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Monday, 31 December 2018

How 2018 turned environmentalism from a radical niche into a mainstream trend

Some might find the activism of the group Extinction Rebellion:
Futures Forum: Climate change > Extinction Rebellion and direct action

... a bit too much:
London protests: Nigel Farage 'OUTRAGED' at climate activists | UK | News | Express.co.uk
Climate activists block London bridges in 'swarming' protest – video | Environment | The Guardian

However, even this group which might have been considered 'fringe' until very recently is gaining mainstream support:
The Guardian view on environmental activism: new energy is welcome | Editorial | Opinion | The Guardian 

Extinction Rebellion: The story behind the activist group



21 December 2018

They've blocked bridges, glued themselves to the gates of Downing Street, and closed roads, all in the name of stopping climate change. On Friday they protested outside several BBC offices in the UK, demanding that the corporation make climate change and environmental issues its top priority - in both editorial coverage and corporate management.

Extinction Rebellion's aims include net zero carbon emissions by 2025 and a national Citizen's Assembly to oversee environment work. The campaign was launched earlier this year by Rising Up, a network of activists including former members of groups ranging from Earth First! environmentalists to the anti-corporate Occupy movement formed during the global financial crisis.

Despite criticism from some that their demands are unrealistic and their methods annoying, support has grown, with 100 academics - including the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams - giving their backing.

So what's the movement all about?


'Activism' does indeed seem to be gaining ground:

The Independent looks back at the year: 


How 2018 turned environmentalism from a radical niche into a mainstream trend

From Donald Trump to David Attenborough, this year politics, pop culture, lifestyle trends and science intersected to completely change the public’s attitude towards sustainability

Sirena Bergman @SirenaBergman
2 days ago

It was not long ago that environmentalism was perceived as radical. Climate change may have been seen as a real issue, but most people would stop at putting a recycling bin in their kitchen, assuming – out of inertia or blind optimism – that governments would take the necessary steps to ensure the safety of our planet. Those who spoke out about the urgent issues facing humanity, about the imminent environmental catastrophe we’re facing, were met with dismissive eye rolls. But it seems that over the course of this year, those perceptions have shifted.

In September, I wrote an article for The Independent entitled “Everything you’ve been told about plastic is wrong – the answer isn’t recycling”, in which I argued that we need to push for real legislation around single-use plastics. When it was published I braced myself for the tweets telling me how focusing on this issue was pointless and irrelevant. I expected the comments to bemoan the self-righteous preaching of tree huggers, and indulge in pointless whataboutery to detract from the issue at hand. But they never came. The article became one of the most read Voices pieces of the year, and I received more positive engagement from it than for anything else I’ve ever written.

At the time, I was baffled, but looking back on 2018 now, I can see exactly why.

Perversely, I feel some credit should be given to Donald Trump. His withdrawal from the Paris Accord in 2017 seemed to give the agreement more publicity, coverage and airtime than it ever received by the public when it was signed the previous year. Trump’s outrageous decisions are a magnet for the mainstream media he so abhors, and seem to provoke outrage even in those who may previously have given little thought to what a president was focused on.

The left became united in its disdain for his assaults on environmental policy, and conversations around the issue started to become normalised among liberal circles. This happened not just in America but also in the UK, which has spent the last two years gripped by Trump’s every move, perhaps as an outlet to make the shambolic Brexit disaster we’re dealing with domestically seem a little less like self-imposed lunacy. After all, we may be on the brink of the worst political catastrophe in recent history, but at least our head of state isn’t a reality TV star who tweets like a maniacal buffoon and seems to take personal pleasure in speeding up the demise of the planet in the name of nationalist capitalism. The eye rolls turned to sombre agreement when discussing environmental action as no one wanted to risk sounding like Trump.

Meanwhile, at the tail end of 2017, one of Britain’s most beloved figures, David Attenborough, released Blue Planet II, a documentary series looking at the impact pollution is having on our marine life. It was the most watched TV showof the year, with 14.1 million people tuning in. The response was immediate and ubiquitous. As the final episode aired on the first day of 2018, social media was ablaze with viewers outraged by what they’d seen, and discussion around the impact our environmental choices are having on our natural resources became commonplace. The vastly increased awareness of plastic pollution has been dubbed the “Blue Planet effect”, and the show’s popularity has only increased, even spawning live events.

Online, newly inspired environmentalists dug out a video of a turtle with a plastic straw lodged in its nostril, which went viral and generated a whole other discussion around single-use plastics. Shockingly, the mainstream was pushing for a complete ban – or at least some form of taxation – on straws and other items, while the radical view became to argue against it, with disability campaigners at the forefront of the counterargument, making the point that these types of environmentally problematic products are actually crucial to the lives of differently abled people. We live in a politically adversarial society, so passionate disagreement on the issues is to be expected, but for the first time we saw environmental activism become so mainstream it was considered less progressive than the alternative, which looked at the broader potential benefits of the newly maligned single-use plastic.

In the run-up to Christmas, every gift guide out there talked about reusable water bottles and coffee cups, ethically manufactured items and even sustainable substitutes to wrapping paper. Alternatives to plastic have created a lucrative industry capitalising on millennials’ conscious spending habits, and spearheaded a trend that shows no sign of abating as more shoppers move away from packaging in favour of reusables, seeking out shops that sell unbranded products in bulk.

Our attitude towards the fashion industry has also seen a radical shift in the past year. In 2015 the independent film The True Cost, which explored the environmental and humanitarian impact of fast fashion opened the eyes of many, but its reach could not compete with Stacey Dooley’s Fashion’s Dirty Secrets, aired by BBC3 this year. Millions of people who would never have sought out such content were exposed to some uncomfortable truths. The episode became the most watched documentary on iPlayer and for the first time fast fashion started to seem less like an exciting – if thoughtless – way to spend money and more like a cruel capitalist scheme, irresponsibly marketing to young people and masking the reality of its detrimental impact on the planet.

The episode was first broadcast on 8 October, on the same day that the UN published a landmark report showing that we need to cut greenhouse gas emissions by almost half by 2030 to avert global environmental catastrophe. Later that month, Chancellor Philip Hammond announced his Autumn Budget, which included a tax on plastic packaging with less than 30 per cent recycled material. Politics, pop culture, lifestyle trends and science intersected to completely change the way we think about environmentalism.
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Suddenly, influencers who earn their living through convincing their followers to buy the products they link to were talking about eschewing the high street in favour of ethical clothing. Niomi Smart, a YouTuber with 1.6 million subscribers, even launched a clothes swap event aimed at encouraging people to repurpose their garments and choose second hand where possible. A few years ago, when YouTube was constantly flooded with high street hauls, sponsored posts and endless affiliated links, this would have been unimaginable beyond the niche environmental content creators.

