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Friday, September 24, 2010

Rape accused arrested in Kalimpong.. SU student selected for Japan fellowship

SHEEM News, (KalimNews): Kalimpong police nabbed one Maruti Van driver for raping a 15 year old girl on 23rd September. According to the version of the victim girl Mita Chhetri (not her real name) recorded by the police, she was sexually harassed by the accused on 20th September near Durpin dara. which the accused has reportedly confessed 
On the 20th Mita who hails from Dooars was returning home at Barbot Bong (Bom) Busty after performing usual duty of delivering meals to the son of her house owner Rajni Tamang in a local school. On her way to home the driver, Aravind Gauli Chhetri 24 of Buchari Busti of Samalbong , Middle Bong Busty who was possibly following her, stopped his vehicle near Fire Brigade office and offered the girl a lift for home. Since the driver also belonged to the same village they were already having confortable relation in the village which led Mita to accept the lift on the belief that the accused was also going to Bong Busty. 
On the way the driver suddenly diverted the taxi towards via Upper cart Road towards Durpin  and Mita puzzled by the wrong movement asked the driver about the destination where they were heading to. In his response the driver shut the mouth of Mita and forced her to reach a jungle near Durbin Dara where he forcefully committed rape despite of all opposition from her. When Mita reached home, where she worked as a domestic help, Rajani Tamang, the owner of house smelt something wrong and tried to ascertain the fact. Mita  out of  shame and shyness or other obvious reasons, could not disclose the fact  immediately. Later, the next day when the house mistress forced, Mita narrated her story. 
Following this, Rajani registered an FIR in the Kalimpong police station which ultimately led to the arrest of the culprit in no time. A rape case under IPC 376 has been registered against the local boy who is already a married person has a wife and one kid. The Chalak Mahasangh, apex body of the local driver associations, has stated that the membership of the accused person would be ceased if the allegations are found true.
Meanwhile, the local people have started to raise their eyebrows as according to them the Durpin Dara's jungle has become paradise of anti-social elements where they use to commit such immoral activities in regular manner.
(Article 376 of IPC : Whoever commits rape shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine, unless the woman raped is his own wife and is not under twelve years of age, in which case he shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.
Rape : A man is said to commit "rape" who except in the case hereinafter excepted, has sexual intercourse with a woman under circumstances falling under any of the five following descriptions :
Firstly : Against her will.
Secondly : Without her consent.
Thirdly : With her consent, when her consent has been obtained by putting her in fear of death, or of hurt.
Fourthly : With her consent, when the man knows that he is not her husband, and that her consent is given because she believes that he is another man to whom she is or believes herself to be lawfully married.
Fifthly : With or without her consent when she is under sixteen years of age.)
Two SU students selected for Hiroshima University fellowship programme -Great feat for one of the youngest university in the country:Prof Lama 
Prakha, GANGTOK, September 24: Continuing to make a mark on overseas academic institutions, Sikkim University is set to send two of its brightest students for an international fellowship programme at Hiroshima University, Japan.
Aminesh A Lulam Rai (24) and Rabindra Mani Pradhan (24) currently pursuing M.Phil degrees in Sikkim University would be participating in the ‘International Environmental Leader Short-Term Training Programme for Sustainable Asia’ organized by the university in Japan. The six-month long programme consisting of nine to eleven students selected from India, Indonesia, Vietnam and Malaysia will be commencing from October.
Rai and Pradhan are the only students selected from India by the international screening committee of the Hiroshima University. The former has recently completed his Masters in the department of social systems and anthropology while the latter has also completed his Masters in the department of international relations/politics of Sikkim University.
The duo’s selection for the prestigious fellowship programme is one of the series of achievements notched up Sikkim University this year. The university had received its first overseas student from Japan University, Tatshuki Shirai (21) to study for a period of one year for this academic session at Sikkim Government College here.
Introducing the two students today to media, Sikkim University vice-chancellor Prof Mahendra P Lama congratulated Rai and Pradhan for being selected for the prestigious fellowship programme of the Hiroshima University. It is our pride to note that the Hiroshima University has selected two students from one of the youngest university in the country for this international fellowship programme, he said.        When asked about the selection procedure, Prof Lama said that the Hiroshima University had wanted students from India for the fellowship programme. “Possibly other universities had also participated in the tests. We send the names of four of our students and two got selected from the entire country”, he said.
