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environment

Climate change: Why population is not the problem

By Jess Moore

August 9, 2009 -- We face a climate crisis and something needs to change. The world’s resources are finite, as is the amount of destruction humans can do to the planet if we are to survive. There is a debate in the environment movement about whether or not curbing population is an essential part of the solution. We have a decade, maybe a decade and a half, to transform our current relationship with the planet. Of course, the starting point for environmentalists cannot be solutions. We first need to identify the cause of the crisis before we can know how to fight it.

People who see limiting population as essential to solving the climate crisis argue the cause of environmental degradation, at least in part, is overpopulation. Most “populationists” argue there are already too many human beings on the planet to provide for everyone’s basic needs. All contend that curbing population growth or decreasing population is some or all of the solution to climate change and to the fact that the basic needs of many people are not satisfied.

Sustainability: utopian and scientific

By Mark Burton

To make the move to a sustainable future where people are no longer threatened by an ecological catastrophe will require a number of things –- above all a strong and broad movement with effective and intelligent leadership and an accurate understanding of the current problems and how they can be overcome. Sadly, only some parts of this constellation of forces are in place today.

In particular the green movement is not an effective political and social movement and the left is still in disarray, largely concerned with defensive politics and harking back to a world long gone.

As for ideas and analysis of the situation and what needs to be done, some powerful critiques of the current economic orthodoxies have recently appeared that set out an alternative way in which the wellbeing and prosperity of the population can be achieved and maintained. However, these contributions are insufficient since they do not provide a sufficiently profound diagnosis of the causes of the problem. Without such a diagnosis there can be no convincing prescription for a remedy. But the situation is even worse than that. There is also no convincing approach to obtaining the necessary changes.

John Bellamy Foster: `The transition to socialism and the transition to an ecological society are one’

John Bellamy Foster's keynote address to the Climate Change, Social Change conference (organised by Green Left Weekly), Sydney, Australia, April 12, 2008. This talk is the basis of the last chapter of The Ecological Revolution: Making Peace with the Planet.

Read an exclusive excerpt from Foster's The Ecological Revolution: Making Peace with the Planet at http://links.org.au/node/1066.

Links readers are also encouraged to purchase a copy of this important new book HERE.

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Britain: Vestas workers end occupation, but `the campaign is anything but over'

Mike Bradley was one of the original workers who occupied the offices of Vestas. He gave an impassioned speech at the August 8 rally in Newport, Isle of Wight, where he reminded supporters that the struggle for Vestas to be nationalised can still be won. Video from Ventnor Blog.

[For more background information, go to http://links.org.au/node/1168 and http://links.org.au/node/1175.]

(Updated Aug. 6) Vestas workers: `Fight for green jobs not over ... Change should be made for the people, not for money'

[For more background information, go to http://links.org.au/node/1168 and http://links.org.au/node/1175.]

Ventnor Blog -- August 5, 6pm, 2009 -- With Mike Godley having left yesterday, we spoke to Mark, one of the six who are still inside at the Vestas sit-in. We discussed how they had to reorganise themselves now four people have left.

He said that that morale was still good and how they’ll “still be fighting Vestas”. Mark explained that “It was strange to have that many people leaving at once.”

It’s unclear if Vestas have applied for bailiff papers to have them removed from the building. Vestas have issued a statement that they are very patient and that they can wait. Mark said, “They did ask us yesterday that if we wanted to leave the door open they would come in and get us. We replied ‘No’.”

Public ownership of coal industry needed to move to 100% renewable energy and retain jobs

An open-cut coalmine in the Hunter Valley, NSW, Australia.

Graham Brown is a retired coalminer and a climate change activist. He’s also a member of the Upper Hunter branch of the NSW Greens party. The Hunter Valley, near the city of Newcastle, is a major source of Australia's coal exports. Brown is helping build a union and community alliance to create a “just transition” to a carbon-neutral economy. Such a transition would ensure workers in the coal industry move into alternative employment. Socialist Alliance's Zane Alcorn spoke to Brown.

How important is public ownership of electricity generation in a transition to a carbon-neutral economy?

It is definitely of the first importance. A private company is out to make a profit. When that profit starts to drop, it’ll move away. There’s no commitment to the community.

Public ownership is the reverse of that. It will enable the transition to carry through from start to finish. But it’s not going to finish, it’s going to be ongoing. Retrofitting power stations is a first step, but down the track, the best thing about renewable energy is that it is decentralised, and it will be owned by the public. Each community will have its own power generators.

For jobs and the environment: Why the workers occupied the Vestas wind turbine plant

Climate campaigners show their support for the Vestas workers.

Below is the text of a speech written by a Vestas worker for delivery at trade union and environmental movement meetings. It gives an excellent insight into the background of the struggle, and its wider political significance. It first appeared at http://savevestas.wordpress.com. See also ``Capitalism vs the environment: Wind turbine workers fight factory closure with sit-in'' for more coverage.

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I’ve come today to speak about a little factory called St. Cross on the Isle of Wight – otherwise known as Vestas; you may have heard about it before …

Pacific islanders struggle for survival against global warming -- `Rich countries must slash emissions now'

Kiribati will be devastated by rising sea levels.

July 29, 2009 -- For Pacific islanders, climate change is not a threat looming somewhere in the future. Rising sea levels and unpredictable weather are having devastating effects right now. Climate change has already forced some communities to leave their traditional homes.Simon Butler spoke to two climate change activists from the Pacific about their campaign for immediate cuts to global greenhouse emissions.

Pelenise Alofa Pilitati is the chairperson of the Church Education Directors' Association in Kiribati. Reverend Tafue Lusama is the chairperson of the Tuvalu Climate Action Network. They are on an Australian speaking tour through July and August, which is co-sponsored by Greenpeace and Oxfam. For details of the tour go to http://www.greenpeace.org/australia/news-and-events/events/pacificvoicestour-300609.

