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On ‘environmental catastrophism’: Ian Angus replies to Sam Gindin

By Ian Angus

July 14, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Last year in Monthly Review, I debated Eddie Yuen, an anarchist who believes it is a mistake for radicals to focus on telling the truth about the global environmental crisis, because “awareness of climate crisis does not necessarily lead to increased political engagement.” Not only can such awareness lead to apathy, he wrote, but “environmental catastrophism is very likely to be mobilized by economic and national elites to reinforce existing inequalities and expand enclosures, commodification, and militarization”.[1]

I never expected to hear similar arguments from a Marxist, much less one I respect as much as Sam Gindin, a long-time leader of the labour movement in Canada, who is now an adjunct professor at York University and co-author of the Deutscher-prize winning book The Making of Global Capitalism.

Progressive ‘extractivism’: hope or dystopia?

By Don Fitz

July 4, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The controversy over "extractivism" in Latin America has become a lot hotter. Though social justice and environmental activists have sought a partnership for years, this could become a wedge issue. The debate is core to our conceptualisation of what type of society we are working to build and how we plan to get there.

Evo Morales: ‘Our liberation is for the whole of humanity’

Group of 77 Summit — Plurinational State of Bolivia, 14 and 15 June 2014. “For a New World Order for Living Well.”

"Only we can save the source of life and society: Mother Earth. Our planet is under a death threat from predatory and insane capitalism. Another world is not only possible, it is indispensable, because otherwise, no world will be possible." -- Evo Morales

Evo Morales, President of Bolivia, gave this remarkable opening talk at the summit of the Group of 77 plus China, meeting in Santa Clara, Bolivia, on June 14, 2014.

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Introduction by Richard Fidler

June 24, 2014 -- Life on the Left, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- The Summit of the Group of 77 plus China, marking the alliance’s 50th anniversary, closed in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, on June 15 with the adoption of a declaration containing 242 articles, entitled “For a New World Order for Living Well.”

Cuando el árbol del “antiextractivismo” no deja ver el bosque

Miles de pueblos indígenas dirigidos por la CONAIE (Confederación de Nacionalidades Indígenas del Ecuador) se reúnen en Quito en marzo 2012 Después de una marcha de 15 días exigiendo el fin de minería a cielo abierto y las nuevas concesiones petroleras.

[In English at http://links.org.au/node/3859. Haga clic aquí para más artículos en español.]

Por Federico Fuentes, traducido del inglés por Carlos Riba García

06-06-2014 -- Rebelion.org -- La reciente avalancha de campañas de alto perfil contra proyectos de extracción de materias primas ha abierto una importante y novedosa dinámica en los vastos procesos de cambio que se dan en América del Sur. La comprensión de su naturaleza y significación es decisiva para aprehender las complejidades inherentes al cambio social y mejorar la construcción de solidaridad con las luchas populares.

Bolivia: 'Earthwise' interview with Federico Fuentes

May 28, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Evo Morales has inspired a new confidence among the people of Bolivia that society does not have to be run according to neoliberal economics. Bolivia is leading the international call for "climate justice".

The New Zealand radio program Earthwise interviewed Federico Fuentes, editor of Bolivia Rising and co-author of Latin America's Turbulent Transitions, to find out more about the process of change taking place in Bolivia.

Deadly consequences of continued production of industrial chemicals

By Coral Wynter

The central problem of our age has therefore become the contamination of man’s total environment with such substances of incredible potential for harm—substances that accumulate in the tissue of plants and animals and even penetrate the germ cells to shatter or alter the very material of heredity upon which the shape of the future depends. -- Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, 1962

May 22, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- There is an epidemic of diseases now sweeping the industrialised countries. These include obesity, diabetes type 2, high infertility rates affecting both men and women, high blood pressure, thyroid and central nervous system as well as cancers, mainly breast and prostate cancers. In addition to all of this, immune deficiencies.

South America: How ‘anti-extractivism’ misses the forest for the trees

Thousands of indigenous peoples led by CONAIE (Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador) converge on Quito in March 2012 after a 15-day march demanding an end to open pit mining and new oil concessions.

By Federico Fuentes

May 20, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, a shorter verson of this article appeared in Green Left Weekly -- A recent spate of high-profile campaigns against projects based on extracting raw materials has opened up an important new dynamic within the broad processes of change sweeping South America. Understanding their nature and significance is crucial to grasping the complexities involved in bringing about social change and how best to build solidarity with peoples’ struggles.

