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climate change

Battlelines drawn for Cancun climate summit: `Nature has no price!'

Protesters in Newcastle,Australia, December 20, 2009. Photo by Rising Tide.

By Simon Butler

November 22, 2010 -- Green Left Weekly --  If at first you don’t succeed, redefine success. This phrase has become the unofficial motto of this year’s United Nations climate conference in Cancun, Mexico. Just out from Cancun, which runs over November 29 to December 10, there is little hope of meaningful progress. Yet key players have sought to throw a shroud of official optimism over the looming failure.

Few Western politicians want a repeat of last year’s Copenhagen climate conference. They consider it a public relations disaster.

In the lead-up to Copenhagen, public expectations were high. There was a widespread feeling that politicians could no longer ignore the warnings from climate scientists. Many politicians said they agreed strong, decisive action to curb emissions was needed.

But when the big polluting countries blocked a new legally binding treaty at Copenhagen, they were badly exposed.

`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.

`Productivism' or liberation? Socialists debate consumerism

By Ben Courtice, Melbourne

November 2, 2010 -- In a recent seminar on trade unions and the climate movement, I observed a surprising disagreement between some of the socialists present. It was started by a comment from Melbourne University academic (and Socialist Alliance activist) Hans Baer, who suggested that the “treadmill of production and consumption” had to be challenged, that we need to challenge consumerism and the alienation of work that makes people buy things to feel better.

Liz Ross of Socialist Alternative took umbrage at this, declaring that workers should create and enjoy wonderful technological products, tearing down a straw figure that Hans was supposedly arguing to stultify the creativity of the working class.

The ecology of consumption -- excerpt from John Bellamy Foster, Brett Clark and Richard York's `The Ecological Rift'

October 20, 2010 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, with the permission of Monthly Review Press, is excited to offer its readers an excerpt from the The Ecological Rift: Capitalism’s War on the Earth, an important new book by John Bellamy Foster, Brett Clark and Richard York. Links' readers are urged to purchase the book. Please click here to order your copy. You can download (in PDF) the chapter, "The ecology of consumption", below the following introduction, or read it on screen.

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The new climate-change denialism: Who promotes it, and how to answer it

Cartoon from IVAN3MAN.

By Renfrey Clarke

October 15, 2010 – You remember the scandal provoked by the errors and exaggerations in the 2007 report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)? And you know all about the even bigger “Climategate” scandal last year, when stolen emails revealed that leading climate scientists were manipulating data to fit their alarmist political agenda? Now we have the next instalment. In a new Guide to the Science of Climate Change the world’s top science body, Britain’s Royal Society, has quit playing politics and stopped peddling its claims of looming disaster.

The limits to energy efficiency under capitalism

By Simon Butler

October 9, 2010 -- Green Left Weekly -- It is close to an article of faith among environmentalists that using less energy is a big part of the solution to climate change. Energy efficiency is often said to be the “low hanging fruit” of climate policy. On face value, the benefits seem obvious.

The knowledge needed to make big gains in efficiency already exists. Using less energy will save consumers and industry money, whereas other policies will be costly. And most importantly, lower energy use could make a big dent in global greenhouse gas emissions.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the International Energy Agency both promote energy efficiency as an important climate measure.

However, strong evidence has emerged that new energy efficient technologies alone won’t do much to cut emissions. Indeed, in a capitalist economy, it’s very likely that energy efficiency gains will lead to higher energy use, not less.

Hugo Blanco urges Greens: End capitalism before it ends us

September 16, 2010 -- via Socialist Resistance -- Hugo Blanco, a longstanding leader of Peruvian peasant struggles and fighter for Indigenous people's rights is touring Britain as a guest of Socialist Resistance and Green Left [an ecosocialist group within the Green Party of England and Wales].

On September 11, 2010, Blanco spoke at the successful Green Left/Socialist Resistance fringe meeting at the Green Party conference. Blanco started by criticising "biblical Marxism" -- adhering to Marxist works as if they were holy scripture. He talks about his long personal struggle for social justice and against oppression. In a comment at a meeting at the Venezuelan consulate in London, he explained that we need to put an end to capitalism before it puts an end to us.

Pakistan: Doob Gaya Hai -- a song for flood victims, by Laal (Red)

[Readers can donate to help flood victims via the Australian trade unions' aid agency APHEDA at http://www.apheda.org.au/news/1281331224_14992.html.]