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Simon Butler: What are you hoping to achieve with your speaking tour?

Raúl Prada Alcoreza: Analysis of Bolivia's New Political Constitution of the State

Bolivians celebrate their new constitution. President Evo Morales in centre.

The following article by Raúl Prada Alcoreza was originally published in the first issue (June 2008) of Crítica y Emancipación, a biannual Latin American journal of the social sciences. This translation from the Spanish, by Shana Yael Shubs and Ruth Felder, was published this year in a complete English-language version of the journal’s first issue. It was distributed at the recent congress of the Latin American Studies Association, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in June. A review of the first issue of Crítica y Emancipación was published at http://tinyurl.com/nuk4jp. This article also appeared at Bolivia Rising.

Australia: Global warming and the ‘Big Dry’— What prospects for the Murray-Darling river system?

By Renfrey Clarke

July 20, 2009 -- From desert-fringe villages and drowning atolls, global warming is predicted before long to set climate refugees on the move. But arguably, the first climate refugees to reach Australia’s major cities are arriving already. And the places from which they have come are not exotic — rural towns like Mildura, Renmark and Griffith in Australia’s south-east.

In settlements throughout the Murray-Darling, residents are quietly deciding the irrigation-based economy has no future. For many orchardists and viticulturalists, allocations of water in recent years have been too low to keep plantings alive.

When barely a trickle is coming down the rivers, farmers are concluding it’s best to sell the next-to-meaningless water rights, accept a government exit package, bulldoze the trees and vines, and walk away.

Unprecedented drought

Class struggle and ecology: An ecosocialist approach

By Socialist Resistance (Britain)

…we with flesh, blood and brain, belong to nature, and exist in its midst, and… all our mastery of it consists in the fact that we have the advantage of all other creatures of being able to learn its laws and apply them correctly

— Friedrich Engels.

Ecology as crucial as imperialism

For socialists in the 20th century imperialism was the great dividing line between those who accepted the logic of capitalist society and those who were willing to challenge it. In the first decades of the 21st century it is apparent that imperialism and war will remain inherent features of late capitalism. To these threats we must add the genuine and serious risks of severe ecological degradation and climate change caused by the capitalist economic model as factors that will shape socialist politics in the coming decades.

The biosphere and us

Can carbon trading save our forests?

By Susan Austin

June 26, 2009 – Hobart, Tasmania -- Along with over 400 other people, I turned up to the Wrest Point Casino here to attend the premiere of The Burning Season on June 1. I had the film’s headline --  “As inspiring as The Inconvenient Truth was frightening” in the back of my mind, hoping for a good news story. Instead I sat through a well-orchestrated promo for a carbon trading company, set up by a young Australian-based millionaire whose message was that it is possible to make money and save the environment at the same time.

By setting up a carbon trading company called Carbon Conservation, and brokering high-level deals between big banks and provincial Indonesian governors, the film’s “star”, young entrepreneur Dorjee Sun, was able to secure the protection of large areas of forests that may otherwise have been logged or burnt.

Biofuels and sustainable transport -- Can biofuels be produced and used responsibly?

By Renfrey Clarke

June 16, 2009 -- For governments and vehicle corporations, the charm of biofuels used to be the promise they held out of a ready-made solution to transport-related greenhouse gas emissions -- a solution that might simply be dropped in, while changing almost nothing else. Freeways, suburban sprawl, four-wheel-drive family cars -- everything could remain. Only the fuel on sale at service stations would be different.

Biofuels, the promise to the public ran, would be ``clean and green’’, an environmental zero-sum. Although carbon was released to the atmosphere when biofuels were burnt, this was carbon that had been there earlier, before being taken up by the plants from which the fuels were derived.

United States: Solidarity sometimes (exclusive excerpt from Steve Early’s new book, Embedded With Organized Labor)

[With the permission of Monthly Review Press, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal is publishing an exclusive excerpt from Steve Early’s new book, Embedded With Organized Labor: Journalistic Reflections on the Class War at Home. Embedded With Organized Labor describes how trade union members in the United States have organised successfully, on the job and in the community, in the face of employer opposition now and in the past. Steve Early has produced a provocative series of essays -- an unusual exercise in “participatory labor journalism” useful to any reader concerned about social and economic justice. As workers struggle to survive and the labour movements try to revive during the current economic crisis, this book provides ideas and inspiration for trade union activists and friends of labour alike.

Rick Wolff: GM -- The system strikes back; Michael Moore: `Convert the factories to build trains, buses, windmills'

By Rick Wolff

June 5, 2009 -- The greatest tragedies among many in the collapse and bankruptcy of General Motors (GM) concern what is not happening. There are those solutions to GM's problems not being considered by Obama's administration. There are the solutions not being demanded by the United Auto Workers Union (UAW). There are all the solutions not even being discussed by most left commentators on the disaster. Finally there are crucial aspects of GM's demise not getting the attention they deserve.

Nigeria: The video Shell does not want you to see

June 1, 2009 -- ShellGuilty -- A pre-trial conference scheduled in the potentially landmark lawsuit brought by Nigerian plaintiffs against oil giant Royal Dutch Shell has been delayed until June 3. The conference was announced following the decision by the presiding judge in the US Southern District Court in New York to delay indefinitely the actual trial. Jury selection in the trial itself had been meant to start April 27, but was put off the day before. No new date was set.

Shell is accused of complicity in the 1995 hanging of Ken Saro-Wiwa, a renowned writer and activist, and other leaders of a movement protesting alleged environmental destruction and other abuses by Shell against the Ogoni people in the Niger Delta.

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