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Australia: Has PM Kevin Rudd taken `a significant step forward on climate change'?

By David Spratt

May 5, 2009 -- Kevin Rudd's announced changes to the proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) has again split the climate movement, and this time it's very serious, with three large, rusted-on-to-Labor [Party] groups running cover for an appalling policy that won't guarantee a reduction in Australian emissions for decades.

The grassroots movement which gathered in Canberra in January 2009, with 500 people and 150 groups, for the first national Climate Action Summit and unanimously opposed the CPRS legislation, appears uniformly angry. Sixty-six climate action groups have written to the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd saying that: “We believe that you have abandoned your duty of care to protect the Australian people as well as our species and habitats from dangerous climate change.”

Bolivia: Rich countries must pay their `ecological debt'

Retreat of the Chacaltaya Glacier, Bolivia 1940-2005.

Submission by Republic of Bolivia to the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the [UN Framework Convention on Climate Change] (AWG-LCA)

April 25, 2009 -- We call on developed countries to commit to deep emission reductions in order to advance the objective of avoiding dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system and its consequences, to reflect their historical responsibility for the causes of climate change, and to respect the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities in accordance with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Swine flu and a sick social system: Why the poor die and the rich sniffle

April 27, 2009 -- A World to Win News Service -- It is impossible to predict the spread, severity and consequences of the swine flu epidemic that broke out in Mexico. But influenza epidemics have occurred regularly –- with three pandemics (global epidemics) in the 20th century -- and scientists and public health authorities have known for a long time that new pandemics are inevitable. Some possible parameters and paths of development can be scientifically understood, in both the biological and social spheres.

There are two separate and mainly independent factors at work. One is the nature and evolution of the disease itself, which is not caused by human activity. Although social factors -- for instance industrial pig farming -- may have played a contributing role in the appearance of this particular disease, human beings didn't invent viruses or human and animal vulnerability to them.

The other factor is just the opposite: What kind of society people live in, what drives the economic organisation of those societies and their social and political relations. In short, if the first factor concerns natural phenomena, the second is the capitalist and imperialist world in which they occur.

Mike Davis: Capitalism and the flu

Agri-biz at root of swine flu? Real News Network report, April 30, 2009.

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April 27, 2009 -- Socialist Worker (USA) -- Mike Davis, whose 2006 book The Monster at Our Door warned of the threat of a global bird flu pandemic, explains how globalised agribusiness set the stage for a frightening outbreak of the swine flu in Mexico.

(Updated May 27, 2009) Wiwa versus Shell: Oil company to stand trial for complicity in repression of the Ogoni people

Shell on trial: Landmark trial set to begin over Shell’s role in 1995 execution of Nigerian human rights activist Ken Saro-Wiwa

May 26, 2009 -- Democracy Now! -- A landmark trial against oil giant Royal Dutch Shell’s alleged involvement in human rights violations in the Niger Delta begins this Wednesday in a federal court in New York. Fourteen years after the widely condemned execution of the acclaimed Nigerian writer and environmental activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, the court will hear allegations that Shell was complicit in his torture and execution.

Guests:

Steve Kretzmann, executive director of Oil Change International. He was at Shell’s annual shareholder meeting in London earlier this month and has been following the case against Shell. He also worked closely with Ken Saro-Wiwa in the last two years before Saro-Wiwa’s death.

The fight to be a society of good ancestors -- capitalism and ecosocialism

Ian Angus addresses the World at a Crossroads conference. Photo by Alex Bainbridge.

By Ian Angus

[Ian Angus was a featured guest at the World at a Crossroads: Fighting for Socialism in the 21st Century conference, in Sydney Australia, April 10-12, 2009. The event, which drew 444 participants from more than 15 countries, was organised by the Democratic Socialist Perspective, Resistance and Green Left Weekly. Below is Angus’ talk to the plenary session on “Confronting the climate change crisis: an ecosocialist perspective”. It first appeared on Climate and Capitalism and has been posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission.]

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(Updated April 23) `Capitalism is putting an end to humanity and the planet' -- ALBA on the 5th Summit of the Americas

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez greets Cuba's President Raul Castro.

Translated by Federico Fuentes

Cumaná, April 17, 2009

The heads of state and governments of Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Honduras, Nicaragua and Venezuela -- member countries of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Peoples of Our Americas (ALBA) -- consider that the proposed Declaration of the 5th Summit of the Americas is insufficient and unacceptable for the following reasons:

Audio: Capitalism and Climate Change -- Ian Angus

Left Click -- Ian Angus is the editor of climateandcapitalism.com and a founder of the Eco-socialist International Network. He is also associate editor of Canada's Socialist Voice and the director of the Socialist History Project. Ian toured Australia (Perth poster, left) in the run up to the World at a Crossroads conference held in Sydney on April 10-12, 2009, which was organised by the Democratic Socialist Perspective.

