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environment

Capitalism and degrowth: An impossibility theorem

By John Bellamy Foster

January 2011 -- Monthly Review -- In the opening paragraph to his 2009 book, Storms of My Grandchildren, James Hansen, the world’s foremost scientific authority on global warming, declared: “Planet Earth, creation, the world in which civilization developed, the world with climate patterns that we know and stable shorelines, is in imminent peril…The startling conclusion is that continued exploitation of all fossil fuels on Earth threatens not only the other millions of species on the planet but also the survival of humanity itself—and the timetable is shorter than we thought.”1

Fred Magdoff: Creating an ecological civilisation

By Fred Magdoff

``It is inconceivable that capitalism itself will lead directly to an ecological civilization that provides the basic needs for all people. However, building an ecological civilization that is socially just will not automatically happen in post-capitalist societies. It will occur only through the concerted action and constant vigilance of an engaged population.''

January 2011 -- Monthly Review -- Given the overwhelming harm being done to the world’s environment and to its people, it is essential today to consider how we might organize a truly ecological civilization—one that exists in harmony with natural systems—instead of trying to overwhelm and dominate nature. This is not just an ethical issue; it is essential for our survival as a species and the survival of many other species that we reverse the degradation of the earth’s life support systems that once provided dependable climate, clean air, clean water (fresh and ocean), bountiful oceans, and healthy and productive soils.

`Development', capitalism, NGOs and people's movements in Bangladesh: an interview with Anu Muhammad

The National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources Power and Ports organised a "Long March" in October 2010 to oppose the plunder of Bangladesh's natural resources. More photos at http://www.shahidulnews.com/2010/10/long-march/.

December 28, 2010 -- Anu Muhammad is an eminent Marxist and a renowned academician from Bangladesh. He is currently serving as professor in the Department of Economics in Jahangirnagar University, Savar, Dhaka. He is also general secretary of National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources Power and Ports and has been involved in various people's movements in Bangladesh. He, along with the committee, played an instrumental role in the success of the Phulbari Movement against Open Pit Mining in Phulbari, Bangladesh. He writes extensively on globalisation, social transformation, gender issues, NGOs and energy issues, and has authored more than 20 books.

Diego Garcia: Wikileaks confirm Greenpeace-backed `marine protection zone' was a ruse; Police ban socialist protests

US warplanes take off from Diego Garcia.

[Read the Mauritian socialists' open letter to Greenpeace -- `Don't help cover up colonialism's crimes on Diego Garcia' HERE, warning the organisation that it is being manipulated by the US and British governments. This has now been confirmed by Wikileaks.]

By Clency Lebrasse

December 17, 2010 -- Rabble.ca -- Six months ago, I wrote a piece for rabble.ca describing the appalling treatment of the people of the Chagos Islands [which includes Diego Garcia] in the Indian Ocean by the British government.

Essential guide for green left activists


Derek Wall discusses the crisis in the financial system, wall is an activist in Green Left, an ecosocialist current in the Green Party of England and Wales. Filmed at the Coalition of Resistance (http://www.coalitionofresistance.org.uk) conference November 27, 2010.

The Rise of the Green Left: Inside the Worldwide Ecosocialist Movement
By Derek Wall
Pluto Press, 190 pages, paperback

Review by Mat Ward

`Leave the oil in the soil!' -- Oil curses, climate conferences and fake Norwegian ‘Good Samaritans’

A humpback whale at the Bluff Whaling Station, South Durban, in 1909. From "Facts About Durban".

By Patrick Bond

November 23, 2010 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The stench of rotting blubber would hang for days over The Bluff in South Durban, South Africa, thanks to Norwegian immigrants whose harpooning skills helped stock the town with cooking fat, margarine and soap, starting about a century ago. The fumes became unbearable, and a local uproar soon compelled the Norwegians to move the whale processing factory from within Africa’s largest port to a less-populated site a few kilometres southeast.

There, on The Bluff’s glorious Indian Ocean beachfront, the white working-class residents of Marine Drive (perhaps including those in the apartment where I now live) also complained bitterly about the odour from flensing, whereby blubber, meat and bone were separated at the world’s largest onshore whaling station.