It’s easy to dismiss public awareness as positive but irrelevant. Even if the vast majority of us in this country committed to radically changing our lifestyle to minimise our environmental impact, it would still be but a drop in the (fast rising) ocean compared to the effects of the fossil fuels burned for energy and gas, and in the manufacturing of everyday products such as electronic devices and even food.

However, changing the perception of environmentalism from radical to trendy has a bigger impact that it may seem. We have tools at our disposal to address the effects of climate change, but governments need to act. Proper regulation and legislation around carbon emissions and responsible manufacturing, along with subsidies for renewable energy, could drastically change the bleak outlook we’re facing today. But until environmental policy becomes politically valuable this will not happen.

We need to show the people vying for power that the best way to get elected is to focus on this issue. This year has seen environmentalism soar into the mainstream and the public is using its spending power to show it cares. If we start using our mass voting power too, real change could be on its way in 2019.

The rise of 'citizen science'

'Citizen science' is gaining ground in its impact, certainly in the UK:
Futures Forum: We need more dedicated expert and amateur naturalists to observe and record the distinctive flash of a firefly or the soft clatter of dragonfly wings
Futures Forum: This is British Science Week > help map plastic on our beaches
Futures Forum: Join the Great British Bee Count!
Futures Forum: Climate change: and Acoustic Ecology >>> citizen science recording changes in the environment
Futures Forum: Citizen science on Springwatch - with the Woodland Trust >>> tracking how fast spring moves
Futures Forum: Big Butterfly Count
Futures Forum: Citizen science on Springwatch
Futures Forum: "Citizen scientists: Now you can link the UK winter deluge to climate change"
Futures Forum: "How ancient Devon woodland will help citizen scientists predict the effects of climate change"

It's happening in other parts of the world: for example:

Can ‘Citizen Science’ Save Vietnam’s Environment From Unchecked Economic Growth?

 Tuesday, April 24, 2018


Vietnamese activists protest to urge Formosa Plastics Corporation to take responsibilitiy for an environmental clean-up in Vietnam, Taipei, Taiwan, Aug. 10, 2016 (AP photo by Chiang Ying-ying).
In early April 2016, fishermen in Vietnam began noticing something alarming: Dead fish were washing up on the shores of several provinces. Days turned into weeks, and the dead tuna and mackerel kept coming, joined by clams and even one whale. 

It turned out to be the largest environmental disaster in Vietnam’s history. Fishermen lost their livelihoods, and some people fell ill after eating fish that had apparently been poisoned. But at first the government kept quiet about the cause of the mass fish kill. Authorities limited coverage of it on state media and arrested hundreds of people who participated in protests. 

Listen to James Borton discuss this article on WPR’s Trend Lines Podcast. His audio starts at 22:05.


Nearly three months later, Hanoi finally disclosed what had happened: A $10.6 billion steel complex belonging to the Taiwan-owned Formosa Plastics Corporation—featuring a steel plant, a power plant and a deep-sea port—was found to have accidentally dumped toxic cyanide into the East Sea. The complex is located in Ha Tinh, one of Vietnam’s poorest provinces. 

The damage was considerable. Marine life weighing more than 100 tons had been wiped out along more than 125 miles of coastline; Formosa would go on to pay $500 million in compensation. 

But the Formosa spill also had a silver lining. According to researchers and activists, it played a major role in galvanizing grassroots environmental activism in Vietnam, prompting ordinary citizens along the coast to use smartphones and social media to document the tragic impact of unchecked industrialization and development. 

Their work dovetailed with a broader phenomenon that has slowly been gathering momentum in environmentally vulnerable areas across the country. From the iridescent green rice paddies of the Mekong Delta to the banks of the Red River in Hanoi, so-called citizen scientists are embracing environmental activism that makes use of newly available technology, including free data-collection and mapping apps like iNaturalistFieldscope and Marine Debris Tracker. In addition to being useful to scientists, these platforms allow ordinary people to join community conservation efforts by uploading data and qualitative observations. 

This type of engagement is increasingly possible for the masses. Like the rest of Southeast Asia, Vietnam is witnessing rapid growth in the use of digital technology, the effects of which are changing both individual lives and societies at large. Facebook now boasts about 64 million active users in the country, more than two-thirds of the total population. About half of those users are connected via smartphones. “Ordinary citizens’ growing access to the web is behind a rising tide of environmental activism,” says Tran Thi Thuy Binh, a 39-year-old member of the Vietnam Forum for Environmental Journalists in Hanoi, which was established two decades ago to bring together journalists interested in environmental issues. 

There is no shortage of problems for them to document. After several decades of pursuing a strategy of economic growth at all costs, the government is facing pushback from citizens who resent the damage wrought by pollution-intensive industries. These same citizens are often also coping with rising air pollution, deforestation, coral reef destruction and rising water levels in the Mekong and Red Rivers. 

The government is facing mounting pushback from citizens who resent the damage wrought by pollution-intensive industries.

The big question facing those who have followed the rise of citizen science in Vietnam is whether it can actually lead to policy changes, or whether it will merely allow for the environment’s deterioration to be documented in greater detail. 

What Is Citizen Science?

Citizen science is best described as the collaboration of scientists and volunteers to broaden the scope of research and enhance the compiling of scientific data. Approaches range from community-based monitoring to internet-driven crowdsourcing through photographic documentation and data collection. 

At a meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, last December, prominent citizen scientists spearheaded the formation of the Citizen Science Global Partnership, or CSGP, an event timed to coincide with the U.N. Environment Assembly. According to its mission statement, the CSGP aims to connect existing citizen science networks with policymakers and business representatives, becoming “a network-of-networks that seeks to promote and advance citizen science for a sustainable world.” 

One central feature of citizen science has been a shift in the way scientific concepts and information are communicated to non-experts. It’s a shift not just in how the media is being used but also in the actual content, with hard data being supplemented by anecdote and narrative—for example, in the form of blog posts. “Citizen scientists collect more than data. They gather meaning,” writes Richard Louv in his 2011 book “The Nature Principle: Human Restoration and the End of Nature-Deficit Disorder.”


