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NZ socialists endorse Bolivia's call for a world referendum on climate change

Socialist Worker-New Zealand statement to the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, in Bolivia April 19-22, 2010

April 19, 2010 -- Socialist Worker-New Zealand agrees with the statement made by Bolivia's President Evo Morales in his invitation to the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth that “climate change is a product of the capitalist system”.

The pursuit of growth and profit is hard-wired into capitalism. Corporations and politicians wedded to capitalism cannot bring about the urgent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions we need to avert catastrophic climate change.

Therefore the transition to societies living in harmony with nature requires fundamental system change. The way we use resources, the way we produce things, the way we live has to change. This is the challenge that climate change, peak oil and other looming global crises place on the shoulders of all of us living today. Yet too many of our leaders are shirking their responsibilities, not only to those they claim to represent, but to future generations.

(Updated April 22) Bolivia: `Capitalism is the main enemy of the Earth', Evo Morales tells people's climate conference


Video report from Democracy Now! (Full transcript of report below)
[For more coverage of the World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, click HERE.]

Prensa Latina

April 20, 2010 -- Cochabamba, Bolivia -- Bolivia's President Evo Morales Ayma condemned the capitalist system in the opening session of the World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth today.

Morales, speaking at the April 20 conference inauguration, started his speech with a slogan, "Planet or death, we shall overcome". He said that harmony with nature could not exist while 1 per cent of the world's population concentrates more than 50 per cent of the world's riches. Capitalism is the main enemy of the Earth, only looking for profits, to the detriment of nature, and capitalism is a bridge for social  inequality.

Can capitalism fix climate change?

By Simon Butler

April 14, 2010 -- Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. It has taken capitalism about 250 years to generate enough waste and pollution to press dangerously against nature’s limits. With such a damning record, there should be no grounds to expect a different outcome in the future.

Yet the mainstream discussion about how to tackle the climate crisis still assumes that, this time around, capitalism can be made sustainable.

In an April 3 Sydney Morning Herald piece arguing for capitalists to take a leading role in resolving the climate crisis, Paddy Manning said it “was an article of faith for this column” that a free market could respond effectively to the challenge of climate change. But, struggling to come up with Australian capitalists responding positively to the challenge, he was forced to admit: “Faith is needed, because climate change is proof of colossal market failure.”

Photo essay: `Stop the coal rush!' -- people's blockade halts exports from world's biggest coal port

Ship movements cancelled at the world's biggest coal port, Newcastle (Australia) -- March 28, 2010 from jagath dheerasekara on Vimeo.

Photo essay and story by Jagath Dheerasekara

March 28, 2010 -- Newcastle, Australia -- A mass community protest at the biggest coal port in the world, Newcastle, succeeded in preventing coal ship movements all day. Hundreds of peaceful protesters occupied the harbour from 10 am.

South Africa's poor to pay for dirty World Bank loan

By Patrick Bond, Durban

April 14, 2010 -- Just how dangerous is the World Bank and its neo-conservative president Robert Zoellick to South Africa and the global climate? Notwithstanding South Africa's existing US$75 billion foreign debt, on April 8 the bank added a $3.75 billion loan to South Africa's electricty utility Eskom for the primary purpose of building the world's fourth-largest coal-fired power plant, at Medupi. It will spew 25 million tons of the climate pollutant carbon dioxide into the air each year. [For more background go to http://links.org.au/node/1570.]

South Africa's finance minister Pravin Gordhan has repeatedly said that this is theWorld Bank's "first" post-apartheid loan, yet the bank's 1999 and 2008 Country Assistance Strategy documents show conclusively that Medupi is the 15th credit since 1994.

Capitalism and food: Let them eat junk

An interview with Rob Albritton

March 2010 -- Rob Albritton’s Let Them Eat Junk: How Capitalism Creates Hunger and Obesity (2009), published by Arbeiter Ring Press in Canada and Pluto Press in the UK, offers a welcome and urgently needed analysis of “how the profit fixation of capital has led us deeply into a dangerously unsustainable system of food provision, a system that totally fails when it comes to distributive justice and to human and environmental health” (p. 201). His analysis takes us inside capitalism and shows how its “deep structures” manage our agricultural and food systems in irrational ways.

Socialist Project’s Relay magazine recently asked John Simoulidis to interview Robert Albritton about his book and current global struggles to address the failures of our agriculture/food system. Posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission.

Why James Hansen is wrong on nuclear power

By Renfrey Clarke

April 8, 2010 -- “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” Attributed to economist J.M. Keynes, that retort has always been good advice. Now that carrying on with “business as usual” greenhouse gas emissions has been revealed as a road to disaster, should environmentalists change their minds on nuclear power?

To be sure, the dangers of the nuclear industry have not gone away. A major nuclear war, by creating “nuclear winter” conditions, would end most life on Earth. Humanity, however, has managed the threat of nuclear war in the past, and the chances are that we will continue to do so.

