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Ian Angus

Barry Commoner, 1917-2012: one of ecosocialism's most important pioneers

For more tributes to Barry Commoner, visit Climate & Capitalism and Climate Change Social Change.

By Ian Angus

October 2, 2012 -- Climate & Capitalism, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission --  Barry Commoner died on September 30, at the age of 95 in New York. He never called himself an ecosocialist, but he was one of our most important precursors.

He was a founder of the modern environmental movement, an anti-war activist and a powerful critic of capitalism. His 1971 book, The Closing Circle, was a pioneering analysis of the economic and social causes of environmental destruction. At a time when most writers were blaming individual behaviour or overpopulation for pollution, Commoner exposed the role of capitalism and profit.

Ian Angus: The return of the population bombers

Earth Day 1970 poster. People are the enemy.

[For more discussion on the population issue, click HERE.]

The following talk was presented at the Marxism 2012 conference in Toronto in May, and at the Socialism 2012 conference in Chicago in June. A recording of the Chicago presentation can be heard online at wearemany.org.

Overpopulation ideology undermined the environmental movement in the 1970s, diverting social protest into harmless channels. To prevent a similar setback today, we must understand populationism’s conservative role, and why it is attractive to a growing number of green activists.

By Ian Angus

July 22, 2012 -- Climate and Capitalism, posted at Links International Journal of socialist Renewal with permission -- As you know, Simon Butler and I have written many articles and an entire book refuting the claim that the environmental crisis is caused by overpopulation and the related idea that environmentalists should make reducing birth rates and immigration a top priority.

Royal Society’s tunnel vision on population and poverty

People and the Planet
Royal Society Science Policy Centre Report
April 2012

Review by Ian Angus

May 23, 2012 -- Climate and Capitalism, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the Ian Angus' permission -- The radical ecologist Murray Bookchin once compared populationism to a phoenix, the mythical bird that periodically burns up and is reborn from its own ashes. No matter how often the “too many people” argument is refuted, it always returns, making the same claim that people are breeding too much and consuming too much, devouring the Earth like a plague of locusts.[1]

Green energy alone won’t save the Earth without system change

By Ian Angus

March 21, 2012 -- Climate & Capitalism, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- The most popular techno-fix for global warming is green energy. If energy companies would only deploy wind, hydro, solar, geothermal or nuclear, then emission-intensive fossil fuels will eventually disappear. But will that actually work?

A new study by Richard York of the University of Oregon shows that it isn’t that simple. Rather than displacing fossil fuels, green energy sources have proven to be mostly additive.

“Do alternative energy sources displace fossil fuels?”, published this month in Nature Climate Change, discusses what happened when alternative energy sources were introduced in countries around the world, over the past 50 years.

Contrary to the accepted wisdom that new green energy replaces fossil-fuel use, York found that on average each unit of energy use from non-fossil-fuel sources displaced less than a quarter of a unit of energy use from fossil-fuel sources.

David Attenborough asks corporations to buy wilderness to lock out poor people

By Ian Angus

January 18, 2012 -- Climate and Capitalism, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- David Attenborough, in addition to making nature films, is a patron of Optimum Population Trust, a British outfit that, using the name Population Matters, promotes birth control for poor people and immigration restrictions to keep those same people out of Britain.

Last year we reported a talk he gave to a posh gathering in London, chaired by no less a personage than Prince Phillip, in which he said only “flat earthers” disagree with his view that only population reduction can save the planet. Contraception, he said, “is the humane way, the powerful option which allows all of us to deal with the problem, if we collectively choose to do so”.

(Updated Jan. 24) 'Too Many People?' Ecosocialists debate population and environment

[For more on the population debate, click HERE.]

January 9, 2012 -- Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal/Climate and Capitalism -- Veteran British socialist Alan Thornett has published a highly critical review of the new book, Too Many People? Population, Immigration, and the Environmental Crisis. Below is Thornett’s critique, followed by a reply from the book’s authors, Ian Angus and Simon Butler.

