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climate change

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 Out-of-date scenarios, research and observations were being used to propose emission reduction targets that would still lead to catastrophe even if fully implemented.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.

Celia Hart's last essay: A revolutionary fight against the demon

On September 9, 2008, supporters of the Cuban Revolution were saddened to learn of the sudden deaths of Celia Hart Santamaría and Abel Hart Santamaría, the daughter and son of Armando Hart Dávalos and Haydée Santamaría, in a car accident in Havana on September 7, possibly caused by the conditions resulting from Hurricane Gustav. Below is the last essay written by Celia, on the topic of hurricanes, global warming and the Cuban Revolution's and Cuban society's ability to protect its people from devastating storms like hurricanes Katrina and Gustav. (Click HERE to watch Celia Hart discuss the politics of Latin America in a video recorded in May 2008. A selection of Celia Hart's essays, It’s never too late to love or rebel, was published in 2006 by Socialist Resistance.)

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 Celia Hart Santamaría

Sustainable capitalism?

By David Travis

September 9, 2008 -- On the fringe of the green movement, one always hears the following phrases coming from the mainstream with great regularity: "green capitalism", "sustainable capitalism", "social entrepreneurs", "green entrepreneurs", etc. None of these terms tend to mean anything specific, and no one who uses them is in a great hurry to spell out, for example, how a green entrepreneur is different in any fundamental way from some other kind of entrepreneur, or how capitalism could be driven toward sustainability rather than profit. So you can imagine my pleasure at meeting the author of a book called Sustainable Capitalism: A Matter of Common Sense.

Class struggle and ecology -- An ecosocialist contribution to the discussion on revolutionary regroupment*

By Liam Mac Uiad

....we with flesh, blood and brain, belong to nature, and exist in its midst, and... all our mastery of it consists in the fact that we have the advantage of all other creatures of being able to learn its laws and apply them correctly -- Friedrich Engels.

Ecology as crucial as imperialism

For socialists in the 20th century imperialism was the great dividing line between those who accepted the logic of capitalist society and those who were willing to challenge it. In the first decades of the 21st century it is apparent that imperialism and war will remain inherent features of late capitalism. To these threats we must add the genuine and serious risks of severe ecological degradation and climate change caused by the capitalist economic model as factors that will shape socialist politics in the coming decades.

The biosphere and us

Slideshow: Ecology against capitalism

Debunking the `Tragedy of the Commons'

By Ian Angus

August 24, 2008 -- Will shared resources always be misused and overused? Is community ownership of land, forests and fisheries a guaranteed road to ecological disaster? Is privatisation the only way to protect the environment and end Third World poverty? Most economists and development planners will answer “yes” — and for proof they will point to the most influential article ever written on those important questions.

Since its publication in Science in December 1968, “The Tragedy of the Commons” has been anthologised in at least 111 books, making it one of the most-reprinted articles ever to appear in any scientific journal. It is also one of the most quoted: a recent Google search found “about 302,000” results for the phrase “tragedy of the commons”.

For 40 years it has been, in the words of a World Bank discussion paper, “the dominant paradigm within which social scientists assess natural resource issues” (Bromley and Cernea 1989: 6). It has been used time and again to justify stealing indigenous peoples’ lands, privatising health care and other social services, giving corporations ``tradable permits'' to pollute the air and water, and much more.

Video: The Carbon Connection -- The human impact of carbon trading

Two communities affected by one new global market – the trade in carbon dioxide. In Scotland, a town has been polluted by oil and chemical companies since the 1940s. In Brazil, local people's water and land is being swallowed up by destructive monoculture eucalyptus tree plantations. Both communities now share a new threat.

As part of the deal to reduce greenhouse gases that cause dangerous climate change, major polluters can now buy carbon credits that allow them to pay someone else to reduce emissions instead of cutting their own pollution. What this means for those living next to the oil industry in Scotland is the continuation of pollution caused by their toxic neighbours. Meanwhile in Brazil, the schemes that generate carbon credits gives an injection of cash for more planting of the damaging eucalyptus plantations.

The two communities are now connected by bearing the brunt of the new trade in carbon credits. The Carbon Connection follows the story of two groups of people from each community who learned to use video cameras and made their own films about living with the impacts of the carbon market.

Cooling a fevered planet: economics, policy and vision for fighting global warming

By Gar Lipow

July 1 2008 -- Nobody, except for a small lunatic fringe, still disputes that human-caused climate chaos endangers all of us. Further, most serious scientific and technical groups that have looked at the question have concluded that we have the technological capability today to replace greenhouse gas emitting fossil fuels with efficiency improvements and clean energy — usually at a maximum cost of around the current worldwide military budget, probably much less. The question therefore is: what's stopping us?

To answer that we need to look at the causes of global warming — not the physical causes, but the economic and political flaws in our system that have prevented solutions from being implemented long after the problem was known.