Climate change: Evidence of capitalism's death-wish

By Renfrey Clarke

April 26, 2014 -- Green Left Weekly -- If modern industrial capitalism were a person, he or she would be on suicide watch. The system that has brought us quantum physics and reality television, modern medicine and the columns of Andrew Bolt is set on a course which, by all the best reckoning, points directly to its doing itself in.

If capitalism goes on — everything goes. Climate, coastlines, most living species, food supplies, the great bulk of humanity. And certainly, the preconditions for advanced civilisation, perhaps forever.

Moreover, we’re not just talking risk, in the sense of an off-chance. These are the most likely outcomes for capitalism’s current policies and performance in the area of climate change.

As far back as 2010 the famed US paleoclimatologist Lonnie Thompson told a gathering of scientists in Phoenix, Arizona: “Climatologists, like other scientists, tend to be a stolid group … Why then are climatologists speaking out about the dangers of global warming? The answer is that virtually all of us are now convinced that global warming poses a clear and present danger to civilization.”

What did that ‘NASA-funded collapse study’ really say?

The four formulas in the HANDY Model
Can four equations explain the collapse of civilisations?

By Ian Angus

March 31, 2014 -- Climate & Capitalism, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- If hundreds of newspaper and online reports are to be believed, scientists at NASA’s Goddard Space Agency have proven that Western civilisation will collapse unless we radically reduce inequality and shift to renewable resources.

That would be important news if it were true. Is it?

Australia: How the Aboriginal people managed 'the biggest estate on Earth'

Review by Coral Wynter

The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines made Australia
By Bill Gammage

Allen & Unwin, 434 pp., 2012

March 13, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- This is an extraordinary book, one that will increase your appreciation of the country’s first people, as we begin to understand their amazing knowledge and sheer genius in the way they cared for the land, or as Bill Gammage calls it the “biggest estate on Earth”.

Gammage describes with many examples how the Aborigines looked after the land. No corner was forgotten, including deserts, rainforests and rocky outcrops, across the entire continent for at least 60,000 years until the colonisers began to destroy all this labour after their arrival in 1788.

Germany: Union militant on how wind-power development is held to ransom for profit

Wind turbine towers at Bremerhaven port. Photo by Lucy Alcorn.

March 11, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Socialist Alliance member Zane Alcorn spoke with Ali Can, a metalworker who has worked in the wind-turbine industry in the north German portside town Bremerhaven. Ali is a rank and file organiser with the trade union IGMetal and is an active member of Verein für Gleiche Rechte (Equal Rights Association), a secular Turkish community centre. Translated by Anne K. Schulz.

Can you tell us a little about Bremerhaven – how many people live here, what are the main industries, how has the city changed in the last 20 years?

Has King Environmentalism no green clothes?

Green illusions: The dirty secrets of clean energy and the future of environmentalism,
by Ozzie Zehner
Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2012
437 pages, $29.95 ISBN-978-0-8032-3775-9 (paper)

Review by Don Fitz

March 9, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Should a post-capitalist society dedicate itself to using “green” energy or concentrate on using less energy? Environmentalists, trade unionists and many socialists often shout “Green energy!” in unison. Ozzie Zehner says that they could well be barking up the wrong tree.

Zehner’s Green Illusions emphasises that wrong solutions are not “solutions” at all. Though he focuses on shortcomings of reformist environmentalists, his critiques could also apply to many “revolutionary” socialists whose understanding of energy economics can be as empty as that of corporate executives.

A visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, Zehner first appeared on national TV with the hybrid car he designed and built. Then he saw the light. The book is from the point of view of someone whose life work has been understanding a myriad of technical issues but who is able to present them in a way that the non-techie can follow.

The new revolutionaries: Climate scientists demand radical change

By Renfrey Clarke

January 9, 2014 -- Climate and Capitalism, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- “Today, after two decades of bluff and lies, the remaining 2°C budget demands revolutionary change to the political and economic hegemony.” That was in a blog posting last year by Kevin Anderson, professor of energy and climate change at Manchester University. One of Britain’s most eminent climate scientists, Anderson is also deputy director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research.

Or, we might take this blunt message, from an interview in November: “We need bottom-up and top-down action. We need change at all levels.” Uttering those words was Tyndall Centre senior research fellow and Manchester University reader Alice Bows-Larkin. Anderson and Bows-Larkin are world-leading specialists on the challenges of climate change mitigation.