Too Many People: a review

By Alan Thornett

January 2, 2012 -- Socialist Resistance -- As a long-time comrade of Ian Angus, a fellow ecosocialist, and an admirer of his work on Marxism and ecology, I am disappointed by the tone he has adopted in his new book on population Too Many People? – which he has authored jointly with Simon Butler, co-editor of the Australian publication Green Left Weekly.

Ανατέμνοντας τους αριθμούς για τον υπερπληθυσμό

[In English (Αγγλική εκδοχή σε) at http://links.org.au/node/2520.]

των Ίαν Άνγκους και Σάιμον Μπάτλερ

Μαρξιστική Σκέψη, τόμος 4, Ιανουάριος-Μάρτιος 2012, σελ. 416, 13€

 

Από το 1798, όταν ο Πάτερ Μάλθους υποστήριξε ότι ο πληθυσμός αυξάνεται με γεωμετρική πρόοδο (2, 4, 8, 16...), ενώ η προσφορά τροφίμων αυξάνεται μόνο αριθμητικά (2, 3, 4, 5...), το επιχείρημα για τον υπερπληθυσμό έχει εξαρτηθεί από τους αριθμούς. Είναι σπάνιο να διαβάσει κανείς ένα άρθρο, φυλλάδιο ή ιστοσελίδα για τον υπερπληθυσμό που δεν περιλαμβάνει δηλώσεις όπως αυτές:

Two radio interviews with Ian Angus: What is ecosocialism? Are there too many people?

October 24, 2011 -- Is the ecosocialist revolution coming? Ian Angus is a veteran of the socialist and environmental movements in Canada. He is also the founder of climateandcapitalism.com, and co-author of the new book, Too Many People? Population, Immigration and the Environmental Crisis. He visited Adelaide, South Australia, in September, to speak at a public forum organised the Socialist Alliance, on “Political solutions to the climate crisis: What is ecosocialism?” He was in Australia to participate in the Climate Change, Social Change conference in Melbourne, September 30-October 3.

Australia: Climate Change, Social Change conference attracts hundreds

[For more material from the conference, click HERE.]

By Viv Miley

October 8, 2011 -- Socialist Alliance -- More than 500 people gathered in Melbourne over September 30 to October 3 to take part in four days of stimulating talks and discussion at the second Climate Change Social Change conference. The conference, which featured five plenary sessions, 39 workshops and more than 90 speakers, was organised by Green Left Weekly, Socialist Alliance and Resistance. Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal also sponsored the conference.

The conference brought together activists, academics and unionists from Australia, Asia, North America and the Pacific to share ideas and experiences from the movements for Indigenous people's rights, against environmental destruction, for women's rights, for queer rights, for peace, social justice and workers’ rights.

Ian Angus: How to make an ecosocialist revolution

By Ian Angus

October 8, 2011 -- Green Left Weekly/Climate and Capitalism/Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Ian Angus is editor of Climate and Capitalism and co-author, with Simon Butler, of the new book Too Many People? This is his keynote presentation Climate Change Social Change conference in Melbourne, on October 2, 2011. For more material from the conference, click HERE. Thanks to artist Margaret Scott for permission to use her drawings in the PowerPoint slides visible in the video.

* * *

'Dissecting those "overpopulation" numbers', excerpt from "Too Many People?" by Ian Angus and Simon Butler

October 4, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Haymarket Books has kindly given permission for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal to publish "Dissecting those 'overpopulation' numbers", an excerpt from the just published Too Many People? Population, Immigration and the Environmental Crisis by Ian Angus and Simon Butler. Links' readers are urged to purchase this essential book. You can order it directly from the publisher HERE; Australian readers can also purchase it at Resistance Bookshops in their city, or online at Resistancebooks.com.

Download "Dissecting those 'overpopulation' numbers" HERE (PDF), or read it on screen below.