Prof Lama further informed that Sikkim University has been making efforts with universities abroad for student-exchange programmes. We already got our first overseas student from Tokyo and we are in touch with other universities in England for students from there to come and study here, he said. On his part, Rai said his name had been recommended to the international screening committee of the Hiroshima University. I had to write a 2000 words essay on climate change and we got finally selected for the fellowship programme on July, he said.
“I would try to understand the developmental mechanism of the Japanese social system which had been completely demolished during the mid 1940’s by an atom bomb. I would also seek to understand socio-economic and political progression in relation to environmental culture prior to the bombing and post bombing era through the prism of local and global lenses”, said Rai.
Fellow student, Pradhan expressed his interest in understanding the sustainable development and environmental management policies during the fellowship programme in Japan.
The fellowship, ‘International Environmental Leader Short-Term Training Program for Sustainable Asia’ is a short-term training to identify and develop environmental leaders who can address various environmental issues confronting the international community, informs a media release from Sikkim University.
In this training, students understand the relation between significant global environmental issues and local sustainable development and build capacity to identify problems from multiple and international perspectives through ‘International Cooperation Studies’. The training programme is part of the Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students & Youths (JENESYS) programme which supports the exchange of undergraduate and post graduate students from ASEAN member nations.
Japanese student Shirai who is currently studying at Sikkim Governmetn College under Sikkim University expressed his good wishes to the two university students set to undergo a fellowship at Japan.

Torch rally in Siliguri
ANI, Siliguri: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) staged a torch rally in Siliguri on Thursday demanding the inclusion of Terai and Doars regions in the Interim Council set up by the central government.

They wanted the government to fulfill their demands before the next round of tripartite talks scheduled to be held in New Delhi on September 30.
Shouting slogans, they hit the streets with lighted torches in their hands to press their claim. They threatened to continue the agitation till their objective is fulfilled.
"The tripartite talk is going to be held on September 30. The central government has set up Interim Council to look into the matter. The Terai land should be included in the Interim Council and we staged the torch rally to fulfill our demand," said Arjun Chettri, a leader of GJM.
The territorial issue remained in focus since the government disagreed to include the neighbouring areas of Terai and Doars.
The GJM had agreed during the fifth round of tripartite talks in New Delhi to the constitution of Interim Council by next year prior to the creation of a separate state.
The Gorkha population in West Bengal is around a million out of the state"s 80 million people. 
Public meeting in hills
TT, Darjeeling, Sept. 24: Mamata Banerjee will make a public appearance in Darjeeling as well besides meeting select hill people behind closed doors as had been earlier planned, those in charge of the railway minister’s itinerary have said.
Mamata will attend a World Tourism Day programme at Chowrastha on September 27, and even though Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president Bimal Gurung is expected to be present at the meeting, the two are unlikely to share the same dais in public.
Instead, Mamata will meet a Gurung-led Morcha delegation on September 26 at 4pm, sources said. The Union minister will also be meeting the representatives of other political parties including that of the ABGL.
Darjeeling is already gearing up to celebrate World Tourism Day to coincide with Mamata’s stay.
The Morcha has asked the people of the hills to give her a warm welcome. A rally of Land Rovers, sit-and-draw competition, cultural programmes and a Darjeeling talent hunt will be held at Chowrastha. The condition of three Yuva Morcha protesters, on an indefinite hunger strike in Darjeeling since September 17, is said to be serious. “Puspa Kumar Rizwal (in picture by Suman Tamang), Darpan Thapa and Santu Rai are in serious condition and doctors have advised hospitalisation. But they are not willing to withdraw the protest,” said Dipen Mallay, spokesperson for the Yuva Morcha, the youth wing of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha. “The government has not yet come up with any explanation (on the disappearance of Nickole Tamang) and if there is a law and order problem because of the fast, the government will be responsible.”

DHR wish list awaits Mamata- demands for rail bus and pure coal
TT, Siliguri, Sept. 24: Employees of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, tour operators and toy train lovers will raise a slew of demands to improve the world heritage site when Mamata Banerjee visits the hills on September 26.
