By Luc Gnacadja*
RIO DE JANEIRO (IDN) - "Essentially, all life depends upon the soil. There can be no life without soil and no soil without life; they have evolved together," American naturalist Charles Kellogg wrote in 1938. Fertile soil is indeed among the world’s most significant non-renewable and finite resources. It is a key element, which sustains life on the Earth and provides us with water, food, fodder and fuels.
By Ernest Corea*
WASHINGTON (IDN) – Mega commitments or mega carnival? That about sums up core options before the high-level delegates including heads of state and government who are due to meet in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on June 20-22 for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development.
By R. Nastranis
BRUSSELS (IDN) - The United Nations has commended Europe for taking the lead in international efforts to tackle climate change, establish protected areas and reduce air pollution, but has criticized that the region's environmental footprint remains disproportionately high.
According to the Global Environment Outlook 5 (GEO 5) report from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), despite some successes in 'decoupling' environmental pressures from economic growth, large parts of Europe are consuming unsustainable levels of resources.
By Richard Johnson
LONDON (IDN) - The persisting political stalemate in the aftermath of the 2011 uprising in Bahrain, the tiny island kingdom near the western shores of the Persian Gulf, threatens to become an arena for proxy conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
By Rina Kuusipalo*
RIO DE JANEIRO (IDN) - We used to think that we had reached the end of history, as Fukuyama put it, whereby the reigning institutional-economic arrangement was seen as the best of all possibilities, while seeing the physical planet as infinitely re-imaginable by technology.
Now – not least due to climate change and the global financial crisis – we have hit the wall and reached the planet's limits. We are at the threshold of engaging with the idea that the old paradigm is a false necessity, the social world is ripe with alternatives, and it is the institutional-economic creation that must alter.
By Jaya Ramachandran
BERLIN (IDN) - As the heads of world's major economies, comprising the Group of 20 (G20), prepare to meet in Los Cabos in Mexico on June 18-19, the widely held view is that high expectations placed on them have been belied. The G20 leaders – representing about two-thirds of the planet’s population and more than 85 percent of the global economy – have since their first summit in Washington in 2008 agreed on financial reforms that did not go deep enough, came too slow and too late, and were above all ineffective.
By Shastri Ramachandaran*
NEW DELHI (IDN) - Which died first in Nepal – Democracy, parliament or the constitution? Can elections be held without a constitution? Does the president remain a "constitutional figurehead" when there is no constitution? Does the prime minister, who has to be a member of parliament, remain prime minister when there is no parliament even if it is called the Constituent Assembly?
By Jamshed Baruah
BERLIN (IDN) - It is five minutes to midnight on the Doomsday Clock. Inadequate progress on nuclear weapons reduction and persistent inaction on climate change have prompted the eminent Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (BAS) to move the hands of the famed clock one minute closer to midnight.
The last time the Doomsday Clock minute hand moved was in January 2010, when the Clock's minute hand was pushed back one minute from five to six minutes before midnight.
By Shastri Ramachandran*
NEW DELHI (IDN) - The road to the third round of the India-U.S. Strategic Dialogue under way in Washington has been far from smooth.
In January, when the Obama administration came out with its ambition of a military "pivot" to Asia, it caused confusion and unease in the region. Speaking at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore June 1-3, 2012, which was attended by most Asian defence ministers, U.S. Defence Secretary Leon Panetta avoided the term "pivot" and referred to a "rebalancing" toward Asia.
By Katsuhro Asagiri
TOKYO (IDN) - China is girding up its loins to stave off a serious water crisis by 2030 when population is expected to rise to 1.6 billion. With water consumption soaring, per capita water resources will drop to 1,760 cubic meters – perilously close to 1,700 cubic metres, the internationally recognized benchmark for water shortages, according to Chinese experts.
By Jen Alic of Oilprice.com*
SERAJEVO (IDN) - It is very difficult to understand the climate change denial platform on a purely philosophical and scientific level. Climate change is a rather obvious aspect of the history of the Earth and clearly man interacts with climate in an increasingly dynamic manner. That this is even debated appears on the surface to be not a little ridiculous – somewhere on the level of discussing whether the Earth is round or flat.