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environment

Anti-immigration groups organise against book that exposes population myths

By Ian Angus

January 31, 2012 -- Climate and Capitalism -- Simon Butler and I wrote Too Many People? Population, Immigration, and the Environmental Crisis to promote discussion among environmental activists about two questions:

  • Is population growth a significant cause of the global environmental crisis?
  • Should the environmental movement support population reduction programs as solutions to environmental problems?

Since the book was published in September 2011, we’ve been very pleased by the eagerness of activists around the world to join in that discussion. Some readers are convinced by our arguments, some are not – in either case we look forward to continuing discussions while we work together to build a global movement against ecocide and for environmental justice. We expected such debates, and will continue to welcome them.

Raj Patel: Feeding 10 billion (audio)

January 11, 2012 -- In a Saskatoon lecture, writer and activist Raj Patel argues that the only way to feed everyone is to completely rethink agriculture and empower women. He outlines the history of the "Green Revolution" and how it was based on attempts to defeat "communism", control population and spread the market system. The lecture was broadcast on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's Ideas program.

David Attenborough asks corporations to buy wilderness to lock out poor people

By Ian Angus

January 18, 2012 -- Climate and Capitalism, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- David Attenborough, in addition to making nature films, is a patron of Optimum Population Trust, a British outfit that, using the name Population Matters, promotes birth control for poor people and immigration restrictions to keep those same people out of Britain.

Last year we reported a talk he gave to a posh gathering in London, chaired by no less a personage than Prince Phillip, in which he said only “flat earthers” disagree with his view that only population reduction can save the planet. Contraception, he said, “is the humane way, the powerful option which allows all of us to deal with the problem, if we collectively choose to do so”.

The paradox of Cuban agriculture

By Miguel A. Altieri and Fernando R. Funes-Monzote

January 8, 2012 -- Monthly Review -- When Cuba faced the shock of lost trade relations with the Soviet bloc in the early 1990s, food production initially collapsed due to the loss of imported fertilisers, pesticides, tractors, parts and petroleum. The situation was so bad that Cuba posted the worst growth in per capita food production in all of Latin America and the Caribbean. But the island rapidly re-oriented its agriculture to depend less on imported synthetic chemical inputsand became a world-class case of ecological agriculture.1

This was such a successful turnaround that Cuba rebounded to show the best food production performance in Latin America and the Caribbean over the following period, a remarkable annual growth rate of 4.2 per cent per capita from 1996 through 2005, a period in which the regional average was zero per cent.2

The ALP left in Leichhardt municipality in the 1980s

'Primal Socialist Innocence and the Fall'?: the ALP Left in Leichhardt Municipality in the 1980s

By Tony Harris*


From the History Cooperative.

During the 1970's and the early 1980's, hundreds of people flooded into the ALP branches of the Municipality of Leichhardt. They constituted a new element of the ALP Left, influenced to one degree or another by the social movements of the late '60s and early '70s, or by the experience of the Whitlam Government. They became locked into a fierce struggle for power with local political machines, and behind them a state ALP branch, dominated by the Labor Right. But when, in the early 1980's, the moment of power arrived, this Left fell into bitter disarray, fragmenting along a spectrum that spilled out of the Party. This tale of political 'innocence' and 'fall' traces through the loss of the municipal council and state parliamentary seat and is dramatically symbolised in the fraught struggle over the future one of the most significant labour (and Labor) history sites: Mort's Dock. As such it reveals the historically contingent nature of the 'middle-classing' of the ALP during this period.

(Updated Jan. 24) 'Too Many People?' Ecosocialists debate population and environment

[For more on the population debate, click HERE.]

January 9, 2012 -- Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal/Climate and Capitalism -- Veteran British socialist Alan Thornett has published a highly critical review of the new book, Too Many People? Population, Immigration, and the Environmental Crisis. Below is Thornett’s critique, followed by a reply from the book’s authors, Ian Angus and Simon Butler.

