-combat-climate-change

 

Detailed Plan: https://www.nestle.com/sites/default/files/2020-12/nestle-net-zero-roadmap-en.pdf

 

EcoUniv Weekend Reads #44

13 December 2020

 

Research – Ecology: Introducing herbivores into a landscape may actually improve ecological function. They “restore trait combinations that have the capacity to influence ecosystem processes, such as wildfire and shrub expansion in drylands.”

Paper: https://www.pnas.org/content/117/14/7871?fbclid=IwAR2AzlCEbNhSO32scOY37vIF8fy-KhN9uAmQhvZHwivUSUFBB6dlhsEtenA

 

Extinction & Conservation: In an update from IUCN on the status of 130,000 species of plants and animals, 31 species were found to be extinct, while some degree of conservation success was reported for around 25 species. All of the world’s freshwater dolphins are now threatened.

https://www.iucn.org/news/species/202012/european-bison-recovering-31-species-declared-extinct-iucn-red-list

 

Environmental Education: In the “Understanding the Learner” series, this week we focus on ten-year olds (fifth grade).

http://ecouniv.in/ecouniv-environmental-education-framework-understanding-the-learner-ten-year-old-fifth-grade/

 

Pollution: Coca-Cola, PepsiCo & Nestle are the world’s worst plastic polluter for third consecutive year.

https://thewonk.in/coca-cola-pepsico-nestle-worlds-worst-plastic-polluter-for-third-consecutive-year/

 

EcoUniv Weekend Reads #45

20 December 2020

 

The uneasy relationship between birds and powerlines:

In Scotland, murmurations of starlings cause power outages…

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-tayside-central-55334891

 

…and in India, the window to save a majestic bird from going extinct is closing fast, because we are not ready to move powerlines underground.

 

https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/wildlife-biodiversity/bustard-conservation-no-agreement-on-underground-power-lines-ban-on-new-projects-74657

 

Biodiversity: 20 new species found, and lost wildlife rediscovered, in the Bolivian Andes

https://edition.cnn.com/2020/12/13/americas/new-species-bolivian-andes-spc-intl-scn/index.html

 

Conservation: Interview of a snow leopard expert

https://www.downtoearth.org.in/interviews/climate-change/-one-snow-leopard-gets-killed-every-day–74625

 

EcoUniv Weekend Reads #46

27 December 2020

 

Economics: A new framework for understanding ecological inequity combines ideas from sociologist Johan Galtung and economist Herman Daly.

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/273748357_Galtung_meets_Daly_A_framework_for_addressing_inequity_in_ecological_economics

 

Agriculture: 40% of India’s farmers want to quit their profession due to the growing spiral of debt.

https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/agriculture/here-s-why-40-of-india-s-farmers-want-to-quit-61177

 

Forests: Many of the world’s oldest trees are dying. From 1900 to 2015, the world lost more than a third of its old-growth forests.

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2020/05/grand-old-trees-are-dying-leaving-forests-younger-shorter/

EcoUniv Weekend Reads: Nov 2020

EcoUniv Weekend Reads #38

 1 November 2020

Research – Evolution – Large Birds: Very large (wingspan 6 m+), boney-toothed birds once roamed the oceans, including Antarctica. The largest specimen so far, dating 50 mya, has been documented.

 

Article: https://edition.cnn.com/2020/10/28/world/antarctica-fossils-largest-bird-intl-hnk-scli-scn/index.html

 

Paper: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-75248-6

 

Research – Evolution – Whales: Palaeontological missions in the Indian subcontinent show that predecessors of whales were mammals on land, who made a transition to sea.