By Taimur Rahman

September 5, 2010 -- I am the main performer in this song. Laal (Red) is a communist band. My name is Taimur Rahman and I am also the general secretary of the Communist Mazdoor Kisan Party (Communist Workers and Peasants Party). This song is not produced for a particular organisation but just to raise awareness about the issue.

(Updated Sept. 8) Raj Patel: Food rebellion -- Mozambicans know which way the wind blows

Democracy Now! on September 8 spoke to Raj Patel about the protests in Mozambique and the floods in Pakistan. Click HERE for the full transcript.
 
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* * *STOP PRESS: Price rises reversed* * *

September 7, 2010 -- MOZAMBIQUE News reports & clippings mailing list -- Price rises which triggered the riots last week have been reversed, the government announced September 7 after an emergency cabinet meeting.

Australia: Interview with new Greens MP Adam Bandt: 'I'll give a voice to the social movements'

Greens MP Adam Bandt.

Adam Bandt interviewed by Jody Betzien

September 2, 2010 -- Green Left Weekly --  Adam Bandt, the Australian Greens' MP elect for the seat of Melbourne (long considered a “safe Labor seat”), and the Greens' first House of Representatives member to be elected in a general election has been very busy since the August 21 election. He says he left the triumphant Greens' election night party at 11pm thinking that he would have to do some media the next day so should get a good night's sleep. He woke up the next morning and after a couple of hours having coffee and reading the paper, the situation sunk in. “And that was the last two hours I've had to myself since”, he told Green Left Weekly in a wide-ranging interview conducted on September 2.

Pakistan: As floods move south, calls for debt cancellation grow

[Readers can donate to help flood victims through the Labour Relief Campaign via the Australian trade unions' aid agency APHEDA at http://www.apheda.org.au/news/1281331224_14992.html.]

September 2, 2010 -- Democracy Now! -- In Pakistan, torrential rains a month ago that triggered unprecedented floods have moved steadily from north to south, engulfing a fifth of the country. Seventeen million people have been affected, and some five million have lost their homes. Meanwhile, a movement to cancel Pakistan’s external debt is now underway as campaigners plan a protest in front of Pakistan’s parliament house today to call on international institutions like the IMF to cancel the country’s debt.

Guests:

Ian Angus: What next for ecosocialists?

By Ian Angus

August 30, 2010 -- Canadian Dimension via Climate & Capitalism -- Not long ago, most socialists had little to say about environmental issues, and the environmental movement was focused on individual (change your light bulbs) and capitalist (create a market for emissions) solutions to the ecological crisis.

In 2007, immediately after the founding of the Ecosocialist International Network, I wrote a Canadian Dimension article on the challenges facing ecosocialists. In it, I discussed two parallel trends that, though in their infancy, seemed to portend a new wave of anti-capitalist and pro-ecology action.

  • Some socialists were moving away from the left’s abstention from the environmental movement, and attempting to develop a distinctly socialist approach to the global environmental crisis.

Pakistan: Multi-party conference demands debt cancellation, launches mass movement to refuse debt

 
[Readers can donate to help flood victims through the Labour Relief Campaign via the Australian trade unions' aid agency APHEDA at http://www.apheda.org.au/news/1281331224_14992.html.]

By Farooq Tariq

August 29, 2010 -- A multi-party conference in Lahore has decided to campaign for cancellation of Pakistan's crippling foreign debt and to organise mass rallies in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad. The first rally will be on September 2 in Islamabad.

The Labour Relief Campaign in association with Oxfam Pakistan called the conference on August 29, in Lahore, to discuss the issue of debt repayment in the post-flood scenario. It was chaired by Aman Kariaper and Ammar Ali Jan. Senator Hasil Bezinjo vowed to take the issue to Pakistan's Senate and present a resolution to demand that government refuse to pay the foreign debt.

Rehabilitating utopia and saving the future

By Ben Courtice

August 29, 2010 -- Blind Carbon Copy [BCC] -- Socialism was conceived as a creative and idealistic movement, but lost its way for most of the 20th century. Recapturing this imaginative energy can help find solutions to such huge threats as climate change. This article started as a short impromptu speech I gave to launch the third edition of the Australian Socialist Alliance's Climate Charter.

