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.

EcoUniv Weekend Reads : May 2020

EcoUniv Weekend Reads # 12

1 May 2020

Farming: How to grow 26 types of veggies in a 60 sq ft space.

Bats: They carry coronaviruses. They are mysterious. We have discovered only 25% of their species.

Ecosystems:  Succulent Karoo, a desert in S. Africa, has “6,300 plant species — thousands of which are found nowhere else on Earth…including a third of the world’s succulent species”

Economics: Three articles which pose questions relevant during today’s civilization-scale pause: 1. Can we go back to a circular, sustainable, bottom-up, local-first economy after Coronavirus or do we want to go back to the same old economy and be it’s victims?  2. The plans that the city of Amsterdam has for a _Doughnut Economy_ and  3. An article which appeals that Post-COVID economy and governance for India must be bottom-up, not top-down

EcoUniv Weekend Reads # 13

10 May 2020

Industry: Read about the many environmental impacts of the global apparel industry, particularly ‘fast fashion’, and the _greenwashing_ done by brands to show they are working on ‘sustainable ideas’.

Research – Climate Change: A new paper projects that “depending on scenarios of population growth and warming, over the coming 50 years, 1 to 3 billion people are projected to be left outside the climate conditions that have served humanity well over the past 6,000 years”.

History indicates that the ‘have’s adapt to such catastrophic changes, but the ‘have not’s may get wiped out.

Research – Species: Genomic Analysis of lions makes the lions’ family tree clearer.

Species – Bats: A bat expert talks about “societal behaviour, human prejudice amid increasing vilification of bats for novel coronavirus”.–70900

Environmental Education: A 2014 Marathi essay by me, originally published in Shikshanvedh magazine, which delves on the holistic point of view and environmental education rooted in such a holistic viewpoint.

EcoUniv Weekend Reads # 14

17 May 2020

’Development’ in Western Ghats: The story of a road being widened through Western Ghats and another about a rail link between Karnataka and Goa. It tells us all that is wrong with our environmental governance.

Research:  According to a recent paper in Lancent Planetary Health, the number of lives saved (due to zero air pollution) during the recent lockdown in Wuhan was higher than the deaths due to Coronavirus. The irony of modern life!

Villages :  “खेड्यांबद्दल” या माझ्या नवीन लेखमालेत भारतीय खेड्याचा भूत-वर्तमान-भविष्यकाळ, खेडे व पर्यावरणस्नेही समाज, अशा मुद्यांबद्दल विचार-मांडणी केली जाईल.

या लेखात गांधीजींच्या संकल्पनेतील खेडे नक्की कसे होते ते बघू या.

Photos: The disappearing rivers of Iceland

EcoUniv Weekend Reads # 15

24 May 2020

Ecosystems: What are keystone species and why are they important?

Scientists: Three articles about Robert Paine, the scientist who discovered keystone species — each article has it’s unique insights.

Scientists:  Robert May, who died recently, was a theoretical physicist by training and one of the founders of complexity theory. His mathematical models influenced diverse fields such as ecology, epidemiology and finance.

खेड्यांबद्दल: गांधीजी आणि रिचर्ड केसी यांच्यातील चर्चा – एक नवीन लेख.

EcoUniv Weekend Reads # 16

31  May 2020

Energy: The air-conditioner’s design has not changed for over a century. It has an energy efficiency of only 14%. India will go from 14 million AC units today to 1 billion units in 2050. Read about a R&D competition to propose alternative, energy-efficient designs for the AC.

The eight finalists for the Global Cooling Prize, whose prototypes are being tested for 60 days in Delhi summer of 2020:

Botany: Pencil Pine, a conifer endemic to Tasmania is a threatened species. Though it can live for a 1000 years, it produces seeds only sporadically. It happened last in 2015. Now it is happening again, in the middle of the Pandemic. Read about the ongoing efforts to monitor the flowering and collect the cones.

Conservation: Roughly midway between the southern tips of Africa and S. America is a group of remote islands called Tristan da Cunha, named after the explorer who found them. Here, on the Gough Island, the Yellow-nosed albatross and Tristan albatross are at risk from giant mice, who eat their chicks alive, endangering their population. UK’s RSPB has started a conservation program at a remote location such as this.

Read about the conservation work and watch a related video.

