“The Limits to Growth”. This Club of Rome report, published 50 years ago, is still one of the most cited, most influential and most controversial publications in the history of environmental policy. It was published in 35 languages with a total circulation of over 30 million. Together with Rachel Carson’s “The Silent Spring”, it is one of the early classics of the environmental movement.
The analysis then used a computer model called World3 to model the interaction of five stylized variables over the period 1972-2100: population, technology, industrial production, non-renewable resources and pollution. The gross national product, which is generally meant in the concept of economic growth, was not included, but at most indirectly included in the concept of industrial production.
The authors modeled several scenarios that assumed, among other things, different resource availability and different technology developments. Most led to collapse during the 21st century. However, the Club of Rome emphasized that the report also contained a positive message: With forward-looking politics, this collapse could be avoided.
The authors published updates to the report after 20 and 30 years, which basically confirmed the original results. However, resource availability was not the first limit the world system encountered. On the other hand, environmental pollution in the form of non-toxic, at first glance seemingly harmless substances such as CO₂ and now also plastic has proven to be the most stubborn problem to date, which is difficult to get a grip on and unbalances our global ecological systems.
Independent analyzes also essentially confirmed the original results. Yale researcher Gaya Herrington compared 2021 World3 model results with empirical data and found good agreement, particularly with the scenarios assuming increased resource availability (BAU2) and accelerated technology development (CT). However, they both lead to a decline in industrial output from 2040, albeit with very different consequences.
The report was highly controversial from the start, and flagrantly false claims, such as the report predicting a collapse in 1990, were also widely circulated. He generated a controversy that continues to this day. Because in the end there remains a dilemma: our societies have so far been dependent on economic growth – from social security to taxes and the stability of the financial system. Even the investments required for the energy transition generate an impetus for growth. And while the energy turnaround meets with broad approval in principle, it would certainly not be feasible to shrink the gross national product by the magnitudes in which climate protection is concerned.
Ultimately, it must be a question of clearly distinguishing between what is allowed to grow and what must shrink: the use of nature in its various dimensions must shrink radically. The environmentally relevant end values of human consumption (living space per capita, mobility kilometers, etc.) must certainly increase somewhat in the global south, and at least remain stable in the north. And the growth of the gross national product is not the central objective from this perspective, but at best the resultant and possibly a condition for economic stability.
The concept of the Great Transformation, brought into the debate by the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU) in 2011, also makes an important contribution. The term, which goes back to the social historian Karl Polanyi, first of all emphasizes the processual, dynamic nature of the upcoming change. Usually classified as «social-ecological» as an adjective, it makes it clear that it is not about marginal adjustments to an otherwise wonderfully running economy, but about a fundamental change in the essential systems that determine our way of life: energy, transport, housing, nutrition, industry.
Technological changes are often closely intertwined with lifestyle changes: the change from the car-centric city to an attractive mix of bicycles and e-bikes, networked local public transport and various sharing services – including a remnant of electrified, shared automobility – is beginning to emerge interlocking system of technical innovation, infrastructure and the resulting changes in behavior. From this point of view, the “lifestyle versus technology” debate, which is repeated on many talk shows, turns out to be a false dichotomy.
From the point of view of the transformation of the systems energy, transport, housing and nutrition that are essential for our environmental consumption, life cycle assessments carried out at a single point in time for individual technologies become questionable. For example, the CO₂ balance of electromobility in a coal-fired power system may not be particularly convincing compared to an efficient diesel. However, if you understand the transition as part of a major transformation of the energy and transport system, it makes more sense.
Such a transformation takes many years, even if it has to happen very quickly due to the failures of the past 50 years. There is no panacea. CO₂ pricing, highly praised by many economists, will at best play a supporting role ( see the contribution by Cullenward and Victor ).
In each of the sectors, transformation pathways need to be explored that intertwine technical practices, infrastructure and technologies with behavioral changes, social coalitions for change need to be forged and politically effective in order to square the circle of ambition and pragmatism. The increasing moments of crisis must be used for quantum leaps in the right direction instead of falling back into old patterns.
