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climate change

Production-side environmentalism -- Can we produce less and consume more?

By Don Fitz

Corporate "environmentalism" is consumer-side environmentalism. "Make your dollars work for the Earth." "Buy green!" "Purchase this green gewgaw instead of that ungreen gadget." "Feel guilty about driving your car."

Consumer-side environmentalism is loath to discuss production. Consumer-side environmentalism does not challenge the manufacture of cars. Rather, it assumes that producing more and more cars is a sacred right never to be questioned.

Production-side environmentalism places blame on the criminal rather than the victim. It looks at the profits oil companies reap from urban sprawl rather than demeaning people who have no way to get to work other than driving a car. Production-side environmentalism looks at an agro-food industry which profits from transporting highly processed, over-packaged, nutrient-depleted junk thousands of miles rather than the parent giving in to a child bombarded with Saturday morning pop-tart-porn TV.

Production and consumption: A broken connection

Spend the trillions on climate!

Sydney, October 2, 2008. Photo by Alex Bainbridge.

By Martin Khor

December 15, 2008 -- The two crises of our times — economic recession and global warming — should be tackled together. The trillions of dollars earmarked for economic recovery can be spent to fight climate change. The economic crisis should not stop governments from serious action to combat climate change, but should instead be an opportunity to fund climate-related activities.

This was a clear message that came out of the last days of the United Nations climate talks at Poznan in Poland.

The two major crises of our times – the economic recession and global warming – were addressed by the UN secretary-general and some world leaders at the opening ceremony of the ministerial segment of the two-week talks.

If the US and Europe can come up with so many trillions of dollars to save their financial institutions within a few months, surely there is money to tackle the climate crisis, which is a far bigger problem involving the world’s survival.

Indigenous-majority Greenland wins self-government

By Ray Bell

December 1, 2008 -- Bella Caledonia -- One of Scotland’s largest neighbours has just voted for independence. I don’t mean England, or Ireland, or Scandinavia, but a country which is bigger than all of these combined. And I use the term “neighbour” loosely, because it is a good few hundred miles across the Atlantic from us, and very few readers will have ever been there.

Greenlanders voted by 3-1 for almost total independence in late November 2008. I say “almost”, because while they don’t get control of defence or foreign policy, they get control of just about everything else. 32 areas of government will be handed over to them. Every political party, but one, in Greenland backed the “yes” vote. Who couldn’t sympathise with this statement that senior politician Hans Jakob Helms made?

“Home rule was a compromise, it’s a simple fact that home rule has reached its limit and there’s a need for more room for self-government.” 

Applied to Scotland, it appears that even the majority of Unionists support this position. The result makes Greenlandic independence pretty much inevitable.

Sign the Belem Ecosocialist Declaration

The following Declaration was prepared by a committee elected for this purpose at the Paris Ecosocialist Conference of 2007 (Ian Angus, Joel Kovel, Michael Löwy), with the help of Danielle Follett. It will be distributed at the World Social Forum in Belem, Brazil, in January 2009.

To add your name to the list of signatories who support the analysis and political perspectives set forth in this statement, email your name and country of residence to ecosocialism@gmail.com, or visit http://www.ecosocialistnetwork.org/.


The Belem Ecosocialist Declaration

“The world is suffering from a fever due to climate change,
and the disease is the capitalist development model.”
— Evo Morales, president of Bolivia, September 2007

Climate Justice Now! Network: Radical new agenda urgently needed!

Poznan, Poland, December 12, 2008 – Members of the Climate Justice Now! Network – representing more than 160 organisations fighting for climate justice – issued today a joint statement calling for a radical change in direction to put climate justice and people's rights at the centre of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations.

The statement asserts (see below) that: "Solutions to the climate crisis will not come from industrialised countries and big business. Effective and enduring solutions will come from those who have protected the environment – Indigenous Peoples, women, peasant and family farmers, fisherfolk, forest dependent communities, youth and marginalised and affected communities in the global South and North."

Alicia Munoz from Via Campesina in Chile stated, "We are shocked by the level of corruption that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change has reached in allowing corporations to take over the political space and process of climate negotiations."

Evo Morales on addressing climate change: `Save the planet from capitalism'

By Evo Morales Ayma, president of Bolivia

November 28, 2008 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Sisters and brothers, today our Mother Earth is ill. From the beginning of the 21st century we have lived the hottest years of the last thousand years. Global warming is generating abrupt changes in the weather: the retreat of glaciers and the decrease of the polar ice caps; the increase of the sea level and the flooding of coastal areas, where approximately 60% of the world population live; the increase in the processes of desertification and the decrease of fresh water sources; a higher frequency in natural disasters that the communities of the earth suffer[1]; the extinction of animal and plant species; and the spread of diseases in areas that before were free from those diseases.

One of the most tragic consequences of the climate change is that some nations and territories are the condemned to disappear by the increase of the sea level.