Britain: Understanding the Green Party

November 2, 2010 -- New Left Project -- Derek Wall is an economics lecturer and writer. He has been a member of the Green Party since 1980 and was Green Party principal speaker from 2006 to 2007. He is a founder of the Ecosocialist International and Green Left [an organised ecosocialist group within the Green Party] and has written widely on green politics. His latest books are The Rise of the Green Left and The No-Nonsense Guide to Green Politics. In this interview, he and Edward Lewis examine the nature and politics of the Green Party from a left perspective.

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What are the origins of the Green Party? What are the circumstances that brought it about?

Video: `The Story of Electronics' -- Designed for the dump (from the makers of `The Story of Stuff')

 

November 10, 2010 -- From the makers of The Story of Stuff and the The Story of Cap and Trade, Annie Leonard presents the latest episode in the series, The Story of Electronics. Like the first film, Leonard simply explains in plain English how an economy based on endless production of commodities for profit's sake creates waste and pollution and poisons people and the planet. While she urges consumers to make wiser choices when they shop, she also points out that it is the nature of the present system of ownership and production, and its lack of adequate regulation, that has to be changed to really make a difference. You can download the annotated script of The Story of Electronics HERE.

`Productivism' or liberation? Socialists debate consumerism

By Ben Courtice, Melbourne

November 2, 2010 -- In a recent seminar on trade unions and the climate movement, I observed a surprising disagreement between some of the socialists present. It was started by a comment from Melbourne University academic (and Socialist Alliance activist) Hans Baer, who suggested that the “treadmill of production and consumption” had to be challenged, that we need to challenge consumerism and the alienation of work that makes people buy things to feel better.

Liz Ross of Socialist Alternative took umbrage at this, declaring that workers should create and enjoy wonderful technological products, tearing down a straw figure that Hans was supposedly arguing to stultify the creativity of the working class.

Turning the tide of oil in US and world politics

By Dan La Botz

October 22, 2010 -- The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico represents the latest in a series of atrocities committed by petroleum companies against the environment and against humanity. Yet, terrible and tragic as the BP spill is, it is merely a marginal event in the long and sordid history of the oil companies in US and world history. The petroleum companies have been at the centre of US politics for a hundred years, determining its domestic agenda, its environmental policy and its foreign policy. To be a US politician was to be baptised in oil. To be an admiral or a general was to be a warrior around the globe for the petroleum industry.

Foreign policy

By the 1920s, with the rise of the internal combustion engine and the automobile, and the conversion of the US Navy from coal to oil, petroleum became the most sought after commodity in the world. Oil became a strategic commodity, a necessity of modern life and modern warfare. From that time on, the oil corporations moved to the centre of US politics. President Warren G. Harding’s cabinet was known as the “oil gang”, and the cabinet-level corruption involved in the attempt of private parties and corporations to get at the navy oil reserves led to the Teapot Dome scandal, for which Harding’s administration is best remembered.

The ecology of consumption -- excerpt from John Bellamy Foster, Brett Clark and Richard York's `The Ecological Rift'

October 20, 2010 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, with the permission of Monthly Review Press, is excited to offer its readers an excerpt from the The Ecological Rift: Capitalism’s War on the Earth, an important new book by John Bellamy Foster, Brett Clark and Richard York. Links' readers are urged to purchase the book. Please click here to order your copy. You can download (in PDF) the chapter, "The ecology of consumption", below the following introduction, or read it on screen.

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The limits to energy efficiency under capitalism

By Simon Butler

October 9, 2010 -- Green Left Weekly -- It is close to an article of faith among environmentalists that using less energy is a big part of the solution to climate change. Energy efficiency is often said to be the “low hanging fruit” of climate policy. On face value, the benefits seem obvious.

The knowledge needed to make big gains in efficiency already exists. Using less energy will save consumers and industry money, whereas other policies will be costly. And most importantly, lower energy use could make a big dent in global greenhouse gas emissions.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the International Energy Agency both promote energy efficiency as an important climate measure.

However, strong evidence has emerged that new energy efficient technologies alone won’t do much to cut emissions. Indeed, in a capitalist economy, it’s very likely that energy efficiency gains will lead to higher energy use, not less.

Hugo Blanco urges Greens: End capitalism before it ends us

September 16, 2010 -- via Socialist Resistance -- Hugo Blanco, a longstanding leader of Peruvian peasant struggles and fighter for Indigenous people's rights is touring Britain as a guest of Socialist Resistance and Green Left [an ecosocialist group within the Green Party of England and Wales].