Technological developments are indispensable, but their implementation can no longer be left to the profit motive alone. Their opportunities must be used to reduce the ecological footprint, not to fulfill our dreams. Whether air taxis or space tourism, supersonic flight and Bitcoin mania: Not everything that is technically possible and fulfills individual wishes or even greed for profit is also of general interest. Because then the growth of desires, not infrequently even greed, drives the world into the abyss. A clever, socially negotiated self-restraint is necessary at these points: Our world has enough for everyone’s needs, but not for everyone’s greed (M. Gandhi).
In all of this, the Great Transformation will not be linear. History will inevitably zigzag forward. Despite all setbacks and growing ecological crises, it is always about keeping an eye on the goal: the fastest possible socially sustainable transformation of our way of life and economic activity towards 100 percent renewable energies, environmentally friendly land use and a comprehensive circular economy.
We will not get away scot-free as things stand now. The “impacts” are getting closer: Burning forests, thawing permafrost, heat waves and melting polar ice caps are just a few warning signs. Numerous global ecosystems have been damaged too massively, from the climate to the oceans and forests to the soil. But with a great deal of effort, the coming crises can perhaps be used as moments of transformation that will still prevent the collapse predicted by the Club of Rome models in the 1930s to 1950s and at least allow for a “soft landing” (Adam Tooze & Jonathan Barth) can enable.
Solidarity with the most vulnerable in our global society is a prerequisite for this. The best moment to initiate the Great Transformation would have been 50 years ago. The second best is today – and parts of it are already on the way.
Jörg Haas is a consultant for international politics at the Heinrich Böll Foundation.
Beyond Money: A Postcapitalist Strategy urges twenty-first century social and environmental movements to seriously consider a non-monetary vision and strategies to achieve socio-political and economic equality and ecological sustainability. The supporting argument is that monetary economies are based on socially divisive dynamics, that monetary economies are the source of dualism between nature and us, and that no tinkering with money can overcome such failings.
In short, post-capitalism must be conceived of, and operate, using non-monetary practices. This might appear like a bolt from the blue, but intellectual and practical thinking of this kind is not new. My initial suspicions about money were confirmed when I read Karl Marx’s early work, the thought of non-market socialist currents, and practical debates in both the Soviet Union and Cuba on the role of money in a transformation to socialism. Throughout the final decades of the twentieth century questions were raised around money by feminists such as Silvia Federici, who threw a light on questions surrounding women and work, and the German ecofeminist Bielefeld School, which developed concepts of subsistence economies. Moreover, occupiers, communalists, radical activists and no-barter (no-trade) communities regularly engage in solidarity economy practices that eschew money.
This article refers to certain concepts examined in Beyond Money. On the one hand, the Janus nature of a ‘universal equivalent’ and ‘equal exchange’ that alienates, divides and regenerates dominance and subservience. On the other hand, ‘real values’ — the real, non-monetary, social and ecological values at the heart of any economy dedicated to fulfilling basic needs and respecting Earth’s limits. I offer the key principles of how a world based on real values might operate. Then, I discuss how characteristics of such a world are embodied in the Zapatista movement and how relevant skills that focus on direct democracy and material justice are emerging in ‘green materialist’ tendencies of contemporary anti-capitalist currents.
The development paradigm of swaraj recognizes that every material transaction is also a moral transaction
Sumanas Koulagi, who holds a PhD from the University of Sussex and a Master of Science in biodiversity, conservation and management from the University of Oxford, was raised on an organic farm that belongs to the Janapada Seva Trust, a voluntary organization established by his grandparents in 1960 in the Indian state of Karnataka. He volunteers in the trust now after completing his PhD.
The trust has worked in various fields ranging from organic farming and khadi to alternative education, and as a center for differently abled children.
A wide range of people with diverse interests used to visit the trust and out of all these, the frequently held natural history programs grabbed Koulagi’s attention. He happened to meet some of the leading naturalists in the country, and these interactions kindled his interest in wildlife.
The disappearance of wilderness over the years in the name of development pushed him to explore alternative ways of living that provide space for wildlife as well. This quest connected him back to the ideas of Mahatma Gandhi, especially swaraj, a form of non-violent self-control.