 

https://science.thewire.in/the-sciences/whale-evolution-india-pakistan-fossils-indohyus-pakicetus-remingtonocetus-basilosaurus/

 

Ants and Sapiens: Both these species have evolved to domesticate certain foods. What are the similarities and differences?

https://phys.org/news/2020-10-darwinian-diet.html

 

Environmental Education: We resume the “Understanding the Learner” series and this week we focus on eight-year olds (third grade).

http://ecouniv.in/ecouniv-environmental-education-framework-understanding-the-learner-eight-year-old-third-grade/

 

EcoUniv Weekend Reads #39

8 November 2020

 

Climate Change: Joe Biden’s win in US increases hope that USA will re-join the Paris Climate Accord. This may also trigger positive policy changes in countries like Australia, who are behind the curve.

https://theconversation.com/biden-says-the-us-will-rejoin-the-paris-climate-agreement-in-77-days-then-australia-will-really-feel-the-heat-149533

 

Birds: Brain structure research in birds shows why they are as smart as mammals

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/09/newfound-brain-structure-explains-why-some-birds-are-so-smart-and-maybe-even-self-aware

 

Prehistoric humans: Detective work on 10,000 year-old fossilized human footprints

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2020/10/incredible-details-of-10-000-year-old-trek-revealed-in-fossil-footprints

 

EcoUniv Weekend Reads #40

15 November 2020

 

Wetlands: The world’s largest wetland, Pantanal, straddles Brazil and it’s neighbouring countries. It’s unique habitats rely on flood pulse and support thousands of species. They are now threatened as the ecosystem is suffering from the worst wildfire crisis since records started in 2002.

https://edition.cnn.com/2020/11/13/americas/pantanal-fires-climate-change-intl/index.html

 

Food: 40% of Russia’s food still comes from small family gardens (this was 90% during the days of communism).

https://returntonow.net/2020/02/13/nearly-40-of-russias-food-comes-from-small-family-gardens/

 

Conservation: The path we have walked with leopards over the recent years, and the way forward.

https://openthemagazine.com/feature/how-many-leopards-does-india-have/

 

 

EcoUniv Weekend Reads #41

22 November 2020

This is a “market-friendly environmentalism” special. We bring to your attention some unconventional perspectives.

Environmental Reporting by companies: “Environmental-Social-Governance” reporting by companies is projected by them as an indication of sensitivity to environmental issues. But how accurate is it? And is it possible, that it is just plain bullshit?

Article :  https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/international/world-news/view-esg-commitments-are-useful-but-have-they-translated-into-action/articleshow/79329255.cms

Related paper 1: “Reforming global climate governance in an age of bullshit”

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14747731.2020.1774315?journalCode=rglo20

Related paper 2: Do the Socially Responsible Walk the Talk?

https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3609056

 

Agriculture: Vertical farming is being projected as a solution to environmental problems, because it will need less land. Netherlands’ lead in food production, partly driven by vertical farming was acknowledged in a recent environmental documentary. But a Dutch ecologist points out the fallacies.

https://thecorrespondent.com/781/dear-david-attenborough-beautiful-netflix-documentary-but-your-solutions-destroy-nature-even-more/52432608382-481ff02e

 

Economics: Prof. Mazzucato’s approach to re-inventing capitalism, where the state is an equal player in funding, risk, and reward in problem-solving innovations.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/26/business/mariana-mazzucato.html

 

EcoUniv Weekend Reads #42

29 November 2020

 

Conservation: The distribution of all 20,000 species of bees has been mapped for the first time.

Article:  https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-55006902

Paper: https://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(20)31596-7

 

Leadership: The US may get its first Native American cabinet secretary, for the department of interiors.

https://www.vox.com/21572229/native-american-secretary-interior-biden-cabinet

 

Land: The bottom 50% of landholders globally own only 3% of land, says a report on land inequality.

https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/agriculture/land-inequality-threatens-livelihood-of-2-5-bln-report-74418

Report: https://www.landcoalition.org/en/uneven-ground/executive-summary/

 

Environmental Education: In the “Understanding the Learner” series, this week we focus on nine-year olds (fourth grade).

http://ecouniv.in/ecouniv-environmental-education-framework-understanding-the-learner-nine-year-old-fourth-grade/

EcoUniv Weekend Reads : Oct 2020

EcoUniv Weekend Reads #34

 4 October 2020

 

 Conservation: A project to conserve habitats and restore populations of puffins and other seabirds, on islands near the US-Canada border, since 1973.

https://edition.cnn.com/2020/09/30/world/puffins-maine-kress-c2e-scn-spc-intl/index.html

 

Restoration: Rewilding of a 3500-acre farm in UK has enriched biodiversity.

https://edition.cnn.com/2020/10/01/world/knepp-farm-rewilding-scn-cte-spc/index.html

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4cug0KcTnXI

 

Gandhi: Environmentalism and Gandhi.

