Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Celluloid Blue and Green: How Bullfrog Films is Bringing Together Environmental and Working-Class Concerns

By Sherry Linkon
Working Class Perspectives

In 2009 Emagazine represented the coming together of labor and environmental activists as the marriage of “blue” and “green.” Environmental journalist Ethan Goffman chronicled the new alliances being made between the two (previously opposed) camps, such as the United Steelworkers and the Sierra Club’s BlueGreen Alliance.

Another place where blue and green are coming together is in the documentary films being distributed by Bullfrog Films. The Reading, PA company was founded in 1973 by an Englishman, John Hoskyns-Abrahall (now an American citizen) and his wife, Winnie Scherrer. The young idealists met in the early 1970s at the Annenberg School for Communication in Philadelphia, and, to their mutual delight, they have been able to make a living distributing progressive documentaries for the last three and a half decades.

The Politics of Doubt: How climate skeptics have abused both science and the public trust

By Antony Black
Canadian Dimension

In a recent article entitled, ‘Climate skeptics have been stifled’, a local global warming skeptic proffered the truism that ‘consensus is not proof’.

Before responding to the two very important sentiments expressed above, it is first apropos to affirm that the technical arguments cited by the author—arguments routinely trotted out by global warming skeptics—have all been factored into and/or addressed by the IPCC and its scientists. The fact, for instance, that there was a ‘little ice age’ in Europe from 1550 to 1850 is true, but it was a purely local phenomenon and was balanced out by a similar increase in temperature in the tropical Pacific. Or take the ‘now discredited’ graph (the ‘hockey stick’) representing the dramatic rise in temperature over the past century relative to the past millennium. In fact, though there was some initial controversy over the graph, the most up-to-date studies have confirmed it unequivocally.

Climate change: The facts of life

Political action seems again improbable, but it remains more urgent than ever

The Guardian Editorial
Tuesday 31 August 2010

Climate change now reveals itself on a weekly basis. Scientists this month identified a colony of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which carries both yellow fever and the dengue virus, in the Netherlands. This African insect had not been seen in Europe for more than 50 years. A few days later US researchers reported that on the evidence of satellite data, global plant productivity – which had increased by 6% in two decades, in response to the extra carbon dioxide in the atmosphere – has begun to decline in the 21st century: a response to higher temperatures and changing rainfall patterns. A week later students in the high Arctic reported that a glacier in Svalbard that had been retreating at an average annual rate of 20 metres since 1926 was now retreating by 40 metres a year.

Monday, August 30, 2010

What next for ecosocialists?

The Ecosocialist International Network will meet in Paris, Sept. 26-27, to discuss its future and the way forward for ecosocialism. Ian wrote this article as a contribution to that discussion.

Ian Angus
Ian Angus

Socialists who actually want to change the world need to understand that participation in building real social movements is the only way forward

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. “
■ Some greens were growing disillusioned with the pro-corporate agenda of the mainstream Green Parties and NGOs, and expressing interest in radical alternatives.
Those trends have not just continued — they have accelerated and deepened in the past three years. Our ability to respond effectively will, I believe, determine whether ecosocialism lives up to the promise we saw three years ago.

Oil Sands Pollute with Fish-Killing Toxins, New Study Shows

Detection of high heavy metals levels in Athabasca River contradicts government claims.

By Andrew Nikiforuk

Oil sands processing on Alberta's Athabasca River
Despite repeated government claims that the world's largest energy project doesn't contaminate the Athabasca River, a new scientific study released today shows that air pollution from the oil sands industry combined with extensive watershed destruction has released a highly toxic brew of heavy metals into northern waterways.

The study, published in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), also found that the levels of heavy metals detected from snow runoff or downstream of industrial development exceeded Canadian and Alberta guidelines for protecting fish and aquatic life for seven out of 13 pollutants studied. In some cases metal contamination exceeded guidelines by 30-fold.

Read more here.

