The Nutmeg’s Curse: Parables for a Planet in Crisis

In this ambitious successor to The Great Derangement, acclaimed writer Amitav Ghosh finds the origins of our contemporary climate crisis in Western colonialism’s violent exploitation of human life and the natural environment.

A powerful work of history, essay, testimony, and polemic, Amitav Ghosh’s new book traces our contemporary planetary crisis back to the discovery of the New World and the sea route to the Indian Ocean. The Nutmeg’s Curse argues that the dynamics of climate change today are rooted in a centuries-old geopolitical order constructed by Western colonialism. At the center of Ghosh’s narrative is the now-ubiquitous spice nutmeg. The history of the nutmeg is one of conquest and exploitation—of both human life and the natural environment. In Ghosh’s hands, the story of the nutmeg becomes a parable for our environmental crisis, revealing the ways human history has always been entangled with earthly materials such as spices, tea, sugarcane, opium, and fossil fuels. Our crisis, he shows, is ultimately the result of a mechanistic view of the earth, where nature exists only as a resource for humans to use for our own ends, rather than a force of its own, full of agency and meaning.

Writing against the backdrop of the global pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protests, Ghosh frames these historical stories in a way that connects our shared colonial histories with the deep inequality we see around us today. By interweaving discussions on everything from the global history of the oil trade to the migrant crisis and the animist spirituality of Indigenous communities around the world, The Nutmeg’s Curse offers a sharp critique of Western society and speaks to the profoundly remarkable ways in which human history is shaped by non-human forces.

The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable

Are we deranged? The acclaimed Indian novelist Amitav Ghosh argues that future generations may well think so. How else to explain our imaginative failure in the face of global warming? In his first major book of nonfiction since In an Antique Land, Ghosh examines our inability—at the level of literature, history, and politics—to grasp the scale and violence of climate change.

The extreme nature of today’s climate events, Ghosh asserts, make them peculiarly resistant to contemporary modes of thinking and imagining. This is particularly true of serious literary fiction: hundred-year storms and freakish tornadoes simply feel too improbable for the novel; they are automatically consigned to other genres. In the writing of history, too, the climate crisis has sometimes led to gross simplifications; Ghosh shows that the history of the carbon economy is a tangled global story with many contradictory and counterintuitive elements.

Ghosh ends by suggesting that politics, much like literature, has become a matter of personal moral reckoning rather than an arena of collective action. But to limit fiction and politics to individual moral adventure comes at a great cost. The climate crisis asks us to imagine other forms of human existence—a task to which fiction, Ghosh argues, is the best suited of all cultural forms. His book serves as a great writer’s summons to confront the most urgent task of our time.

Project Drawdown

The World’s Leading Resource for Climate Solutions. Project Drawdown’s mission is to help the world stop climate change—as quickly, safely, and equitably as possible. We do this by advancing effective, science-based climate solutions and strategies; fostering bold, new climate leadership; and promoting new climate narratives and new voices.

Summary for Policymakers

In: Global Warming of 1.5°C. An IPCC Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty

Are climate change and mental health correlated?

Climate change is one of the biggest challenges of our time and is likely to affect human beings in substantial ways. Recently, researchers started paying more attention to the changes in climate and their subsequent impact on the social, environmental and economic determinants of health, and the role they play in causing or exacerbating mental health problems. The effects of climate change-related events on mental well-being could be classified into direct and indirect effects. The direct effects of climate change mostly occur after acute weather events and include post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, substance abuse disorder, depression and even suicidal ideation. The indirect effects include economic losses, displacement and forced migration, competition over scarce resources and collective violence. The risk factors for developing those mental health issues include young age, female gender, low socioeconomic status, loss or injury of a loved one, being a member of immigrant groups or indigenous people, pre-existing mental illness and inadequate social support. However, in some individuals, especially those undisturbed by any directly observable effects of climate change, abstract awareness and acknowledgement of the ongoing climate crisis can induce negative emotions that can be intense enough to cause mental health illness. Coping strategies should be provided to the affected communities to protect their mental health from collapse in the face of climate disasters. Awareness of the mental health impacts of climate change should be raised, especially in the high-risk groups. Social and global attention to the climate crisis and its detrimental effects on mental health are crucial.

This paper was written with the aim of trying to understand the currently, scientifically proven impact of climate change-related disasters on mental health and understanding the different methods of solving the problem at the corporate level, by trying to decrease greenhouse gas emissions to zero, and at the individual level by learning how to cope with the impacts of those disasters

The connectedness to nature scale: A measure of individuals’ feeling in community with nature

Five studies assessed the validity and reliability of the connectedness to nature scale (CNS), a new measure of individuals’ trait levels of feeling emotionally connected to the natural world. Data from two community and three college samples demonstrated that the CNS has good psychometric properties, correlates with related variables (the new environmental paradigm scale, identity as an environmentalist), and is uncorrelated with potential confounds (verbal ability, social desirability). This paper supports ecopsychologists’ contention that connection to nature is an important predictor of ecological behavior and subjective well- being. It also extends social psychological research on self–other overlap, perspective taking, and altruistic behavior to the overlap between self and nature. The CNS promises to be a useful empirical tool for research on the relationship between humans and the natural world.

