George Monbiot writes: For the past few years, scientists have been frantically sounding an alarm that governments refuse to hear: the global food system is beginning to look like the global financial system in the run-up to 2008. While financial collapse would have been devastating to human welfare, food system collapse doesn’t bear thinking about.… Read More »
Audrey Borowski writes: For [the philosopher Günther] Anders, the disasters of the 20th century were simply the logical outcome of a pernicious process that had already been underway for many years, involving the gradual exclusion of mankind from all production processes – and, ultimately, from the world created by those processes. The real catastrophe in… Read More »
Benjamin Ehrlich writes: In 1914, when World War I broke out, Santiago Ramón y Cajal, the most influential neuroscientist in the world—the man who discovered brain cells, later termed neurons— published only one article, by far his lowest output ever. “The horrendous European war of 1914 was for my scientific activity a very rude blow,”… Read More »
The Guardian reports: As the risks from the climate crisis and global conflict increase, seed banks are increasingly considered a priceless resource that could one day prevent a worldwide food crisis. Two in five of the world’s plant species are at risk of extinction, and though researchers estimate there are at least 200,000 edible plant… Read More »
Anthropocene magazine reports: The average global energy consumption—79 gigajoules per person per year—is sufficient to power a healthy, comfortable life for everyone on the planet, according to a new study. The analysis is part of a growing body of research aimed at figuring out how to achieve climate goals while also providing modern energy resources… Read More »
Wired reports: Charles Darwin thought of evolution as an incremental process, like the patient creep of glaciers or the march of continental plates. “We see nothing of these slow changes in progress until the hand of time has marked the long lapse of ages,” he wrote in On the Origin of Species, his famous 1859… Read More »
Tom Chivers writes: In the deep ocean, occasionally, a whale carcass falls to the bottom of the sea. Most of the time, in the state of nature, creatures have just about enough to survive. But the first creatures to find the whale have more food than they could ever eat. These scavengers live lives of… Read More »
Justin McGuirk writes: The opposition between ‘nature’ and ‘culture’ is problematic for many reasons, but there’s one that we rarely discuss. The ‘nature vs culture’ dualism leaves out an entire domain that properly belongs to neither: the world of waste. The mountains of waste that we produce every year, the torrents of polluting effluent, the… Read More »
On the occasion of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaks on the need to tackle climate change as the future of our planet is in our hands.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama talks about the need for universal responsibility, for the whole of humanity to learn to live happily together.
George Monbiot writes: There is a myth about human beings that withstands all evidence. It’s that we always put our survival first. This is true of other species. When confronted by an impending threat, such as winter, they invest great resources into avoiding or withstanding it: migrating or hibernating, for example. Humans are a different… Read More »
Kim Sterelny writes: Most of us live in social worlds that are profoundly unequal, where small elites have vastly more power and wealth than everyone else. Very few of the have-nots find this congenial. As experimental economists have shown, we tend to enter social situations prepared to take a chance and cooperate in collective activities.… Read More »
David Egan writes: Human hatreds take on a depressing variety of forms: in addition to individual hatreds, the world roils with xenophobia, racism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, and on and on and on. Less remarked upon is an underlying zoophobia – a fear of, or antipathy towards, animals – that’s manifest in many of the slurs… Read More »
Kevin Berger writes: In the past two years, the debate over whether music is universal, or even whether that debate has merit, has raged like a battle of the bands among scientists. The stage has expanded from musicology to evolutionary biology to cultural anthropology. This summer, in the journal Behavioral and Brain Sciences, more than… Read More »
Melanie Challenger writes: When I visited my grandmother at the undertakers, an hour or so before her funeral, I was struck by how different death is from sleep. A sleeping individual shimmers with fractional movements. The dead seem to rest in paused animation, so still they look smaller than in life. It’s almost impossible not… Read More »
The New York Times reports: While some African elephants parade across the savanna and thrill tourists on safari, others are more discreet. They stay hidden in the forests, eating fruit. “You feel pretty lucky when you catch sight of them,” said Kathleen Gobush, a Seattle-based conservation biologist and member of the African Elephant Specialist Group… Read More »