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.



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




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


EcoUniv Weekend Reads #57

14 Mar 2021


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




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.


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.


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


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?


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


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


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


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



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’


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.


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.


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



EcoUniv Weekend Reads #54

21 Feb 2021


Biodiversity: A new comprehensive report connecting biodiversity and economics


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.


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.


EcoUniv Weekend Reads #55

28 Feb 2021


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


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


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

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.


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.


A more in-depth article on related data:


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?


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


EcoUniv Weekend Reads #48

11 Jan 2021


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


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




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


EcoUniv Weekend Reads #49

18 Jan 2021


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


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




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.


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.


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).


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.


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.


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.


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

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.


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


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:


Detailed Plan:


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.”



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.


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


Pollution: Coca-Cola, PepsiCo & Nestle are the world’s 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…


…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.


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


Conservation: Interview of a snow leopard expert–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.


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


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.

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.






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


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


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


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


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


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


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



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 :

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

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


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.


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.


EcoUniv Weekend Reads #42

29 November 2020


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




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


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



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


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



Gandhi: Environmentalism and Gandhi.


EcoUniv Weekend Reads #35

11 October 2020


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


Climate: September 2020 was the warmest on record.


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.


EcoUniv Weekend Reads #36

18 October 2020


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


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.


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.



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?


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.


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.

EcoUniv Weekend Reads : Sept 2020

EcoUniv Weekend Reads #30

6 Sep 2020


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


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?


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.


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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.


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”.


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.


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.


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?


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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.


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


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


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.


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.






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.


EcoUniv Weekend Reads : Aug 2020

EcoUniv Weekend Reads # 25

2 August 2020


Conservation: How Costa Rica conserved it’s forests.


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?


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.–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:

An article:


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?


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.


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.”




A dialog with the authors:


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


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


EcoUniv Weekend Reads # 28

23 August 2020


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


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


EcoUniv Weekend Reads # 29

30 August 2020


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


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


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


EcoUniv Weekend Reads : July 2020

EcoUniv Weekend Reads # 21

5 July 2020

Species: A new monkey species is found in SE Asia. “Three Southeast Asian leaf monkeys are distinct species, new research shows, which makes two of them some of the rarest, most endangered primates.”

Conservation: Helping Namibia’s wild horses survive.

Human impacts on environment: An article that details Indian railways’ impact on wildlife like tigers and elephants, during the British India period and beyond.

EcoUniv Weekend Reads # 22

12 July 2020

Species:  The rare Indus dolphin is rebounding in Pakistan.

Man and nature: Indigenous trackers in the Kalahari desert are teaching scientists about wildlife and conservation. Do watch the slide show of species in this desert and associated information.

Climate Change: There is now a 24% chance that global average temperature could surpass the 1.5 C  mark in the next five years.

EcoUniv Weekend Reads # 23

18 July 2020

Research – Population Science: A recent and extensive modelling of population in195 countries predicts that the global population will peak in 2064 at 9·73 billion.

Interact with the data visualizations. E.g. India’s population is expected to peak at 1.60 billion between 2043-2055.

Research – Pollution: We know that microplastics pollute soil and water. But they are also a major source of air pollution and they eventually make it to the oceans and terrestrial ecosystems via air. Tyre and break wear particles emitted from the global road traffic are a primary source of this.

A dialog with the authors:

Sustainable Construction: A civil engineer from Brazil has designed a new type of brick which has 1/10th the energy use and CO2 emissions from regular bricks.

Wildlife: Possible causes for the recent deaths of 280 African elephants in Botswana.

EcoUniv Weekend Reads # 24

26 July 2020

Ecosystems: Vreni Häussermann is a Marine Fellow with Pew Charitable Trust and scientific director of the Huinay Scientific Field Station located in the Comau Fjord in Chilean Patagonia. Read about their work focused on this highly bio-diverse, nearshore marine ecosystem.

Research – Species: Why do mosquitoes specialize in biting humans? There are 3500 species of mosquitoes on Earth, both in man-made surroundings and in the wild. Yet, recent research, focused on Africa, highlights that mosquitoes’ preference for humans is associated with intense dry seasons (probably due to climate change) and rapid urbanization.

A dialog with the authors:

Pollution: A recent report from Systemiq and Pew Charitable Trusts worries about marine pollution due to plastics. “the annual flow of plastic into the ocean will nearly triple by 2040, to 29 million metric tons per year… equivalent to 50 kg of plastic per metre of coastline worldwide”, unless we all take action today.