Everything began with the industrial revolution in 1750, which gave birth to the capitalist system. In two and a half centuries, the so called “developed” countries have consumed a large part of the fossil fuels created over five million centuries.

Rifts and shifts and Marx -- Getting to the root of environmental crises

http://www.deviantart.com/print/1778668/?utm_source=deviantart&utm_medium=deviationpage&utm_campaign=buyprintbottom

By Brett Clark and Richard York

[This article, which first appeared in the November 2008 issue of Monthly Review, has been posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission.]

Humans depend on functioning ecosystems to sustain themselves and their actions affect those same ecosystems. As a result, there is a necessary “metabolic interaction” between humans and the earth, which influences both natural and social history. Increasingly, the state of nature is being defined by the operations of the capitalist system, as anthropogenic forces are altering the global environment on a scale that is unprecedented.

Nationalisation — a key demand in the socialist program

By Dave Holmes

For all the misery it represents for ordinary people, there is at least one positive result of the current capitalist financial crisis. The idea of nationalisation is getting an airing again in the West, however squeamish bourgeois leaders and pundits may be about using the actual word. Of course, this is clearly a case of governments mobilising massive resources and taking drastic action to save bankers and speculators from the consequences of their greed but, nevertheless, there it is. And if nationalisation — state or public ownership — is allowable in this dubious instance, why not for far more deserving and urgent causes such as saving the planet and the lives and welfare of masses of working people?

The question of nationalisation is important because it is simply impossible to conceive of addressing a whole series of key problems facing us today without a major expansion of the public sector and bringing the “commanding heights” of the economy under state ownership and control. First, of course, there is the overriding issue of climate change and all the things related to that — especially energy and water sustainability, food security and the preservation of workers’ jobs as the economy is restructured. Then there is the struggle to preserve workers’ jobs and livelihoods in the face of widespread downsizing during the economic downturn.

`Too many people' arguments provide no solution to the global warming crisis

By Simon Butler

November 17, 2008 -- In Green Left Weekly, Climate and Capitalism and Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal , I argued that population reduction schemes provide no answers to the threat of climate change. Population-based arguments wrongly treat population levels as the cause, rather than an effect, of an unsustainable economic system. This means they tend to divert attention away from pushing for the real changes urgently needed.

Campaigning for such measures as the rapid introduction of renewable energy and the phasing-out of fossil fuels, along with a shift to sustainable agricultural methods, should instead be the highest priority of the environmental movement.

Strategies to reduce human population also end up blaming some of the world’s poorest people for the looming climate crisis, when they are the people least responsible. Instead, it is the powerful, vested interests that profit most from the fossil-fuel economy who pose the real threat to the planet. They must be confronted.

John Bellamy Foster: Ecology and the transition from capitalism to socialism

Walk Against Warming, Sydney, 2006.
Photo by Alex Bainbridge/Green Left Weekly

By John Bellamy Foster

[This article, which first appeared in the November 2008 issue of Monthly Review, is a revised version of a keynote address delivered at the “Climate Change, Social Change” conference, Sydney, Australia, April 12, 2008, organised by Green Left Weekly. It is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission. Watch and listen to Bellamy Foster's presentation HERE. For more articles on Marxism and the ecology, click HERE.]

Is the climate crisis caused by overpopulation?

By Simon Butler

November 12, 2008 -- Many environmentalists believe that environmental destruction is a product of “overpopulation”, and that the world is already “full up”. So are population reduction strategies essential to solving the climate crisis?

At best, population control schemes focus on treating a symptom of an irrational, polluting social and economic system rather than the causes. In China, for instance, such measures haven’t solved that country’s environmental problems.

At worst, populationist theories shift the blame for climate change onto the poorest and most vulnerable people in the Third World.

They do not address the reasons why environmental damage, or even instances of overpopulation, happen in the first place and they divert attention away from the main challenge facing the climate movement — the urgent need to construct a new economy based on environmentally sustainable technologies and the rising of living standards globally.

For at least 200 years, “overpopulation” has been used to explain a host of social problems such as poverty, famine, unemployment and — more recently — environmental destruction.

Once again on ‘The myth of the Tragedy of the Commons’: a reply to criticisms and questions

A reply to criticisms and questions about my article on Garrett Hardin’s influential essay.

By Ian Angus

November 3, 2008 -- The response to my recent article “The Myth of the Tragedy of the Commons” (also posted at Links at http://links.org.au/node/595) has been very encouraging. It prompted a small flood of emails to my inbox, was reposted on many websites and blogs around the world, and has been discussed in a variety of online forums.

The majority of the comments were positive, but many readers challenged my critique of Garrett Hardin’s very influential 1968 essay, “The Tragedy of the Commons”. A gratifying number wrote serious and thoughtful criticisms. While they differed in specifics, these responses consistently made one or more of these three points:

John Bellamy Foster on climate change: `Demand solutions based on necessity, not wealth and profits'

John Bellamy Foster: We need to go down to 350 parts per million [of carbon dioxide], which means very big social transformations on a scale that would be considered revolutionary by anybody in society today -- transformation of our whole society quite fundamentally. We have to aim at that, and we have to demand that of our society.

