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environment

Video: Class and climate catastrophe in the Philippines

August 30, 2012 -- GreenLeftTV/Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Sonny Melencio, chairperson of the Partido Lakas ng Masa (Party of the Labouring masses), reflects on the politics of class and catastrophic climate change in the wake of the 2012 Manila floods. Interview by Peter Boyle.

Ian Angus: The return of the population bombers

Earth Day 1970 poster. People are the enemy.

[For more discussion on the population issue, click HERE.]

The following talk was presented at the Marxism 2012 conference in Toronto in May, and at the Socialism 2012 conference in Chicago in June. A recording of the Chicago presentation can be heard online at wearemany.org.

Overpopulation ideology undermined the environmental movement in the 1970s, diverting social protest into harmless channels. To prevent a similar setback today, we must understand populationism’s conservative role, and why it is attractive to a growing number of green activists.

By Ian Angus

July 22, 2012 -- Climate and Capitalism, posted at Links International Journal of socialist Renewal with permission -- As you know, Simon Butler and I have written many articles and an entire book refuting the claim that the environmental crisis is caused by overpopulation and the related idea that environmentalists should make reducing birth rates and immigration a top priority.

Israel’s environmental colonialism and eco-apartheid

The construction of Israel’s mammoth apartheid wall has separated Palestinian farmers from their fields and destroyed Palestinians' legally owned fertile agricultural land.

By Ben Lorber

July 12, 2012 – Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Since the idea of Zionism first gripped the minds of a few intellectuals and the limbs of many agrarian pioneers in the early 20th century, the state of Israel has presented its settlement of the land of Palestine, and its uprooting of the Palestinian people, as a rejuvenation of the earth. By “greenwashing” the occupation, Israel hides its apartheid behind an environmentalist mirage, and distracts public attention not only from its brutal oppression of the Palestinian people, but from its large-scale degradation of the earth upon which these tragedies unfold.

Determined to “make the desert bloom”, an international organisation -- the Jewish National Fund-Keren Kayemet LeYisrael (JNF-KKL, or JNF) planted forests, recreational parks and nature reserves to cover over the ruins of Palestinian villages, as refugees were scattered far from, or worse, a few hilltops away from, the land upon which they and their ancestors had based their lives and livelihoods.

Video: 'The Story of Change' -- Can shopping save the world? (with script)

The latest episode in the Story of ... videos. More at the Story of Stuff project. Annie Leonard is the creator of the Story of Stuff project, a series of animated films that discuss our pressing social, environmental and economic concerns and the effort to build a more sustainable and just world. To see some of the earlier films in the series, as well as read some of the discussion they have generated, click HERE. The original Story of Stuff is available HERE.

South Africa: Who will surf the protest wave?

Johannesburg's Orange Farm revolts against local elites.

By Patrick Bond

July 17, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The recent surge of unconnected community protests across South Africa confirms the country’s profound social, economic and environmental contradictions. But if activists fall before a new hail of police bullets, or if they lack an overarching, unifying political strategy, won’t their demonstrations simply pop up and quickly fall back down again – deserving the curse words "popcorn protests" – as they simply run out of steam, or worse, get channelled by opportunists into a new round of xenophobic attacks?

It’s been a hot winter, and we’re just halfway through July (the Centre for Civil Society’s Social Protest Observatory keeps tabs at http://ccs.ukzn.ac.za). Consider evidence from just the past two weeks, for example, in Johannesburg’s distant Orange Farm township south of Soweto, where residents rose up against city councillors and national electricity officials because of the unaffordable $250 installation charged for hated pre-payment (i.e. self-disconnection) meters, not to mention a 130% increase in electricity prices.

Video: Stop the financialisation of nature!

June 28, 2012 -- ATTAC.TV -- A recently released, short animated film about the takeover of nature by financial markets and the real alternatives coming up from the civil society.

An initiative of SOMO, European Attac Network, Food&Water Europe, Friends of Earth, Amis de la Terre, Carbon Trade Watch, WEED, Ecologistas en Acción, Aitec and Campagna per la riforma della Banca Mondiale. Produced by La Antena and AttacTV. Animated by desarme s.c.

NO REDD+! in Rio+20: A declaration to decolonise the earth and the sky

“Against Amazonian Genocide. Xingu (Afro-Brazilian freedom fighter) Lives Forever.” Photo by Anne Petermann/Global Justice Ecology Project. This photo was taken during the People's March through Rio on June 20, 2012, and first appeared at Climate Connections.

For more coverage of the Rio+20, click HERE.

Introduction and notes by Chris Lang

June 19, 2012 -- REDD-Monitor -- Last week, the Global Alliance of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities on Climate Change against REDD and for Life held a press conference denouncing REDD and the green economy. The press conference was part of the People’s Summit, a nine-day event taking place in parallel to the UN Rio+20 conference.