The empirical evidence that humans are causing global warming

By James Wight 
Skeptical Science

Click here
When presented with the overwhelming evidence that the planet is warming, many people react by asking "but how can we be sure that we’re causing the warming?" It turns out that the observed global warming has a distinct human fingerprint on it.

In climatology, as in any other science, establishing causation is more complicated than merely establishing an effect. However, there are a number of lines of evidence that have helped to convince climate scientists that the current global warming can be attributed to human greenhouse gas emissions (in particular CO2). Here are just some of them:

The first four pieces of evidence show that humans are raising CO2 levels:

1.Humans are currently emitting around 30 billion tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere.
2.Oxygen levels are falling as if carbon is being burned to create carbon dioxide.
3.Fossil carbon is building up in the atmosphere. (We know this because the two types of carbon have different chemical properties.)
4.Corals show that fossil carbon has recently risen sharply.

Another two observations show that CO2 is trapping more heat:

1.Satellites measure less heat escaping to space at the precise wavelengths which CO2 absorbs.
2.Surface measurements find this heat is returning to Earth to warm the surface.

The last four indicators show that the observed pattern of warming is consistent with what is predicted to occur during greenhouse warming:

1.An increased greenhouse effect would make nights warm faster than days, and this is what has been observed.
2.If the warming is due to solar activity, then the upper atmosphere (the stratosphere) should warm along with the rest of the atmosphere. But if the warming is due to the greenhouse effect, the stratosphere should cool because of the heat being trapped in the lower atmosphere (the troposphere). Satellite measurements show that the stratosphere is cooling.
3.This combination of a warming troposphere and cooling stratosphere should cause the tropopause, which separates them, to rise. This has also been observed.
4.It was predicted that the ionosphere would shrink, and it is indeed shrinking.
(References for all of these findings can be found here.)

Often one hears claims that the attribution of climate change is based on modeling, and that nobody can really know its causes. But here we have a series of empirical observations, all of which point to the conclusion that humans are causing the planet to warm.

This post is the Basic version (written by James Wight) of the skeptic argument "It's not us". We're currently writing plain English versions of all the skeptic rebuttals. If you're interested in helping with this effort, please contact me.

Video: Michael Lebowitz on the socialist alternative and real human development

Links International Journal

Michael Lebowitz is a Canadian Marxist economist. He is the director of the “Transformative practice and human development” program at the Venezuela-based left-wing think tank, the Centro Internacional Miranda. He is professor emeritus of economics at Simon Fraser University and author of Build it Now: 21st Century Socialism and the 2004 Isaac Deutscher-prize winning Beyond Capital: Marx's Political Economy of the Working Class. His latest book is The Socialist Alternative: Real Human Development.

The Dangerous Minds blog spoke with Lebowitz about his latest book and the ideas it contains. The discussion also touches on Venezuela's attempts to build grassroots democracy through the communal councils and communes, on whether Sweden is socialist and on the healthcare systems in the United States and Canada.

Click HERE for more articles at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by or about Michael Lebowitz.

Prof. Michael Lebowitz: The Socialist Alternative from DANGEROUS MINDS on Vimeo.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Canada Opens Arctic To NATO, Plans Massive Weapons Buildup

By Rick Rozoff
Global Research, August 29, 2010

The government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper recently concluded the largest of a series of so-called Canadian sovereignty exercises in the Arctic, Operation Nanook, which ran from August 6-26.

Harper, Minister of National Defence Peter MacKay and Chief of the Defence Staff of the Canadian Forces General Walter Natynczyk visited the nation's 900 troops participating in the "Canadian Forces' largest annual demonstration of Canada's sovereignty in the Arctic" which included "Canada's air force, navy, coast guard...testing their combat capabilities in the frigid cold."
Nanook military exercises were commenced in 2007 when Russia renewed its claims to parts of the Arctic and resumed air patrols in the region after an almost twenty year hiatus. They are complemented by two other Canadian military drills in the region, Operation Nunalivut in the High Arctic and Operation Nunakput in the western Arctic.