Excerpts of an interview with him follow.
Kathakali Das Bhaumik: Let’s start with your grandparents and establishment of the Janapada Seva Trust. What were the basic fundamentals on which the Trust was formed?
Sumanas Koulagi: My grandparents were from a generation that was influenced by Gandhi and the freedom movement. My grandfather Surendra Koulagi settled in Melkote, Karnataka, in 1960 and started the voluntary organization Janapada Seva Trust.
He selected the village because it had all the rural industries that were part of Gandhi’s constructive work agenda. Since then the trust has been striving to establish a non-violent community which is free of exploitation, based on the idea of swaraj as advocated by Gandhi.
KB: What does swaraj mean in a broader context? How can it be perceived as a paradigm of development?
SK:Swaraj is a combination of two words, swa, which means “self,” and raj, which refers to “control” or “rule.” Hence the inherent meaning comes down to self-rule. It is a state of unalienated peaceful life where one will have an internal tranquillity and external harmonious relationship with others.
The central quest of swaraj development is to construct a non-violent society that ensures self-rule and provides control to everyone over their lives. Such an exploitation-free society is built on the axioms of truth and non-violence.
Truth is an understanding of unity underlying the ever-changing world or interconnectedness of life. It becomes evident if we assess our everyday life.
For instance, how does a coffee that we drink in the morning become possible? There should be a plant called coffee, a honeybee or some insect must have pollinated the flowers to produce coffee fruits, someone should have plucked it, another person should have dried the seeds and powdered it, someone else should have packed and sold the powder, another person should have provided milk, and so on.
Because of all these collective contributions, we get our morning coffee on the table. This is true for each and every article we consume for our sustenance. It demonstrates that the good of an individual is embedded in the good of all.
By acknowledging this truth, the swaraj development takes a moral position of greatest good of all. In other words, it advocates morality of non-violence by recognizing the contribution of others in the existence of self. Such a moral position leads to human prosperity, but it stands in complete contrast with the morality of the prevailing development paradigm.
However, development as swaraj identifies that people can effectively follow the morality of non-violence primarily when they fulfill their basic material needs such as food, clothing, and shelter. [As well,] they encounter the issue of survival, which is the primary source of self-interest and violence.
Therefore, the notion of development shifts from material to moral once the basic material needs are fulfilled. To achieve this, the swaraj paradigm embraces decentralization in politics and self-sufficiency in economy to ensure everyone fulfils their basic material needs and in turn encourages the morality of non-violence. This goes against the prevailing development model that rests upon centralization in politics and efficiency in the economy.
The development paradigm of swaraj recognizes the fact that every material transaction is also a moral transaction. For example, if a person purchases a football made from child labor, that person commits violence by indirectly encouraging the exploitation of children. This is true for every material transaction we make. Therefore, self-sufficiency in the economy involves reduction in the distance between production and consumption to a minimum.
Further, self-sufficiency in the economy prioritizes human energy that enables individuals to perform physical labor. On one hand, it reduces environmental impact, since there is no requirement of an external energy source. On the other hand, it ensures more control of people over their lives by providing further access to own the means of production.
This is precisely because capital in the form of money is unequally distributed in the society whereas capital in the form of labor is more or less equally distributed. Therefore, any means of production that depends more on labor could create a more equal society by distributing wealth in its production stage itself.
This goes against the wealth production and distribution mechanism of the existing development system where wealth is created by a small group of people who possess monetary capital.
Take for instance [the] handloom. It works on human energy, requires a few thousand rupees of investment, and allows individuals from large sections of society to own it, whereas the power loom runs on electricity, demands a few [hundred thousand] rupees of investment, and becomes unaffordable for most of the common people.
The latter, therefore, increases the chances of enforcing the owner-and-laborer relationship and in turn aids in disparity between rich and poor. Most important, human energy sets an inherent limit to the production and consumption in the economy, which is essential for the survival of our civilization in the finite planet.
This is a normative vision of swaraj. It should be seen as a direction for our civilization to move forward rather than something that could be achieved overnight.