According to Darjeeling district Trinamul Congress leadership, the railway minister will be in the hills on September 26 and 27 and she has tentatively kept aside her first day to meet delegations and individuals.
“It is quite encouraging that the railway minister is visiting the hills and we will definitely meet her with long-pending demands like the full-fledged functioning of the DHR headquarters in Kurseong. We want the designated officials to function from there for the convenience of the employees and the management of the hill railway,” said Vishal Mukhia, the president of the NFR Employees' Union (Kurseong branch).
“The second vital point is the upgrade of the NFR press. Rs. 4.3 crore has been granted for the NFR press but the sum is insufficient for installation of state-of-the-art machinery and complete renovation of the press. We want a special package for thorough modernisation of the NFR press,” Mukhia who is also an employee at the press, said.
The dwindling manpower at the 95-year-old locomotive and carriage workshop at Tindharia is another demand the DHR lovers want to bring before the railway minister.
“There is not enough manpower at the workshop and every year, employees are retiring with no initiative to fill up the vacant posts. We demand that these posts be filled up immediately. In fact, a training school should be opened at Tindharia, where the senior personnel at the workshop can impart their expertise in running and maintaining steam locos and carriages to the younger employees,” Sushil Dikshit, the president of the Kurseong-based DHR Goodwill Forum, an association of toy train lovers and ex-DHR employees, said.
“We will also request her to start a rail bus service on DHR tracks.”
Former DHR employees have expressed concern over the quality of coal supplied for steam-hauled rides.
“The main attraction for tourists is the steam-hauled toy train rides. But there are instances when joyrides have to be stopped because of poor quality coal. We will request the minister to ensure that good quality coal is supplied throughout the year,” said Hari Sharma, a former DHR employee.
Tour operators have wanted a policy to link people living along the tracks to the heritage railway.
“There was a proposal by the Unesco Forum to declare areas adjacent to DHR stations at Sukna, Tindharia, Kurseong and Ghum as heritage parks to boost tourism. But the plan has not been implemented till date. We will ask the railway minister to form policies to include local communities in the heritage railway projects by way of tourism so that they can have a sustainable livelihood,” said Raj Basu, the director of Help Tourism.
Asok salvo
State urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya said here today that Mamata was visiting the hills to enter into a tacit understanding with the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and to incite the party to renew violence across the hills.
KalimNews: CPM Darjeeling District Committee will request CM Buddhadev Bhattacharya for avoiding the tripartite talks with the accused GJMM leaders. It has resolved to request CM that those accused in the murder and murder plan of Madan Tamang should not be invited in the talks.  
Meanwhile resignation of Rajesh Lakra ABAVP leader is likely to be accepted in the state committee to be held today at Kolkata. State Secretary Tej kumar Toppo said that as he has neither withdrawn his resignation nor answered the show cause notice his resignation will be accepted. Toppo further said that we tried our best to avoid any more misunderstanding but it is unavoidable.

Homes Celebrates 110 yrs of establishment

KalimNews: Dr. Graham's Homes one of the oldest school of Kalimpong is celebrating its 110 years of establishment. On the inaugural day MJ Robertson President of Board of Manangement was the chief guest and DK Choudhary was the special guest in the programme organised at Jarvie Hall of the school. A week long cultural, athletic, recreational  programme is organised which will conclude on September 26. Present Board members , guests and ex students of the country and abroad were present in the programme. Even ex-students now in 70s were present with their grand sons and daughters. (photo Facebook: DGH & News 7 Channel a unit of Kalimpong Press Club)

GJM welcomes Mamata meet in Hills
TNN, KOLKATA: Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee will have to do a tightrope walking when she holds her first public meeting in the Hills on Monday. Mamata will be leaving for Darjeeling on Saturday night for a series of programmes involving the railway ministry and politics.
The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), which has been calling the shots in the Hills, is welcoming Mamata with open arms. GJM leaders have instructed their supporters to attend the Trinamool chief's meeting in the Hills. Cutouts welcoming Mamata are lined up along Hill Cart Road, leading to the Hills.