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Socialism used to be a rallying point for idealists, utopians, dreamers and those who were simply hopeful. It carried an almost millenarian promise of redemption and salvation. More importantly, it allowed its advocates to exercise their imagination. If socialism was to democratically realise the wishes of the common working people, why should they be restrained in their wishes?

Pakistan: The flood disaster and the way out


By the Labour Party Pakistan (Karachi) and the National Trade Union Federation

August 20, 2010 -- The recent floods represent the worst disaster in Pakistan’s history. The country has been devastated from the northern areas to its southern tip. The state, stripped of its capacity to meet peoples’ needs by neoliberalism and militarism alike, has been found wanting—both in its longstanding failure to maintain existing infrastructure, and in its response to the calamity.

The grassroots relief efforts that have emerged across the country are heartening, but a crisis of this magnitude can only be handled by an institution with the resources and reach of the federal government. As in all disasters, the assistance of the military will be necessary—but this must be subject to civilian oversight, and must not be exploited to glorify the army at the expense of the government. The military’s relative strength is a direct legacy of pro-amy federal budgets, and we remember too well the failures of the Musharraf government in 2005.

Pakistan flood catastrophe: West gives `billions for killing, little for life'


[Readers can donate to help flood victims via the Australian trade unions' aid agency APHEDA at http://www.apheda.org.au/news/1281331224_14992.html.]

By John Passant

August 15, 2010 -- The floods in Pakistan have threatened the lives and safety of more than 20 million people. Millions have lost everything. Now hunger and disease haunt the country. Dysentery and cholera are gaining a  foothold as people without homes starve and kids without Western help die.

The US gives the Pakistan government US$1 billion a year to fight "militants". It has increased its flood aid contribution from $10 million to $25 million. That’s right. Its aid figures is millions, not billions.

That’s because for US imperialism cowering the world before its might is much more important than providing aid to people affected by the floods.

Is Africa still being looted? World Bank dodges its own research

Oil riches and poverty in the Niger Delta.

By Patrick Bond

August 15, 2010The continent’s own elites, together with the West and now China, are still making Africans progressively poorer, thanks to the extraction of raw materials. Reinvestment is negligible and the prices, royalties and taxes paid are inadequate to compensate the wasting away of Africa’s natural wealth. Anti-extraction campaigns by (un)civil society are the only hope for a reversal of these neocolonial relations.

Though it’s easy to prove, even using the World Bank’s main study of natural resource economics, the looting allegation is controversial. When I made it during a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) interview last week, the World Bank’s chief economist for Africa Shanta Devarajan, immediately contradicted me, claiming (twice) that I am not in command of the “facts”.

Karl Polanyi provides `a vital intellectual resource' for ecosocialists

To allow the market mechanism to be sole director of the fate of human beings and their natural environment, indeed, even of the amount and use of purchasing power, would result in the demolition of society. For the alleged commodity "labor power" cannot be shoved about, used indiscriminately, or even left unused, without affecting also the human individual who happens to be the bearer of this peculiar commodity. In disposing of a man's labor power the system would, incidentally, dispose of the physical, psychological, and moral entity "man" attached to that tag. Robbed of the protective covering of cultural institutions, human beings would perish from the effects of social exposure; they would die as the victims of acute social dislocation through vice, perversion, crime, and starvation. Nature would be reduced to its elements, neighborhoods and landscapes defiled, rivers polluted, military safety jeopardized, the power to produce food and raw materials destroyed -- from Karl Polanyi's The Great Transformation (1944)

Bolivia's UN ambassador: Despite extreme weather, rich countries fail to cut greenhouse gases

August 10, 2010 -- Democracy Now! -- Even as the world faces a series of extreme weather events that scientists warn is related to global warming, international climate negotiations are moving at a glacial pace. The latest round of climate talks in Bonn, Germany, ended last week, and diplomats have just one more short meeting in China in the coming months to hash out their differences before the critical high-level climate conference in Cancún, Mexico, at the end of the year.

At the meetings in Bonn, the negotiating text got a lot bigger, and a number of proposals from developing countries were added into the controversial agreement that came out of the divisive Copenhagen summit last year. Some fear the new text could slow down talks in Cancún, but others say the concerns of the majority of the world’s countries are finally represented in the text.

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