On September 11, 2010, Blanco spoke at the successful Green Left/Socialist Resistance fringe meeting at the Green Party conference. Blanco started by criticising "biblical Marxism" -- adhering to Marxist works as if they were holy scripture. He talks about his long personal struggle for social justice and against oppression. In a comment at a meeting at the Venezuelan consulate in London, he explained that we need to put an end to capitalism before it puts an end to us.

Disaster management: New Zealand, Haiti and the ‘Cuban way’

Earthquake damage in Christchurch. Although similar in magnitude to the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti that killed 250,000, nobody died in the September 5, 2010, New Zealand quake.

By Reihana Mohideen, Manila

September 8, 2010 -- Comparisons must be made between the impact of the September 5 earthquake on Christchurch, New Zealand, and the quake that hit Haiti in January. The nature of a global system that maintains these inequalities should be exposed over and over again. In Haiti – with a population of around 9 million – some 250,000 people died in the earthquake and (according to government figures) 200,000 were injured and 1 million were made homeless. Some eight months later disaster still grips peoples lives. Fortunately, but in a staggering contrast, no lives were lost in New Zealand, although the earthquake was of a similar -- but slightly more powerful --- magnitude (7 on the Richter scale).

Did consumers cause the BP oil disaster? Debunking the `consumer sovereignty' superstition


“So said Tony Hayward” is a music video featuring imagery dredged from the internet, based on a song written by William Carroll of the Department of Sociology at University of Victoria, Canada. It's a tango about the BP oil spill (April 20-July 15, 2010) and its disastrous impacts, focused around the story of BP CEO Tony Hayward's hapless efforts to spin and manage a massive, and televisually spectacular, environmental catastrophe (to learn more, visit http://www.socialistproject.ca/leftstreamed/ls65.php).

By Ian Angus

Rehabilitating utopia and saving the future

By Ben Courtice

August 29, 2010 -- Blind Carbon Copy [BCC] -- Socialism was conceived as a creative and idealistic movement, but lost its way for most of the 20th century. Recapturing this imaginative energy can help find solutions to such huge threats as climate change. This article started as a short impromptu speech I gave to launch the third edition of the Australian Socialist Alliance's Climate Charter.

* * *

Socialism used to be a rallying point for idealists, utopians, dreamers and those who were simply hopeful. It carried an almost millenarian promise of redemption and salvation. More importantly, it allowed its advocates to exercise their imagination. If socialism was to democratically realise the wishes of the common working people, why should they be restrained in their wishes?

Venezuela: Land reform, food sovereignty and agroecology

Urban food garden, Caracas.

By Alan Broughton

August 20, 2010 -- A massive transformation of agriculture is occurring in Venezuela, a transformation that has lessons for every other country in the world. The Law of the Land and Agrarian Development, the Law of Food Sovereignty and Security and the Law of Integrated Agricultural Health set out the agenda (they can be found on www.mat.gob.ve, in Spanish). The policies are based on the premises that farmers should have control of their land and product, that the country should produce its own food, and that chemical fertilisers and pesticides should not be part of agriculture.

Land in Venezuela has been in the hands of about 500 families and corporations since the 1800s and worked by an impoverished peasantry. Much of the land was underutilised as cattle ranching, pulpwood plantations, export crops such as sugar cane, or left idle. Most food was imported. This land is gradually being taken over by the government and handed to local communities who have been fighting for it for two centuries.

Pakistan: The flood disaster and the way out


By the Labour Party Pakistan (Karachi) and the National Trade Union Federation

August 20, 2010 -- The recent floods represent the worst disaster in Pakistan’s history. The country has been devastated from the northern areas to its southern tip. The state, stripped of its capacity to meet peoples’ needs by neoliberalism and militarism alike, has been found wanting—both in its longstanding failure to maintain existing infrastructure, and in its response to the calamity.

The grassroots relief efforts that have emerged across the country are heartening, but a crisis of this magnitude can only be handled by an institution with the resources and reach of the federal government. As in all disasters, the assistance of the military will be necessary—but this must be subject to civilian oversight, and must not be exploited to glorify the army at the expense of the government. The military’s relative strength is a direct legacy of pro-amy federal budgets, and we remember too well the failures of the Musharraf government in 2005.

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