KB: The culture of consumption has invaded every cell of our consciousness so much so that the consumerist society is completely unconscious of its footprints affecting ecology, environment, and wildlife. How has the abundance of material wealth impacted the ecological and social structure?
SK: On one hand, abundance of material wealth has created indulgence among a small section of the global society. On the other hand, it has engendered inequality and environmental crises that threaten global civilisational collapse. The growing inequality, particularly of wealth, has reached the point where the top 1% own more than one-fourth of total wealth.
According to the latest World Inequality Report, if inequality is not adequately addressed, it will result in various sorts of political, economic, and social catastrophes. At the same time, human civilization is breaking through thresholds of delicately interconnected planetary boundaries, which delineate the safe operating space for humanity.
The growth of civilization beyond these ecological limits will result in non-linear, abrupt environmental change, and will have a fatal impact if not checked.
KB: Tweaking development models to fit into Gandhian ideals – how do you think that could be achieved?
SK: People have to explore their own path to achieve the normative vision of swaraj. However, the principles will be the same, as explained earlier – political decentralization and economic self-sufficiency rooted in the morality of the greatest good of all.
KB: How do you plan to move forward with an effective collaboration of Gandhian ideals and manual labor to achieve a sustainable wildlife ecosystem? What are the tools you might be using?
SK: As I explained earlier, the swaraj development paradigm is built on the morality of the greatest good of all. Here “all” includes non-human beings like animals, flora and fauna too. Therefore, moving towards the normative vision of swaraj inherently brings co-existence. The question is how to enforce this moral value. At the moment, I think it can be achieved through redefining cultural memory and environmental education.
Cultural memory represents historical consciousness that provides diachronic identity for people in the present. It is referred to as memory because it forgets what lies outside of the horizon of the relevant. It entails mythical history where distinction between myth and history vanishes.
Further, it involves events from the absolute past, from the mythical primordial time that spans over the last three thousand years. The cultural memory mediates from generation to generation through symbols in the form of structures, texts, rituals, icons, performance of various kinds, classical or other formalised languages.
Since the worldview of a large section of society is shaped by its cultural memory, it is essential to engage with it to bring about a transformation.
Another important way of enhancing commitment to the morality of non-violence is through cultivating self-knowledge by inquiring about the place of the self in the cosmos. This can be more effectively done by an empirical understanding of the material world, particularly through an ecological perspective.
Such exposure to an understanding of the natural world helps individuals to realize the intricate connections between the self and other beings in the cosmos. The recognition of the contribution of other beings towards the existence of the self through these exercises encourages an individual to lead a life of co-existence.
With a focus on education centred around indigenous ecological knowledge while empowering children, their parents and the local community, the Kaigal Education and Environment programme (KEEP) is a unique community based environmental education programme. KEEP began as a programme under the Krishnamurti Foundation India (KFI) in the regions adjoining the Kaundinya Wildlife Sanctuary in Andhra Pradesh’s Chittoor district run by the Foundation for Education Ecology and Livelihood ( FEEL for Earth). Since 2002, KEEP has collaborated with the Yanadi tribal community in the region to work on education that is contextual to the community. Through FEEL for Earth’s programs, conservation is led by the community through Ex Situ Conservation and encouraging livelihoods that protect and nourish the local ecology of the region while nurturing the tribe’s rich knowledge of the forest.
As a former student of Dr Sudha Premnath, the founder of KEEP, and having visited the Sanctuary Schools and other Programmes run by KEEP, I explore the ingredients required for a successful education that is contextual to the community and education that is centred around a love for nature and protecting biodiversity. With the climate crisis, rampant environmental degradation, biodiversity loss and cultural erosion, programmes like KEEP give me hope about having a future where youth can celebrate nature, actively participate in democracy by being responsible citizens, practice stewardship of the land and protect the environment.