Values versus prices at the Rio+20 Earth Summit: 'the Green Economy is the environmentalism of the rich'

Climate Connections, June 18, 2012 -- What’s wrong with the green economy?: Joanna Cabello of Carbon Trade Watch at Rio+20.

For more coverage of the Rio+20, click HERE.

By Patrick Bond, Rio de Janeiro

June 18, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, a version of this article also appeared at Climate and Capitalism -- Given the worsening world economic crisis, the turn to "Green Economy" rhetoric looms as a potential saviour for footloose financial capital, and is also enormously welcome to those corporations panicking at market chaos in the topsy turvy fossil-fuel, water, infrastructure construction, technology and agriculture sectors.

On the other hand, for everyone else, the Rio+20 Earth Summit underway this week in Brazil, devoted to advancing Green Economy policies and projects, appears as an overall disaster zone for the people and planet.

Rio+20: Farmers, Indigenous peoples mobilise against green capitalism and the privatisation of nature

Rio de Janeiro, June 14, 2012 -- La Via Campesina -- About 3000 people from around the world will mobilise to say NO to the commodification of life and nature at the "Peoples Summit for Social and Environmental Justice and in Defense of the Commons", the parallel opposition activity to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development or Rio+20.

The peoples' summit is a space for discussion, debate and construction of alternative proposals by the global civil society, social movements and peoples collective organisations. La Via Campesina -- the international organisation of small farmers -- has been actively participating in the construction of this activity in order to denounce the false solutions of the same failed economic model that are now being dressed in green under the name “green economy”. La Via Campesina is instead promoting peasants' sustainable agriculture as a true solution to the global climatic and environmental crises.

Beautiful green world? On the myth of the green capitalist economy

By the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation

June 13, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The "green economy": It will stop climate change and the extinction of species and in so doing will create high growth rates and millions of jobs. It’s seen as a miraculous weapon. Through it, global capitalism will be stabilised. And then it will be sustainable as well.

But what is the green economy? In it, policy parameters are supposed to ensure the flow of capital to make markets and the economy "greener" and create "green" jobs. Enterprises are to pay an "appropriate" price for environmental damage. And not least: the state is supposed to orient its public procurements to sustainability criteria and create sustainable infrastructures.

As of June 2012 at the UN’s Rio+20 conference in Rio de Janeiro, the green economy is to become a new central concept of global policy. The conference is taking place on the 20th anniversary of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, where the magic formula "sustainable development" was coined.

Harmony and ecological civilisation: Beyond the capitalist alienation 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.]

By Fred Magdoff

June 4, 2012 -- Monthly Review -- Let me begin by making clear that I am not a philosopher nor am I well versed in Chinese cultural history. My background is in agriculture, specifically soil fertility and health, from which I have branched out into areas of ecology and ecological approaches to agriculture and society.

Royal Society’s tunnel vision on population and poverty

People and the Planet
Royal Society Science Policy Centre Report
April 2012

Review by Ian Angus

May 23, 2012 -- Climate and Capitalism, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the Ian Angus' permission -- The radical ecologist Murray Bookchin once compared populationism to a phoenix, the mythical bird that periodically burns up and is reborn from its own ashes. No matter how often the “too many people” argument is refuted, it always returns, making the same claim that people are breeding too much and consuming too much, devouring the Earth like a plague of locusts.[1]

Pablo Solon on Rio+20: 'We must change the capitalist system, not Earth's system'

Earth photographed from Russia's Electro-L weather satellite, taken from 36,000 kilometres with a high-definition 121-megapixel camera, creating the sharpest image of our planet yet.

By Pablo Solon

May 16, 2012 -- Focus on the Global South/Climate and Capitalism -- Twenty years after the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992, the environmental crisis continues to worsen.

The unsustainable development model that gained dominance in the world resulted to grave loss of biodiversity, melting of polar ice caps and mountain glaciers, alarming increase in deforestation and desertification and the looming danger of an at least 4º C increase in temperature, which will threaten life as we know it.

Science is saying that we are approaching a point of no return that will change the way our planet has behaved over 650,000 years.

Revolutionising production itself: for humanity and for the world

Under capitalism it is “profitable” to scar the precious mountains to retrieve coal in small seams.

By Mike Ely

April 24, 2012 -- Kasama, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- There is a valuable exchange happening on the Kasama website site. I won’t try to encapsulate it here, but want to respond to it. I think there are some sharp contradictions here — that are posed within our theory, and within the very choices facing people.

A horizon beyond scarcity and inequality

One year after Fukushima -- Japanese people appeal: 'Take action for a nuclear-free world!'