Canada is formally involved in territorial disputes with two other Arctic claimants: The United States over the Beaufort Sea lying between Canada's Northwest Territories and Yukon Territory and the American state of Alaska, and Denmark over the Hans Island between Canada's Ellesmere Island and Denmark's Greenland possession on the other end of the Arctic.

Four of the five nations with Arctic claims, all except Russia, are founders of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization whose charter commits member states to mutual military assistance.

With the melting of the polar ice cap and the opening of the fabled Northwest Passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans for the first time in recorded history, the scramble for the Arctic - reported to contain 30 percent of the world's undiscovered natural gas and 13 percent of undiscovered oil according to last year's U.S. Geological Survey - is under way in earnest. The military value of the navigability of the passage is of even greater and more pressing significance.

Read more here.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Northwest Passage opens 4th year in a row

Dr. Jeff Masters' Wunderblog
August 27, 2010

"Diminishing the importance of Arctic sea ice loss by calling attention to Antarctic sea ice gain is like telling someone to ignore the fire smoldering in their attic, and instead go appreciate the coolness of the basement, because there is no fire there. Planet Earth’s attic is on fire.

This fire is almost certain to grow much worse. When the summertime Arctic sea ice starts melting completely a few years or decades hence, the Arctic will warm rapidly, potentially leading to large releases of methane gas stored in permafrost and in undersea “methane ice” deposits."

Read more here.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Nothing to lose but your ungreen chains

Only a revolution can stop global catastrophe, according to ecosocialist Joel Kovel

By Heather Robb
Montreal Mirror

What do polar ice caps and the workers of the world have in common?

Plenty, according to ecosocialist Joel Kovel. Both, he suggests, are getting walloped with the same mighty stick: the one in the hands of the free-enterprise economy. The author of The Enemy of Nature: The End of Capitalism or the End of the World? (published in 2002 and revised in 2007) and member of the American Green Party believes that saving the earth requires nothing short of a revolution.

“It’s either that or destruction. I don’t like to put things so starkly, but I think people are coming to realize this,” he says.

Oily Gaga

Outside the historic RBS branch at St Andrews Square in Edinburgh, Climate Campers perform "Oily Gaga" in protest over RBS's dirty investments in TarSands projects.The protestor attempt to open a bank account but for some reason the branch is closed.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Eco-localist dreams and realities

Well Sharp Blog

A central theme of green politics has always been the importance of the local, captured in the familiar slogan ‘think globally, act locally’. Advocates of relocalisation see “the local production of food, energy and goods and the local development of currency, governance, and culture” as the way to “strengthen local communities, improve environmental conditions and social equity.” With its focus on coping with peak oil and climate change, the Transition Towns project has a similar objective.

Greg Albo (2007) describes how these ‘eco-localist’ ideas emphasise

a host of approaches that … rest on some mix of community and cooperative economics, semi-autarchic trade, local currency systems and direct democracy in enterprises and local government. … In this vision, ecological balance is restored within decentralized communities by the need to find local solutions. (p.344)

Canadian Dimension Focuses on Ecosocialism

Canadian Dimension

The division within the environmental movement between market ecologism and ecosocialism has become increasingly clear with the failure of Copenhagen and the promise of Cochabamba.

This issue of CD focuses on the rising tide of ecosocialism. We feature an exclusive interview with ecosocialist founder Joel Kovel; the CD panel at the Peoples’ Summit on building the ecosocialist movement; a first-hand report on the historic Cochabamba meetings by collective member Terisa Turner; Ian Angus’s up to date account of the world-wide ecosocialist movement; Andrea Levy’s critique of climate change deniers on the Left; Cy Gonick’s introduction to ecosocialism as a system of thought; and Leigh Brownhill’s article on food sovereignty.

Purchase this issue of Canadian Dimension here.

Exploring Ecosocialism as a System of Thought

This article appears in the September/October issue of Canadian Dimension which focuses on ecosocialism. CD is available here.