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/mahatma-gandhi-an-environmentalist-by-nature/article29566196.ece

 

EcoUniv Weekend Reads #35

11 October 2020

 

Conservation: The Tasmanian Devil returns to mainland Australia after 3,000 years.

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/2020/10/tasmanian-devils-return-to-mainland-australia/

 

Climate: September 2020 was the warmest on record.

https://edition.cnn.com/2020/10/07/world/september-temperature-record-copernicus-climate-scli-intl/index.html

 

Environmental Education: In part 3 of the “Painting the college green” series, we suggest two required courses for 2nd Year College, and provide syllabi for them.

http://ecouniv.in/part-3-two-courses-for-second-year-college

 

EcoUniv Weekend Reads #36

18 October 2020

 

Renewable Energy: A new material increases the efficiency of solar panels from the current 22% to 28%.

https://edition.cnn.com/2020/10/14/energy/solar-energy-perovskites-spc-intl/index.html

 

Diverse Societies: In this section, we will feature links to snapshots/videos of diverse human societies with values different than the industrial man. It underscores the fact that despite the onslaught of monoculture and industrialization, many of our societies have hung on to their roots.

Video: The Mennonites, a traditional, religious society in Central America shun modern technology and amenities.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pt_XU4W4DBA

 

Environmental Education: In Part 4 of the “Painting the college green” series, we suggest two required courses for 3rd Year College, and provide syllabi for them.

http://ecouniv.in/painting-the-college-green-an-environmental-education-framework-for-college-part-4-two-courses-for-third-year-college/

 

 

EcoUniv Weekend Reads #37

25 October 2020

 

Finance: “Environmental-Social-Governance” oriented investing (ESG) has become popular these days, but is it really effective? What are the trends on the ground?

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/10/14/esg-investing-meaning-is-under-the-microscope-as-the-money-rolls-in.html

 

Economics: This article looks at Prof. Amartya Sen’s work as a “great critique” of capitalism and discusses ideas like material critique vs. moral critique, the value of Prof. Sen’s work in the discourse on inequality, and moral degradation associated with capitalism.

https://aeon.co/ideas/why-amartya-sen-remains-the-centurys-great-critic-of-capitalism

 

Consumerism and Psychology: Does the explosion in choice, fostered by capitalism, actually help us? In this video, Prof. Renata Salecl talks about anxiety and dissatisfaction inherent to today’s choices.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1bqMY82xzWo

EcoUniv Weekend Reads : Sept 2020

EcoUniv Weekend Reads #30

6 Sep 2020

 

Pollution: Some recent updates on the Great Pacific Garbage patch.

 

https://www.huffingtonpost.in/entry/great-pacific-garbage-patch-clean-ocean-plastics_n_5f453ec2c5b6c00d03b4a676?ri18n=true

 

Pollution: As the scale of the fashion industry increases, so does it’s environmental impact. Does the world really need to produce these many clothes?

 

https://edition.cnn.com/interactive/2020/09/style/fashion-in-numbers-sept/

 

Maps: What were the transitions that took place on the Earth from 750 MYA to now? And where was your town through all this? An interactive map.

 

https://dinosaurpictures.org/ancient-earth#750

 

Read past issues of EcoUniv Weekend Reads at: http://ecouniv.in/blog/

You can also receive EcoUniv Weekend Reads by following us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ecouniv.in/

 

EcoUniv Weekend Reads #31

12 Sep 2020

 

This week we focus on indigenous communities.

