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Capitalism and degrowth: An impossibility theorem

By John Bellamy Foster

January 2011 -- Monthly Review -- In the opening paragraph to his 2009 book, Storms of My Grandchildren, James Hansen, the world’s foremost scientific authority on global warming, declared: “Planet Earth, creation, the world in which civilization developed, the world with climate patterns that we know and stable shorelines, is in imminent peril…The startling conclusion is that continued exploitation of all fossil fuels on Earth threatens not only the other millions of species on the planet but also the survival of humanity itself—and the timetable is shorter than we thought.”1

Fred Magdoff: Creating an ecological civilisation

By Fred Magdoff

``It is inconceivable that capitalism itself will lead directly to an ecological civilization that provides the basic needs for all people. However, building an ecological civilization that is socially just will not automatically happen in post-capitalist societies. It will occur only through the concerted action and constant vigilance of an engaged population.''

January 2011 -- Monthly Review -- Given the overwhelming harm being done to the world’s environment and to its people, it is essential today to consider how we might organize a truly ecological civilization—one that exists in harmony with natural systems—instead of trying to overwhelm and dominate nature. This is not just an ethical issue; it is essential for our survival as a species and the survival of many other species that we reverse the degradation of the earth’s life support systems that once provided dependable climate, clean air, clean water (fresh and ocean), bountiful oceans, and healthy and productive soils.

Cancun climate agreement stripped bare by Bolivia's dissent; Pablo Solon on why Bolivia opposed the Cancún deal

Activists from Via Campesina, an international movement of peasants, demonstrate during the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico, December 7, 2010. Photo AP/Eduardo Verdugo.

[For more analysis of the Cancun climate talks, click HERE.]

By Nick Buxton

December 16, 2010 -- Transnational Institute -- In the famous Hans Christian Anderson fable, "The Emperor's New Clothes", a weaver famously plays on an emperor's arrogance and persuades him to wear a non-existent suit with the argument that it is only invisible to the "hopelessly stupid".

Cuba on Cancun climate talks: `Another year has been lost since the deception of Copenhagen'

Two speeches by Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, Cuba's minister of foreign affairs, at the COP16 of the UNFCCC, Cancun, Mexico

December 8, 2010 -- Translation by Granma International -- Powerful forces are assuring us without hesitation that climate change does not exist, that there is nothing to be concerned about and that the serious problem bringing us here today is a total fabrication.

They are those in the United States Congress who are currently opposing the ratification of the weak agreements which control the proliferation of nuclear weapons, in a senseless crusade whose sole purpose is to retrieve a small part of the power that they lost barely two years ago.

El capitalismo climático gana en Cancún -- todos los demás pierden

Por Patrick Bond, Cancún

12 de diciembre -- Bolpress/Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- La clausura el 11 de diciembre de la 16 Conferencia de las Partes –la cumbre global del clima– en Cancún fue mostrada por la mayoría de los participantes y periodistas de los medios dominantes como una victoria, un ‘paso adelante’. El jefe negociador del Departamento de Estado de EE.UU., Todd Stern, alardeó: “El año pasado las ideas fueron esquemáticas y no se aprobaron, ahora se han elaborado y se han aprobado”.

‘Climate capitalism’ won at Cancun – everyone else loses

Protest in Cancun.

[For more analysis of the Cancun climate talks, click HERE.]

By Patrick Bond, Cancun, Mexico

December 12, 2010 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal – The December 11 closure of the 16th Conference of the Parties – COP16 global climate summit – in balmy Cancun was portrayed by most participants and mainstream journalists as a victory, a “step forward”. Bragged US State Department lead negotiator Todd Stern, “Ideas that were first of all, skeletal last year, and not approved, are now approved and elaborated.”

Cancun climate talks: `Hollow and false' -- Bolivia, activists condemn deadly `betrayal'


Red Road Cancun, by Allan Lissner. Highlighting Indigenous voices excluded from the COP16 UN Climate Conference in Cancun, Mexico.

Statement by the Plurinational State of Bolivia

December 11, 2010 -- Cancun, Mexico -- The Plurinational State of Bolivia believes that the Cancun text is a hollow and false victory that was imposed without consensus, and its cost will be measured in human lives. History will judge harshly.

Essential guide for green left activists


Derek Wall discusses the crisis in the financial system, wall is an activist in Green Left, an ecosocialist current in the Green Party of England and Wales. Filmed at the Coalition of Resistance (http://www.coalitionofresistance.org.uk) conference November 27, 2010.

The Rise of the Green Left: Inside the Worldwide Ecosocialist Movement
By Derek Wall
Pluto Press, 190 pages, paperback

Review by Mat Ward

Wikileaks: Bolivia's UN rep on secret US manipulation of climate talks & West's blocking action at Cancun

[For more analysis of the Cancun climate talks, click HERE.]

December 6, 2010 -- Democracy Now! -- Secret diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks have revealed new details about how the United States manipulated last year’s climate talks in Copenhagen. The cables show how the United States sought dirt on nations opposed to its approach to tackling global warming, how financial and other aid was used to gain political backing, and how the United States mounted a secret global diplomatic offensive to overwhelm opposition to the [US-sponsored and -imposed] "Copenhagen Accord". We speak to Bolivia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Pablo Solón. Several of the cables addressed Bolivia’s opposition to the US-backed accord.

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(Updated Nov. 29) Cancun climate summit should not be `Copenhagen Accord Part II', says Bolivia

Statement by the Plurinational State of Bolivia

November 27, 2010 – At the next meeting of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 16), which begins November 29 in Cancun, Mexico, the 192 member states must agree on a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.

However, on November 24, the president of the Ad-Hoc Working group on Long-Term Action issued a new document that attempts to legitimise the “Copenhagen Accord”, which the United Nations merely “took note of” last December in Denmark.

This new document put forth by the president of the Ad-Hoc Working Group, instead taking into account the proposals of all the parties put forth during the process of negotiations, downplays the need for a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. [The latest document] was developed underwithout the mandate from the parties, and promotes emissions reductions by all countries without clearly distinguishing between developed countries and developing countries, leaving aside the fundamental principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities” among nations.

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.

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