In 1997, the Government of India gave the Krishnamurthi Foundation of India 200 acres in the Kaigal village right outside the Kaundinya Wildlife Sanctuary. The land was a degraded scrub jungle by the Kaigal river that led to a beautiful waterfall. The Valley School in Bangalore took the responsibility to take care of the land and started learning initiatives there that encouraged forest conservation and environmental education in collaboration with the local community. In April 1999, after the final exams, Sudha aunty took 13 of her 11th standard environmental studies students on a field visit to Kaigal. While the students camped in a single hut without any electricity or basic amenities, little did they know that this trip would lead to a lifelong relationship with the people of Kaigal, a community conservation programme and a small business that empowers the youth and women of Kaigal.
The trip’s objective was to observe and understand basic environmental concepts practically like populations and communities in an ecosystem, tree diversity, species diversity and more. Sudha aunty was clear that for ecological studies and conservation to happen, the local people have to be at the centre of the project. “If you’re going to work in a forest area and are interested in rejuvenating degraded land and restoring a forest, local people need to be involved in the project.” The students undertook a 3-day door to door socio-economic survey and collected data through interviews with the community. This fieldwork enabled establishing a friendship and personal connection with the village. The villagers were enthusiastic that teachers and students had come to learn with and from the village.
Sudha aunty continued to take her students to Kaigal for projects that studied tree diversity, birds, water bodies, communities and livelihoods. The locals and students together participated in these projects to document the knowledge of the region’s biodiversity and develop solutions to improve life for the people and the ecosystem. The teachers, students, and villagers began a research project on non-timber forest resources and an afforestation project. One of the villagers, Subbarayappa from the nearby Mugilupodalarevu village, suggested, “See, I will tell you some important trees you must grow – I will bring the saplings from the forest. Jalarimanu (this has fragrant flowers, good to grow), Bajji manga (good for lactating mothers and cattle), Karakkai, Thandra (both medicinal), Dhupam, Errapolichi”. One of the field coordinators with the students and teachers loved this idea and went with the villagers to the forests and gathered saplings which led to the starting of the community afforestation and conservation programme. Over the years, the locals, students and teachers have worked with scientists and communities to document biodiversity, build germplasm banks and initiate a participatory conservation programme. The work has impacted 26000 people over ecosystems covering 14000 hectares across 60 villages in and around the Kaigal region.
Sudha aunty’s friends and colleagues encouraged her to submit a proposal and apply for grants from the United Nations Environment Programme to continue doing the work at a larger scale. In 2002, The Kaigal Education and Environment Programme (KEEP) was founded. It has a Conservation Center in Kaigal village on the fringes of the Kaundinya Wildlife Sanctuary in Andhra Pradesh, consisting of a Seed Bank, a Forest Nursery, an Educational Resource and Training Center. The centre is now located in a beautiful forested land with the Kaigal river flowing through. KEEP focuses on initiating conservation work, providing training to youth and women to acquire skills for a livelihood, and starting schools for marginalised communities.
When I visited Kaigal in 2017 as part of KEEP, my fondest memories of my time there was at the Kaligutta Sanctuary school where I spent days with tribal children as they taught me how to make balls from lantana flowers, pick Nongus (Ice Apples) and sing and dance to folk songs about nature spirits. I was in awe of these middle school children’s knowledge about their surrounding ecosystems, their food (where it can be foraged, how it can be grown, which season is it available), and their deep connection to and reverence for nature. This was in deep contrast to my city-dwelling self, my younger cousins or middle school children who are often discouraged or don’t have access to this knowledge and natural spaces.
J. Krishnamurthi said, “If you lose your relationship with nature, you lose your relationship with humanity.”
The Sanctuary Schools around Kaigal began after Subbarayapa asked Sudha aunty and her team in 2003, “You are talking to us about seeds and forests – can you do something for our children?”. Similarly, Duggeppa from Kaligutta, a village 17 kilometres away, requested, “Teach our children, well, teach them about the forests”. Duggeppa cleared his goat shed to make space for a learning corner for children, the Kaligutta Sanctuary School. The Sanctuary Schools began as non-formal learning centres in 5 villages, and they transformed themselves into registered primary schools in Mugilupodalarevu and Kalligutta in 2008. Nagamma, a healer and a wise elder of the Kaligutta village, shared that two pieces of land were available. One would be used for the school and the other for the temple. The local community believes that education is as sacred as the places of worship. The villagers cleared out goat sheds, made fences and walls with Lantana sticks, and these are used as the schools. With this prestigious responsibility, Sudha aunty and the teaching team envisioned the Sanctuary Schools to be a space that simultaneously affirms their knowledge and way of life and encourages a culturally responsive, inclusive, contextually relevant learning environment for the community. The Schools are believed to be community-owned spaces where children and individuals can go on a learning journey and a path of self-development in an environment free from fear.
