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climate change

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.

Australian socialists: `Vote Socialist & Greens, put Abbott's conservatives last'


Sam Watson, Socialist Alliance Senate candidate for Queensland. Longstanding leader of the Aboriginal community of Brisbane, campaigner against Black deaths in custody and for Indigenous rights.

On July 24, 2010, Australia's leading socialist newspaper Green Left Weekly spoke to Peter Boyle, national convener of the Socialist Alliance, about the political climate of the 2010 federal election, to be held on August 21.

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Many progressive people are feeling depressed about the federal election. How do you see it?

The Australian Labor Party and the conservative Liberal Party-National Party Coalition are in a “race to the bottom”, as Socialist Alliance lead Queensland Senate candidate and Murri [Indigenous] community leader Sam Watson aptly put it.

`Overpopulation' — a political weapon for conservatives

By Simon Butler

July 24, 2010 -- Green Left Weekly -- Forget about the climate science and the record high temperatures. Australia's Prime Minister Julia Gillard has decided she doesn’t need a serious climate change policy to win the August 21 federal election. In its place, she kicked off her election campaign on July 18 with a “sustainable Australia” policy. It promised a future of low population growth, which “preserves our quality of life and respects our environment”.

Opposition leader and climate denier Tony Abbott was quick to say he fully agreed with this vision, but was even more committed to it than Gillard.

From a conservative point of view it makes sense to raise the spectre of overpopulation in this election campaign. Population control is the mother of all political diversion tactics. Population levels explain nothing about social problems. But they can be scapegoated for just about everything, from traffic jams and home prices to grocery bills and climate change.

Australia: `Sustainable population?' -- Scapegoating migrants and refugees for the capitalist system's ills

To read more on the discussion around population, click HERE.

By Graham Matthews

July 24, 2010 -- Green Left Weekly -- In one of her first policy changes after replacing Kevin Rudd as leader of the Australian Labor Party, Prime Minister Julia Gillard dumped Rudd’s idea of a “big Australia”. On June 26, Gillard said “Australia should not hurtle down the track towards a big population”. Instead, she called for a “sustainable population”.

Almost four weeks on, however, Labor’s policy has no details — just lots of rhetoric designed to pander to fears that immigration (particularly asylum seekers) is causing a raft of social problems.

Is `de-growth' compatible with capitalism?

Photo by Twaize/Flickr.

By Alejandro Nadal

July 15, 2010 -- TripleCrisis -- A serious campaign in favour of “de-growth” has been going on for some time and has made important contributions. This movement has opened new avenues for debate and analysis on technology, credit, education and other important areas. It’s an effort that needs support and attention, and we must applaud their initiators and promoters for their boldness and dedication.

Tackling climate change: Is putting `a price on carbon' enough?

An absract `price on carbon' is the favoured solution of supporters of business-as-usual. Photo by Lauren Carroll Harris.

By Simon Butler

July 18, 2010 -- Pressure is now bearing down on the Australian climate movement because there has been so little forward progress in the federal government’s climate policy. The pressure is for the movement to accept, support and campaign for weak or inadequate climate policies on the grounds that something is better than nothing.

This is plain from looking at the new, media-driven “consensus” about the need for a “price on carbon”.

Putting a price on carbon is not the best way to deal with climate change, but a growing chorus of media commentators, NGOs and politicians are nonetheless plugging it as the key solution.

Many who advocate a price on carbon would agree that we face a dire climate emergency. The problem is that they are willing to let the emergency response be privatised.

Markets

Climate action now! Socialist Alliance releases latest Climate Change Charter

Photo by Martina Popovich, Green Left Weekly.

By the Socialist Alliance (Australia)

July 2010 -- For years, climate scientists have warned us that we need to act on climate change. Now, science is saying that climate change is taking place more rapidly than everyone previously thought.

The warning signs are obvious. April and May were the world’s hottest months since records began. This year’s Arctic ice sheet melt is taking place at a pace never seen before.

Scientists say carbon pollution has made the world’s oceans more acidic than they have been for at least 20 million years.

There is already too much carbon in the atmosphere. The warming already in the system risks the crossing of various natural “tipping points” that would raise temperatures further and faster.

If these points are crossed, it would bring average temperatures to levels that have not existed for millions of years, and to which today’s nature is simply not adapted.

Australia: Report shows how to reach 100% renewable stationary energy by 2020

To download the full Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan click HERE (8.4MB). You can also download a 16-page synopsis HERE.

Hard copies can be purchased from the Melbourne Energy Institute.

July 14, 2010 -- Don't miss out on this cutting-edge research, which shows how Australia can reach 100% renewable energy within a decade, using technology that is commercially available right now.

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By Pablo Brait and Leigh Ewbank

Beyond Zero Emissions -- In April, the Australian government abandoned the severely flawed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme [a carbon trading scheme], the centrepiece of its national climate policy agenda.

