EcoUniv Weekend Reads: June 2021

EcoUniv Weekend Reads #69

6 June 2021

Man & Nature: The Soliga community struggles to save its old ways of living while adapting to modernity.

Research – Species: How an Elephant’s Trunk Manipulates Air to Eat and Drink.




Research – Species: The mockingbird’s song(s) have been decoded.




EcoUniv Weekend Reads #70

13 June 2021

Economics: A ProPublica investigation about how the super-wealthy in US pay very low taxes relative to increases in their net worth – legally! Naturally, this increases economic inequality in US and globally. Why? Because the American way tends to influence rule-making elsewhere.

NYT comment:

Species: A single honeybee has cloned itself hundreds of millions of times

Man & Nature: A study on the Amazon Rainforest has found that indigenous people lived there for millennia while “causing no detectable species losses or disturbances”.


EcoUniv Weekend Reads #71

20 June 2021

Exploration: The story of finding the “southernmost” tree on our planet

Conservation: Herds of exotic animals are maintained at some ranches in US, to facilitate hunting. Their conservation value is debatable.

Migration: Some people in Delhi are already moving to other cities due to the air pollution.


EcoUniv Weekend Reads #72

27 June 2021

Evolution: The story of Homo Sapiens, retold based on the latest advances and findings.

Animals: Honeybees found using tools to repel giant hornet attacks

Domestication: Ice age Siberian hunters may have domesticated dogs 23,000 years ago

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”.


Research article:


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.


Research article:


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:

Research abstract:


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


EcoUniv Weekend Reads #66

16 May 2021


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




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




पर्यावरण शिक्षण: पर्यावरणाचा सर्वंकष दृष्टिकोन


EcoUniv Weekend Reads #67

23 May 2021


Evolution: How Darwin foreshadowed modern scientific theories.

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.


Play with the data:

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



Explore the data:


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.


Research Article:


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

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.

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

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



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?

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

Agriculture: How Sikkim became an all-organic state.


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.




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.


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

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).

Research Article:

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



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.