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Learning from Rojava: exploring democracy in the midst of the Syrian war and beyond

Ahead of two events on democratic transformations in Northern Syria on 3 and 4 November, Patrick Huff (Birkbeck, University of London) blogs on the extraordinary changes going on in the region and how they came about. Few outside observers would expect to see democracy sprout from the wreckage of the Syrian Civil War – perhaps…

Responsibility and geoengineering in the Anthropocene

As the Anthropocene Working Group debate the start date of a new geological era, Jack Stilgoe asks what the Anthropocene means for how science takes responsibility for the climate. In this excerpt from his book, Experiment Earth, Jack looks at the relationship between the identification of the Anthropocene and the arrival of proposals for geoengineering,…

A man walks to his field with his house and granary store and dark storm clouds behind.

How to move beyond technology in ‘Sustainable Intensification’

by Saurabh Arora and Ravic Nijbroek Sustainable Intensification (SI) promises more food from the same amount of land, while minimizing pressure on the environment. In Sub-Saharan Africa, considerable research and effort has been put into achieving it – but without the expected success. So why has Sustainable Intensification (SI) not made as much progress as…

Civilising Hypocrisies and Fundamental Questions: on “emancipating transformations”

This week Manchester Tyndall Centre hosted a provocative and highly interesting seminar. Professor Andy Stirling, who spent the 80s in the trenches for Greenpeace, had schlepped up to deliver a seminar on “Emancipating Transformations.” What they? Read on for an (almost) blow by blow account. [My multiple two centses are in square brackets like these.]

Landesque Capital and the Political Ecology of the Anthropocene

In many areas of South East Asia rice terraces which are centuries old cover the mountainsides, while paddy field farming in South East Asia goes back hundreds of years. In South America recent discoveries of raised field systems which cover hundreds of square miles are rewriting our understanding of land use in that region. These…

Yukon: Sustainability Lessons from self-governing First Nations

The Yukon is a vast territory in northwest Canada with a small population and a rich complement of natural resources, from minerals to fossil fuels, wildlife to water. It is also a fascinating case study for Indigenous self-government and sustainable resource management. In 2014, I undertook research to learn about Indigenous self-government in the Yukon….

Iran’s environmental crisis: why we should be mindful of depicting a dystopian future

In our age of computers and satellites, our sense of both urgency and fear has become central to the process of addressing environmental challenges. This sense of necessity for urgent action can be seen in calls to tackle climate change, biodiversity loss and extinctions, ocean acidification, etc. It comes as no surprise that addressing them…

Needs of the poorest must be central to tackling antibiotic resistance

by Gerry Bloom and Annie Wilkinson, IDS / STEPS Centre Launched this week is a major report on tackling the growing resistance to antibiotics, published by the UK Government and the Wellcome Trust. We fully support its call for the G20 and the UN to take the lead in building a global coalition for action…

Why we need to reveal the hidden connections at the heart of cities

By Fiona Marshall and Ritu Priya, STEPS Urbanisation theme Urban areas are intense meeting points of people and cultures, but they’re also places where more or less visible interactions happen: between the infrastructures and systems of water, energy, food and other resources. These connections pose a big challenge for how researchers understand cities – but…

The Wicked Foundations of the Anthropocene

The Anthropocene describes how human society has now become the dominant force on Earth’s geology and ecosystems. The notion of the Anthropocene highlights a confounding contradiction: we have an unprecedented ability to control the world around us, yet we are using this power to destroy the preconditions for our own existence, and we seem strangely…