 

Art and the indigenous: New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art appoints it’s first full-time Native American curator in 150 years.

 

https://www.metmuseum.org/press/news/2020/patricia-marroquin-norby

https://news.artnet.com/art-world/met-hiring-curator-indigenous-art-1641745

 

Protecting Uncontacted Tribes: In Brazil, a public servant who worked for 30 years in protecting uncontacted tribes was killed by one of their arrows, probably by accident. “Upholding the no-contact policy is the responsibility of the National Indian Foundation, or FUNAI, the federal agency where Mr. Franciscato worked for more than three decades. Its mission has become increasingly hard in recent years as loggers and miners have invaded Indigenous territories in violation of federal law”.

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/11/world/americas/brazil-uncontacted-tribes.html

 

Communities and Languages: As schools open in the province of Inner Mongolia, China’s government sends an official order that Mandarin be used to teach history, politics and literature. In protest, ethnic-minority parents kept their children at home.

 

https://www.economist.com/china/2020/09/05/chinas-efforts-to-boost-mandarin-use-in-schools-angers-ethnic-mongols

 

Ancient habitation sites: In Australia, a mining company destroyed a heritage aboriginal habitation site that was 46,000 years old. The CEO had to resign.

 

https://www.npr.org/2020/09/11/911866159/a-mining-company-blew-up-a-46-000-year-old-aboriginal-site-its-ceo-is-resigning

 

Such news reports raise more questions than we can answer. Have we allowed indigenous communities a say in preservation of their art and the national art discourse? Have we identified their heritage sites and helped to protect them? Have we done enough to protect their language heritage and help them preserve it? Do we understand all the ways in which the modern agri-industrial civilization invades their space and do we understand the implications? Why do we take false pride in diversity when we don’t have the commitment to protect it in all its forms?

 

Read past issues of EcoUniv Weekend Reads at: http://ecouniv.in/blog/

You can also receive EcoUniv Weekend Reads by following us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ecouniv.in/

 

EcoUniv Weekend Reads #32

20 Sep 2020

 

Industry: Some 60% of the world’s disposable glove supply comes from Malaysia (1/3 of this goes to US alone). We have already seen the potential environmental costs of the millions of gloves and PPE equipment coming to trash. This article talks about worker’s conditions where these gloves are manufactured.

 

https://edition.cnn.com/2020/09/11/business/malaysia-top-glove-forced-labor-dst-intl-hnk/index.html

 

Biodiversity: The story of an apple variety that was thought to be extinct and was found after a 20-year search.

 

https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/colorado-orange-apple-trnd-scn/index.html

 

Environmental Education: The first in a series of articles by EcoUniv about how to initiate holistic environmental education at the +2 and college level.

 

http://ecouniv.in/painting-the-college-green-an-environmental-course-framework-for-2-and-college-part-1/

 

EcoUniv Weekend Reads #33

27 Sep 2020

 

Pollution: Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, a concept that was pitched more than 25 years ago, were seen as a harbinger of sustainable mobility. A recent report shows their actual carbon emissions to be much higher than official test results.

 

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/09/17/study-claims-plug-in-hybrid-emissions-are-higher-than-thought-.html

 

Research – Palaeontology: Exactly 10 years ago, a notable amber deposit was found in the Cambay Shale in Gujarat. Analysis of the 50-million-year-old fossil insects in it showed a diversity of insects, associated with tropical forest trees covering much of India at the time.

 

Article: https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/Huge-amber-deposit-discovery-in-western-India/article15793247.ece

 

Paper: https://www.pnas.org/content/107/43/18360

 

Environmental Education: In part 2 of the “Painting the college green” series, we present a six-course framework of required courses for college students, and suggested syllabi for the first two courses.

 

http://ecouniv.in/painting-the-college-green-an-environmental-education-framework-for-college-part-2-two-courses-for-first-year-college/

 

EcoUniv Weekend Reads : Aug 2020

EcoUniv Weekend Reads # 25

2 August 2020

 

Conservation: How Costa Rica conserved it’s forests.

