Once a month, we put together a list of stories we’ve been reading: things you might’ve missed or crucial conversations going on around the web. We focus on environmental and social justice, cities, science fiction, current events, and political theory.
We try to include articles that have been published recently but will last, that are relatively light and inspiring, and are from corners of the web that don’t always get the light of day. This will also be a space to keep you up to date with news about what’s happening at Uneven Earth.
Yet again, we’ve collected a wealth of news and worthwhile readings from last month. October brought us material on the situation in Brazil, responses to the apocalyptic IPCC report, and Sveriges Riksbank’s prize in economics (what some call the ‘Nobel Prize in Economics’) won by Paul Romer and William Nordhaus; and as usual you’ll find articles on degrowth, radical municipalism, and new technologies and false solutions.
Uneven Earth updates
Meet catabolic capitalism: globalization’s gruesome twin | Link | We’ll soon discover that capitalism without globalization is much, much worse.
Dark municipalism | Link | The dangers of local politics
Top 5 articles to read
A subaltern perspective on China’s ecological crisis. The path of modernization has left China deeply mired in the mud of ecological and socioeconomic injustice.
Beyond the Green New Deal. One of the issues is not so much producing solutions as it is one of institutionalizing the capacity to listen and learn from those who already have good solutions, but whose solutions are almost always ignored. It is time to start listening. Not before it is too late. But precisely because it is already very late.
The automation charade. The rise of the robots has been greatly exaggerated. Whose interests does that serve?
Eco-pioneers in the 1970s: how aerospace workers tried to save their jobs – and the planet
News you might’ve missed
Mexico is on the verge of a major human disaster. Mexico City’s controversial new airport promises growth at the expense of human progress and the environment.
White House drops scheme to bail out coal, nukes
Surprise acquittal in Enbridge pipeline protesters’ case
New outlook on global warming: Best prepare for social collapse, and soon
‘Adults in the room’: Greens surge across Europe as centre-left flounders
Cuba embarks on a 100-year plan to protect itself from climate change
Changing climate forces desperate Guatemalans to migrate
Rise of the ‘megafarms’: how UK agriculture is being sold off and consolidated
World Bank and IMF guilty of promoting land grabs, increasing inequality
Europe’s dirty air kills 400,000 people every year
Mining crisis in Kiruna, Sápmi/Northern Sweden. The world’s largest underground iron ore mine and a cornerstone in the Swedish capitalist economy will soon be depleted. “The ore deposit in Kiruna has a more complex geometry at depth than was previously assumed. … This has to do with LKAB’s future, with mining beyond the life expectancy of the current main level, which extends to about year 2035. One could say that LKAB is now a mining company like any other and must search diligently for new ore volumes in order to survive.”
Google abandons Berlin base after two years of resistance. Kreuzberg residents were concerned about tech giant’s unethical practices and gentrification driving up rents
A 14-year-long oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico verges on becoming one of the worst in U.S. history
Indigenous suicide in Canada. This article provides some context, analysis, and profiles of initiatives working to address the severe ongoing crises of Indigenous suicide in the country.
“Catastrophic” effect of climate change on mental health found in new study
We’ve got 12 years: responses to the IPCC
There’s no time for gradualism. The urgency of climate change has never been clearer. We need a bold vision of a good and livable future — and a political program to match.
The uses of disaster. Climate change is here. In the midst of the storm, an opportunity arises to break with capitalism and its vicious inequality. Let’s seize it while we can. The alternatives are unthinkable.
The hope at the heart of the apocalyptic climate change report. Along with their latest dire predictions, the world’s leading climate scientists offered a new path forward—but will anyone take it?
To fix the climate crisis, we must face up to our imperial past.
Why catastrophic climate change is probably inevitable now. How capitalism torched the planet by imploding into fascism.
IPCC report: First thoughts on next steps by Sydney Azari
Who is the we in “We are causing climate change”?
Climate breakdown, capitalism and democracy
Fossil fuels are a threat to civilization, new U.N. report concludes
Billionaires are the leading cause of climate change
The case for climate pessimism. A frightening report on climate change has some experts pondering the perils of optimism about the future.