EcoUniv Weekend Reads : June 2020

EcoUniv Weekend Reads # 17

7 June 2020

Paleobotany: A 110 million old dinosaur fossil is exceptionally well preserved. And in it’s stomach are fragments of the vegetables and leaves it ate as it’s last meal.

Agriculture: 75% of farmers in India own less than 1 hectare and they sign up for a _negative_ monthly income of Rs. 1500. Read why it does not pay to be a small farmer in India.

Land: Some of the leading universities in USA are “land-grant universities”. i.e. they benefited from the Morrill Act of 1862, which appropriated land to fund agricultural and mechanical colleges. The land originally belonged to native Indian tribes.

पर्यावरणवादाबद्दल: पर्यावरण दिन २०२० च्या निमित्ताने माझी एक नवीन लेखमालिका. यातील पहिला लेख:चार प्रकारचे पर्यावरणवादी

EcoUniv Weekend Reads # 18

13 June 2020

Species: Eeels from rivers in both Europe and North America migrate to a unique place called the Sargasso Sea (within the North Atlantic Ocean) to reproduce, and they do it just once in their lifetime. Read about this migration.

To learn more about the Sargasso Sea, watch this video

Economics: Professor Thomas Piketty’s latest book, Capital and Ideology was published in 2019. Below are slides from a talk he gave at the London School of Economics in February, which capture key ideas from the book.

Resources: Researchers analyzed weather data to assess soil moisture during the period of six major famines in British India. It was found that the Bengal famine of 1943 was ”…completely because of policy failure. Policy lapses such as prioritizing distribution of vital supplies to the military, stopping rice imports and not declaring that it was actually a famine were among the factors that led to the magnitude of the tragedy.“ The Bengal famine claimed 3 million lives. Winston Churchill was Britain’s Prime Minister during this period.

Research paper abstract:

पर्यावरणवादाबद्दल: या मालिकेतील नवीन लेख – पर्यावरणवादी दृष्टिकोनांचे विश्लेषण

EcoUniv Weekend Reads # 19

21 June 2020

Species: Pythons eat large and infrequent meals. What kind of unique body adaptations do they have to manage such metabolism? Read about the research that has been going on for 25 years to understand this. “….snakes perform a genetic symphony, producing a torrent of new proteins that enable their body to quickly turn into an unrivaled digestion machine.”

Conservation: The Beas Conservation Reserve – a 185-km stretch of the Beas River is probably India’s only Protected Area which is along a river. Gharials were introduced there 2 years ago.

The water quality of the Beas has considerably improved during the lockdown. This has resulted in abundance of prey and Gharials spending more time in the waters.

Sustainable Business: Unilever plans to make all its 70,000 products biodegradable by 2030 and have a ‘deforestation-free’ supply chain by 2023.

But what about the environmental costs ‘externalized’ by all such companies so far?

Research – Evolution: “During animal evolution, the water-to-land transition resulted in a massive increase in visual range. Simulations of behaviour identify a specific type of terrestrial habitat, clustered open and closed areas (savanna-like), where the advantage of planning peaks…..The vertebrate invasion of land may have been an important step in their cognitive evolution.”

A dialog with the authors:

Play the online game developed by the authors to know how savanna is different than other landscapes.

पर्यावरणवादाबद्दल: या मालिकेतील नवीन लेख – व्यक्तिगत पातळीवरील पर्यावरणवाद

EcoUniv Weekend Reads # 20

28 June 2020

Species: New research on butterfly wings shows that they are not passive tissue like toenails or hair, but “hold intricate networks of veins, sensory cells, and often scent pads for releasing and spreading mating pheromones.” Read for an entirely new understanding of those beautiful butterfly wings.

Research – Sapiens:  The most ancient evidence of Sapiens using technology like bow and arrows in South Asia is from 48 KYA in the Sri Lankan site of Fa-Hien Lena. This predates evidence from both Europe and Southeast Asia. Bows &  arrows are part of humans’ tools that were used in the Late Pleistocene (129 KYA – 11.7 KYA). In addition, symbolic and social technologies like beads were found.

A dialog with the paper’s authors:

Climate Change: It feels strange to read the words ‘boiling’ and ‘Siberia’ in the same sentence, doesn’t it? But this May, temperatures in Siberia were 10 degrees above normal – a temperature variation that would happen only once in 100K years, if it was not for climate change.

…and as the permafrost thawed, fuel tank at a power station sunk into the ground, causing 20,000 tonnes of oil to spill. I call this the Fukushima Pattern — catastrophic weather events hitting man-made complex systems in ways we had not imagined before.