Citizen science volunteers interview a forest ranger about environmental threats to Xuan Thuy
National Park, Vietnam, Undated (Photo courtesy of Do Hai Linh/Pan Nature). 
In nondemocratic countries like Vietnam, the rise of citizen science also helps ensure that state actors no longer have a monopoly on the dissemination of environmental news and information. Stephan Ortmann, a research fellow and assistant professor of comparative politics at the City University of Hong Kong, has documented in his 2017 book “Environmental Governance in Vietnam” how the Vietnamese government has previously blocked citizen participation in formulating environmental policy. The creation of official environmental entities, especially the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment in 2002, was primarily done to serve the interests of the Communist Party of Vietnam. This partly explains why policies to respond to climate change and promote green energy have more often than not fallen short in ensuring the meaningful protection of land, water and mineral resources.

The emergence of environment-focused NGOs, however, provides a foundation for grassroots environmental activism. These include groups like People and Nature Reconciliation, or Pan Nature, a conservation and protection NGO; the Center for Water Resources and Development, or WARECOD, which supports sustainable water use and gender equality in access to resources; and Green Innovation and Development, or Green ID, which promotes sustainable development. To date, this nascent movement hasn’t been given the opportunity to substantively shape environmental policy, but there are increasing signs of its impact. 

Last year, for example, farmers and fishers in the Lower Mekong Delta successfully pushed for the temporary suspension of a paper and pulp mill run by Vietnam Lee & Man, a Chinese-owned firm, forcing it to make changes to wastewater discharges and address foul smells emanating from the plant. Officials and scientists from Can Tho University, a leading agricultural research center in the Mekong Delta boasting nine colleges, two research institutes and more than 45,000 students, advised that the six water monitor stations along the Hau River needed to be fully operational so that nearby farms would not be adversely affected by the plant’s discharges. In response, Environment Minister Tran Hong, accompanied by other scientists, visited the site and authorized the resumption of the monitor stations’ operations. 

The State’s Response

The government has shown some interest in citizen science. In Hanoi, the local authority on urban management has created a Facebook community fan page, suggesting authorities are at least somewhat curious about getting citizens’ feedback on their initiatives and environmental problems generally. 

Hanoi still often falls back on vague and arbitrary invocations of national security concerns to criminalize speech.

Of course, there remains an inherent tension between grassroots organizations and a government that has historically placed strict controls on information and reacted harshly to criticism. The Communist Party has controlled the media since North and South Vietnam were unified in 1975. And in recent years, the government has enacted new decrees and laws prohibiting internet users from publishing content that is deemed a threat to national security. A measure known as Decree 174, passed in 2014, levies steep fines for social media posts criticizing the government. Circular 09, issued in October 2014, requires website owners to immediately take down content at the request of authorities, resulting in increased self-censorship. 

Human rights organizations have also documented periodic shutdowns of Facebook and YouTube to remove what the government deems “toxic content.” In May 2016, Facebook and Instagram were briefly blocked in response to protests over the Formosa spill. 

Hanoi often falls back on vague and arbitrary invocations of national security concerns to criminalize speech. In June 2017, Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, a 37-year-old blogger and environmentalist known as “Mother Mushroom,” was sentenced to 10 years in prison after being found guilty of committing national security offenses and spreading “anti-state propaganda.” And last November, Nguyen Van Hoa, a 22-year-old independent journalist and blogger, was sentenced to seven years in prison for “disseminating propaganda against the state” in a case built on his coverage of the Formosa disaster. 

At the same time, an increasing number of Vietnam’s technocrats and policymakers recognize the potential benefits of greater connectivity to promote openness and transparency, broadly speaking. Hanoi appears to have given a green light to environmental organizations looking to educate and inform the public about the impact of industrial pollution along the coast and in the Mekong Delta. “I see a steady rise in social protests among citizens against environmental pollution and other harmful actions,” says La Thang Tung, a journalist and member of the Vietnam Writers’ Association, adding that “there are an increasing number of political leaders who want to repair the lines of communications.” 

Moreover, there seem to be more efforts to educate and train young people to engage in citizen science. Several universities, like the Hanoi University of Natural Resources and Environment, are incorporating citizen science as part of their curricula, in some cases with state involvement and support. 

Citizen Science in Action

It’s no secret that, to date, government efforts to enforce environmental protection measures have been weak, leading to a litany of problems. Vietnam has lost 50 percent of its original primary forests in the past half century. Vietnam has the world’s sixth-largest export trade in wood—worth over $7 billion annually—and the consequences of deforestation are significant, threatening biodiversity and triggering the release of an immense store of carbon dioxide.

Air pollution is increasing due to the growing number of motorbikes, especially in Ho Chi Minh City, which has more than 8 million of them—not to mention sprawling industrial parks and seemingly endless construction. In the central province of Nghe An, meanwhile, garbage and untreated wastewater pollution from nearby factories pour daily into the Lam River and its tributaries.


A flower vendor wheels her bicycle though traffic in Hanoi’s Old Quarter, Vietnam, Dec. 1, 2016 
(AP photo by Tran Van Minh).

Scientists are trying to take action on these issues, and they are being aided more and more by citizen volunteers. For example, Thi Van Le Khoa, a lecturer on water issues at Hanoi University of Natural Resources and Environment, is focused on ways to address decreasing water levels in the Red River Delta in northern Vietnam, the country’s richest rice-growing region. In 2017, Khoa helped organize the university’s Red River Delta Wing, a network of institutions to study environmental issues north of Hanoi. Through their fieldwork, the network’s members quickly arrived at an explanation for the water level problem: Illegal sand-mining, combined with dams and reservoirs, had restricted the suspended sediment critical to the stability of the riverbed.

Elsewhere, citizen scientists have taken advantage of the proliferation of scientific information available online, as well as tools that can be used to organize citizens, to mobilize around causes that spark public interest. In April 2015, residents of Hanoi staged protests against the government’s decision to cut down more than 6,000 trees. The “Trees Movement,” as it came to be known, was not organized by any single leader or institution. Rather, it grew out of a widely shared sense of alarm over what the government was doing. “Many of the campaigners grew up in Hanoi and fought for the city, and throughout time the old trees became their companions,” Ngoc Anh Vu, a research professor at the University of Bath in the United Kingdom, has written. Eventually, the authorities in Hanoi backed down.

A year later, citizen scientists and environmental activists in Ho Chi Minh City launched a similar campaign to save trees along the Saigon River that had been marked for destruction as part of a development plan. Once again, city officials changed course.

A Perfect Storm in the Mekong Delta

The Mekong Delta is composed of 12 rice-growing provinces and the province-level municipality of Can Tho in southwestern Vietnam, where the Mekong River approaches and empties into the sea via a dense network of tributaries. It’s home to more than 20 million people and is commonly referred to as Vietnam’s rice bowl, since it accounts for more than half of the nation’s rice and fruit production.