Knowing well the implications of keeping trucks with GJM, Mamata has kept quite on her visit.
In the Hills, support of GJM will be crucial for any political party trying to evict the ruling Left Front. North Bengal considered a stronghold of the Left has seen chinks in the Red armour. A combined opposition has seen the Left biting the dust at the hustings. First was the Congress-Trinamool alliance that saw the Left voted out of the Siliguri Municipal Corporation, paving the way for Congress to get its only mayor. More crucial was the bypoll defeats in Kalchini and Rajganj where GJM's support helped Trinamool make it to the state Assembly from these two seats.

Again, in the Lok Sabha polls, GJM's support for BJP had made it possible for Jaswant Singh to win the
seat, defeating local CPM heavyweight Jibesh Sarkar.
For GJM too, it is very crucial to tie up with one of major political forces in the state. Any understanding with CPM will not help them at this stage. The Hills party therefore needs to increase its rapport with Trinamool for its own sake in the days to come.
The murder of All-India Gorkha League leader Madan Tamang has made a dent in GJM's popularity. There have been instances of public anger against GJM's high-handedness in the Hills. Even then, GJM is going to play a pivotal role in deciding who gets to win the three Hill seats Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong. Though, Trinamool's alliance with Congress is still on and the latter has some presence in parts of North Bengal, support from GJM will be crucial.
Trinamool chief is likely to address the Hill people at the Mall on Monday. She will be reaching Darjeeling on Sunday. Apart from some programmes related to her railway ministry, she is likely to meet representatives of the parties in the Hills.
CPM is also trying to make a turnaround in the Hills from where they were hounded out during the peak of the Gorkhaland movement. The rise of GJM made things worse for CPM. Recently, CPM held a meeting in Darjeeling attended by CPM politburo member Sitaram Yechury and state minister Asok Bhattacharya.
CPM leaders in the Hills and plains will be keeping a close watch on the proceedings in Darjeeling for the next two days.
Jumbo safety: blame game chugs along Railway forest meet today to discuss measures to curb animal death on tracks
GS Mudur & Avijit Sinha, TT, Sept. 24: The highest single-day death toll of elephants on railway tracks in Jalpaiguri on Wednesday occurred despite assurances from the railways that measures would be put in place to avoid such tragedies, wildlife experts have said.
Although the site of the tragedy where seven elephants were mowed down by a speeding goods train is not accident-prone for animals, the experts have said, it falls within an elephant corridor. However, only parts of this corridor, from the Mechi on the India-Nepal border in the east to the Sankosh near the Assam border in the north-east, are notified.
A government task force had only last month cautioned that a lack of coordination between the railways and forest departments was contributing to the lack of any sustained effort to mitigate the death of elephants by train hits.
“The tragedy is all the more poignant coming in the wake of the decision of the environment ministry to declare the elephant as our national heritage animal and to take steps to implement recommendations of the elephant task force to protect key elephant corridors,” said Union environment and forests minister Jairam Ramesh in a statement.
The task force had recommended several measures to protect elephants from trains. The measures include the installation of signs on tracks to alert locomotive drivers, workshops to sensitise drivers, and the use of elephant trackers to alert local railway authorities whenever elephant herds are spotted within 5km of the railway tracks.
Ramesh had formed the task force earlier this year to study the condition of elephants in India. After the submission of the report, his ministry decided that the elephant would be declared as national heritage animal and a National Elephant Conservation Authority would be formed much like the National Tiger Conservation Authority.
With Ramesh hinting — “this is not the first time such a mishap has taken place”, the minister’s statement reads — that the railways had failed to keep their assurance, forest department bosses in north Bengal will sit across the table with officials of the Northeast Frontier Railway tomorrow. The NFR is in charge of the Dooars rail track.
“We will ask the railway officials to work for the implementation of the task force recommendations to curb elephant deaths on railway lines,” S.B. Patel, the chief conservator of forests (wildlife), north Bengal, said today. “The railway officials at every level must follow the guidelines and in case they find the measures tough to implement, they should seek their superiors’ intervention. We will also speak on the running of goods trains, which have no schedules.”