EcoUniv Weekend Reads : April 2020

EcoUniv Weekend Reads # 8

5 Apr 2020

Hominins:  Multiple new studies have been reported about our ancestors in the past few days. The Homo Erectus is now thought to have existed 150K-200K years earlier than previously thought. It also co-existed with the Austraolpithecus and Paranthropus. New studies done on fossils of what could be children of Australopithecus afarensis and Homo Naladi tell us they were somewhat similar to us. This, and more.

Environmental Education: A new article by me to start filling in the details of EcoUniv’s environmental education framework. We start by understanding the learners at various ages and this week we start with kindergarten kids.

EcoUniv Weekend Reads # 9

11 Apr 2020

Coronavirus and Inequality: In the face of the pandemic, nations are collaborating. But they are also competing. In this article, read how poor nations have to fight with rich nations for scarce medical resources like masks and test reagents.

Coronavirus and animal farming: A majority of the meat that is eaten by Homo Sapiens now comes from animal farms. What is the likelihood of these animals catching viruses like Covid-19 and what does it mean for animal farming practices?

Amazon Fires: The topic of fires in the Amazon basin has gone in the background due to other headlines. This in-depth article talks about how this problem was in making over a long term, including complex issues like broken deals, livelihood from cattle ranching, and ‘cattle laundering’. “The Takeaway: A supply chain can only be as green as its least eco-friendly link.”

Economics: Due to the pandemic-caused recession, unemployment threatens to reach double digits in many developed economies. Ideas like Social Security and Minimum Monthly Income for all, are sure to get revisited. They will also make the global economy more humane and less cut-throat. Read this profile of the architect of US social security, Frances Perkins, the first female member of a presidential cabinet.

Environmental Education: A new article by me to fill in the details of EcoUniv’s Environmental Education Framework. We are looking at learners of various ages and this week we focus on six-year olds (first grade).

EcoUniv Weekend Reads # 10

18 Apr 2020

Botany: Sometimes, a single study can start a new field of scientific research: in this case, phytoacoustics. Plants can ‘hear’ and respond. “Within three minutes of exposure to these [bee] recordings, sugar concentration in the plants increased from between 12 and 17 percent to 20 percent.”

Coronavirus and Poaching: Ever since a lockdown was announced in S. Africa, poaching is on the rise, as game reserves are empty. A report from the field.

Environmental Education: A new article by me to fill in the details of EcoUniv’s Environmental Education Framework. We are looking at learners of various ages and this week we focus on seven-year olds (second grade).

EcoUniv Weekend Reads # 11

26 Apr 2020

Coronavirus and plastic pollution: There’s a deluge of discarded masks and gloves into our oceans, and it is adding to the already serious plastic pollution.

Photos: This time, photos from space: NO2 tropospheric column density in major European cities, March/April 2020, compared with the year-ago period. Due to the lockdowns, air pollution is down significantly. We should use this time to reflect on our needs vs. wants in ‘normal’ times, which are a source of pollution.

Pollution: Can we use Coronavirus lockdowns as an opportunity to “reset” our emissions? Can we declare “Peak Carbon”?

Environmental Education: A Basic Ornithology course is available online from the experts at IISER, SACON, NCBS, and NCF.

EcoUniv Weekend Reads: March 2020

EcoUniv Weekend Reads

8 Mar 2020

Climate: Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the Westerly winds and Southern Ocean waters are connected in complex ways. And we may be at a tipping point where less and less CO2 will be absorbed by the ocean and will stay in the atmosphere. Read to know a lengthy yet rich scientific review.

Biosphere: In quantitative terms (kilograms), how much of our biosphere is made of animals, plants, and other living things? How much by human being vs other animals? Read these estimates and charts in this paper.

Conservation: Reading about lab-based conservation is often dejecting, because it is the final frontier of conservation of a species — it is explored when a species has gone extinct, or about to go extinct in the wild. Yet, it needs to be recognized as an effort by the human race to right it’s wrongs using the tools of science. If you have read Lawrence Anthony’s ‘The Last Rhinos’, you might be following the efforts to conserve the Northern White Rhino. Read about the last-ditch efforts to rebuild their population from the last 2!

EcoUniv Weekend Reads

14 Mar 2020

This is a Coronavirus special. But in a different way! It has no bombardment about the ‘what’s of Coronavirus. Rather it poses some ‘why’s.