Too Many People: a review

By Alan Thornett

January 2, 2012 -- Socialist Resistance -- As a long-time comrade of Ian Angus, a fellow ecosocialist, and an admirer of his work on Marxism and ecology, I am disappointed by the tone he has adopted in his new book on population Too Many People? – which he has authored jointly with Simon Butler, co-editor of the Australian publication Green Left Weekly.

Bolivia's proposals on the 'rights of nature' for Rio+20

December 19, 2011 -- The proposals developed by the Plurinational State of Bolivia bring together and build upon the progress made in the World Charter for Nature  (1982), the Rio Declaration (1992), the Earth Charter (2000) and the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth (2010).

[The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) is scheduled for June 20-22, 2012, in Brazil. It marks the 20th anniversary of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), in Rio de Janeiro, and the 10th anniversary of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg.]

I. A DEEPER COMMITMENT TO SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN THE 21ST CENTURY

South Africa: One million climate jobs: A just transition to a low carbon economy to combat unemployment and climate change

December 28, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- South Africa's Million Climate Jobs Campaign has released a new booklet describing how the transformation of the economy to one that protects people and the environment, can confront two of South Africa’s biggest threats: climate change and unemployment. The Million Climate Jobs Campaign presents tangible solutions to the ecological and economic crises, and calls on the South African government to create jobs in combating climate change. Authentic, meaningful solutions to climate change offer vast opportunities for decent work in a new
low-carbon economy.

Colombia rising?

The population of Bogotá, capital of Colombia, is about to pass 8 million.

By Anthony Boynton, Bogotá, Colombia

December 26, 2011 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- It may not be the mother of all bubbles, but it is a whopper. Colombia’s economy is rising as fast as a hot air balloon, but one that is almost certain to burst. Mining, petroleum, industrial agriculture and construction are all growing at record rates – fueled by a flood tide of investment, much of it foreign investment – directed by the World Bank and its local allies within the government of President Juan Manuel Santos, and made possible by the dispossession of millions of Colombians from the countryside through decades of violence combined with disastrous flooding caused by global warming.

Colombian cities have being growing as fast as any in the world. There are now more than 25 cities with populations of more than 200,000, at least five cities with more than 1 million people, three with more than 2 million; Bogotá the capital is about to pass 8 million.

Ανατέμνοντας τους αριθμούς για τον υπερπληθυσμό

[In English (Αγγλική εκδοχή σε) at http://links.org.au/node/2520.]

των Ίαν Άνγκους και Σάιμον Μπάτλερ

Μαρξιστική Σκέψη, τόμος 4, Ιανουάριος-Μάρτιος 2012, σελ. 416, 13€

 

Από το 1798, όταν ο Πάτερ Μάλθους υποστήριξε ότι ο πληθυσμός αυξάνεται με γεωμετρική πρόοδο (2, 4, 8, 16...), ενώ η προσφορά τροφίμων αυξάνεται μόνο αριθμητικά (2, 3, 4, 5...), το επιχείρημα για τον υπερπληθυσμό έχει εξαρτηθεί από τους αριθμούς. Είναι σπάνιο να διαβάσει κανείς ένα άρθρο, φυλλάδιο ή ιστοσελίδα για τον υπερπληθυσμό που δεν περιλαμβάνει δηλώσεις όπως αυτές:

Australian socialists debate ecosocialism

By Ian Angus

December 13, 2011 -- Climate and Capitalism (Canada) -- Should ecologically concerned socialists call themselves ecosocialists? Members of the Socialist Alliance are conducting a public policy debate.

Is there a need for the word “ecosocialism”? Does it mean something substantially different from socialism without the prefix? Will using it help to build the left? Or is it an unnecessary and dangerous concession to greens who lean to liberalism and anarchism?

Here at Climate and Capitalism, we gave our answers to those questions long ago, by putting the words “Ecosocialism or barbarism: there is no third way” at the top of every page.

But on that question we are in a minority. While the word “ecosocialism” is used by growing numbers of green lefts and left greens, it is still very far from being universally accepted.