* * *

Trade unions must join the fight against climate change

Ian Angus speaking at the Climate Change Social Change conference. Photo by Alex Bainbridge.

September 29, 2011 -- Climate and Capitalism, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Ian Angus, editor of Climate and Capitalism, is currently in Australia to speak at the Climate Change Social Change conference in Melbourne, September 30 – October 3.

During his pre-conference speaking tour, he was invited to address several meetings of trade union members. The following is a lightly edited transcript of the opening comments he made at union meetings in Melbourne and Geelong.

[For more articles by Ian Angus, click HERE.]

* * *

Thank you for inviting me to speak today.

Deep ecology versus ecosocialism: A letter on population, wilderness and ecosocialism

"If ecosocialists support wilderness clearances and population reduction they will be on the wrong side of some of the most important struggles in the world today." -- Ian Angus
[Ian Angus will be a feature speaker at the World at a Crossroads II: Climate change: social change conference, in Melbourne, Australia, September 30-October 3, 2011.]

July 4, 2011 -- The following is Climate and Capitalism editor Ian Angus’s response to "Saral Sarkar on Malthusianism and Ecosocialism" and Sarkar’s "Reply to some points made by my critics and sympathizers". It is part of a continuing discussion taking place on Climate and Capitalism (see the links at the end of the article).

* * *

Dear Saral Sarkar,

Deep ecology versus ecosocialism

[Ian Angus will be a feature speaker at the World at a Crossroads II: Climate change: social change conference, in Melbourne, Australia, September 30-October 3, 2011.]

By Ian Angus

June 19, 2011 --This article first appeared at Climate and Capitalism. It is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Some people believe that deep ecology is not just compatible with ecosocialism, but a way to improve it. That’s a profound misconception that ignores deep ecology’s anti-human core. The following was first posted on the online discussion group that was set up after the founding of the Ecosocialist international Network. I have added some suggestions for further reading.

* * *

Breaking the real taboo in the population debate

By Ian Angus

April 27, 2011 -- Climate and Capitalism -- Is there a taboo against attributing environmental problems to population growth? Are populationist views being suppressed?

Sir David Attenborough thinks so. On March 10, the noted naturalist and broadcaster told a meeting in London that there is a “strange silence … some bizarre taboo” about the population issue. This “absurd taboo” has “a powerful grip on the minds of so many worthy and intelligent people”. Attenborough urged his listeners to “break the taboo”, by raising the population issue whenever and wherever they could.

Who was he talking to? Who were the brave people who dared to listen to a talk on this forbidden topic? Was it some secretive group, hanging on despite all odds, somehow keeping alive the truths that are suppressed by the powers that be?

Well, no.

Did consumers cause the BP oil disaster? Debunking the `consumer sovereignty' superstition


“So said Tony Hayward” is a music video featuring imagery dredged from the internet, based on a song written by William Carroll of the Department of Sociology at University of Victoria, Canada. It's a tango about the BP oil spill (April 20-July 15, 2010) and its disastrous impacts, focused around the story of BP CEO Tony Hayward's hapless efforts to spin and manage a massive, and televisually spectacular, environmental catastrophe (to learn more, visit http://www.socialistproject.ca/leftstreamed/ls65.php).

By Ian Angus

Ian Angus: What next for ecosocialists?

By Ian Angus

August 30, 2010 -- Canadian Dimension via Climate & Capitalism -- Not long ago, most socialists had little to say about environmental issues, and the environmental movement was focused on individual (change your light bulbs) and capitalist (create a market for emissions) solutions to the ecological crisis.

In 2007, immediately after the founding of the Ecosocialist International Network, I wrote a Canadian Dimension article on the challenges facing ecosocialists. In it, I discussed two parallel trends that, though in their infancy, seemed to portend a new wave of anti-capitalist and pro-ecology action.

  • Some socialists were moving away from the left’s abstention from the environmental movement, and attempting to develop a distinctly socialist approach to the global environmental crisis.

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.

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.”

`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.

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