Animal Behavior and Virus: Developing better intuition on the ‘connectedness’ of all things, raises our ability to ask difficult questions. E.g. this paper connecting animal behaviour, land use, and spread of pathogens. Researchers studying the African mongoose found that “complex landscapes may influence host behavior, modifying pathogen transmission dynamics across land type, potentially creating super-spreading areas, or hotspots, of environmental disease transmission”. Spreading of virus-based diseases may have root causes in changes in the animal world, which, of course is getting impacted due to habitat destruction.

Debt and the Virus: After the 2009 financial crisis, you’d think that the financial wizards in corporate castles would have learnt their lessons about high amounts of unsustainable debt. But no! Over the last 10 years, non-bank corporates in the US, China, and elsewhere have built a large mountain of debt, particularly in industries like Oil, Aviation, and Hospitality, which, you guessed it right, was predicated on growth in consumerism. As oil crashes and planes and hotels go empty due to Coronavirus, there is the ugly prospect that the world will find itself in the bursting of another debt bubble. There is no such thing as ‘sustainable development’.

EcoUniv Weekend Reads

22 Mar 2020

Evolution: One of Darwin’s hypotheses, that a species belonging to a larger genus should also include more subspecies, is proven using modern data modelling tools. Further, the models show that Species/Subspecies Richness (the number of species in a genus) is stronger in mammals that don’t live on land — bats and whales.

Animals, Virus, and Man: An article that sheds light on “zoonotic spillover” — areas at the edge of wild animals habitats, where animal-breeding virus can get transferred to man. More habitat destruction may result in more such virus transfer and its eventual spread among humans.

EcoUniv Weekend Reads

28 Mar 2020

Animals, Virus, and Man: A 2012 article from NYT which talks about the Ecology of Disease. It talks about potential epidemic scenarios, as wildlife-hosted virus make it to human populations when natural landscapes get degraded. “Just an estimated 1 percent of wildlife viruses are known.”

Grasslands: An eco-travelogue exploring 51,000 acres of protected Tallgrass Prairie in Oklahoma, US.

Coronavirus and the environment: We all know the lockdowns have resulted in sharp reductions in global emissions. This article compares the emission impacts of past pandemics and economics crashes.

Coronavirus and Globalization: With the controls on reckless global travel here to stay, and supply chains being re-tooled to reduce dependence on China, are we entering a period beyond ‘peak globalization’?

Coronavirus and Climate Change: Our response to Coronavirus, compared with our fight against climate change – a policy analysis article.

EcoUniv Weekend Reads: Feb 2020

EcoUniv Weekend Reads

15 Feb 2020

Population Science: 20+ states/UT now have a fertility rate that is below the ideal 2.1. Should we celebrate? A long article that discusses many trends and forecasts of global population.

Ecology: India plans to import the African cheetah in a national park in MP. Is it worth it? An article on the cheetah’s ecology and the massive home range it needs.

Video: China’s reindeer herder community.

EcoUniv Weekend Reads

22 Feb 2020

Ecology: State of India’s Birds 2020, a comprehensive report warns that many Indian bird populations are already facing significant population declines.

Full report:

Marathi summary:

Botany: News about a 2014 paper that challenges the assumption that older, bigger trees grow slower and absorb less carbon. A paper like this has its own controversies. Botanists/forestry enthusiasts may find the comments below the article interesting (follow the ‘Nature’ link to paper and click on Comments). My take-aways: 1. We should protect all old, big trees no matter where they are. 2. Growing younger forests is important too, as they grow faster as a whole.

Map: Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) maintains an interactive map about “Litter on Indian beaches”. Check it out:

EcoUniv Weekend Reads

29 Feb 2020

Technology: In this interview podcast from MIT, Oxford’s Carl Frey, author of the book ‘The Technology Trap’, argues that resistance to all new technology is futile. Do you agree?

He also accepts that technology often comes with unforeseen problems, mostly in the short term. I find that to be an understatement. Is technology really beneficial to all even in the long term? What dimensions of technology’s negative impact are missing in this interview?

Biodiversity: Dolphins in the Indian ocean may now be only 13% of their population in 1980. The cause: Overfishing for tuna (dolphins and other marine animals get caught in the nets)