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Nnimmo Bassey on what to expect from Durban climate talks

Nnimmo Bassey (centre). Photo: Right Livelihood Award Foundation.

November 2, 2011 -- It’s unlikely there will be "an equitable outcome" from the COP17 climate talks, to be held in Durban in December 2011, but it will be "a great moment to intensify campaigns against the business-as-usual manner" in which climate negotiations have been conducted so far, Friends of the Earth International's Nnimmo Bassey told Pambazuka News.

* * *

Pambazuka News: What role will Environmental Rights Action (ERA) and Friends of the Earth International be playing at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP17) in Durban? What will you be pushing for?

Palestine: The environmental impact of Israel's military occupation


Samah Sabawi addresses the Climate Change, Social Change conference, October 1, 2011. Film produced by Jill Hickson and John Reynolds.

[The following talk and PowerPoint slides were presented to the World at a Crossroads: Climate Change, Social Change conference in Melbourne on October 1, 2011. Samah Sabawi is the public advocate for Australians for Palestine. For more material from the conference, click HERE.]

By Samah Sabawi

Posted October 30, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Thank you for asking me to take part in this conference and to add the voice of my people and their struggle for justice to your voices. There is great strength in solidarity and quite often, once we’ve peeled the external layers of what makes our individual causes unique, we quickly find that we are all in the same boat and that our fight for justice, equality and respect for the land shares many common threads.

Beware of ‘social justice’ promises by international bankers

Ismail Serageldin was invited to deliver the Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture, which he titled, “The Making of Social Justice”. Serageldin has been a leader of the water privatisation lobby’s World Water Council.

By Patrick Bond, Durban

October 12, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In these days of dire economic and environmental crisis, with political elites under attack from Athens to Washington, the establishment is desperate for legitimacy. Even International Monetary Fund (IMF) staff now publicly endorse "social justice" at the same time they tighten austerity screws.

Recall the context. The 2008-09 financial meltdown was supposedly solved by throwing money at bankers in Wall Street, the City of London, Frankfurt, Paris and Tokyo. But it didn’t work, and on BBC’s Newsnight, Robert Shapiro of the Georgetown University Business School blew the whistle on the European debt crisis.

South Africa: Fighting the minerals-petroleum-coal complex’s wealth and woes in Durban

WikiLeaks revealed Washington’s bullying, bribery and blackmail when promoting the non-binding 2009 Copenhagen Accord (being hatched by leaders above), a sham of a climate agreement designed to ditch Kyoto. South Africa’s president Jacob Zuma (in left corner) was an original signatory.

By Patrick Bond and Khadija Sharife

July 19, 2011 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- When African National Congress Youth League leader Julius Malema recently proposed the mining industry’s partial nationalisation – and asked, quite legitimately, “what is the alternative?”, of those in the South African Communist Party (SACP) and Business Leadership South Africa who threw cold water at him – a debate of enormous ideological magnitude opened in public, which workers, communities and environmentalists have already joined in their myriad struggles.

South Africa: Two warriors die, alongside the right to water

Thulisile Christina Manqele.

By Patrick Bond

July 3, 2011 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Two of South Africa’s greatest water warriors were not actually killed in conflict, though at the time of their deaths on June 22 and 23, both were furious with their traditional political party home, the ruling African National Congress (ANC).

For former ANC cabinet minister Kader Asmal (whom Nelson Mandela once proposed be ANC chairperson), the party’s proposed legislation to snuff state information, nicknamed the “Secrecy Bill”, warranted spirited condemnation, and the airwaves rang with his principled liberal critique up through his last week. The day after he died (age 76), the ANC authorised sufficient revision to the bill that he probably would have declared victory. His funeral and memorial were given exceptionally high-profile coverage in the state press, befitting his status as a senior human rights lawyer and party intellectual.

World Bank’s neoliberal Africa strategy signals worsening uneven development

By Patrick Bond

May 30, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- A renewed wave of development babble began flowing soon after the February launch of the World Bank’s 10-year strategy document, Africa's Future and the World Bank‘s Support to it. Within three months, a mini-tsunami of Afro-optimism swept in: the International Monetary Fund’s Regional Economic Outlook for SubSaharan Africa, the Economic Commission on Africa’s upbeat study, the African World Economic Forum’s Competitiveness Report and the African Development Bank’s discovery of a vast new “middle class” (creatively defined to include the 20% of Africans whose expenditures are US$2-4 a day).

Bangladesh: Climate change and neoliberal policies

By Danielle Sabai

May 9, 2011 -- Asia Left Observer, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Located in the largest delta at the world, where two Himalayan rivers, the Brahmaputra and the Ganges, converge and flow into the Bay of Bengal, Bangladesh is used to climatic catastrophes. Half of the land area of Bangladesh is less than 10 metres above sea level. It consists mainly of silt deposited by the rivers that flow down from the Himalayan glaciers. When the snow melts it regularly causes large-scale floods. The coast is at the mercy of cyclones and giant waves which submerge the coastal areas.

The food price crisis and the Egyptian revolution

Since 2008, rising food prices have resulted in 40 mass riots throughout the globe and the United Nations reports that 37 countries currently face a food crisis.

By Billy Wharton

February 14, 2011 -- Socialist Webzine -- Hidden beneath the spectacular street battles that forced the Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak out of office was a trigger that exists in dozens of countries throughout the world – food. Or, more specifically, the lack of it. While commentators focus on the corruption of the dictatorship, or the viral effects of the Tunisian moment or the something akin to an Arab political awakening, the inability of the Egyptian regime to ensure a steady flow of food staples should be viewed as a critical factor driving this seemingly spontaneous movement for freedom.