If socialism fails: the spectre of 21st century barbarism

By Ian Angus

July 27, 2008 -- From the first day it appeared online, Climate and Capitalism’s masthead has carried the slogan “Ecosocialism or Barbarism: there is no third way.” We’ve been quite clear that ecosocialism is not a new theory or brand of socialism — it is socialism with Marx’s important insights on ecology restored, socialism committed to the fight against ecological destruction. But why do we say that the alternative to ecosocialism is barbarism?

Marxists have used the word “barbarism” in various ways, but most often to describe actions or social conditions that are grossly inhumane, brutal, and violent. It is not a word we use lightly, because it implies not just bad behaviour but violations of the most important norms of human solidarity and civilised life. [1]

The slogan “Socialism or Barbarism” originated with the great German revolutionary socialist leader Rosa Luxemburg, who repeatedly raised it during World War I. It was a profound concept, one that has become ever more relevant as the years have passed.

The coming economic & environment meltdowns ... and the possibilities for fighting back

July 15, 2008 --The planet is facing a meltdown -- from the global financial system to the unprecedented environmental crisis. Almost everyone from stockbrokers to scientists to economists agree the situation is dire.

Yet Wall Street banks are given hundred-million-dollar bailouts, while millions face home foreclosures. In the Third world it's worse -- crops are used to provide fuel for thirsty rich-world SUVs, while 100 million more people face starvation due to the growing food crisis. The disregard for the hardship of the majority has seen food riots and strikes hit over 30 countries.

Forests and climate change – examining the spin

By Susan Austin

Tasmania, Australia -- It’s easy to get confused about the issue of forests and climate change. Climate scientists say that preserving our forests is a quick, easy and cheap way to prevent further global warming, and Australia’s previous federal government allocated A$200 million towards preserving forests in South-East Asia. Yet both the federal government and the Tasmanian state government are overseeing the continuing destruction of Tasmania’s old-growth forests to feed a profitable wood-chip export industry and a soon-to-be-built pulp mill. And what’s more, they say that the industry is carbon-positive and sustainable. What’s really going on?

Ecology: The moment of truth—an introduction

By John Bellamy Foster, Brett Clark and Richard York

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The July-August 2008 (Volume 60, Number 3) edition of the influential US socialist journal Monthly Review is a special issue on ``Ecology: The Moment of Truth”, edited by Brett Clark, John Bellamy Foster and Richard York. The issue is devoted to the planetary environmental emergency. It is essential reading for all socialists and environmentalists. With permission from Monthly Review, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal here posts the introduction by the editors, and urges Links' readers to purchase the issue and/or subscribe to Monthly Review.

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G8: Rich countries retreat from action on climate change

G8 Action Network statement

July 9, 2008 -- The G8's communique regarding their action on climate is actually inaction being masked as movement. It is a great fraud being perpetrated on the global community that would significantly reduce its capacity to contain climate change. We fully agree with the statement of the Government of South Africa that "[W]hile the Statement may appear as a movement forward, we are concerned that it may, in effect, be a regression from what is required to make a meaningful contribution to meeting the challenges of climate change." [Click pic for BBC footage of G8 protests.]

Retreat from Bali

Political activism, class struggle -- not markets -- will save the planet

July 5, 2008 -- A political economist and activist who directs the Centre for Civil Society at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa, Patrick Bond was a featured guest speaker at the Green Left Weekly Social Change — Climate Change conference held in Sydney, Australia, in April.

Author of a range of books, including Climate Change, Carbon Trading and Civil Society, Looting Africa: The Economics of Exploitation, and Walk Left, Talk Right: South Africa’s Frustrated Global Reforms, Bond is a long-time advocate for radical solutions to the climate and social catastrophe wraught by global capitalism.

Lauren Carroll Harris spoke to Bond at the conference about responses to climate change.

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What has been the response of the market to the crisis of climate change and what role does carbon trading play?

Towards climate action in Copenhagen 2009: International planning meeting in Copenhagen 13-14th of September 2008

Towards climate action in Copenhagen 2009
Climate Network 09 | 23.05.2008 23:39 | Climate Chaos | Ecology

We invite you to join the 1st international planning meeting in Copenhagen from
the 13-14th of September 2008. The meeting aims at preparing a large
mobilisation for direct action against the root causes of climate change in
Copenhagen and throughout the world during the UN Climate Conference (30 Nov-11
Dec 2009).

Towards climate action in Copenhagen 2009

First international planning meeting

We stand at a crossroads in history. The facts are undeniable. Global climate
change, caused by human activities, is happening. We all know that, world over,
we're facing a manifold and deepening crisis: of the climate, energy, food,
livelihoods, and of political and human rights. Scientific, environmental,
social and civil society movements from all over the world are calling for
action against climate change.

Massive consumption of fossil fuel is one of the major causes of global
warming, a problem that threatens the lives of hundreds of millions of people

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