For generations, rice farmers harvesting their emerald paddies have relied on the Lower Mekong River’s thousands of tributaries to water their crops. However, an array of problems—from rising sea levels to industrial pollution and saltwater intrusion—are converging to threaten their livelihoods. 

At the very least, Vietnamese farmers are putting the government on notice that they will not blindly acquiesce to harmful policies.

“Climate change is an increasingly serious problem for the farmers,” says Ly Van Loi, a student at Can Tho University and a member of the Mekong Delta Youth Network, or MDY, a group of students in the region who have conducted research to raise awareness about the impacts of hydropower dams on the Mekong Delta, among other issues. “The construction of upstream dams and the rising sea will impact biodiversity, and we will have to adapt new species of crops to grow.” 

While the problems facing the region are daunting, the Mekong Delta is well positioned to harness the power of citizen science to address them. Hardscrabble farmers who live along the river have valuable knowledge to share about how conditions are changing, and citizen scientists have increasingly been reaching out to try to learn from them. Scientists and their students at Can Tho University, including members of MDY, have conducted multiple field trips to the area. 

“I strongly believe that MDY has been successful in mobilizing young Vietnamese towards informed environmentalism,” says Nguyen Khiem, MDY’s founder. “It helps that we are all born in the delta and understand our homeland.” 

For inspiration, Khiem draws upon the so-called Thai Baan organizing model, which was developed in Thailand to chart conservation efforts and tap into local knowledge to preserve natural resources. This model was implemented initially as a protest against the Pak Mun Dam, which was built in 1994 in eastern Thailand without any consultation from local citizens. Though the protest effort was unsuccessful, the model—which involves research initiatives led by farmers rather than scientists—is an effective form of citizen science, says Tun Myint, a political science professor at Carleton College in Minnesota. Local villagers become the community’s researchers, especially women, who are trained in photography and other storytelling techniques. 

Specifically, MDY advocates for policies to address water pollution, saltwater intrusion and biodiversity protection. Though Khiem is optimistic that the organization’s efforts will be successful, encouraging citizens to mobilize is not without its challenges, not least of which being the Mekong Delta’s widespread poverty. As Khiem says, “In the delta, we had to put a lot of effort into our project to encourage participation since these farmers are primarily concerned about their daily subsistence.”

Citizen Science and Empowerment 

In many ways, the Mekong Delta is a perfect setting to demonstrate the power of citizen science. After all, the average size of a Mekong rice paddy is only 1.2 hectares, or about 3 acres. And while access to a smartphone is beyond the reach of many farmers, it only takes one citizen scientist to empower a community with knowledge and a platform. By sharing information and joining forces, Vietnamese farmers have been able to exert some influence over the environment they depend on for their livelihoods. At the very least, they are putting the government on notice that they will not blindly acquiesce to harmful policies. 

With rising seas and other features of a changing climate touching the daily lives of the more than 60 million people living in the Lower Mekong Basin, it is perhaps no surprise that interest in environmental issues is expanding well beyond isolated bands of conservationists. Despite government-imposed restrictions, the internet—and social media especially—is offering young people in the region a bullhorn. With it, they are using data to campaign against the destruction of the region’s natural beauty and sustainability. 

Yet there is no guarantee they’ll be able to convince the government to completely abandon policies that have already proven destructive. After decades spent pursuing economic growth no matter the costs, the question now is whether Vietnam can pivot to sustainable development and “green growth,” and whether it is willing to accept lower short-term GDP growth rates in the process. Moreover, even if the state were to adopt more stringent environmental regulations, these would need to be enforced at the local level to make any difference, requiring a level of compliance on the part of local officials that has so far been lacking. 

These challenges aside, advocates of citizen science believe they are witnessing a fundamental shift that is enabling ordinary Vietnamese, for the first time, to substantively shape policies that affect their land and climate. It’s a phenomenon that is perhaps best captured by a Vietnamese proverb: “The law of the king,” it says, “ends at the gates of the village.”

James Borton is a journalist who has been writing about the Mekong region and the South China Sea for over two decades. He’s a nonresident fellow at the Stimson Center in Washington, DC, and is currently at work on a book on environmental security in the South China Sea.


Can ‘Citizen Science’ Save Vietnam’s Environment From Unchecked Economic Growth?
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How effective and how risky is environmental activism?

Last year was not a good year to be an environmental activist:
207 Killed in 2017, The Deadliest Year for Land Defenders - National Geographic
Why Do Environmentalists Keep Getting Killed Around the World? | Science | Smithsonian
At What Cost? Our Report on attacks on Land & Environment Defenders in 2017 | Global Witness
Environmental defenders being killed in record numbers globally, new research reveals | Environment | The Guardian

This year has not been too good either, especially in some parts of the world:
Environmental Defenders Under Pressure Across Southeast Asia | The Diplomat

As well as in India:
Environment protesters killed by Indian police were shot through the head and from behind, autopsy results reveal | The Independent 
Environmental Governance and Human Rights: The Role of The Civil Society And Challenges in India - Modern Diplomacy

And in Latin America:
Honduran court convicts seven of killing environmental activist | News | Al Jazeera
#ArchivoDemoAbierta2018: a year of environmental challenges | openDemocracy

Brazil is about to get a new president - and things are going to get worse:
Environmental Activists Under Assault in Brazil
Brazil’s new president Jair Bolsonaro promised to exploit the Amazon—but can he? - National Geographic
The Economists, Military, Moralists & Politicians Running Brazil - Bloomberg

In the United States, people are getting more active as the state apparatus becomes more passive:

Environmentalists count wins and losses from 2018

December 31 2018

A survey of 10 environmental groups and experts found many feel that regulations and protections are under assault, driving an increase in public activism. Public awareness of environmental issues is up, but that’s just a silver lining in dark days for federal, state and local environmental protections, according to environmental experts and activists.


Environmentalists count wins and losses from 2018

Interestingly, it is women who are increasingly engaging in activism:

Women Who Risk Everything to Defend the Environment

By Sarah Hurtes Nov 30 2018


According to Bridget Burns, director of the Women's Environment and Development Organization (WEDO), an advocacy organization focused on women's environmental leadership, there has been an increase in women-led groups in the U.S. pushing the fight for clean air and water. This is echoed by Rachel Cox from Global Witness, who argues that despite the obstacles they face, women activists are increasingly taking on leadership roles in the many battles against mining, deforestation, and other destructive industries. Think Winona Laduke, Julia Butterfly Hill, or Yong Jung Cho—to name a few.