The schools are called Sanctuary Schools. The name comes from how the schools cater to the children of remote tribal villages situated on the fringes of the only elephant inhabited forest in Andhra Pradesh, the Kaudinya Wildlife Sanctuary. The main goal was that tribal children who do not have school education should be provided with meaningful learning opportunities and quality education. When it comes to education, tribal children are often ignored, and their learning and childhood development is not prioritised. In the region, tribal children have also faced more discrimination in government and public schools. The Sanctuary Schools hope to help children grow into healthy, happy and responsible adults.
About 50 students in the age group of 3 to 14 attend the 2 Sanctuary Schools. The schools are registered under the Right to Education Act (2009) and are staffed by qualified teachers, and operate in two tribal villages of Kalligutta and Mugilupodarevu. Education is free, and all the teachers are from the locality. Youth who graduated from high school were trained to become teachers and obtained B.Ed college degrees. This training process facilitated livelihood creation as well.
Students are grouped according to their learning level, and classes are conducted in mixed-age groups. The child’s first language is the language of instruction, and the pedagogy is based on exploratory activities to construct knowledge. The curriculum and activities have been developed to draw from the child’s and the community knowledge of the local environment, and the classroom encourages peer learning rather than one-way teacher to student learning.
Experiential learning is prioritised, integrating local ecology with the subjects taught. Textbooks are utilised only in Grade 5. The child’s autonomy is respected, and child-centred approaches like the Montessori and Kindergarten method are adapted. The living world is used as the classroom and is not limited to the textbook. Activities like forest walks, seed collections, and documenting biodiversity structured into the children’s schedule allows students to share their knowledge with teachers and changed the direction of classroom discourse. Community members share their experiences and knowledge through scheduled resource activities with students. Creativity is encouraged among students and teachers through activities like art, craft, pottery, music for self-expression. The schools also encourage community service, silence, reflection, introspection and creative pursuits for children and adults alike. Parents take children to the forest and introduce them to plants in the forest study classes as part of the curriculum. Teachers have the autonomy and flexibility to learn and explore with the students. The curriculum evolves regularly based on the participatory design of the materials with teachers, resource persons and educators with similar learning experiences within a context. Children in the schools are encouraged to participate in events outside their village through structured academic experiences, arts, sports, and trips. Personalised learning plans and continuous individualised assessments are used to progress in their learning journey. Skill-based work like macrame, stitching connected to local women’s enterprises were introduced for students and teachers to understand the value of meaningful work.
Most of the children continue their studies after age 12 by joining a Government High School – day school. Few students complete their education through NIOS with support from the Sanctuary School teachers.
Sudha aunty believes that to address the challenges of sustainable development, we need a fresh perspective on education that offers opportunities to fall in love with nature and develop a sense of wonder. Feelings for forests and wonder are best created when children spend quiet time in nature and develop an understanding of the natural world. This also enables appreciation for the ways of life of different communities and creates an inclusive learning environment for learners. The Sanctuary Schools facilitate this kind of education through their educational principles.
Sudha aunty shared that “When children are educated in schools, they should feel proud of their parents, which empowers them. We have not been sensitive to children from tribal communities while writing textbooks, developing learning materials, and structuring lessons. Invariably you will find geography textbooks describing Indian farmers as uneducated, primitive, poverty-stricken as if they have no knowledge and don’t know natural farming. These farmers, especially tribals, have abundant knowledge about seeds, seasons, tubers, medicinal plants, herbs, wildflowers, millets and more. Children should be proud of their parents, and schools should facilitate this through education, and it is time education systems value this traditional knowledge.”