Railway officials, on the other hand, said they would ask foresters to keep them informed about elephant movements. “If we get information on the movement of elephant herds on time, most of track deaths can be averted,” said S.N Singh, the divisional railway manager of NFR’s Alipurduar division.
The elephant herd, which lost seven members in the train mishap, is still roaming in the Reti-Moraghat-Sonakhali stretch, foresters said. Nearly 10-12 elephants from the herd had stood on the tracks for half-an-hour tonight. “The Moraghat forest has turned into an elephant habitat spread over 5,500 hectares. Several elephant herds are roaming in this forest now,” said Kalyan Das, the divisional forest officer of Jalpaiguri division.
Jumbo info flows late in unmarked corridor

TT, Sept. 24: What flow of information can do was evident tonight when the railways stopped an express train in the Dooars for half an hour after the forest department told them about the presence of a herd at the spot where a train-hit killed seven elephants two days ago.
The Alipurduar-bound Intercity Express stood at Binnaguri station, waiting for an all-clear signal from forest officials till the herd in Jalpaiguri’s Moraghat loitered away.
The railways had said yesterday that the tragedy could have been avoided if the forest department had informed them about the presence of the herd near the tracks. Away from the tracks, the blame-game continued today.
The railways stressed that the accident spot in Jalpaiguri was not a notified elephant corridor. “The railways did not get any advance information from forest officials regarding the unusual movement of elephants in and around the non-notified elephant section. Therefore, the drivers of the goods train were not aware of the elephant movement,” the railways said in a statement.
However, Union environment and forest minister Jairam Ramesh said in a statement from New York he had written several letters to the railways and had held a number of meetings to discuss measures to mitigate train hits. “I have been reassured on more than one occasion that these measures will be put in place,” Ramesh said. “This is not the first time such a mishap has taken place, although the scale with which it has taken place is unprecedented.”
The minister said he would once again meet Railway Board officials when he returns to India on September 26.
According to a railway official, there are only four notified elephant corridors between Alipurduar and Siliguri: Gulma-Sevoke, Chulsa-Nagrakata, Madarihat-Hashimara and Hashimara-Kalchini. Trains are supposed to ply at a maximum speed of 50kmph through elephant corridors, blowing the whistle constantly.
The forest department chief claimed the goods train was travelling at a speed of 70kmph. Atanu Raha, the principal chief conservator of forests, said: “Elephants reside and roam about in the area between the Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary near Siliguri and the Buxa Tiger Reserve near Alipurduar. There are several notified and non-notified elephant corridors in that area. In no way can the railways justify why the train was passing at 70kmph through Moraghat.”
Railway minister Mamata Banerjee said: “I understand that this unfortunate incident took place in an area outside the identified elephant corridors. I have asked the Railway Board to work out a joint strategy with the Union ministry of environment and forest to prevent such incidents.” 
Hotelier surrenders to court
TT, Siliguri, Sept. 24: Gurdeep Singh Saluja, the prime accused in the murder of his friend and realtor Tapas Jha, surrendered in the court of additional chief judicial magistrate here today. He was remanded in jail custody for 14 days.
Jha was found dead with a bullet injury on the head at a hotel owned by Saluja here on August 5. Police launched a probe on the basis of a complaint lodged by the deceased’s mother and found evidence linking the death to Saluja and two others identified as Biren Singh and Raju. Fearing arrest, the hotelier went into hiding and filed a petition in Calcutta High Court on August 18 for anticipatory bail. The plea was rejected by the court on September 13. The other two men wanted in the case are still eluding the police. 

The End Of The World As We Know It In 10 Years?
And The Rise Of The Post-Carbon Era...
By Dr. Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed, 23 September, 2010, Ceasefire Magazine
Only 500 generations ago, hunter-gatherers began cultivating crops and forming their tiny communities into social hierarchies. Around 15 to 20 generations ago, industrial capitalism erupted on a global scale.
In the last generation, the entire human species, along with virtually all other species and indeed the entire planet, have been thrown into a series of crises, which many believe threaten to converge in global catastrophe: global warming spiraling out of control; oil prices fluctuating wildly; food riots breaking out in the South; banks collapsing worldwide; the spectre of terror bombings in major cities; and the promise of ‘endless war’ to fight ‘violent extremists’ at home and abroad.