Of course, it is just a word. What’s important is the idea that in the 21st century the fight against environmental destruction and the fight against capitalism are inextricably linked – neither can succeed without the other. The label anyone chooses to apply to that concept is far less important.

Capitalism, not consumers, is the big green problem

By Simon Butler

December 4, 2011 -- Green Left Weekly -- Most environmentalists would agree consumerism and consumer culture put too heavy a burden on the planet. Consumer spending is central to the capitalist economy, which is why economists and governments also pay it close attention. But most mainstream economists say endless economic growth, which implies limitless consumption, is both possible and desirable. This ignores how it helps fuel our ecological problems.

Today, most things sold on the market are made to be thrown out and replaced. A big part of economic activity is made up of selling products “designed for the dump”.

It's not hard to see why this suits the biggest firms with the most market power. They make more money selling new products regularly than they can from products that are long-lasting, repairable and easy to upgrade.

This cycle begins with the extraction of raw materials from the earth. The throwaway economy needs to turn more and more of nature into products for sale: fossil fuels, soil nutrients, fresh water, metals and timber.

The cycle ends with the steady release of waste back into the ecosphere: waste gases into the sky, waste pollutants into water, and waste chemicals and toxics into the soil.

Welcome to Durban (excerpt from new book, 'Durban’s Climate Gamble')

Above: Durban’s Climate Gamble editor Patrick Bond (right) and contributor Ashwin Desai provide a background to the Durban climate talks.

[The following is an excerpt from a new book, Durban’s Climate Gamble: Playing the Carbon Markets, Betting the Earth, launched on November 23, 2011, ahead of the November 28–December 9 COP17 climate change talks by UNISA Press. It is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission.]

[For more on the COP17 Durban climate talks, click HERE.]

* * *

By Patrick Bond, Durban

Climate change talks: Occupy Durban! For a Climate Spring!

By Patrick Bond

November 22, 2011-- Durban Mercury, via Green Left Weekly -- There they fell during 2011, one after the other in past-their-prime domino descent: Zine El Abidine Ben Ali from Tunis, Hosni Mubarak from Cairo, Dominique Strauss-Kahn from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Muammar Gaddafi from Tripoli, Georgios Papandreou from Athens, Silvio Berlusconi from Rome, US football guru and sex-crime cover-upper Joe Paterno from Penn State University – with media baron Rupert Murdoch, soccer supremo Sepp Blatter, Syrian tyrant Bashar al-Assad and Yemeni dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh looking decidedly shaky, too.

However, let’s be frank: in many cases the courageous push by the 99% against these 1% personalities only dislodged the venal creatures, not the system, so replacements crawled right back in.

Bolivia: Solidarity activists need to support revolutionary process; Rumble over jungle far from over

March from TIPNIS arrives in La Paz. Photo by Dario Kenner.

By Federico Fuentes

November 20, 2011 -- Green Left Weekly/Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The recent march in Bolivia by some Indigenous organisations against the government’s proposed highway through the Isiboro Secure National Park and Indigenous Territory (TIPNIS) has raised much debate among international solidarity activists. Such debates have occurred since the election of Bolivia's first Indigenous president, Evo Morales, in 2005 on the back of mass uprisings.

Overwhelmingly, solidarity activists uncritically supported the anti-highway march. Many argued that only social movements — not governments — can guarantee the success of the process of change.

However, such a viewpoint is not only simplistic; it can leave solidarity activists on the wrong side.

Kevin Young’s October 1 piece on Znet, “Bolivia Dilemmas: Turmoil, Transformation, and Solidarity”, tries to grapple with this issue by saying that “our first priority [as solidarity activists] must be to stop our governments, corporations and banks from seeking to control Bolivia’s destiny”.

Rapa Nui/Easter Island: Blaming the victims -- Jared Diamond's myth of ‘ecocide’

Sculpture of the flag of independence for Rapa Nui, featuring a representation of the rongorongo script, unique to the island, in the shape of a boomerang, and headstones of Moai at either end. Photo by Coral Wynter.