It’s already here. Left-wing climate realism and the Trump climate change memo
Burnout: Arguing the case against addressing Climate Change purely on Leftist terms
Sveriges Riksbank’s prize in economics
Why call it the Nobel prize in economics? Anyway, this year, William Nordhaus and Paul Romer won it for their work on the costs of climate change, which stirred quite a bit of controversy. We’ve collected a bunch of articles, blogs, and essays that lay out the dispute.
A Nobel Prize in honor of economic growth. William Nordhaus and Paul Romer have spent their careers studying ways to make and keep economies strong.
Nobel Prize for the economics of innovation and climate change stirs controversy. “I would say [this prize] is the last hurrah of a certain old guard of the economics profession that want to preserve the idea of growth at all costs,” says Julia Steinberger, an ecological economist at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom.
Nobel Prizes in economics, awarded and withheld
The Nordhaus Nobel. Perhaps that is the greatest irony here – that even the most Neoclassical view of climate that economics has to offer still recommends action.
Climate change and growth – Nordhaus and Romer
Why economists can’t understand complex systems
The Secret of Eternal Growth. The physics behind pro-growth environmentalism. “The award of the Nobel Prize in Economics to Paul Romer and William Nordhaus (i), in the same week as the IPCC report, can only be interpreted as a huge slap in the face for the champions of “degrowth”.
Bolsonaro in Brazil
Why Bolsonaro won: beyond the cliches. If mind-stopping cliches of violence and corruption do not correspond with voting patterns or Bolsonaro’s governmental plan why did he win the election? It was not a free or fair process.
Glenn Greenwald on Bolsonaro: Brazil has elected “most extremist leader in the democratic world”
“The proletariat of Brazil was defeated by democracy, not dictatorship.”
Neo-fascist Bolsonaro followers attack people throughout Brazil
Crisis in Brazil. An older analysis by Perry Anderson laying out what got Brazilians where they are now.
Jair Bolsonaro’s Brazil is a disaster for the Amazon and global climate change
Understanding the global rise of the extreme right, by Walden Bello
Anatomy of a rent strike in Los Angeles. “It was amazing,” Camero recalled. “It felt like God was in our favor.”
LATU rent strikes and the geography of extraction in LA’s housing market
The EU’s obstacle course for municipalism. Radical democratic programmes face obstacles from both EU and national neoliberal legislation. Despite this, cities can and are finding ways to bypass these obstacles.
The mayors and the movements. In 2015, a wave of social movements lifted left-wing mayors to power in Spain. Their experience in office shows the importance of linking institutional power to bottom-up mobilization.
Spain to close most coalmines in €250m transition deal
Václav Havel’s lessons on how to create a “parallel polis”
Organizing the suburbs. The electoral success of the right is the result of decades of disengagement by the left and sophisticated politicking by right-wing politicians.
How real estate segregated America. Real-estate interests have long wielded an outsized influence over national housing policy—to the detriment of African Americans.
The housing revolution we need. A decade after the crash of 2008, a growing movement has thrust our prolonged housing crisis to the center of the national agenda. Could this generation finally make the right to housing a reality?
Beyond visions and projects: the need for a debate on strategy in the degrowth movement
Economic growth: The party’s over, says IMF
Degrowth: A call for radical abundance. One of the core claims of degrowth economics is that by restoring public services and expanding the commons, people will be able to access the goods that they need to live well without needing high levels of income.
Gathering degrowth in the American pluriverse. A report on the 2018 DegrowUS Gathering
Degrowth: closing the global wealth divide
What’s the point of growth if it creates so much misery?
New technologies and false solutions
Half-Earth: A biodiversity ‘solution’ that solves nothing
Against geoengineering. Geoengineering is a risky business. It is so risky, in fact, that it should be banned. Avoiding climate imperialism: A leftist vision of geoengineering
We need to talk about technology: Now is the time for experts, activists and workers to collaborate on well-designed, affordable and energy-positive buildings.
“What lasted for 3000 years has been destroyed in 30”: the struggle for food sovereignty in Tunisia. Today is the International Day of Action for Peoples’ Food Sovereignty, organised by La Via Campesina. In this article, Max Ajl reports from Tunisia on the struggles for food sovereignty there, and on what it means for the Global South.