We are running out of time. Without urgent mitigating, preventive and transformative action, these global crises are likely to converge and mutually accelerate over the coming decades. By 2018, converging food, water and energy shortages could magnify the probability of conflict between major powers, civil wars, and cross-border conflicts. After 2020, this could result in political and economic catastrophes that would undermine state control and national infrastructures, potentially leading to social collapse.
Anthropogenic global warming alone illustrates the gravity of our predicament. Global average temperatures have already risen by 0.7C in the last 130 years. In 2007, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) told the world that at current rates of increase of fossil fuel emissions, we were heading toward a rise in global average temperatures of around 6C by the end of this century, leading to mass extinctions on a virtually uninhabitable planet. The Proceedings for the National Academy of Sciences has reported that current fossil fuel emissions are exceeding this worst-case scenario.
Many scientists concede that without drastic emissions reductions by 2020, we are on the path toward a 4C rise as early as mid-century, with catastrophic consequences, including the loss of the world’s coral reefs; the disappearance of major mountain glaciers; the total loss of the Arctic summer sea-ice, most of the Greenland ice-sheet and the break-up of West Antarctica; acidification and overheating of the oceans; the collapse of the Amazon rainforest; and the loss of Arctic permafrost; to name just a few. Each of these ecosystem collapses could trigger an out-of-control runaway warming process. Worse, scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California at Berkeley now project that we are actually on course to reach global temperatures of up to 8C within 90 years.
But our over-dependence on fossil fuels is also counterproductive even on its own terms. Increasing evidence demonstrates that peak oil is at hand. This is when world oil production reaches its maximum level at the point when half the world’s reserves of cheap oil have been depleted, after which it becomes geophysically increasingly difficult to extract it. This means that passed the half-way point, world production can never reach its maximum level again, and thus continuously declines until reserves are depleted. Until 2004, world oil production had risen continuously but thereafter underwent a plateau all the way through to 2008. Then from July to August 2008, world oil production fell by almost one million barrels per day. It’s still decreasing, even according to BP’s Statistical Review 2010 (which every year pretends that peak oil won’t happen for another 40 years) – in 2009 world oil production was 2.6 percent below that in 2008, and is now below 2004 levels.
Oil price volatility due to peak oil was a major factor that induced the 2008 economic recession. The collapse of the mortgage house of cards was triggered by the post-peak oil price shocks, which escalated costs of living and led to a cascade of debt-defaults. A study by US economist James Hamilton confirmed there would have been no recession without the oil price shocks. While the recession slumped demand, allowing oil prices to reduce, experts now warn of a coming oil supply crunch by around 2014. As climate change intensifies natural disasters – such as droughts in food-basket regions, floods in South Asia and the heatwave in Russia – and as the full impact of peak oil eventually hits, costs to national economies will rocket, while world food production declines.
Already, global warming has exacerbated droughts and led to declines in agricultural productivity over the last decade, including a 10-20 per cent drop in rice yields. The percentage of land stricken by drought doubled from 15 to 30 per cent between 1975 and 2000. If trends continue, by 2025, 1.8 billion people would be living in regions of water-scarcity, and two-thirds of the world population could be subject to water stress. By 2050, scientists project that world crop yields could fall as much as 20-40 per cent.
Maps released by scientists at the Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment (SAGE), University of Wisconsin-Madison, show that the earth is “rapidly running out of fertile land” for further agricultural development. No wonder, then, that world agricultural land productivity between 1990 and 2007 was 1.2 per cent per year, nearly half compared to 1950-90 levels of 2.1 per cent. Similarly, world grain consumption exceeded production for seven of eight years prior to 2008.
Apart from climate change, the ecological cost of industrial methods is fast eroding the soil – in the US, for instance, 30 times faster than the natural rate. Former prairie lands have lost one half of their top soil over about a 100 years of farming – but it takes 500 years to replace just one-inch. Erosion is now reducing productivity by up to 65 per cent a year. The dependence of industrial agriculture on hydrocarbon energy sources – with ten calories of fossil fuel energy needed to produce just one calorie of food – means that the impact of peak oil after 2014 will hugely constrain future world agricultural production.