By Coral Wynter

November 5, 2011 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- I have always been fascinated by the story of Easter Island, the European name for Rapa Nui, due to a complete accident in my childhood education, when at age 10, I did a school project on the strange, mysterious statues on the island, known as Moai.

[Please note: Rapa Nui refers to the island and Rapanui is used when it refers to the people or the language.]

My partner has always laughed at my obsession, referring to the Moai as those weird statues of Malcolm Fraser, adding why would you want to see that? (Fraser was the archetypal right-wing leader of Australian politics in the 1970s, who had dismissed a prominent Labour Party leader, Gough Whitlam, in shonky circumstances).

In fact, the 887 statues represent ancient and revered leaders of an ancient island society and the sculpture on top of their heads represents a hairstyle -- a red coloured topknot and not a hat. They bear little resemblance to Malcolm Fraser, wearing a hat.

'A revival of collectivist solidarity' -- Hugo Blanco, veteran Indigenous revolutionary, on Occupy Wall Street

October 30, 2011 -- Ecosocialists Unite -- Hugo Blanco led a successful peasant revolution in Peru for land rights in 1961 when peasants were being killed by landowners. Praised by Che,  Blanco -- then a leader of the Fourth International -- was captured and placed on death row. He lived due to an international campaign of solidarity launched by figures like Jean-Paul Sartre.

Now in the his late 70s, he publishes Lucha Indigena ("Indigenous Struggle"). The uprising in Peru of the Awajan and Wampis and other Amazon people, of the Aymara and Quechua, have shown that Indigenous and workers can organise to challenge the destruction of the Earth and to build a democratic alternative to capitalism.

Hugo Blanco argues that the revolution must be global and that the Occupy movement shows that people in the global North are joining the revolt against the 1% and for a democratic, ecological society for the 99%.

This Lucha Indigena editorial on the occupy movement and the global fightback against neoliberalism has been roughly translated by Derek Wall and Martin O'Beirne.

* * *

Palestine: The environmental impact of Israel's military occupation


Samah Sabawi addresses the Climate Change, Social Change conference, October 1, 2011. Film produced by Jill Hickson and John Reynolds.

[The following talk and PowerPoint slides were presented to the World at a Crossroads: Climate Change, Social Change conference in Melbourne on October 1, 2011. Samah Sabawi is the public advocate for Australians for Palestine. For more material from the conference, click HERE.]

By Samah Sabawi

Posted October 30, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Thank you for asking me to take part in this conference and to add the voice of my people and their struggle for justice to your voices. There is great strength in solidarity and quite often, once we’ve peeled the external layers of what makes our individual causes unique, we quickly find that we are all in the same boat and that our fight for justice, equality and respect for the land shares many common threads.

Annie Leonard on 'stuff', carbon trading and Occupy

October 27, 2011 -- Green Left Weekly/Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- 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.

Her films include The Story of Stuff, The Story of Electronics and The Story of Cap and Trade among others. Her new film, The Story of Broke: Why there is still plenty of money to build a better future, will be released on November 8. Check out the teasers above and below.

Annie spoke to Green Left Weekly's Simon Butler on October 27, during a brief visit to Australia, about "stuff", Steve Jobs and the electronics industry, whether carbon trading can help stop climate change and the inspiration of the global Occupy movement. Listen to the full interview below.

Who’s causing the environmental crisis: 7 billion or the 1%?

October 26, 2011 -- Grist via Climate and Capitalism, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Ironically, while populationist groups focus attention on the 7 billion, protesters in the worldwide Occupy movement have identified the real source of environmental destruction: not the 7 billion, but the 1%

This article, published today on the environmental website Grist, has provoked a vigorous discussion there. Many of the comments defend variations of the “consumer sovereignty” argument,  that corporations only destroy the environment in order to provide the products and services consumers demand. We encourage readers to join that conversation.

* * *

By Ian Angus and Simon Butler

The United Nations says that the world’s population will reach 7 billion people this month.

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