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This week's editor

Constitutional conventions: best practice

The relationship between people, home, and place shifts, as landscape, culture, and technology fluctuates. Here, we examine the ebb and flow of people, places, and culture.

Latin Americans pay price for corporate environmental destruction

As the COP20 conference comes to a close in Lima, can the corporations whose ‘externalities’ foster climate change ever be brought to book?

The great tide of 31 January 1953

An enormous surge of water over the coastal lands of south-east England sixty years ago took hundreds of lives and marked survivors for a lifetime. A meticulous account of the tragedy written a few years later is still the best source to understand what happened, says Ken Worpole, a native of one of the places most affected, Canvey Island.

India Burning

When the rice harvest season finishes in a few weeks, fields in India will turn black as farmers burn thousands of acres. This practice shows one of the failures of the Green Revolution, with devastating regional and global consequences. A food-security-obsessed India cannot ignore these issues for much longer.

The politics of myth making: 'Beasts of the Southern Wild'

Myths of human survival that evade questions of gender, race and social relations, won’t help us adapt in a world already being radically reshaped by environmental disasters and slow burning climate change, argues Agnes Woolley

What is energy for?

So familiar has the social economy of energy become in modern societies, so routine its extraordinardinary wastefulness, so toxic its effects, that the capacity for a better way can be missed. By questioning the how, why and what of energy use, says Rebecca Willis, new possibilities - of living, travelling, eating, working and buying - can open

Mega dams: campaigning against the plans of the Indian government

In demonstrations barely reported in the media, peasants and students in the Northeastern Indian state of Assam are fighting together against a proposed gargantuan network of dams across the upper reaches of its rivers in Arunachal Pradesh, one of the world’s six most seismically active regions. The movement has gathered impressive momentum against a project that threatens devastating environmental, demographic and socio-economic impact.

In the backyard of Russia’s oil paradise

Pavlovo village was once a quiet backwater in the forest-steppe of Perm Region. In 1997, however, ecological disaster struck, with oil and chemicals entering the local river and food chain. The culprits of the catastrophe were both rich and obvious, but justice was a long while in coming, writes Roman Yushkov

Egypt, the Nile and the revolution

The fate of Egypt across the centuries is indissolubly linked to the river which gives it life. Today, a range of problems - environmental, political, economic - threaten the provision and the quality of the Nile waters. They present another challenge for the young post-Mubarak order, says Vicken Cheterian 

The new food movement: politics and pleasure

The emergent movements around the politics of food are a vital component of debates on the planet’s future, says Geoff Andrews.

Taking the right path? The Centre for Alternative Technology and the politics of radical ecology

Reflecting on a recent visit to the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) and his life as an eco-activist, Charlie Hill argues that radical ecology needs to reach out to a new audience.

The white and pleasant land

A racist assault on unfamiliar ground provokes Delwar Hussain to reflect on why the British countryside looks less than welcoming to people of colour.

School wars: France vs England

A flurry of reports that castigates the French school system also highlights the deficiencies of Anglocentric perception, says Anne Corbett.

The Battle for Khimki Forest

The plan to construct a section of the new Moscow-St.Petersburg motorway through the legally-protected Khimki Forest Park will destroy a rare eco-system. Dogged local resistance has turned this into a national, even international issue. But it has not derailed the plan The article was first published on March 17, 2010

Ecocentrism: a response to Paul Kingsnorth

Paul Kingsnorth’s journey from a degraded environmentalism to nature-centred ways of living and thinking has many echoes for Andrew Dobson, but also clarifies a difference of outlook.

Confessions of a recovering environmentalist

"Environmentalism, which in its raw, early form had no time for the encrusted, seized-up politics of left and right, has been sucked into the yawning, bottomless chasm of the 'progressive' left." A personal, twenty-year journey through the world’s wild places and the movements to protect them is also, for Paul Kingsnorth, an education in the limits of a project that has forgotten nature and lost its soul.