 

https://edition.cnn.com/2020/07/27/americas/reforestation-costa-rica-c2e-spc/index.html

 

Dams: China’s massive Three Gorges dam was said to be built for flood control among other reasons. In this year’s torrential rains, is the rationale holding up?

 

https://edition.cnn.com/style/article/china-three-gorges-dam-intl-hnk-dst/index.html

 

Green Energy: Is renewable energy really green, if manufacturing it’s equipment on a massive scale is anyway going to need fossil fuel based energy and disturbing the environment in other ways? A documentary film, and an article in response to it.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zk11vI-7czE

 

https://www.downtoearth.org.in/blog/energy/planet-of-the-humans-is-green-energy-enough-to-save-the-day–72277

 

EcoUniv Weekend Reads # 26

9 August 2020

 

EcoUniv Weekend Reads completes six months.

 

Research – Species: Why are aquatic mammals much larger in size than those on land? The previous thinking was they don’t have the constraints that land-based mammals face. Research in recent years however shows that their large size is a trade-off between trapping enough body heat and finding enough food.

A paper: https://www.pnas.org/content/115/16/4194

An article: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2018/03/whales-size-animals-ocean-marine-mammals/

 

Species: Rhinos, once the largest animals on land, have a fascinating natural history. E.g. Did you know that the original ancestor of all Rhino species evolved in India 50+ million years ago?

http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20150518-the-epic-history-of-rhinos

 

Climate Change: How (and why) climate change is causing migration on a mass scale. A migration model and reporting on the ground both point to the same bleak future.

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/07/23/magazine/climate-migration.html

 

EcoUniv Weekend Reads # 27

15 August 2020

 

Research – Climate Change: “Greenland’s ice sheet has melted to a point of no return, and efforts to slow global warming will not stop it from disintegrating….. It dumps more than 280 billion metric tons of melting ice into the ocean each year, making it the greatest single contributor to global sea level rise,”

“…widespread retreat between 2000 and 2005 resulted in a step increase in discharge and a switch to a new dynamic state of sustained mass loss that would persist even under a decline in surface melt.”

 

Paper: https://www.nature.com/articles/s43247-020-0001-2.pdf

 

A dialog with the authors: https://edition.cnn.com/2020/08/14/weather/greenland-ice-sheet/index.html

 

Trees: Why do some trees live for more than 1,000 years?

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/13/science/oldest-trees-ginkgos.html

 

Forests: A German forest ranger’s view on trees as social beings rather than the prevailing mechanistic view as just an organic system.

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/30/world/europe/german-forest-ranger-finds-that-trees-have-social-networks-too.html

 

EcoUniv Weekend Reads # 28

23 August 2020

 

Energy & Transport: What is the real mineral, energy, and carbon footprint of so-called Electric Vehicles?

https://www.forbes.com/sites/tilakdoshi/2020/08/02/the-dirty-secrets-of-clean-electric-vehicles

 

Water: According to a 2018 report by Food & Water Watch, 64% of bottled water is tap water, yet it can cost many times more. Shouldn’t governments invest in making drinkable water available to all?

https://www.ecowatch.com/bottled-water-sources-tap-2537510642.html

 

Ecosystems: We are in the middle of an ecosystems collapse due rapidly declining insect populations.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/oct/21/insects-giant-ecosystem-collapsing-human-activity-catastrophe

 

EcoUniv Weekend Reads # 29

30 August 2020

 

Forests: What was our interaction with tropical forests in the pre-historic period?

 

https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/08/evidence-that-humans-had-farms-30000-years-earlier-than-previously-thought/

 

Rivers: This article exposes how ineffective our river cleaning projects are, and how long they keep running.

 

https://www.livemint.com/Leisure/25FjfPP3I9t8oZLb6nYkPN/Victor-Mallet-The-Ganga-has-pollution-problems-but-it-is-n.html

 

Video: Rooted Truth – A short documentary on SAI sanctuary.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8zoxzZGD2WI