By Cy Gonick
Canadian Dimension

A few years ago I came across a document called “The Ecosocialist Manifesto.” It had been co-authored in 2001 by Joel Kovel and Michael Lowy. I contacted Joel and arranged for him to write a piece on ecosocialism for Canadian Dimension. That article appeared in the November/December 2007 issue of CD. The cover of that issue reads “Capitalism vs. The Earth: The Ecosocialist Alternative.”

Since then I have been immersing myself on the literature of ecosocialism — elements of which I had first read many years earlier. It didn’t take long to conclude that the single most important contribution to ecosocialism has come from U.S.-based Marxist economist, James O’Connor.

It was in 1988 that Jim and his partner Barbara Laurence founded the journal Capitalism, Nature, Socialism. CNS brought together dozens of ecosocialists in several collectives around the world and sparked a vigorous intellectual discussion, which is still ongoing. Jim also acted as editor of a series of very important books for the Guilford Press. The series was titled Democracy and Ecology and included such titles as Is Capitalism Sustainable? Green Production, Minding Nature and The Greening of Marxism.

CSN is still being produced, now under the editorship of Joel Kovel. Ecosocialism also has a very active and excellent web site called Capitalism and Climate edited by Ian Angus.

Read more here.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Canada Insists Oil-Rich Tar Sands Are Sustainable

By Leon Kaye
Triple Pundit
Some of Canada’s most stunning natural beauty is in the prosperous province of Alberta. Walk through downtown Calgary and you get the vibe that it is the true economic center of Canada. Banff and Jasper National Parks boast incredible scenery and awe-inspiring wildlife. About 275 miles and a nine-hour drive away, the landscape changes, and displays the driver behind Alberta’s economic success.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Capitalists, Global Warming, and the Climate Justice Movement

By James Herod

The fifteenth meeting of the Conference of Participants (COP15) in the Kyoto Protocol took place this month in Copenhagen, Denmark from December 7 to 18, 2009. The purpose of the conference was to wrap up more than two years of negotiations by representatives of all the world's governments to get a legally binding treaty for a new round of reductions in carbon emissions under the U.N.'s Kyoto Protocol to replace the first round which was expiring.

So what happened? The United States sabotaged the negotiations by refusing to agree to any legally binding treaty, by refusing to commit itself to any significant reduction of its own carbon pollution, and by refusing to work through the U.N.'s open and democratic negotiating process, instead maneuvering behind the scenes in secret to strike a deal with a few select countries which was then sprung on the conference at the last minute. Naturally, the negotiations collapsed and the conference ended in failure, except for the United States, which outcome is obviously what it had intended all along. To understand the significance and probable consequences of this event some background will be necessary.

Read this essay here.

So you'd like to... Replace Capitalism with Ecosocialism?

An Amazon book promotion page...but still useful - NYC

This is a guide to the new field of Ecosocialism, the synthesis of Green and Red social theory, a paradigm with a practical as well as theoretical orientation for those coming to terms with the global ecological crisis.

Profound turning points in social theory have always been in response to wrenching crises in society, and the growing threat of global ecological disaster is sweeping together and coalescing critical viewpoints.

Visit this page here.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Cuts jeopardizing quality of Canada’s weather service: report

The report notes the lack of data on climate conditions can affect decisions on major infrastructure such as roads, buildings and sewers as well as a number of “real-life” decisions made by Canadians every day.

Mike De Souza
Postmedia News

OTTAWA — Sustained cuts to Environment Canada weather-service programs have compromised the government’s ability to assess climate change and left it with a “profoundly disturbing” quality of information in its data network, says a newly released internal government report.

The stinging assessment, obtained through an access-to-information request, suggests that Canada’s climate network infrastructure is getting progressively worse and no longer meets international guidelines.

“Environment Canada is on the road to junior partner status with respect to other agencies, both provincial and international, in the area of climate data gathering, quality control and archiving,” said the report, released to the Pembina Institute, an Alberta-based environmental research group.
Read more here.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

CO2 is "plant food" crock of the week

On going into the "ecological red" and Niger delta oil pollution

Two articles from today's Guardian.