The futility of green capitalism: Interview with Daniel Tanuro

Interview with Daniel Tanuro, translated by Richard Fidler

January 17, 2011 -- Climate & Capitalism -- Daniel Tanuro’s new book, L’impossible capitalisme vert,or “The Futility of Green Capitalism”, is a major contribution to our analytical understanding of ecosocialism. Tanuro, a Belgian Marxist and certified agriculturist, is a prolific author on environmental history and policies.

Addressed primarily to the Green milieu, as the title indicates, this book is a powerful refutation of the major proposals advanced to resolve the climate crisis that fail to challenge the profit drive and accumulation dynamic of capital. Much of the book appears to be a substantially expanded update of a report by Tanuro adopted in 2009 by the leadership of the Fourth International as a basis for international discussion. That report was translated by Ian Angus and included in his anthology The Global Fight for Climate Justice.

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.

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.

`Water is life' -- General Assembly supports Bolivia's call for `the human right to water and sanitation'

Speech delivered by Ambassador Pablo Solón of the Plurinational State of Bolivia before the General Assembly of the United Nations on July 28, 2010.

[The historic resolution passed with 122 countries voting for it and 41 abstaining, but with no negative votes. See below for the 41 governments that abstained.]

* * *

Allow me to begin the presentation of this resolution by recalling that human beings are essentially water. Around two-thirds of our organism is comprised of water. Some 75% of our brain is made up of water, and water is the principal vehicle for the electrochemical transmissions of our body.

Our blood flows like a network of rivers in our body. Blood helps transport nutrients and energy to our organism. Water also carries from our cells waste products for excretion. Water helps to regulate the temperature of our body.

`Amanzi Ngawethu' (water is ours); Health and environmental victories for South African activists

On September 2 and 3, 2009, the Constitutional Court of South Africa will hear the final appeal in a case brought by five Soweto residents challenging Johannesburg's discriminatory prepaid water meter system. Their six-year legal battle would reaffirm the constitutional right to water for all South Africans.

Low-income communities in Johannesburg's townships do not have sufficient water resources and do not receive the same water services as residents in wealthier, often white, suburbs. Yet, the Bill of Rights of South Africa guarantees everyone's right to have access to sufficient water.

Australia: Global warming and the ‘Big Dry’— What prospects for the Murray-Darling river system?

By Renfrey Clarke

July 20, 2009 -- From desert-fringe villages and drowning atolls, global warming is predicted before long to set climate refugees on the move. But arguably, the first climate refugees to reach Australia’s major cities are arriving already. And the places from which they have come are not exotic — rural towns like Mildura, Renmark and Griffith in Australia’s south-east.

In settlements throughout the Murray-Darling, residents are quietly deciding the irrigation-based economy has no future. For many orchardists and viticulturalists, allocations of water in recent years have been too low to keep plantings alive.

When barely a trickle is coming down the rivers, farmers are concluding it’s best to sell the next-to-meaningless water rights, accept a government exit package, bulldoze the trees and vines, and walk away.

Unprecedented drought

Market madness: `Oversupply' of water tanks during a record water crisis!

Not enough water; `too many' tanks

By Dave Holmes

Melbourne, February 26, 2009 -- Australian plastics manufacturer Nylex has been placed in the hands of receivers. Nylex is a well-known name — the company produces the iconic Esky, water tanks, wheelie bins, hose and garden fittings and interior trimmings for car manufacturers. According to the February 13 Melbourne Age, “The drought and a government rebate stimulated demand for water tanks, but oversupply pushed down prices and demand collapsed after substantial rain in Queensland and NSW.”

The slump in the auto industry also contributed to the company’s woes. In the end, the banks (ANZ and Westpac) called in their loans.

The jobs of its 700-strong work force are in the balance. The receivers may or may not find a buyer for Nylex, but any new owner is likely to heavily restructure the company, leading to substantial job losses.

Capitalism and the oceanic crisis: Turning the seas into a watery grave

By Brett Clark and Rebecca Clausen

The world ocean covers approximately 70 per cent of the Earth. It has been an integral part of human history, providing food and ecological services. Yet conservation efforts and concerns with environmental degradation have mostly focused on terrestrial issues. Marine scientists and oceanographers have recently made remarkable discoveries in regard to the intricacies of marine food webs and the richness of oceanic biodiversity. However, the excitement over these discoveries is dampened due to an awareness of the rapidly accelerating threat to the biological integrity of marine ecosystems.[1]

At the start of the twenty-first century marine scientists focused on the rapid depletion of marine fish, revealing that 75 per cent of major fisheries are fully exploited, overexploited or depleted. It is estimated “that the global ocean has lost more than 90% of large predatory fishes”. The depletion of ocean fish stock due to overfishing has disrupted metabolic relations within the oceanic ecosystem at multiple trophic and spatial scales.[2]

Principles, strategies and tactics of decommodification in South Africa

By Patrick Bond

Patrick Bond is the author of two recent books: Unsustainable South Africa: Environment, Development and Social Protest and Fanon's Warning: A Civil Society Reader on the New Partnership for Africa's Development. Both are available from Africa World Press (http://www.africanworld.com). His 2001 book Against Global Apartheid: South Africa meets the World Bank, IMF and International Finance, will be republished by Zed Press this year, as will a new edition of Elite Transition: From Apartheid to Neoliberalism in South Africa from Pluto Press.

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