If thousands of nuclear power reactors were in operation, reactor accidents would be frequent enough that they would almost stop being news. But deaths would probably be few, and other losses would be relatively minor compared to the dead oceans and scorched grainlands of the greenhouse future.

Fourth International: Mobilisation for the climate and anti-capitalist strategy

[The following documents dealing with capitalism's climate crisis were presented at the 16th World Congress of the Fourth International, held in Belgium in February 2010.]

* * *

By Daniel Tanuro

February 2010 -- Three billion human beings lack the essentials of life. The satisfaction of their needs requires increased production of material goods. Therefore increased consumption of energy. Today, 80 per cent of this energy is of fossil origin, and consequently a source of greenhouse gases which are unbalancing the climatic system.

However, we can no longer permit ourselves to unbalance the climate. We are probably no longer very far from a “tipping point” beyond which phenomena which are uncontrollable and irreversible on a human timescale are likely to be set in motion, which could lead to a situation that humanity has never experienced and which the planet has not experienced for 65 million years: a world without ice. A world in which the sea level would rise by approximately 80 metres compared to its level today.

‘Socialism of the 21st century’ and left unity


By the Socialist Alliance, Australia

[The following is the text of a leaflet being distributed by the Socialist Alliance in Melbourne.]

April 2, 2010 -- The triumphalism spouted by capitalist apologists in the early 1990s with the collapse of the Soviet Union has long gone. Today the problems are so obvious: global warming and the world economic slump are shaking the capitalist world and casting a growing shadow over the future.

“Capitalism is the road to hell”, as Venezuela’s leader Hugo Chavez said at the Copenhagen climate conference. The revolutionary process in Venezuela and the bold stand taken by its leader have resurrected the idea of socialism in the consciousness of millions. His call for a “socialism of the 21st century” has inspired people around the world. And now Chavez has called for a new international socialist organisation which would unite parties and movements that want to fight imperialism and neoliberalism.

But important as solidarity with Venezuela is and much as we may admire Chavez, our fundamental task is to fight for social change right here.

Survival of humanity is at stake

After Copenhagen: Can we save the world? Video: Is the climate sick of us?

Ian Angus interviewed by Esquerda.net during the conference O Clima Farto de Nos? (Is the climate sick of us?), held in Lisbon, March 26-27. The three questions, shown in text in Portuguese, are: Is the climate sick of us? What must be done internationally about this situation? What message would you like to give to the Portuguese people?The video, which is in English with Portuguese subtitles, has also been posted on the website of Portugal's Left Bloc, and on the Esquerda.net channel on YouTube.

 

* * *

Bolivia creates a new opportunity for climate talks that failed at Copenhagen

 

By Pablo Solón Romero

March 19, 2010 -- http://pwccc.wordpress.com/ -- In the aftermath of the Copenhagen climate conference, those who defended the widely condemned outcome tended to talk about it as a “step in the right direction”. This was always a tendentious argument, given that tackling climate change cannot be addressed by half measures. We can’t make compromises with nature.

Bolivia, however, believed that Copenhagen marked a backwards step, undoing the work built on since the climate talks in Kyoto. That is why, against strong pressure from industrialised countries, we and other developing nations refused to sign the Copenhagen Accord and why we are hosting an international meeting on climate change in Cochabamba, Bolivia, from April 19 to 22, 2010. In the words of the Tuvalu negotiator, we were not prepared to “betray our people for 30 pieces of silver”.

TAKE ACTION! Help Copenhagen climate change activists falsely accused of terrorism

Natasha Verco and Noah Weiss with the incriminating evidence.

By Kieran Adair

March 23, 2010 -- In Copenhagen, Sydney-based climate justice advocate Natasha Verco, as well as US activist Noah Weiss, faces charges under Denmark’s “terrorism” laws. Verco faces up to 12-and-a-half years' jail for her role in organising protests against the United Nations Copemnhagen climate summit in December.

The two activists appeared in court on March 18 (see report below).

Verco was arrested while riding her bike on December the 13 ahead of a national day of action she was helping organise the following day. She said: “A plainclothed police women jumped out at me and ... took me to an unmarked police van. I asked them, ‘Are you randomly picking me up?’ and they said ‘No, we hunted you’.”

South Africa: Momentum against climate-destroying World Bank loan grows

By Patrick Bond, Durban

March 16, 2010 -- In an indication that the climate justice movement is broadening, deepening and going local, there is now intense opposition to a climate-destroying energy loan for South Africa. The campaign is led by community activists in black townships allied with environmentalists, trade unionists and international climate activists.