In 2008, the Environment Education Programme began for students from cities aged 6-18, who took 3-5 day trips to Kaigal, to bring new perspectives to environmental education apart from what is offered in the mainstream curriculums. Mainstream environmental studies curriculums are centralised and textbook-based rather than being experiential.
Sudha Aunty questioned why pollution is the first topic students in schools study under environmental studies. She shared, “Pollution is not the environment; pollution comes under sociology; it is man-made.” Textbook based ecological learning that is centralised often does more harm than good. She gives the example of how we learn about flowers in schools; we mostly see the photos of commercially grown flowers or invasive species in our textbooks rather than local endemic species like wildflowers. There is a disconnect for children, “The moment you go to school, you stop learning because you’re reading things you cannot relate to.”
She shares that “Instilling an environmental consciousness will never happen with textbooks and examinations. It will happen when schools and educators teach about beauty, the intricacy, the complexity of the environment, and nature’s rhythms. You cannot teach the rhythms of nature; you need to see, experience, feel, hear and be present with nature.”
In the environmental education programme, groups of 15-20 children and 2-3 teachers participate in forest walks and sessions on forest biodiversity with local tribal elders. Children learn activities like mapping land use, documenting biodiversity on nature walks, making seed balls from native species for dispersal and collecting seeds and saplings for a forest nursery. The importance of land stewardship is instilled through tending to the land, a day spent with local farmers on their farm, learning from women from their self-help groups supporting sustainable enterprises.
The programme is coordinated and facilitated by the teachers from the Sanctuary Schools, members from the Kaigal Trust – a community enterprise based on local bio-resources. This eclectic team manages the programme’s conservation and livelihood generation activities.
When I went to Kaigal for the Environmental Education Programme with my high school class, it was interesting how, in the beginning, my classmates felt fear because of being in the heart of nature without technology and the hustle-bustle of the city. This restlessness transitioned into calmness, wonder and awe as we participated in activities. Swimming in streams and waterfalls, hanging out with local farmers, playing with children who had an abundance of knowledge about their ecosystem, feeling the earth and making seed balls, eating locally grown food, spending quiet time under the moon or by the blue sky to reflect and introspect and deepen connections with nature.
The Kaigal Environmental Education Programmes are designed depending on the duration, age group of students, season, local conditions, and activities during the visit. Younger kids play and revel in nature and deepen their connection, and older children realise the threat to biodiversity and the impacts of the climate crisis. Children recognise the importance of conservation and connect the ties between environmental justice and social justice.
The programmes cater to students from 14 schools in India, including Peepal Grove, Bangalore Steiner School, Prakriya Green Wisdom School and Shibumi. Feel for Earth continues to work with the Yanadi knowledge holders who share their stories about their land, culture, and traditional livelihoods. The Yanadi people collaborated with teachers and students to document the vegetation diversity and deep understandings of the ecosystem. An extensive conservation programme ranging from Ex-situ conservation, collaborative knowledge building, biodiversity documentation and conservation in local governance has become part of the local community responsibility and life.
The Kaigal Education and Environment Programme is a fantastic example of an alternative that brings together knowledge systems and centres the community from the start. Education, Livelihood, Conservation, Skills, Ecology, Equity and Justice, must be at the heart of solutions protecting biodiversity and supporting indigenous communities.
Jules´ life revolves around kayaking and rivers, the veins of the territory. He shares his discoveries, from harmony with nature to the river´s tale of developmental tragedies. His socio-environmentally inspired tourism venture is part of a web with different threads of actions and his philosophy of life works for him, always in alliance with others and where possible in the kayak.
The Earth is warming the Earth. In this series of five short films, learn why natural warming loops have scientists alarmed—and why we have less time than we think. SUBTITLED IN 20 LANGUAGES.
Fossil fuel emissions from human activity are driving up Earth’s temperature—yet something else is at work. The warming has set in motion nature’s own feedback loops which are raising temperatures even higher. The urgent question is: Are we approaching a point of no return, leading to an uninhabitable Earth, or do we have the vision and will to slow, halt, and reverse them?