Bolivia's Pablo Solon: We need 'a global movement to defend Mother Earth'

Pablo Solon (second from left) and the Bolivian delegation address a press conference during the Copenhagen climate talks, December 2009.

Pablo Solon interviewed by Derrick O'Keefe

June 29, 2010 -- Rabble.ca -- While G20 leaders barely made mention of the climate crisis, Pablo Solon, Bolivia's UN ambassador, was in Toronto to encourage action on the Cochabamba protocols.

It is no surprise that Pablo Solon, Bolivia’s chief climate negotiator and ambassador to the United Nations, was not on the list of special invitees to the G8/G20 meetings in Ontario this weekend. After all, in April Solon and the Bolivian government he represents organised the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Cochabamba, an international convergence of as many as 30,000 people determined to challenge the Copenhagen Accord being pushed by the world’s richest countries.

In defence of the People's Agreement -- Tanuro and Invernizzi get Cochabamba wrong

[For more information about, documents from and discussion of the World People's Conference on Climate Change, click HERE.]

By Ben Courtice

June 28, 2010 -- In their article "World People's Conference on Climate Change: Some critical comments on the People's Agreement", the Fourth International's Daniel Tanuro and Sandra Invernizzi have missed the main usefulness of this document.

They note, “The words `coal' and `natural gas' are simply not mentioned. The expression `renewable energies' is also absent” and that the document “overlooks the struggle against the capitalist energy lobbies and the sectors linked to it (cars, petrochemicals, shipbuilding, the aeronautics industry, transport …), whereas this is obviously the key question in the framework of an anti-capitalist strategy of stabilisation of the climate.”

It is true the conference did not target the hydrocarbon industries. The Bolivian hydrocarbon ministry in fact had a stall at the conference.

World People's Conference on Climate Change: Some critical comments on the People's Agreement

[For full coverage of the World People's Conference  on Climate Change, including the full text of the documents, click HERE.]

By Daniel Tanuro and Sandra Invernizzi

June 2010 -- International Viewpoint -- The World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, which met in Cochabamba (Bolivia) from April 20-22, 2010, at the invitation of Bolivia's President Evo Morales, was an enormous success. Thirty-thousand participants discussed for several days the various facets of the climate crisis and adopted a series of very interesting documents, from a resolutely anti-capitalist standpoint.

Comparision of the Cochabamba People’s Agreement and the Copenhagen Accord

The People's Agreement stems from an integral vision of climate change, incorporating the issue of the structural causes of the climate crisis, the rupture of harmony with nature, the need to recognise the rights of Mother Earth in order to guarantee human rights, the importance of creating a Tribunal of Climate and Environmental Justice, the development of global democracy so that the people can decide on this issue affecting and the planet and all of humanity.

On the other hand, the Copenhagen Accord represents a step backward with relation to the Kyoto Protocol by proposing a methodology of voluntary commitments for the industrialised countries that are principally responsible for climate change.

Capitalism is the cause of climate illness! Global movement begins the cure!

[For full coverage of the World People's Conference  on Climate Change, including the full text of the documents, click HERE.]

By Ron Ridenour, Cochabamba

May 15, 2010 -- Presenting the People’s Agreement — “Mother Earth does not belong to us, we belong to it” — worldwide was the first act of the Global People’s Movement for Mother Earth. This was carried out in May by Bolivia’s President Evo Morales and representative activists from five continents.

Representing 35,000 people from 147 countries, they presented the conclusions of 17 workshops — held April 19-21 at the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth (WPCCC) — to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, to the Non-Alignment Movement (now 130 Third World countries) plus China (the world’s second greatest polluter), and then to leaders of the European Union.

Video: The Malthus myth: Population, poverty and climate change

May 30, 2010 -- Capitalism and Climate -- Most of what you've heard about Robert Malthus is wrong. He didn't predict a population explosion, and he didn't think we should control our population. His real goal was to convince people that society cannot be improved, that most people will always be poor. "The Malthus Myth: Population, Poverty and Climate Change" was a talk presented by Ian Angus, editor of Climate and Capitalism and a contributing editor of Socialist Voice, at Socialism 2010 in Toronto, May 22, 2010. Many thanks to Pance Stojkovski, who recorded this presentation and edited it for Socialist Project's LeftStreamed.

Cochabamba People's Agreement must be heard in UNFCCC negotiations

This sign-on letter was circulated by the Bolivian government prior to the negotiations that began on May 28, 2010 in the UNFCCC to push for key proposals made in the Cochabamba People's Agreement to be included in negotiations.The People's Agreement was a key document of the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, held in Bolivia in April 2010.

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May 28, 2010 -- This is the pronouncement of the World People's Movement for Mother Earth, which demands that the United Nations climate change negotiations be inclusive, transparent and equitable, and incorporate the proposals presented by the World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in order to find real solutions to the climate crisis and save humanity and our Mother Earth as we know it.

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