Women tend to lead this fight, Yeampierre believes, because of their life-giving connection to their children and the earth, and their frustration with gender inequity. “We think like people who come from struggle,” she says, adding that women of color have been holding this space for years, and are now, finally, getting the visibility they deserve. “We tend to have this respect for Mother Earth as an extension of our culture and spirituality. So it's not surprising for me to see such an intergenerational group of badasses leading the way.”


Women Who Risk Everything to Defend the Environment — Female Environmental Activists and the Danger They Face

Some in North America may regard this as 'alarmist':
Environmental Activism Resembles Religion | National Review

Especially when it's effective:
Oil activists credited, blamed for killing Canada's oil industry | Newshub
Pipeline CEOs, facing environmental activism, vow to fight back - CNBC

And yet in other parts of the world, the freedom to protest without fear is being increasingly exercised:

In South Africa:
Environmental activism is not a whites-only issue | Opinion | M&G

And in West Africa:

Gambian Environmental Activists Take Swift Action Against Chinese Plant Accused of Polluting Their Water - Atlanta Black Star 

Gambians embrace new freedoms with environment activism

By ABDOULIE JOHN Associated Press Dec 4, 2018

BANJUL, Gambia (AP) — Hundreds of Gambians were grateful for the jobs created by a Chinese-run fish processing plant that arrived in 2014. Then they were shocked when dead fish began washing up on a nearby shore.

Residents of the coastal town of Gunjur reported chemical residue on their skin after swimming that made them itch. Environmental activists blamed the Chinese-owned company, Golden Lead Import & Export. After activists said the company had failed to remove a pipe accused of spewing toxic waste into the sea, local youth issued an ultimatum: Dig the pipe up, or we will. In March they did, storming the beach.

"We'll be willing to face any charges in defense of our community," their leader, Amadou Scattred Janneh, told The Associated Press. He is now out on bail facing criminal trespass charges.


For more than two decades, few in this tiny West African nation dared to speak out under the dictatorship of President Yahya Jammeh. Opposing voices were silenced by arrests and killings during his dictatorship.

A new era began when Jammeh was swept out of power and went into exile early last year. And as new President Adama Barrow's government has promised wider freedoms, Gambians are now speaking up as part of a nascent environmental movement.

After the protest over the fish processing plant, Gambia's government ultimately allowed the company to reinstate the pipe but required waste water to be treated before being discharged. The company's general manager, Bakary Darboe, denies causing marine pollution and has accused the activists of damaging property.

Janneh's arrest hasn't stopped other environmental activists in Gambia from holding regular demonstrations over the depletion of natural reserves along the country's coastline.

Such activism is long overdue, filmmaker and activist Prince Bubacarr Sankanu told The Associated Press. "The pressure on our meager natural resources is getting higher and higher, thus making proactive environmental activism an inevitable tool for good governance," he said.

Another high-profile demonstration earlier this year ended in the deaths of three protesters who had demanded the end of sand mining activities by the Julakay Entreprise company in the village of Faraba Banta. The sand is used in construction but the practice has been accused of damaging Gambia's coastline and local farming, which is often residents' only source of income.

Inspired in part by such confrontations, Gambia's president in September set up a land commission to look into the challenges of administering one of the country's most important resources. Nearly 80 percent of the population relies on agriculture for a living.

"As a country, we have been hurt because the foundation of our democracy had been shaken and corrupted," Barrow said during the commission's swearing-in ceremony. "The former government abused the rights of the citizens, and many communities lost their land for political or dubious reasons."


Finally, things might even be moving in China, from “responsive authoritarianism” 
The tensions underlying how China deals with environmental complaints | LSE Business Review

... to interventions by celebrities: 

Li Bingbing:
The actress who took on China's ivory trade

Shafi Musaddique 10 Dec 2018

Aghast with the lack of media attention on the ivory trade, she turned to her 40 million followers on popular Chinese social media site Weibo.

The Beijing-based actress has learned that the large following she has amassed can be harnessed for a greater cause. Li generated enough traction for the UN to describe her “Say No to Ivory” campaign as having the biggest impact of any other project that year.

She remains confident that ivory will fall out of favor largely due to changing tastes and awareness from young people on the impact illegal ivory can have on the environment. “As my generation, I didn’t see a lot of ivory trade. We didn’t even use those things,” she said.


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Paul Kingsnorth, writer and ex-environmental activist > "Climate change and mass extinctions suggest that we have been telling the wrong stories... Writers need to reconnect with the natural world."

A story for this time of year perhaps:

Fear and hope on the road to ecocide

By PHILIP MEAD
Thursday, December 06, 2018

I stopped killing deer when I was 19. The last buck I shot was a spike horn, and he died bleating at my feet. The look of terror in his eyes haunts me to this day. I stepped into his world, he didn’t come into mine.

I liked hunting. I like hunters – they tend to be good conservationists. Teddy Roosevelt was a hunter, but as he got older he preferred conservation. Rumor has it he cried when he shot his last bear. That was “Teddy’s bear,” the one that gave rise to our children’s fuzzy nighttime companions.

I grew up clinging to my Teddy when dreams of nuclear war sprang from the CONELRAD alerts, duck and cover drills and the Cuban Missile Crisis. By the time I married and made it to graduate school, Jonathan Schell had written The Fate of the Earth, and my fears were rekindled and magnified by the presence of our two young children. We became active, joined Beyond War, wrote letters, protested. So did a lot of other folks, thank goodness. It helped. Politicians listened, the nuclear arsenals shrank, the Cold War ended. It turned out building A-bombs wasn’t all that profitable. Conventional arms were more lucrative. They got used up and had to be replaced.

I knew the environment was taking a beating, but Congress seemed half-way responsible. The Superfund legislation passed and corporations had to clean up their biggest messes. Rivers stopped catching fire. Habitat loss continued to be a problem, but at least Greenpeace was giving the whaling industry what for, and making progress. Then, James Hansen submitted his report to Congress. The planet was warming at an alarming rate, and we were the cause. Hansen wasn’t blaming anyone, and he had a plan. A hopeful plan. Tax carbon production and emissions.

Congress actually thought the tax was reasonable. The oil and coal companies thought otherwise. They got scared (profits were threatened), then they got angry. Finally, they got even. The science was challenged, millions were spent on lobbying efforts. In the early 1990s, a clear majority of Americans supported the science. After the turn of the century, that majority became a minority. The fear the public had that might have led to earlier action was lowered by the petroleum industry’s denials and obfuscations.