Appeals from Japan

By the All Japan 3.11 Action Committee 

March 11, 2012 -- Soon it will be one year since the 3.11 [March 11, 2011] TEPCO Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor accident. Many people were forced to evacuate and still continue to live under hardship without sufficient compensation. Despite the fact that an increasing number of people (as high as 70%) in Japan now wish to put an end to nuclear power, the Japanese government is obsessively promoting nuclear power even after the Fukushima accident.

An unrealistic declaration made by Prime Minister Noda that the nuclear reactors had reached a state of cold shutdown and that this element of the power station accident had thus been brought to a conclusion; an inhuman policy which exposes children in Fukushima to the high level of 20mSV as a level for evacuation; the hiding of proceedings of initial government emergency meetings on handling the nuclear power accident; the ratification of the export of nuclear reactors through a majority vote by parliament members; and a strong push to restart nuclear power without any provision of appropriate safety measures ... Such policies are possible because “The Nuclear Village” is still holding power over nuclear policy in Japan, even after 3.11. What is at stake today is democracy in Japan.

Changed minds

An exchange on Marx and Engels and 'small is beautiful'

[Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal urges its readers to consider taking out a subscription to Monthly Review, where this article first appeared.] 

By Samar Bagchi; response by John Bellamy Foster and Fred Magdoff

February 2012 -- Monthly Review -- I am a regular reader of Monthly Review. I read with interest the recent articles on ecology and Marxism (Fred Magdoff and John Bellamy Foster, “What Every Environmentalist Needs to Know About Capitalism,” MR, March 2010, and Fred Magdoff, “Ecological Civilization”, MR, January 2011).

It is true that Marx and Engels conceive that capitalism engenders a “metabolic rift” in nature and society. But both of them emphasise that the industrial growth that socialism would produce is beyond imagination under capitalism. Engels writes in Principles of Communism: “Once liberated from the pressure of private ownership, large-scale industry will develop on a scale that will make its present level of development seem as paltry as seems the manufacturing system compared with the large-scale industry of our time. This development of industry will provide society with a sufficient quantity of products to satisfy the needs of all.”

Bolivia: Challenges face Morales' goal of 'governing by obeying the people'

A march by indigenous group Conisur in favour of a controversial highway being built through Indigenous lands.

By Federico Fuentes

February 19, 2012 -- Green Left Weekly -- A new twist in the turbulent saga surrounding a proposed roadway through Indigenous land has reignited a debate raging throughout Bolivia since the middle of last year. The controversial highway ― which would cut through the Isiboro-Secure National Park and Indigenous Territory (TIPNIS) ― has been at the centre of protests and counter-protests. It has polarised Bolivian society and divided Indigenous groups that are the heart of the Evo Morales government’s social base.

‘Global sustainability’ wilts in South Africa’s political hot air

By Patrick Bond, Durban

February 15, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The latest acts in South Africa’s’s intensifying political drama include a sizzling summer-long battle between young and old within the African National Congress (ANC), the February 10 State of the Nation speech by President Jacob Zuma and the release of the ANC’s “research” on alternatives to mining nationalisation, a demand by the ANC Youth League which is now one of the main issues dividing the ruling party.

Amid the chaos, stepping over the political corpse of ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema (about to be expelled for “throwing the ANC into disrepute”), Zuma apparently also wants to be considered a world eco-visionary. As co-chairs of the United Nations’ High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability, he and Finland’s President Tarja Halonen published an article last week entitled “Seizing sustainable development”. Zuma and Halonen ask, “How do we begin to tackle the massive challenge of retooling our global economy, preserving the environment, and providing greater opportunity and equity, including gender equality, to all?”

Behind capitalism's destructive car mania

Stop Signs: Cars & Capitalism ― On the Road to Economic, Social & Ecological Decay
By Bianca Mugenyi & Yves Engler
RED Publishing & Fernwood Publishing
2011, 259 pages

By Phil Shannon

February 5, 2012 -- Green Left Weekly -- The car, say Canadian authors Bianca Mugyenyi and Yves Engler, who took a bus ride across the United States, is a doomed jalopy going nowhere. It fails, especially in the “home of the car”, on every green count. (Watch the authors discuss their book HERE.)

Cars are the single largest contributor to US noise pollution and 40,000 people in the US die from car accidents each year (one million across the globe).

Pablo Solon on Rio+20: For an international campaign against the commodification of nature

For a bottom-up international campaign against the commodification and financialisation of Nature

By Pablo Solon

January 28, 2012 -- The document for the Rio+20 conference of the United Nations (June 20-22, 2012) -- entitled The Future We Want -- was published in January 2012. Its main purpose is to promote a “Green Economy”. In the document's "zero draft", this concept of the Green Economy is left deliberately vague: there is no clear definition provided and no clarity on the usage of this term. In reality, however, it aims to promote the further commodification and financialisation of nature by introducing new market mechanisms like the as carbon markets that were first introduced a decade ago through the Kyoto Protocol and REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) programs which put a monetary price on carbon storage in forests.

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