Medieval painting of an apocalyptic angel playing a trumpet

Catastrophes of biblical proportions: why the apocalypse is back

In a parliamentary debate in London about climate change and ecology on 1 May, the debate turned to scripture to describe the scale of the problem. “We face catastrophes of biblical proportions: droughts, pestilence, famine, floods, wildfires, mass migration, political instability, war and terrorism. Global civilisation as we know it will be gone by the…

Question marks

Responding to uncertainty: who are the experts?

Uncertainties are everywhere, part of life. But how to respond? Who are the experts? These are questions that we are debating this week at a symposium entitled ‘The Politics of Uncertainty: Practical Challenges for Transformative Action’. But they are also questions very pertinent to daily life in Zimbabwe, as elsewhere in the world. Everyday uncertainties For…

Cities, Uncertainty and Systems Change

Depending who and where you are in the world, you will be experiencing the effects of climate change differently. Here in the UK, the recent hot-weather days in February might have felt unsettling, even as your body welcomed the warmth and sunshine. Meanwhile, people in some parts of the United States were caught in freezing…

Dam viewed from above

Rediscovering the Water-Food-Energy Nexus

A few months ago, I presented the findings of a new book, The Water-Food-Energy Nexus: Power, Politics and Justice, to an International Water Association conference on the same topic at Salerno. To my great surprise, I was the only social scientist out of 200 participants. Nexus approaches help to bridge the separate domains of water,…

farmers in dryland landscape

Five problems with ‘integrated assesment’ models, and what to do about them

What are the most appropriate ways of understanding changes in natural resource change in rural areas, particularly in the context of climate change? How can we make use of data that is patchy and uncertain? How can models help decision-making about future management? These questions are at the heart of three recently published journal articles…

small fishing boats with flags waving in the breeze

Views from the coast: uncertainty beyond climate change

Coastal areas are a poster child for climate vulnerability. They are marked and scarred by sea level rise, salinization, warming water, declining fish stocks, storms, changes in currents and weather patterns. But there are other currents and other patterns too. Against the global background of climatic change, a more careful look at places and communities…

A fire in the street in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe’s fuel riots: why austerity economics and repression won’t solve the problem

A day after the president announced a 150 percent hike in fuel prices, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trades Unions and others called for a peaceful three-day shutdown. Their demands were simple: end the economic crisis and hardships, reverse the fuel price increase and pay US$ salaries. By the end of day one, there were several…

Extinction Rebellion

Diets not riots: what would massive public dialogue on climate change look like?

The UN’s COP24 climate conference reaches its halfway point this weekend, and carbon emissions are going in the wrong direction worldwide. Debates about the best ways to tackle climate change are spilling out on to the streets and making headlines beyond the conference in Poland. In France, the gilets jaunes have made a violent and…

mobile payment kiosk

How transformative are mobile payments for solar home systems in Kenya?

by Victoria Chengo and Kennedy Mbeva, Africa Sustainability Hub The second Transformation Lab workshop (T-Lab) organised by the Africa Sustainability Hub was held in June in Nairobi, Kenya – one of six study sites in the international Pathways Network. As part of a 3-year process, the workshop discussed what needs to be done to enable…