The world’s forests are responsible for removing a quarter of all human carbon emissions from the atmosphere and are essential for cooling the planet. But that fraction is shrinking as the three major forests of the world—tropical, boreal, and temperate—succumb to the effects of climate feedback loops. The resulting tree dieback threatens to tip forests from net carbon absorbers to net carbon emitters, heating rather than cooling the planet.
Permafrost, an icy expanse of frozen ground covering one-quarter of the Northern Hemisphere, is thawing. As it does, microscopic animals are waking up and feeding on the previously frozen carbon stored in plant and animal remains, releasing heat-trapping gases as a byproduct. These gases warm the atmosphere further, melting more permafrost in a dangerous feedback loop. With permafrost containing twice as much carbon as the atmosphere, its thaw could release 150 billion tons of carbon by the end of the century.
Global warming is altering Earth’s weather patterns dramatically. A warmer atmosphere absorbs more water vapor, which in turn traps more heat and warms the planet further in an accelerating feedback loop. Climate change is also disrupting the jet stream, triggering a feedback loop that brings warm air northward, and causes weather patterns to stall in place for longer.
The reflectivity of snow and ice at the poles, known as the albedo effect, is one of Earth’s most important cooling mechanisms. But global warming has reduced this reflectivity drastically, setting off a dangerous warming loop: as more Arctic ice and snow melt, the albedo effect decreases, warming the Arctic further, and melting more ice and snow. The volume of Arctic ice has already shrunk 75% In the past 40 years, and scientists predict that the Arctic Ocean will be completely ice-free during the summer months by the end of the century.
[Holistic science for living well: an introduction]
We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them. Albert Einstein
This book invites you to explore holistic science as a new way of understanding ourselves, as human beings, within the complexity of life on Earth and to participate in its flourishing. It explores new proposals within the social and scientific circles of our world today. Its principle intention is to, no more no less, change our way of thinking and to appreciate life, to amend those critical errors which have arisen because of our limited view of what life is.
The motivation to commence a study on holistic science is the situation of the Earth facing severe environmental, social and economic crises we have been confronted with at the beginning of the XXI century. We are in a rapid race to destroy the basis of our very survival on Earth, and beyond that, to destroy the foundation of life in general. So we could ask: Do we want to continue on the same path and enter the history of the Earth as the generation that destroyed its children´s future and of life in general?
The world today―dominated by the Western world view―is flawed by unsustainability. In view of the prospects for the coming decades we should understand the following: make a change is no longer a choice but a necessity. In order to provide a solution to the challenges we must change our thinking. This book is an introduction to a new way of looking at life and how to participate in it in
a sustainable way.
What alternatives do we have? Fortunately, the view the Western reader has about the world is not
the only one. There are other ways to see, to comprehend, to do science and to participate in life
on Earth. Ways that suggest a change in the mentality of humanity and, as will be illustrated, are
far more appropriate for the preservation of all beings on Earth. In addition to providing the reader
with some basic concepts about holistic science, the book also intends to arouse curiosity about this transdisciplinary world view―and the necessity to rethink our way of living on the planet and to find a first gateway to the magical world implicit to it.
The anthropological and cultural roots of Latin American countries are far closer to comprehending the new holistic view of life and the world. Therefore, the book highlights some similarities of the new scientific conception, which currently provides a hopeful space in the world of science and intellectuality, with the world view of many of the indigenous civilisations of the planet.
The book introduces holistic science and systems thinking, and outlines the basic principles of any action or process in order for it to be ecologically sustainable. It provides some practical tools that enable the reader to examine these issues seriously and also to apply holism and systems thinking in daily life.
The study structure
The first chapter The scientific revolution and the reductionist paradigm describes the birth of modern science and world view. The second chapter Holistic science explores some principles of quantum physics and systems thinking; the chapter closes with a comparison of reductionist and holistic science. The third chapter Holistic paradigms and education introduces the indigenous world view, the holistic paradigm and holistic education. The chapter ends with a look at the relationship between the concept of living well (buen vivir) and the holistic paradigm. The last chapter Proposals for action presents some suggestions for the dissemination of holistic concepts.