Fourth International: Draft report on climate change

By Daniel Tanuro

Below is a reworked version of the report on climate change and climate campaigns, drafted by Daniel Tanuro and presented at February 2009 meeting of the International Committee (IC) of the Fourth International. This report has been adopted as the basis of a resolution to be written for the coming Fourth International world congress. This first appeared on the International Viewpoint website.

I. THE CLIMATIC THREAT: CAUSES, RESPONSIBILITIES, SOCIAL AND ECOLOGICAL IMPACTS

1. Climate change is a fact without precedent

Climate change is a fact. In the 20th century, the average temperature of the surface of the Earth increased by 0.6°C, the sea level went up from between 10 and 20 cm, glaciers retreated almost everywhere in significant proportions, the violence of cyclones increased in the North Atlantic, and more extreme weather phenomena, such as storms, floods and droughts, were recorded.

La revolucion energetica: Cuba's energy revolution

By Laurie Guevara-Stone, photos by Mario Alberto Arrastia Avila

April 2, 2009 -- A new revolution is sweeping the island of Cuba, which is making massive progress on energy efficiency and renewable generation. Indeed, such is the success of the two-year old program on this small island of 11 million people, that many other countries could learn from its efforts to be energy independent and curb climate change.

John Bellamy Foster on the economic and ecological crises: `The common denominator is capitalism'

John Bellamy Foster interviewed by Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal/Green Left Weekly's Ruth Ratcliffe

A 20-minute interview recorded with a handheld cam in Oregon, USA, in February 2009. John Bellamy Foster is editor of Monthy Review and professor of sociology at the University of Oregon. He is co-author, with Fred Magdoff, of The Great Financial Crisis: Causes and Consequences (Monthly Review Press, January 2009) among numerous other works. Foster discusses the global economic crisis, its implications for the world and particularly the Australian economy. He also discusses the ecological crisis and the potential for revolutionary change.

Paul M. Sweezy: Cars and cities -- `automobilisation' and the `automobile-industrial complex'

By Paul M. Sweezy

[This classic essay first appeared in Monthly Review, vol. 24, no. 11 (April 1973). It has been posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the permission of Monthly Review.]

“Cities, after all, have a great deal in common with cars. More and more, in fact, they often seem to be turning into cars. There are deep mysteries here, impenetrable to the present shallow state of human understanding. Somehow, we know not how, things communicate.” — Russell Baker, New York Times, March 8, 1973

The best way to protect auto industry jobs is to stop making cars

By Don Fitz and Tim Kaminski

In the days when there was an Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers union (OCAW), its St Louis business agent, Bob Tibbs senior, enjoyed coming to Green Party events. He would tell us that his union knew how bad nuclear powerplants were and that it would be happy to get rid of them if workers would be guaranteed jobs of equal pay in other industries. That’s “social unionism”. The union looked beyond wages and working conditions – it asked if what it was producing truly benefited humanity. [1]

Social unionism is most needed in times of crisis. The automobile industry is truly in crisis. According to the February 14, 2009, Wall Street Journal, car sales have dropped to a 30-year low. In November and December, 2008, Ford, General Motors (GM) and Chrysler went to Washington, whining that without tens of billions of dollars in government handouts they would go belly up.

Market madness: `Oversupply' of water tanks during a record water crisis!

Not enough water; `too many' tanks

By Dave Holmes

Melbourne, February 26, 2009 -- Australian plastics manufacturer Nylex has been placed in the hands of receivers. Nylex is a well-known name — the company produces the iconic Esky, water tanks, wheelie bins, hose and garden fittings and interior trimmings for car manufacturers. According to the February 13 Melbourne Age, “The drought and a government rebate stimulated demand for water tanks, but oversupply pushed down prices and demand collapsed after substantial rain in Queensland and NSW.”

The slump in the auto industry also contributed to the company’s woes. In the end, the banks (ANZ and Westpac) called in their loans.

The jobs of its 700-strong work force are in the balance. The receivers may or may not find a buyer for Nylex, but any new owner is likely to heavily restructure the company, leading to substantial job losses.