Connectedness as a core conservation concern: An interdisciplinary review of theory and a call for practice

Calls for society to ‘reconnect with nature’ are commonplace in the scientific literature and popular environmental discourse. However, the expression is often used haphazardly without the clarity of the process involved, the practical outcomes desired, and/or the relevance to conservation. This interdisciplinary review finds that the Western disconnect from nature is central to the convergent social-ecological crises and is primarily a problem in consciousness. Connectedness with nature (CWN) is therefore defined as a stable state of consciousness comprising symbiotic cognitive, affective, and experiential traits that reflect, through consistent attitudes and behaviors, a sustained awareness of the interrelatedness between one’s self and the rest of nature. CWN sits on a continuum comprising information about nature and experience in nature but is differentiated as a more holistic process for realizing transformative outcomes that serve oneself and their community. Various instruments are available to measure the CWN construct, although their cross-cultural transferability is unclear. Multiple benefits of CWN linked to physical and psychological well-being have been identified and CWN is distinct in that it supports happiness and more purposeful, fulfilling, and meaningful lives. CWN has been found as a reliable predictor and motivation for environmentally responsible behavior (ERB). CWN may benefit conservation discourse by providing: a more compelling language; hope and buffering frustration in the face of environmental crises; a more enduring motivation for ERB; and an accepted avenue for tackling ‘fuzzy’ concepts often avoided in conservation. Bolstered by interdisciplinary collaborations and action-oriented education, CWN presents itself as a radical but necessary prerequisite for realizing desired conservation and environmental behavior outcomes.

Great apes reach momentary altered mental states by spinning

Among animals, humans stand out in their consummate propensity to self-induce altered states of mind. Archaeology, history and ethnography show these activities have taken place since the beginnings of civilization, yet their role in the emergence and evolution of the human mind itself remains debatable. The means through which modern humans actively alter their experience of self and reality frequently depend on psychoactive substances, but it is uncertain whether psychedelics or other drugs were part of the ecology or culture of pre-human ancestors. Moreover, (nonhuman) great apes in captivity are currently being retired from medical research, rendering comparative approaches thus far impracticable. Here, we circumvent this limitation by harnessing the breadth of publicly available YouTube data to show that apes engage in rope spinning during solitary play. When spinning, the apes achieved speeds sufficient to alter self-perception and situational awareness that were comparable to those tapped for transcendent experiences in humans (e.g. Sufi whirling), and the number of revolutions spun predicted behavioural evidence for dizziness. Thus, spinning serves as a self-sufficient means of changing body-mind responsiveness in hominids. A proclivity for such experiences is shared between humans and great apes, and provides an entry point for the comparative study of the mechanisms, functions, and adaptive value of altered states of mind in human evolution.

Psychedelic Medicine’s Future Depends on Proactive Development of a Robust Medical Billing and Coding Strategy

Background: Although still investigational, psychedelic therapies appear poised to begin securing regulatory approval as medical treatments in the United States within the next 2 years. If approved, one of the most daunting barriers to equitable patient access to these novel treatments is their incorporation into the medical billing and coding system. Since specific billing codes for psychedelic therapy delivery do not exist, modification of existing codes or development of de novo codes will be necessary. This reality has created uncertainty about reimbursement and the financial future of psychedelic medicine.

Opinion: We argue that development of de novo billing codes in conjunction with the American Medical Association’s Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) Editorial Panel is the best approach for addressing psychedelic therapy reimbursement concerns. However, with no similar existing medical services to guide development, the potential need for multiple providers during dosing sessions, limited mental health care representation on the CPT Editorial Panel, and a number of misconceptions surrounding psychedelic therapy among critics, psychedelic therapy is particularly vulnerable to development of billing codes that undervalue the complexity of its delivery. With an industry-sponsored application for new CPT codes for “psychedelic drug monitoring services” soon to be reviewed by the CPT Editorial Panel, a critical step toward maximizing psychedelic therapy’s societal impact has been taken. However, many questions remain about whether these proposed codes will provide adequate flexibility for a treatment modality involving various drugs, therapeutic approaches, and patient monitoring strategies, as well as which types of providers will qualify to use them. Whether these proposed codes ultimately become the bedrock of billing for psychedelic therapy or future codes are developed to augment or replace them is not known, but it is a promising sign that efforts to create a robust medical billing and coding strategy for psychedelic medicine are now underway.