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Why George Monbiot is wrong on nuclear power

By Ricardo Sequeiros Coelho

“This is a very serious accident by all standards. And it is not yet over.” – Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

March 29, 2011 -- Cool the Earth -- George Monbiot, the well-known environmentalist and journalist, managed to surpass the nuclear power lobby in the downplaying of the Fukushima disaster. First, he wrote that the disaster should not lead to an end of nuclear power, since that would mean more coal plants, so we should build more nuclear plants (Monbiot.com). Then, he wrote that since no one died from Fukushima he is now a nuclear power advocate (Monbiot.com). Amazing.

His arguments are as far fetched as they are deceiving. It is worth discussing them in detail, going through the four strategies that he uses to make his point.

George Monbiot’s nuclear mistakes

Children being scanned for radiation exposure near Fukushima, March 12.

By Jim Green 

March 27, 2011 -- Green Left Weekly -- Prominent British columnist George Monbiot announced in the British Guardian on March 21, 2011, that he now supports nuclear power. That isn't a huge surprise — having previously opposed nuclear power, he announced himself “nuclear-neutral” in 2009. As recently as March 16, Monbiot declared himself neutral while saying that he would not oppose nuclear power if four conditions were met:

1. Its total emissions — from mine to dump — are taken into account, and demonstrate that it is a genuinely low-carbon option.

2. We know exactly how and where the waste is to be buried.

3. We know how much this will cost and who will pay.

Japan: Left appeals for solidarity with victims and evacuees of the earthquake/tsunami and Fukushima nuclear disaster

Evacuees sit through an earthquake at a temporary shelter at a stadium in Koriyama. Photo: Reuters.

Appeal for financial solidarity with the victims and evacuees of the northeastern Japan earthquake/tsunami and Fukushima nuclear disaster

By the Japan Revolutionary Communist League (JRCL) and the National Council of Internationalist Workers (NCIW)

March 17, 2011 -- On March 11, at 2:30 PM (JST), the tremendously powerful earthquake of magnitude 9 hit the vast area of eastern Japan, comprised of northeast and Kanto regions. The earthquake gave rise to the formidable tsunami, which devastated numerous cities and towns all along the Pacific coast from the northernmost prefecture of Aomori to the southern Chiba prefecture. At the time of March 17, the number of deaths and missing persons is already close to 20,000, and the number continues to increase.

Nuclear means catastrophe: The lesson of Fukushima

People are tested for radiation exposure near Fukushima. 

By Daniel Tanuro

March 17, 2011 -- International Viewpoint via Climate and Capitalism -- What has happened was entirely predictable: yet another major nuclear “accident”. At the time of writing, it is not yet certain that it will take on the dimensions of a disaster similar to Chernobyl, but that is the direction in which things, alas, look set to evolve. But whether it develops into a major disaster or not, we are once again faced with evidence that nuclear technology can never be 100% secure.

Is Australian uranium fuelling Japan’s looming nuclear disaster?

Explosion at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Latest: The British Independent reported on March 16 that four of Japan’s atomic reactors are in dire trouble at once, three threatening meltdown from overheating, and a fourth hit by a fire in its storage pond for radioactive spent fuel; radiation at about 20 times normal levels had been detected in Tokyo.

By Jim Green

New book reveals the history of rubber: holocausts, environmental destruction and class struggle

The Devil’s Milk: A social history of rubber
By John Tully
Monthly Review Press, 2011

[Order the The Devil’s Milk from Monthly Review Press HERE. John Tully launched the book in Melbourne on February 17, at Readings Books, Carlton (309 Lygon St). He will also launch it in New York City on February 22, 7.30pm, at The Brecht Forum,  451 West Street.]

February 18, 2011 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- This new book from Monthly Review Press – by Australian socialist John Tully -- documents the history of rubber and the role it has played in the development of capitalism.

Rubber is an essential industrial material, although underappreciated by most of us, even though we are surrounded by it. Since its industrial uses began to be fully appreciated in the 1800s, the quest for rubber has been, in Tully’s words, “a paradigm of imperialism”.

The food price crisis and the Egyptian revolution

Since 2008, rising food prices have resulted in 40 mass riots throughout the globe and the United Nations reports that 37 countries currently face a food crisis.

By Billy Wharton

February 14, 2011 -- Socialist Webzine -- Hidden beneath the spectacular street battles that forced the Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak out of office was a trigger that exists in dozens of countries throughout the world – food. Or, more specifically, the lack of it. While commentators focus on the corruption of the dictatorship, or the viral effects of the Tunisian moment or the something akin to an Arab political awakening, the inability of the Egyptian regime to ensure a steady flow of food staples should be viewed as a critical factor driving this seemingly spontaneous movement for freedom.

Exclusive excerpt from `The Science and Humanism of Stephen Jay Gould', by Richard York and Brett Clark

January 26, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, with the kind permission of Monthly Review Press, is excited to offer its readers an excerpt from The Science and Humanism of Stephen Jay Gould, by Richard York and Brett Clark. Click HERE download (in PDF) the extract, "Natural History and the Nature of History", or read it on screen below the introduction.

Links' readers are urged to purchase the book. Please click here to order your copy.

* * *

Stephen Jay Gould was not only a leading paleontologist and evolutionary theorist, he was also a humanist with an enduring interest in the history and philosophy of science. The extraordinary range of Gould’s work was underpinned by a richly nuanced and deeply insightful worldview.

Cuba: The Campesino-to-Campesino agroecology movement: sustainable peasant agriculture and food sovereignty

The following article was recommended by Raj Patel. Patel writes:

Want to know what a sustainable climate-change-proof agricultural system might look like? Here’s an example from Cuba, in an academic paper written by my friend, comrade and former boss, Peter Rosset, together with folk from Cuba’s peasant agriculture movement. The article’s free to download (for now), but the key parts from the abstract are:

Our key findings are (i) the spread of agroecology was rapid and successful largely due to the social process methodology and social movement dynamics, (ii) farming practices evolved over time and contributed to significantly increased relative and absolute production by the peasant sector, and (iii) those practices resulted in additional benefits including resilience to climate change.

The futility of green capitalism: Interview with Daniel Tanuro

Interview with Daniel Tanuro, translated by Richard Fidler

January 17, 2011 -- Climate & Capitalism -- Daniel Tanuro’s new book, L’impossible capitalisme vert,or “The Futility of Green Capitalism”, is a major contribution to our analytical understanding of ecosocialism. Tanuro, a Belgian Marxist and certified agriculturist, is a prolific author on environmental history and policies.

Addressed primarily to the Green milieu, as the title indicates, this book is a powerful refutation of the major proposals advanced to resolve the climate crisis that fail to challenge the profit drive and accumulation dynamic of capital. Much of the book appears to be a substantially expanded update of a report by Tanuro adopted in 2009 by the leadership of the Fourth International as a basis for international discussion. That report was translated by Ian Angus and included in his anthology The Global Fight for Climate Justice.

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.

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