We've gone into the ecological red
On 21 August our environmental resource budget ran out. Now we're living beyond the planet's means to support us.
Read here.

Outrage at UN decision to exonerate Shell for oil pollution in Niger delta
• Oil giant blamed for 10% of 9m barrels leaked in 40 years
• Report claims rest of leaking oil caused by saboteurs
Read here.

To subscribe to Guardian environment articles by RSS go here.

Left voters swing behind Greens, but what next? .

Ben Hillier
Socialist Alternative

In an election where the major parties put forward nothing but right-wing policy, the Greens have seen a massive boost to their vote – a clear indication that significant numbers of people are looking for a left-wing alternative.

But the contradictions in how the party has positioned itself in the election campaign will prove problematic now they have the balance of power in the senate.

Voters have left the ALP in droves, delivering a swing of 3.6 per cent nationally to the Greens. At the time of writing, the Greens vote as a share of the total has increased to 11.4 per cent in the lower house and to 13 per cent in the upper house.
Read more here.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

'Constant Denial': Liberal Report on Tar Sands Is Scathing

Grits' dissenting report on two-year parliamentary study calls for sweeping reforms.

By Andrew Nikiforuk,

A dissenting Liberal report on the highly contentious findings of a two-year long parliamentary study on the impact of the tar sands on Canada's freshwater supplies has accused both industry and government of being in a state of denial about "the potential negative consequences the industry might be having on a vital Canadian resource."

Read more here.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Not Under My Backyard

One German Town's Fight against CO2 Capture Technology

By Jessica Donath in Beeskow, Germany

The next Chernobyl? A death blow to tourism? Poisoned drinking water? The residents of Beeskow, Germany worry that a planned CO2 storage facility under their town could end in disaster and are fighting the project. Europe, though, hopes the technology will drastically reduce emissions.

The signs are everywhere -- on church towers, on fences surrounding private homes and in storefronts. At first glance, the scenes evoke the large-scale protests against nuclear power that rattled Germany in the 1970s and 1980s. The resemblance is no accident. Residents in the quiet town of Beeskow in the eastern German state of Brandenburg are gearing up for a fight. They fear the pollutants that are about to be pumped beneath their homes could become the next Chernobyl.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

“Stop Climate Crimes: leave the oil under the soil”

Terisa E. Turner
Terisa Turner's Homepage

A review of Cy Gonick (ed.), Energy Security and Climate Change: A Canadian Primer, Halifax and Winnipeg: Fernword Publishing and Winnipeg: Canadian Dimension, 2007 (pp. 167).

On 16 September 2009 some 25 Greenpeace activists from Canada, the USA and France shut down Shell’s 125,000 barrel per day Albion oil mining project an hour north of Fort McMurray in the Athabasca tar sands. While Greenpeace displayed a banner accusing Shell of climate crimes the petroleum transnational claimed that it was in the forefront of environmental stewardship and energy efficiency. For support Shell cited a 2007 study by Alberta’s Pembina Institute.

The deep background to this confrontation at the world’s largest industrial project is richly excavated in Cy Gonick’s collection, Energy Security and Climate Change: A Canadian Primer. Not only are NAFTA-dictated oil and gas exports depleting Canadians’ scarce reserves but the tar sands also account for half of the country’s Kyoto emissions gap and make serious emissions cuts impossible. The tar sands negatively impact water, forests, wildlife, the ways of life of indigenous peoples and the viability of small farmers. And through pipelines, natural gas extraction, refining, combustion emissions and land-fill, the tar sands affect everyone else.

Petr Cizek’s chapter exposes the co-optation of NGOs such as the Pembina Institute that are addicted to corporate money. Pembina’s economist Anielski falsely represented Canada’s boreal forests as significant carbon sinks whereas in fact they were net carbon emitters, “largely due to increases in forest fires and pest outbreaks, all related to global warming”. Cizek suggests that Anielski’s “deceptive conclusion that the boreal forest is now absorbing carbon and not actually producing it” fits nicely with his claim that the carbon  absorbed each year was worth $1.85 billion, “which could presumably be used to “offset” carbon emissions from the tar sands”.