Hansen soldiered on, joined by many others: Bill McKibben, author and co-founder of 350.org; Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything; and Paul Kingsnorth, author and co-founder of the Dark Mountainproject, to name but a few. McKibben and Klein are still fighting, but Kingsnorth has dropped out. He no longer hopes for a reversal of greenhouse gases, and believes it’s time to teach children how to survive in a radically altered environment. For Kingsnorth and others in his coalition, the crux of the problem does not lie solely with the petroleum industry. He believes it has to do with the stories we tell ourselves to ease our fears and bolster our hopes; stories that serve to propagate the myth of ever-advancing human endeavor; stories that ignore history’s lessons of past societal collapse. (Look at us, we’re going to Mars!) Kingsnorth feels the ecocide we head toward will be like nothing humankind has ever experienced in the past. The 22nd century is an unknown, but he fears it will bear little resemblance to the 21st.

I choose to cling to hope. I have to. My own grandchildren demand it of me. I will retire soon and devote most of my time trying to make a difference. I owe it to them and to that deer. 



Here is Paul Kingsnorth, former deputy editor of the Ecologist magazine, being interviewed by Bob Hopkins of the Transition Network back in 2014:
Paul Kingsnorth on living with climate change. - Transition Network

And here he is, also in 2014, giving a critical review of Naomi Klein's 'This Changes Everything':
Paul Kingsnorth reviews ‘Don’t Even Think about It’ by George Marshall and ‘This Changes Everything’ by Naomi Klein · LRB 23 October 2014

And now this month, the Dutch press are showing interest in the 'voormalig milieuactivist' or 'former environmentalist' Paul Kingsnorth:

Rather, Paul Kingsnorth is now a 'recovering environmentalist':

He is also a novelist: 

In 2011 Paul Kingsnorth announced his withdrawal from the environmental movement after twenty years of activism. Environmentalists, he complained in a long article published in Orion magazine, had stopped caring about the environment: ‘We are environmentalists now in order to promote something called “sustainability”’, which means ‘sustaining human civilisation at the comfort level that the world’s rich people – us – feel is their right, without destroying the “natural capital” or the “resource base” that is needed to do so.’ According to Kingsnorth, ‘disillusioned socialists, Trots, Marxists and a ragbag of fellow travellers’ had changed the aims and language of the green movement: the worry was no longer about the effects on nature of population growth and consumerism; the environmentalists’ preoccupation was now with ‘social justice’ rather than the protection of the non-human world. ‘Sustainability’ was to be achieved via ‘carbon solutions’ that entailed more environmental destruction: vast ‘solar arrays’ in the deserts; industrial wind power stations in the British uplands. The arguments of the new greens, Kingsnorth claimed, were underwritten by a crude equation: ‘Destruction minus carbon equals sustainability.’

Kingsnorth’s criticisms weren’t popular with the new greens, who called him a reactionary and a Nimby. There was a lot of mud-slinging, which is what environmentalists call a quarrel. When he grew sick of that, Kingsnorth decided to go his own way: ‘I withdraw from the campaigning and the marching, I withdraw from the arguing and the talked-up necessity and all of the false assumptions. I withdraw from the words. I am leaving. I am going to go out walking.’

Kingsnorth’s new novel, Beast, is a horror story about withdrawing from society, and about going out walking.



The themes in his novels also touch on Brexit:
Kingsnorth’s characters evince disgust at effete civilisation and nostalgia for a time when men could shrug off the bonds of responsibility and test themselves against a fierce enemy, whether foreign invaders or big cats. This is fiction, not a manifesto, and Kingsnorth is too sophisticated to be called the Bard of the Brexiteers. But still, in the current political climate, amid a yearning national purity and isolationism, both books make uneasy reading. Sometimes it’s better if the beast stays in its cage.

Inadvertently or not, Kingsnorth has backed into the limelight with his departure in midcareer, midlife, mid-everything. His Irish sojourn has coincided with the Brexit vote, leading to the irony of an English patriot casting a “Leave” vote from his home in fervently pro-Europe Ireland. To be fair, Kingsnorth has long argued for decentralization and localism, and in one essay he cites George Orwell’s observation that “England is perhaps the only great country whose intellectuals are ashamed of their own nationality.” But Kingsnorth is no tub-thumping John Bull; in the same piece, he also calls for an England that “pays attention to its places rather than wiping them out in the name of growth; an England that doesn’t have imperial designs; an England that doesn’t want to follow America into idiotic wars.”

Paul Kingsnorth’s England | The Nation

He writes novels to tell stories: 

 'We imagine how it feels to be a character, why can't we imagine how the land feels?'

Paul Kingsnorth Sat 23 Jul 2016 

Climate change and mass extinctions suggest that we have been telling the wrong stories. Writers need to reconnect with the natural world

To us, the wild places around us (if there are any left) are “resources” to be utilised. We argue constantly about how best to use them – should we log this forest, or turn it into a national park? – but only the bravest or the most foolish would suggest that this might not be our decision to make. To modern people, the world we walk through is not an animal, a being, a living presence; it is a machine, and our task is to learn how it works, the better to use it for our own ends.

The notion that the non-human world is largely inanimate is often represented as scientific or rational, but it is really more like a modern superstition. “It is just like Man’s vanity and impertinence,” wrote Mark Twain, “to call an animal dumb because it is dumb to his dull perceptions.” We might say the same about a forest; and science, interestingly, might turn out to be on our side.

In recent years, several studies have demonstrated that plants, for example, communicate with each other in ways that seem to point towards some degree of self-awareness. They release pheromones to warn of insect attacks, and other plants respond. They signal to each other using a series of electrical impulses not dissimilar to an animal’s nervous system. They send out airborne distress signals to insect predators that feed on the plant-eaters threatening them.



Paul Kingsnorth has also set up the project Dark Mountain - which is also about telling stories: 

We intend to challenge the stories which underpin our civilisation: the myth of progress, the myth of human centrality, and the myth of our separation from ‘nature’.

— Uncivilisation: The Dark Mountain Manifesto




Together, we are walking away from the stories that our societies like to tell themselves, the stories that prevent us seeing clearly the extent of the ecological, social and cultural unravelling that is now underway. We are making art that doesn’t take the centrality of humans for granted. We are tracing the deep cultural roots of the mess the world is in. And we are looking for other stories, ones that can help us make sense of a time of disruption and uncertainty.