The felling of bungalows, the building of Dhaka

The frenetic urban growth of Bangladesh's capital is transforming the lives of its inhabitants. But as Delwar Hussain describes in a rich and humane portrait, the process carries an epic social, environmental and historical cost.

(This article was first published on 21 August 2009)

Saving the Amur tiger

With the Amur tiger population facing extinction, organisations from Russia and abroad have been working to save them. They don’t always agree as to how this should be done. Then there are the politics, Mumin Shakirov observes. Perhaps the Year of the Tiger will be auspicious for the Amur big cats…

The blizzard of the world

The exhaustion of the planet and existing ways of life presents a creative challenge: exploring “uncivilisation”. Paul Kingsnorth introduces the Dark Mountain Project.

Does environmentalism destroy the world?

openDemocracy and Resurgence launch the Dictionary of Ethical Politics to explore how our political concepts can cope with the end of the limitless

Stockholm Woodland Cemetery

Cemeteries are at the beginning and end of landscape and architecture. A visit to Stockholm Woodland Cemetery, finds Ken Worpole, impresses for more than its vast scale, or the emotionally rich allusiveness of its shadowy forest interior. It achieves a rare respect for the vulnerability and equity of the human condition.

(This article was first published on 23 January 2003)

Saving baby seals: one woman’s crusade

Russia has banned the hunting of baby harp seals. The victory follows a personal crusade by International Fund for Animal Welfare's Maria Vorontsova.

Climate Change: politics v reality

Anthony Giddens' new book The Politics of Climate Change manages the politics and ignores the challenge.

The "rights of nature"

Ecuador's new leftist government is considering bestowing legal "rights" upon nature. What would Hannah Arendt think?

A politics of crisis: low-energy cosmopolitanism

The global financial turmoil is opening new fissures in the world's political crust. All the more need to make a cool assessment of the prospects for left and right, say Andrew Dobson & David Hayes.

(This article was first published on 22 October 2008)

Mahatma Gandhi’s achievement

Gandhi's vision of a non-violent social order is as inspiring and necessary as ever, says Satish Kumar.

Roger Deakin, a journey through landscape

The author of "Waterlog" and the forthcoming "Wildwood" explored the natural landscape in fresh, surprising and influential ways. Ken Worpole pays tribute to Roger Deakin, and introduces his openDemocracy "swimmer's journey" article from July 2001.

The British Landscape

John Davies' beautiful panoramic photographs of the British landscape capture an industrial world now lost and a modernity running away from its past, says Ken Worpole.

The Lift New Parliament: vote for your favourite design

The London International Festival of Theatre wants your vote in its architecture competition to design the Lift New Parliament, a travelling performance and meeting space – preview the designs and cast your vote.

The architect and the other

Can architecture be democratic? Jeremy Till warns against empty gestures and sticking handwritten notes on technical drawings, and welcomes Lift's mold-breaking project to design a New Parliament.

Jane Jacobs (1916-2006): cities for life

Jane Jacobs's book "The Death and Life of Great American Cities" changed the way people thought about urban planning, the street and the character of cities. Roger Scruton reflects on the relevance of its message today.

Ian Hamilton Finlay's world

The landscape artist Ian Hamilton Finlay created an extraordinary fusion of sculpture, inscription and philosophy in his Little Sparta garden. Ken Worpole considers a complex figure.

Lido life

"When we get down to swimming, we get down to democracy." Ken Worpole finds a political challenge in the revival of a public arena where sensuous and spiritual pleasures combine: the lido and open-air swimming pool.

Living on water: welcome to a shedboatshed world

A journey through the coastal landscape of Essex, eastern England, convinces Ken Worpole that human beings in the 21st century must relearn how to live with water.

Write the constitution down!

The battle over fox-hunting in England has led to a crisis of authority in the state itself. Anthony Barnett asks John Jackson, a key figure in the case and chairman of a leading law firm, Mishcon de Reya, to comment on the significance of the latest decision by a high-level panel of judges.

Hunting in the modern world

The unchallengeable heart of the case against fox-hunting is that it inflicts cruelty on its quarry, says a prominent figure in Britain’s animal protection movement.
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