Cizek adds that the Pembina Institute “just happens to make money selling “carbon offsets”. An employee of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, an environmental NGO, reported that the Canadian Boreal Initiative (funded by the Suncor-Sunoco Pew Charitable Trusts’ series of shell operations including Ducks Unlimited in Nashville and its Winnipeg branch-plant) is “reviewing and vetting their draft press  releases”.

Read this article here (PDF).

Purchase book here.

Movements for Climate Action: Toward Utopia or Apocalypse?

By Brian Tokar
Perspectives 2010
Institute for Anarchist Studies

There is little doubt today that we are living in apocalyptic times. From mega-selling Christian “end times” novels on the right, to the neoprimitivist nihilism that has captivated so much of the antiauthoritarian left, people across the political spectrum seem to be anticipating the end of the world.

Predictions of “peak oil” have inspired important efforts at community-centered renewal, but also encouraged the revival of gun-hoarding survivalism. A 2009 Hollywood disaster epic elaborated the myth, falsely attributed to Mayan peoples, that the world will end in 2012. A cable TV series featured detailed computer animations purporting to show exactly how the world’s most iconic structures would eventually crumble and collapse if people ceased to maintain essential infrastructure. Numerous literary genres have embraced the apocalyptic mood, from Jared Diamond’s detailed histories in Collapse, to Margaret Atwood’s current dystopian trilogy, which began with the darkly satiric biotech nightmare, Oryx and Crake.

The prevalence of apocalyptic images is not at all limited to literature and popular culture...

Read this article here.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Australian election: Breakthrough forecast for Greens

Major parties' failure to address public climate change concern may hand Greens up to 14% of vote and balance of power in senate

Wednesday 18 August 2010

Australia's Greens party is poised for a breakthrough in this weekend's elections, cashing in on the incoherence of the major parties on an issue that has claimed more than one political scalp.

The Greens could win up to 14% of the vote, according to opinion polls, nearly double what they achieved last time. It could give them the balance of power in the senate (elected by proportional representation), and a seat in the lower house.

The party is benefiting from uncertainty towards climate change on the left and denial on the right. The former prime minister Kevin Rudd lost the faith of the public after calling climate change ''the greatest moral challenge of our times" only to shelve legislation on a carbon tax. His successor, Julia Gillard, seeking her own mandate in Saturday's election, has been criticised for offering little more than a citizens' assembly on the issue.

Tony Abbott, the opposition leader, is a climate change sceptic. He assumed the Liberal party helm when his predecessor, Malcolm Turnbull, fell on his sword over the emissions trading scheme.

The leader of the Greens, Bob Brown, says his party's central message is action on climate change.

"There's enormous frustration and disappointment with both the bigger parties at their infighting and their failure to lay out a vision for Australia," he said. "If you don't [vote Green] you're voting for a do-nothing lot of big party politicians who simply don't have the gumption to take reasonable action on climate change."

The other reason for increasing interest in the Greens party is that it has positioned itself as the party of social action, calling for the legalisation of same-sex marriage (both major parties oppose this) and for more compassionate treatment of asylum seekers. The Greens' rise in popularity has come predominantly at the expense of Gillard's Labor party.

"I think what we're seeing is an element of Labor's constituency who are impatient with the very prosaic and pragmatic approach that it's taking and they're decamping to a third party," said Dr Nick Economou, a lecturer in politics at Melbourne's Monash University.

In Melbourne the Greens hope to translate such support into a first seat in the lower house. Labor's finance minister, Lindsay Tanner, is standing down as an MP, which gives the Greens a better chance of victory. The Greens' candidate for Melbourne, Adam Bandt, said the result would be close: "A lot has been forgotten, like the need to take urgent action on climate change. If seats start changing hands on the basis of values like compassion, sustainability and equality, it's really going to put those values into the national debate in a way they're currently absent."