Paul Kingsnorth has featured on this blog:
Futures Forum: Environmental voices on Radio 4's Start the Week >>> >>> "It's unlikely that this general election campaign will really touch on the deepest challenges to our accelerating industrial, global civilization."
Futures Forum: 'The most radical and important­ environmental thinker at work today' >>> "The World-Ending Fire: The Essential Wendell Berry"
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Deep Ecology 2018

It was the publication of Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring" which really set the ground for today's environmental movement:
Margaret Atwood: Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, 50 years on | Books | The Guardian
How ‘Silent Spring’ Ignited the Environmental Movement - The New York Times

It also inspired the Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess who came up with the idea of 'deep ecology'
What is Deep Ecology? | Schumacher College 



Portrait of the Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess and the Deep Ecology Movement. Made in 1997  and shot on location in Naess's hut Tvergastein on the Hardangervidda mountain plateau, and in Berkeley, USA

Arne Naess - video dailymotion

The notion of 'deep ecology' is appearing everywhere today, for example: 

Why Karachi is getting too hot to handle

December 17, 2018
Mansoor Raza  





It was reported that about 60 people died in the Karachi heat wave of 2018. A few years earlier, in 2015, temperatures up to 49°C led to the deaths of about 1,200 people from dehydration and heat stroke.

Before any solution needs to be taken forward, one question needs to be answered. If the heat wave is an outcome of a sustained conflict between the built environment and natural environment and if the planning of the City is dictated by commercial interests, coming from a powerful elite, then how will the proponents of ecology and environment get enough space to rehabilitate lost natural assets?

The proponents of deep ecology (a thread of philosophical propositions on environmental issues) suggest that a good environmentalist, by default, is anti-establishment, as commercial establishments and governmental set-ups, across the globe are responsible for the environmental woes of the planet. Is Karachi’s recurring heat wave irrefutable evidence of their argument?


Why Karachi is getting too hot to handle

The philosophy of deep ecology is being cited today by the latest activists, as reported by the Ecologist: 

'Anonymous for the Voiceless'

Oliver Haynes | 13th December 2018


A closer look at the tactics and philosophy behind a global network of vegan activists.

This day of global activism on 3 November was coordinated by the street action group Anonymous for the Voiceless. An offshoot of the hacktivist movement Anonymous, AV was established in 2016 with the aim of converting people to veganism.

Several of the activists seem to espouse something similar to 
deep ecology, even if they haven’t read Naess directly. I spoke to three activists at the Paris cube on International Cube Day. They all stated that vegan activism was part of a wider project to end all forms of exploitation; they were all in other movements alongside AV.

'Anonymous for the Voiceless' - The Ecologist

As reported by the City Journal, the house quarterly from the 'leading free market think tank' the Manhattan Institute, 'deep ecology' is not universally welcome: 

Green Madness:
The doctrine of deep ecology declares that we must keep our hands off the divine order of nature—even if it kills us.
12 December 2018

The broader notions of deep ecology have made major headway in mainstream thought, especially through the advocacy of influential Greens such as Bill McKibben and David Graeber, who have sounded the alarm for years on global warming, the depredations of fossil fuels, and the evils of human technology. Since the early 1970s, deep ecology has been the beating heart of radical environmentalism. Most people today have never heard of Naess and know nothing about deep ecology, but without knowing it, they have increasingly accepted many of its precepts. With climate change (whether you believe in it or not) destined to be a major policy issue for years to come, along with related issues concerning human interaction with the natural world, it’s worth understanding what the vision of deep ecology entails—and what its practical consequences would be.

Deep ecology is really radical: its two fundamental principles—“self-realization” and “biocentric equality”—amount to a complete rejection of Western modernity. According to deep ecologists Bill Devall and George Sessions, authors of the 1985 book Deep Ecology, self-realization is “in keeping with the spiritual traditions of many of the world’s religions,” but the self of which they speak is quite different from the modern Western version—one based in a notion of individual liberty and self-fulfillment. The ecological self encompasses humanity as a whole and, even more, includes the entire nonhuman world. No one is saved, they say, until all are saved; and the “one” includes me, all human beings, whales, grizzly bears, mountains and rivers, and “the tiniest microbes in the soil.” That’s a big self.


Green Madness: The doctrine of deep ecology declares that we must keep our hands off the divine order of nature—even if it kills us. | Jerry Weinberger, City Journal

Exeter-based therapist Dr Adrian Harris has a blog which looks at these issues: 

Environmental philosophy is a complex subject, but clear debate around deep ecology, social ecology, eco-feminism, earth-centered spirituality, ecopsychology, eco-somatics, ethics and similar topics are crucial for our global future.

The Green Fuse for environmental philosophy, deep ecology, social ecology, eco-feminism, earth-centered spirituality

He is not uncritical of the deep ecology movement: 

Deep ecology sometimes appears to idealize a the society of indigenous hunter-gatherer tribes, but in reality many primitive tribes are not especially ecocentric. Riane Eisler, author of The Chalice and the Blade writes:

"...many peoples past and present living close to nature have all too often been blindly destructive of their environment. While many indigenous societies have a great reverence for nature, there are also both non-Western and Western peasant and nomadic cultures that have overgrazed and overcultivated land, decimated forests, and where population pressures have been severe, killed off animals needlessly and indifferently."


Deep Ecology Critique on the green fuse

See also:
Futures Forum: On the Transition: "Future Primitive"
What Black Elk Left Unsaid: On the Illusory Images of Green Primitivism on JSTOR

The problem with the debate around what 'deep ecology' stands for is that it gets rather personal:
Monbiot meets the eco fascists

And calling someone or something 'fascist' doesn't help the debate: 

Accusations of ecofascism are common but usually strenuously denied.[7][1] Such accusations have come from both those on the political left who see it as an assault on human rights, as in social ecologist Murray Bookchin's use of the term, and from those on the political right, as in Rush Limbaugh and other conservative and wise use movement commentators. In the latter case, it is sometimes a hyperbolic use of the term that is applied to all environmental activists, including more mainstream groups such as Greenpeaceand the Sierra Club.[1]
Ecofascism - Wikipedia

However, the critiques of 'deep ecology' should not be discounted: 

In 1987, as the keynote speaker at the first gathering of the U.S.Greens in Amherst, Massachusetts, Bookchin initiated a critique of deep ecology, indicting it for misanthropy, neo-Malthusianismbiocentricism, and irrationalism. A high-profile deep ecologist Dave Foreman of Earth First! had recently said that famine in Ethiopia represented "nature taking its course," nature self-correcting for human "overpopulation."

Murray Bookchin - Wikipedia

And these criticisms are recognised by the movement itself - with this piece from the Foundation for Deep Ecology itself: 

Unfortunately, some vociferous environmentalists who claim to support the movement have said and written things that are misanthropic in tone. Supporters of the deep ecology movement are not anti-human, as is sometimes alleged. Naess's platform principle Number 1 begins with recognizing the inherent worth of all beings, including humans. Gandhian nonviolence is a tenet of deep ecology activism in word and deed. Supporters of the deep ecology movement deplore anti-human statements and actions.