Forget about capitalism, forget about whether the system can do it. Don't let that be your barometer. Say this is necessary for the planet, for human survival, for justice, for environmental justice, and we just have to do it.

We demand that be done, and we work out the operating system of the world economy, we work out our social relations of production, in accordance with necessity, in accordance with what is necessary for the planet, not in accordance with what is necessary for the accumulation of wealth and profits for a very few.

Evo Morales: Ten commandments to save the planet

By Evo Morales Ayma, president of the Republic of Bolivia

Message to the Continental Gathering of Solidarity with Bolivia in Guatemala City

October 9, 2008 -- Sisters and brothers, on behalf of the Bolivian people, I greet the social movements of this continent present in this act of continental solidarity with Bolivia.

We have just suffered the violence of the oligarchy, whose most brutal expression was the massacre in Panda, a deed that teaches us that an attempt at power based on money and weapons in order to oppress the people is not sustainable. It is easily knocked down, if it is not based on a program and the consciousness of the people.

We see that the re-founding of Bolivia affects the underhanded interests of a few families of large landholders, who reject as an aggression the measures enacted to favour the people such as a more balanced distribution of the resources of natural gas for our grandfathers and grandmothers, as well as the distribution of lands, the campaigns for health and literacy, and others.

Don't pay for a failed system

US$700 billion dollars is twice the combined debt of the world’s poorest 49 countries.

By Tony Iltis

October 11, 2008 -- “Meltdown” is a word that one hears a lot on the news these days.

Despite the US$700 billion government bailout of banks in the US, similar (albeit smaller) bailouts in Europe, and various forms of state intervention in the finance industry on both sides of the Atlantic, sharemarkets worldwide are in free fall. Comparisons with the Great Depression of the 1930s are common. Homelessness and unemployment are rising and are set to increase dramatically.

Meanwhile, more quietly but even more relentlessly, another meltdown is occurring: that of the polar icecaps. According to the Western world’s establishment politicians and corporate media, the way to avert catastrophic climate change lies in setting up elaborate emissions trading schemes and carbon markets: that is, relying on precisely the mechanisms that have created the economic meltdown!

Global warming - No more business as usual: This is an emergency!

By David Spratt

October 10, 2008 -- A year ago I was researching what was intended to be a short submission to the Garnaut review [commissioned to advise the Australian federal government of Labor Party Prime Minister Kevin Rudd], when events in the polar north turned the world of climate policy upside down. It was found that eight million square kilometres of sea-ice — an area the size of Australia — was melting, in the immortal words of one glaciologist, "a hundred years ahead of schedule".

Yet the international policy debate carried on as if this had not happened. Out-of-date scenarios, research and observations were being used to propose emission reduction targets that would still lead to catastrophe even if fully implemented.

And so a short submission became a long detour into how the climate debate is being constructed, and the result, with Philip Sutton,  was a book we did not intend to write, Climate Code Red.

Climate change -- the case for public ownership

Photo by Alex Bainbridge.
By Trent Hawkins

Arising out of the UK Climate Camp in August 2008 there has developed an interesting debate between Ewa Jasiewicz, an activist in Britain, and well-known radical columnist George Monbiot about the role of so-called “state solutions” to climate change. Jasiewicz’s article, published on the Guardian website[i] and entitled “Time for a Revolution”, was an attack on Monbiot for a “controversial presentation [at climate camp] … in which he endorsed the use of the state as a partner in resolving the climate crisis”. It was also prompted by a debate between Monbiot and former National Union of Mineworkers’ leader and head of Britain’s Socialist Labour Party Arthur Scargill about what is more polluting: nuclear or coal energy.

Jasiewicz stated:

Australia’s Socialist Alliance urges a 10-point plan to cut atmospheric CO2

Sydney climate emergency rally, October 3, 2008. Photo by Alex Bainbridge.

Climate action now!

September 25, 2008 -- The Australian federal government’s climate change adviser, Professor Ross Garnaut, has released his recommendations for medium-term cuts to Australian greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

He calls for reductions by 2020 of just 5% if there is no comprehensive international agreement on emissions reductions, or reductions of 10% if there is an agreement. At the Bali climate summit in December 2007 many developed countries expressed support for goals of 25-40% reductions.

Cuba: Climate change, disaster and collectivism

By Susana Hurlich

September 17, 2008 -- Havana -- The TV coverage here in Cuba on the impact of hurricanes Gustav and Ike is very instructive, not just in showing clearly the extent of damage, but in giving a sense of the feelings and spirit of the people through many, many different testimonies. I notice that in much of the reporting outside the country, there's not much commentary on this aspect, which is as important -- if not more so in the long run -- as the statistics on damage.

Cuban workers work with heavy machines to remove debris infront of a house in Havana, Cuba on September 9, 2008, after the passing of Hurricane Ike. EPA/ALEJANDRO ERNESTO.

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