But oil is not the only problem. Numerous studies show that hydrocarbon resources will become increasingly depleted by mid-century, and by the end of this century will be so scarce as to be useless – although we do have enough to potentially tip us over into irreversible runaway global warming.
Former TOTAL geologist Jean Laharrere projects that world natural gas production will peak by around 2025. New technologies mean that unconventional forms of natural gas in the US might prolong this some decades, but only if future demand doesn’t increase. The independent Energy Watch Group (EGW) in Berlin projects that world coal production will also peak in 2025, but the journal Science finds that this could occur “close to the year 2011.” EGW also argues that world production of uranium for nuclear energy will peak in 2035. According to the Hydrocarbon Depletion Study Group at Uppsala University, unconventional oil – such as oil shale and tar sands –will be incapable of averting peak oil. Greater attention has turned to thorium, which certainly holds greater promise than uranium, but as pointed out by the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research in Washington DC, thorium still requires uranium to “kick-start” a nuclear chain reaction, and as yet no viable commercial reactors have been built despite decades of research.
The exponential expansion of modern industrial civilization over the last couple of centuries, and the liberal ideology of ‘unlimited growth’ that has accompanied it, has been tied indelibly to 1) the seemingly unlimited supply of energy provided by nature’s fossil fuel reserves and 2) humankind’s willingness to over-exploit our environment with no recognition of boundaries or constraints. But the 21st century is the age of irreversible hydrocarbon energy depletion – the implication being that industrial civilization, in its current form, cannot last beyond this century.
This means that this century signals not only the end of the carbon age, but the beginning of a new post-carbon era. Therefore, this century should be understood as an age of civilizational transition – the preceding crises are interlocking symptoms of a global political economy, ideology and value-system which is no longer sustainable, which is crumbling under its own weight, and which over the next few decades will be recognized as obsolete. The question that remains, of course, is what will take its place?
While we may not be able to stop various catastrophes and collapse-processes from occurring, we still retain an unprecedented opportunity to envisage an alternative vision for a new, sustainable and equitable form of post-carbon civilization.The imperative now is for communities, activists, scholars and policymakers to initiate dialogue on the contours of this vision, and pathways to it.
Any vision for ‘another world’, if it is to overcome the deep-rooted structural failures of our current business-as-usual model, will need to explore how we can develop new social, political and economic structures which encourage the following:
1. Widespread distribution of ownership of productive resources so that all members of society have a stake in agricultural, industrial and commercial productive enterprises, rather than a tiny minority monopolising resources for their own interests.
2. More decentralised politico-economic participation through self-managerial producer and consumer councils to facilitate participatory decision-making in economic enterprises.
3. Re-defining the meaning of economic growth to focus less on materially-focused GDP, and more on the capacity to deliver values such as health, education, well-being, longevity, political and cultural freedom.
4. Fostering a new, distributed renewable energy infrastructure based on successful models such as that of the borough of Woking in Surrey, UK.
5. Structural reform of the monetary, banking and financial system including abolition of interest, in particular the cessation of money-creation through government borrowing on compound interest.
6. Elimination of unrestricted lending system based on faulty quantitative risk-assessment models, with mechanisms to facilitate greater regulation of lending practices by bank depositors themselves.
7. Development of parallel grassroots participatory political structures that are both transnational and community-oriented, by which to facilitate community governance as well as greater popular involvement in mainstream political institutions.
8. Development of parallel grassroots participatory economic institutions that are both transnational and community-oriented, to facilitate emergence of alternative equitable media of exchange and loans between North and South.
9. Emergence of a ‘post-materialist’ scientific paradigm and worldview which recognizes that the cutting-edge insights of physics and biology undermine traditional, mechanistic conceptions of the natural order, pointing to a more holistic understanding of life and nature.
10. Emergence of a ‘post-materialist’ ethic recognizing that progressive values and ideals such as justice, compassion, and generosity are more conducive to the survival of the human species, and thus more in harmony with the natural order, than the conventional ‘materialistic’ behaviours associated with neoliberal consumerism.
Dr. Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed is Executive Director of the Institute for Policy Research & Development in London. His latest book is A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilization (Pluto, 2010).

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