John Bellamy Foster: Marx and the rift in the universal metabolism of nature

[Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal urges its readers to consider taking out a subscription to Monthly Review, where this article first appeared. Click HERE for more on Marxism and ecology. For more by John Bellamy Foster, click HERE.]

* * *

By John Bellamy Foster

[This article is an expanded and slightly altered version of a keynote address under the same title presented to the Marxism 2013 Conference in Stockholm on October 20, 2013. That address built on ideas introduced in the author’s Rosa Luxemburg Lecture, “The Great Rift,” presented to the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung in Berlin on May 28, 2013.]

The terrible legacy of Agent Orange and dioxin

US wages chemical warfare on Vietnam.

By Coral Wynter                       

December 16, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Agent Orange was manufactured by Monsanto Corporation and Dow Chemicals to use as a herbicide and defoliant in the Vietnam War. Agent Orange is the combination of the code names for Herbicide Orange (HO) and Agent LNX.

At the famous Battle of Dien Bien Phu, North Vietnamese General Giap and the Viet Minh forces totally defeated the French army on May 7, 1954, and the French garrison surrendered. At the 1954 Geneva Conference, the French negotiated a ceasefire agreement with the Viet Minh, and its leader Ho Chi Minh, and independence was granted to Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.

Unite union leader on the struggle against climate change, and for socialism

Mike Treen on the picket line. If trade unions take up the challenge, they could become “the voice for a boldly different economic model, one that provides solutions to the attacks on working people, on poor people, and the attacks on the Earth itself".

By Mike Treen, national director of the Unite union (New Zealand)

December 2, 2013 -- Daily Blog, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- The continuing pretense that world governments will do anything about climate change was exposed once more at the latest round of climate negotiations held in Poland November 11-22. This was the 19th round of annual negotiations.

It is 21 years since the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992. Emissions are 60-70% higher than they were then. Global warming has proceeded at an accelerating pace. As a great article by economic historian Richard Smith notes:

BRICS lessons in (un)sustainable urbanisation

The South Durban Community Environmental Alliance takes on climate, BRICS, Transnet, truckers and big oil.

By Patrick Bond

November 28, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- What is to be done, in the wake of Warsaw climate summit’s conclusive failure to cap CO2 emissions last weekend? The answer: walk out of the United Nations process when it needs de-legitimation, and work much harder to curtail pollution in your home sites of struggle, everyone in civil society agreed. 

The struggle for ecology under socialism

Models of Nature
By Douglas R. Weiner
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2000, 1988.

Review by Ben Courtice

November 28, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The USSR was not known, in the West, as a pioneer of ecology. Unfortunately, it was known more for the Chernobyl nuclear power station accident, for acid rain and air pollution, and oil spills and the pollution of unique environments such as the Aral sea.

What if the USSR had been different? What if it had tried to preserve its natural ecosystems, after the tsar was overthrown?

It is little known today, but there was a small yet promising movement of scientific ecology and nature preservation in Russia, with roots in the tsarist order of the 19th century, which flourished in the revolutionary USSR of the 1920s.

Poland: UN climate talks go nowhere -- yet again

By Chris Williams

November 22, 2013 -- Climate & Capitalism -- “The smell of inaction” is how Dipti Bhatnagar, Friends of the Earth Mozambique’s international program director for climate justice and energy, summed up the atmosphere inside the giant Narodowy Stadium after the first week of the latest round of international climate negotiations, Conference of the Parties, otherwise known as COP 19, taking place November 11-22, 2013, in Warsaw.

Given that this is the 19th consecutive year of annual negotiations and with a meaningful global treaty more distant now than it was almost two decades ago, Bhatnagar’s olfactory deduction seems likely to be highly accurate.

As the pervasive smell of inaction seeped like a suffocating gas throughout the inside of the conference, outside, the choking effects of coal smoke waft from all corners of a country that obtains 90 per cent of its electricity from coal and whose government has pledged to keep it that way until 2060.

General Vo Nguyen Giap (1911-2013): Military hero, revolutionary intellectual, environmentalist

General Vo Nguyen Giap, second from left, with Ho Chi Minh, in 1957.

By Michael Karadjis

October 24, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Few people from the 20th century can really claim to have changed history. One of them without a doubt was General Vo Nguyen Giap, who led the Vietnamese people to defeat the French and US empires.

Giap died on October 4, aged 102.

While mainly remembered as a military leader, Giap was also one of Vietnam’s most significant political leaders, a revolutionary intellectual, an environmentalist and a campaigner for progressive change within his own country.

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