Farms race. Advocates of “open-source agriculture” say they can build a better food system. Should we believe them?
Universal basic income Is Silicon Valley’s latest scam. The plan is no gift to the masses, but a tool for our further enslavement
Jacques Ellul: A prophet for our tech-saturated times
Plastics and waste
Are the days of recycling with a clear conscience over? Our whole recycling culture is an illusion masking a growing problem of unsustainable manufacturing and consumerism.
Microplastics are turning up everywhere, even in human excrement
Japan bursting with plastic garbage in the wake of China’s 2017 waste import ban.
Taiwan is revolutionizing democracy
Rojava: Between city and village, between war and ecology
Communism might last a million years. Two giants of revolutionary thought passed from this world in 2018. Through them, we can glimpse the distant shores of a classless society.
Aggressive advertising is bad for us – we must fight back like Sydney. The decision to project a horse-race ad on the Sydney Opera House has triggered a huge backlash. It’s a reminder of why we should all be protesting against the effects of late capitalism
The communes of Rojava: A model in societal self direction. This amazing video and documentary, produced by Neighbor Democracy, details the evolving communal organs within the Rojava Revolution, from security to health care.
Land and labour. When we understand that settler-colonialism and capitalism are inextricable, we might begin to see that workers and Indigenous land defenders have more affinity in struggle than we previously thought.
Baby steps on the road to basic income. Seven Dutch towns and cities are beginning experiments with versions of a ‘basic income light’.
Where we’re at: analysis
A people’s rebellion is the only way to fight climate breakdown
How to restore Florida’s dammed waterways
A critical look at China’s One Belt, One Road initiative
Landgrabbing, illicit finance and corporate crime: an update. Land grabbing is now considered a crime against humanity, but few land grabbers end up in jail. Instead, if you search the specialised website farmlandgrab.org for news about law suits, court proceedings, convictions or imprisonment related to land deals, what you will largely find are reports of local communities being accused of wrongdoing for defending their own territories against powerful companies! Yet the links between crime, corruption and those engaging in agricultural land deals are real.
Flipping the corruption myth. Corruption is by far not the main factor behind persisting poverty in the Global South.
Fracking democracy, criminalising dissent
I was jailed for my fracking protest. But others face much worse
Colonialism can’t be forgotten – it’s still destroying peoples and our planet
The rise of border imperialism
Tribalism isn’t our democracy’s main problem. The conservative movement is. In the real world, the conservative movement — and the economic elites that it serves — have an interest in perpetuating both social polarization, and the unresponsive governance that it produces.
A Greek tragedy: how the EU is destroying a country. The problem could be solved tomorrow through the usual remedy of significant debt write-offs
Why the distribution of wealth has more to do with power than productivity
Just think about it…
Welcome to Jurassic Art. That’s where we were in the early 1960s — dinosaurs were sad, cold blooded, dead ends in the history of life… But paleontology was about to go through a spectacular shift.
Why do we feel so busy? It’s all our hidden ‘shadow work’
Can’t sleep? Perhaps you’re overtired
Far right, misogynist, humourless? Why Nietzsche is misunderstood. The German philosopher has been adopted by the alt-right, but he hated antisemitism. He has been misappropriated and misread, argues his biographer.
If you’re suffering from climate grief, you’re not alone
The real seeds producers: Small-scale farmers save, use, share and enhance the seed diversity of the crops that feed Africa.
How to write about a vanishing world. Scientists chronicling ecological destruction must confront the loss of their life’s work and our planet’s riches.
Racial purity is “scientifically meaningless,” say 8,000 geneticists
No future: From punk to zapatismo and connected multitudes
Endgame: how Australian preppers are bugging out and hunkering down. “We all have different skills and, in a real-life situation, how much better to talk to each other and pool our resources. Society would have to rearrange. We couldn’t all just lock ourselves away and, if we did, we wouldn’t last for very long.”
An interactive map of China’s wildcat strikes
UNDER WATER: How rising waters cost us all
A gorgeous visualization of commutes around the world
America is warming fast. See how your city’s weather will be different in just one generation.
A podcast and blog dealing with the anti-capitalist permaculture movement.
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