Accepting the Deep Ecology Platform principles entails a commitment to respecting the intrinsic values of richness and diversity. This, in turn, leads one to critique industrial culture, whose development models construe the Earth only as raw materials to be used to satisfy consumption and production—to meet not only vital needs but inflated desires whose satisfaction requires more and more consumption. While industrial culture has represented itself as the only acceptable model for development, its monocultures destroy cultural and biological diversity in the name of human convenience and profit.

If we do not accept the industrial development model, what then? Endorsing the Deep Ecology Platform principles leads us to attend to the “ecosophies” of aboriginal and indigenous people so as to learn from them values and practices that can help us to dwell wisely in the many different places in this world. We learn from the wisdom of our places and the many beings who inhabit them. At the same time, the ecocentric values implied by the platform lead us to recognize that all human cultures have a mutual interest in seeing Earth and its diversity continue for its own sake and because most of us love it. We want to flourish and realize ourselves in harmony with other beings and cultures. Is it possible to develop common understandings that enable us to work with civility toward harmony with other creatures and beings? The Deep Ecology Platform principles are a step in this direction. Respect for diversity leads us to recognize the ecological wisdom that grows specific to place and context. Thus, supporters of the deep ecology movement emphasize place-specific, ecological wisdom, and vernacular technology practices. No one philosophy and technology is applicable to the whole planet. As Naess has said many times, the more diversity, the better.


Foundation For Deep Ecology | The Deep Ecology Movement

This is a very critical stance:
Hard green - RationalWiki

With more, thoughtful resources:  

Over the last years, several integrative fields of inquiry—such as systems science, resilience science, ecosystem health, ethnoecology, deep ecology Gaia theory, biocultural diversity, among others—have been advancing our understanding of the complex non-linear and multi-scale relationships between people and nature. To better enable us to tackle the multiple challenges facing the planet, our home, many of these fields of inquiry seek to develop respectful and equitable ways of generating knowledge about our relationship with the natural world through braiding traditional knowledge systems and conventional “Western” science.

Braiding Science Together with Indigenous Knowledge - Scientific American Blog Network 

And:
A New Future for Nature - RSA and A New Future for Nature - George Monbiot - YouTubeBron Taylor - Exploring and Studying Environmental Ethics & History, Nature Religion, Radical Environmentalism, Surfing Spirituality, Deep Ecology and more...

To finish, here is a seminal article from the former environmentalist campaigner and founder of the Dark Mountain Project:

Dark Ecology

December 2012


Painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder

Take the only tree that’s left,
Stuff it up the hole in your culture.

—Leonard Cohen

Retreat to the desert, and fight.
D. H. Lawrence

THE HANDLE, which varies in length according to the height of its user, and in some cases is made by that user to his or her specifications, is like most of the other parts of the tool in that it has a name and thus a character of its own. I call it the snath, as do most of us in the UK, though variations include the snathe, the snaithe, the snead, and the sned. Onto the snath are attached two hand grips, adjusted for the height of the user. On the bottom of the snath is a small hole, a rubberized protector, and a metal D-ring with two hex sockets. Into this little assemblage slides the tang of the blade.

This thin crescent of steel is the fulcrum of the whole tool. From the genus blade fans out a number of ever-evolving species, each seeking out and colonizing new niches. My collection includes a number of grass blades of varying styles—a Luxor, a Profisense, an Austrian, and a new, elegant Concari Felice blade that I’ve not even tried yet—whose lengths vary between sixty and eighty-five centimeters. I also have a couple of ditch blades (which, despite the name, are not used for mowing ditches in particular, but are all-purpose cutting tools that can manage anything from fine grass to tousled brambles) and a bush blade, which is as thick as a billhook and can take down small trees. These are the big mammals you can see and hear. Beneath and around them scuttle any number of harder-to-spot competitors for the summer grass, all finding their place in the ecosystem of the tool.

None of them, of course, is any use at all unless it is kept sharp, really sharp: sharp enough that if you were to lightly run your finger along the edge, you would lose blood. You need to take a couple of stones out into the field with you and use them regularly—every five minutes or so—to keep the edge honed. And you need to know how to use your peening anvil, and when. Peen is a word of Scandinavian origin, originally meaning “to beat iron thin with a hammer,” which is still its meaning, though the iron has now been replaced by steel. When the edge of your blade thickens with overuse and oversharpening, you need to draw the edge out by peening it—cold-forging the blade with hammer and small anvil. It’s a tricky job. I’ve been doing it for years, but I’ve still not mastered it. Probably you never master it, just as you never really master anything. That lack of mastery, and the promise of one day reaching it, is part of the complex beauty of the tool.

Etymology can be interesting. Scythe, originally rendered sithe, is an Old English word, indicating that the tool has been in use in these islands for at least a thousand years. But archaeology pushes that date much further out; Roman scythes have been found with blades nearly two meters long. Basic, curved cutting tools for use on grass date back at least ten thousand years, to the dawn of agriculture and thus to the dawn of civilizations. Like the tool, the word, too, has older origins. The Proto-Indo-European root of scythe is the word sek, meaning to cut, or to divide. Sek is also the root word of sickle, saw, schism, sex, and science.

I’VE RECENTLY BEEN reading the collected writings of Theodore Kaczynski. I’m worried that it may change my life. Some books do that, from time to time, and this is beginning to shape up as one of them.

It’s not that Kaczynski, who is a fierce, uncompromising critic of the techno-industrial system, is saying anything I haven’t heard before. I’ve heard it all before, many times. By his own admission, his arguments are not new. But the clarity with which he makes them, and his refusal to obfuscate, are refreshing. I seem to be at a point in my life where I am open to hearing this again. I don’t know quite why. 


...

Orion Magazine | Dark Ecology
Ecocentrism: a response to Paul Kingsnorth | openDemocracy
Dark Ecology | Paul Kingsnorth | Orion Magazine | The Wildlife News

See also:
The Dark Mountain Project
Why I stopped believing in environmentalism and started the Dark Mountain Project | Environment | theguardian.com
UNCIVILISATION, The Dark Mountain Festival 2010: Paul Kingsnorth, "Time to stop pretending" - YouTube
Uncivilisation 2011 - Looking for Hope in the Dark | Transition Network
Paul Kingsnorth on living with climate change. | Transition Network

Finally, it gets very dark here, from this month's New York magazine, looking at the legacy of Theodore Kaczynski:
The Unlikely New Generation of Unabomber Acolytes
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