John Bellamy Foster: A failed system -- The world crisis of capitalist globalisation and its impact on China

By John Bellamy Foster

John Bellamy Foster is editor of Monthly Review and professor of sociology at the University of Oregon. He is coauthor, with Fred Magdoff, of The Great Financial Crisis: Causes and Consequences (Monthly Review Press, January 2009) among numerous other works. This article was originally a presentation delivered to the International Conference on the Critique of Capital in the Era of Globalization, Suzhou University, Suzhou, China, January 11, 2009. It appeared in the March edition of Monthly Review and is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with John Bellamy Foster's permission.

Karl Marx the ecologist

By Simon Butler

February 21, 2009 -- As the world economy spirals down into its deepest crisis since the great depression, the writings of Karl Marx have made a return to the top seller lists in bookstores. In his native Germany, the sales of Marx’s works have trebled.

His theories have been treated with contempt by conservative economists and historians. Yet, in the context of the latest economic downturn, even a few mainstream economists have been compelled to ask whether Marx was right after all.

Marx argued that capitalism is inherently unstable, fraught with contradictions and prone to deep crises.

Exploitation, war, hunger and poverty were not problems that could be solved by the market system, he said. Rather, they were inescapable outcomes of the system itself. This is because capitalism is dominated by the wealthiest corporations and devoted to profit above all else.

Only a move to a democratic socialist society, where ordinary people are empowered to make the key decisions about the economy and society themselves, can open the path to genuine freedom and liberation.

Food sovereignty: Accelerating into disaster -- when banks manage the food crisis

January 26, 2009 -- Against the dramatic background of a profound global food and general economic crisis the Spanish government organised the “High Level Ministerial Meeting on Food Security for All” on the January 26-27, 2009, in Madrid.

The emergency of today is rooted in decades of neoliberal policies that dismantled the international institutional architecture for food and agriculture and undermined the capacity of national governments to protect their food producers and consumers. The central cause of the current food crisis is the relentless promotion of the interests of large industrial corporations and the international trade that they control, to the detriment of food production at the local and national levels and the needs and interests of local food producers and communities. At the World Food Summit in 1996, when there were an estimated 830 million hungry people, governments pledged to halve the number by 2015. Today, in the midst of a terrible food crisis, the figure of hungry people has risen to well beyond 1 billion.

Australia: Fire tragedy highlights scale of global warming emergency and need for real action

Socialist Alliance statement

Melbourne, February 11, 2009 -- Like all people across Australia Socialist Alliance members have been devastated by the Victorian bushfire tragedy, the greatest disaster in peace-time Australian history.

We express our condolences to and solidarity with all who have lost family, friends and homes in this shocking holocaust, made worse by the possibility that some of these fires were deliberately lit.

We salute the efforts of Victorian Country Fire Authority workers and all volunteers who have sacrificed time, effort and security and done everything in their power to halt the ravages of the fires. Emergency service workers battled for up to 30 hours without sleep trying to control the infernos, help the injured, and attend to the thousands left homeless.

Meltdown, fires as climate emergency hits Australia: Urgent action required

By Katherine Bradstreet

Melbourne, February 7, 2009 -- The heatwave across south-eastern Australia in recent weeks has given a hint of what we can expect as global temperatures continue to rise: black-outs, fatalities and transport chaos as privatised infrastructure fails. 

Many are in mourning as bushfires have devastated rural Victoria, with the death toll passing triple figures and more than 750 homes destroyed. The country town of Marysville has been erased from the map. Several other towns have all but been destroyed.

Even before the bushfire catastrophe, South Australia and Victoria had seen a sharp increase in deaths as a result of the heatwave, with Adelaide’s central morgue quite literally overflowing — the “excess” cadavers were stored temporarily in a refrigerated freight container.

Thousands of homes were left without electricity as demand soared, overwhelming the existing grid. Melbourne’s rail system collapsed into chaos as temperatures reached over 40°C.

World Social Forum: `We won't pay for the crisis. The rich must pay!' & Belem Climate Assembly declaration

World Social Forum, Belem, Brazil, 2009. Photo by Marc Becker.

Declaration of the Assembly of Social Movements at the World Social Forum, January 27-February 1, 2009, Belem, Brazil.

February 1, 2009 -- We the social movements from all over the world came together on the occasion of the 8th World Social Forum in Belem, Amazonia, where the peoples have been resisting attempts to usurp nature, their lands and their cultures. We are here in Latin America, where over the last decade the social movements and the indigenous movements have joined forces and radically question the capitalist system from their cosmovision. Over the last few years, in Latin America highly radical social struggles have resulted in the overthrow of neoliberal governments and the empowerment of governments that have carried out many positive reforms such as the nationalisation of core sectors of the economy and democratic constitutional reforms.

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