The World Bank is trying to lend nearly US$4 billion to the Johannesburg-based state-owned electricity utility Eskom, the world’s fourth-largest power company and Africa’s largest carbon emitter (with 40% of South Africa's total emissions). The loan is mainly for constructing the world-s fourth most CO2-intensive coal-fired power plant, Medupi, in the ecologically sensitive Waterberg area north of the capital of Pretoria.

The World Bank also aims to finance privatised power generation, notwithstanding the abject failure of public-private partnerships in South African infrastructure, including in electricity and water. More than 200 organisations have signed up in protest.

Why global capitalism is tipping towards collapse, and how we can act for a decent future

"Random events, those happenings that nobody could foresee, always have a huge impact on historical outcomes."

March 15, 2010 -- This is an excerpt from an essay that forms the entire contents of the March 2010 edition of UNITY, Socialist Worker New Zealand's quarterly Marxist journal for grassroots activists. Following editions of the journal will expand on the crises which are converging to tip global capitalism towards collapse. To subscribe to UNITY journal, email Len Parker at office@sworker.pl.net. UNITY is posted to your letterbox four times a year. Price: $25 for NZ subscribers, NZ$40 offshore fastpost. This excerpt has been posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission.

* * *

By Grant Morgan

Part 1: History lessons

The fable behind the stereotype

Women’s rights, population and climate change: The debate continues

March 7, 2010 -- Climate and Capitalism -- Should climate activists and feminists support campaigns to slow population growth? Laurie Mazur says that alliance will strengthen the movement. Ian Angus strongly disagrees …

Introduction

Climate and Capitalism recently published a debate between Betsy Hartmann and Laurie Mazur about campaigns that promote family planning and reproductive health programs as means of slowing population growth and fighting global warming.

The site subsequently published a reply to Laurie Mazur in which Ian Angus argued: “The combination of population reduction and women’s rights was already like oil and water. Adding CO2 reductions to the mix only makes things worse.”

John Bellamy Foster on `Marx's Ecology' and `The Ecological Revolution'

John Bellamy Foster interviewed by Aleix Bombila

John Bellamy Foster is editor of the US socialist journal Monthly Review and author of Marx's Ecology and The Ecological Revolution. Aleix Bombila writes for En Lucha (Spain).This interview first appeared in English at MRZine.

En Lucha: In your book Marx's Ecology you argue that Marxism has a lot to offer to the ecologist movement. What kind of united work can be established between Marxists and ecologists?

Climate change: Has the IPCC passed its use-by date? Time for new independent climate science body

By Renfrey Clarke

February 21, 2010 -- The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is an organisation whose time has passed. Preferably within the next year or so, it needs to be dismantled.

As verdicts go, that might seem to have been plucked from the mouths of the climate-denialist right, of the Herald-Sun’s far-right columnist Andrew Bolt or the flat-earthers at Rupert Murdoch's Australian. After all, right-wing media outlets in recent months have run a lurid campaign against the IPCC. The UN body, which coordinates thousands of volunteer scientists in assessing and reporting on research into climate change, is accused of making gross errors and of systematically exaggerating the dangers of global warming.

`Population Justice' -- Blaming Third World women for global warming

By Ian Angus

January 31, 2010 -- Climate and Capitalism -- For more than two centuries, the idea that the world’s ills are caused by poor people having too many babies has been remarkably successful at diverting attention from the complex social causes of poverty and injustice.

Forty years ago, Paul Ehrlich’s bestseller The Population Bomb applied the idea to environmental problems:

The causal chain of deterioration is easily followed to its source. Too many cars, too many factories, too much detergent, too much pesticide, multiplying contrails. Inadequate sewage treatment plants, too little water, too much carbon dioxide – all can be traced easily to too many people.[1]

Ehrlich’s book convinced many environmentalists, and led to the formation of a variety of groups that focused solely on the supposed evils of overpopulation.

Today, as women’s rights activist Betsy Hartmann warns in a recent article, populationist arguments are back – but now groups such as the US-based Population Connection (formerly Zero Population Growth) and the UK’s Optimum Population Trust have added a “faux feminist twist” to their attacks on the reproductive rights of Third World women.

People are not pollution -- Why climate activists should not support limits on immigration

`Despite the good intentions of its green advocates, support for immigration controls strengthens the most regressive forces in our societies and weakens our ability to stop climate change'. The cartoon above by Nicholson depicts the anti-refugee government of John Howard, many of whose policies remain in force under the Australian Labor Party.

By Ian Angus and Simon Butler

January 25, 2010 -- Immigrants to the developed world have frequently been blamed for unemployment, crime and other social ills. Attempts to reduce or block immigration have been justified as necessary measures to protect “our way of life” from alien influences.

Today, some environmentalists go farther, arguing that sharp cuts in immigration are needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and slow climate change. However sincere and well-meaning such activists may be, their arguments are wrong and dangerous, and should be rejected by the climate emergency movement.

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