National polls have repeatedly shown a majority of Australians want action on climate change. Rudd shelved his legislation on a carbon tax in April after it was rejected three times in the senate, even by the Greens, who said it did not go far enough. Gillard said this week there would not be a carbon tax under her leadership. Instead, she wants to invest in renewable energies and create a "citizens' assembly" of 150 ordinary Australians to forge community consensus on climate change.

Abbott said there would never be a price on carbon if he won office. Instead, he has promised a 15,000-strong "green army" of 18- to 25-year-olds who would earn £170 a week helping community and church groups with environmental projects.

If the Greens gain the balance of power in the senate on Saturday it means they can block legislation. Whichever party wins overall, it will have to negotiate with them.

According to social researcher Hugh Mackay, this is a reflection of how society has changed: "What's happened is that the world has caught up with the Greens. Suddenly their message is resonating with voters on a very large scale, whereas previously it was the eccentric fringe." The latest poll gives Gillard a four-point lead.

The GMO Catastrophe in the USA. A Lesson for the World

By F. William Engdahl
Global Research, August 18, 2010

Recently the unelected potentates of the EU Commission in Brussels have sought to override what has repeatedly been shown to be the overwhelming opposition of the European Union population to the spread of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) in EU agriculture. EU Commission President now has a Maltese accountant as health and enviromnent Commissioner to rubber stamp the adoption of GMO.

The former EU Environment Commissioner from Greece was a ferocious GMO opponent. As well, the Chinese government has indicated it may approve a variety of GMO rice. Before things get too far along, they would do well to take a closer look at the world GMO test lab, the USA. There GMO crops are anything but beneficial. Just the opposite.

Read this article here.

Arctic villages stop seismic tests as Canada mulls oil future

Renee Schoof
McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — Above the Arctic Circle in Canada near Greenland, five Inuit villages have won a court order that blocks a German icebreaker from conducting seismic tests of an underwater region that abounds with marine life — and possibly with oil, gas and minerals.

For the villagers who live in this mostly treeless region of fiords, icebergs and polar bears, the case was a victory that forces the national and territorial governments to consult them over the use of their homeland. The decision comes as Canada, Alaska and other Arctic regions are deciding whether to allow oil and gas development in Arctic waters that are covered by ice for nine or more months each year.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The proposals of “Peoples Agreement” in the texts for United Nations negotiation on Climate Change

Climate Connections

After a week of negotiations, the main conclusions of the World Peoples Conference on Climate Change and the Right of Mother Earth (Cochabamba, April 2010) have been incorporated in the document of United Nations on Climate Change, that now have been recognized as a negotiation text for the 192 countries which has been congregated in Bonn, Germany, during the first week august of 2010.

The most important points that have been incorporated for its consideration in the next round of negotiation before Cancun, that will take place in China, are:

• 50 % reduction of greenhouse gasses emission by developed countries for second period of commitments from the Kyoto Protocol years 2013 to 2017.

Ecosocialist International Network meeting

PARIS, SEPT SEPT 26-27, 2010

Dear Friends,

As you probably know, our network was founded in 2007, profiting from the International Marx Conference in Paris, which attracted scholars and activists from various countries around the world.

We intend to do the same thing this year, just after the International Marx Conference (September 22-25, 2010). It would take place on September 26-27, 2010.

It will be the occasion to exchange ideas about ecosocialism, consider future initiatives, leaflets or publications, as well as to reorganize our leading bodies.

The Conference will take place at the Mairie du 2ème arrondissement (Townhall of the second Paris district), 8 rue de la Banque, first floor; nearest underground station (Metro) : Banque.

The room is called "Salle des expositions", and it can accommodate some 80 people.

We will have the room at our disposition on Sunday September 26, from 9,30 to 19,30 hours, as well as also, probably, on Monday September 27.

For the EIN Secretariat,

Joel Kovel, Michael Löwy

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Whistler Old Growth Trees

Whistler, Canada, host of the 2010 Winter Olympics, is about to start cutting its old growth forests. This, despite the fact that Whistler likes to present itself as a model of sustainable practices.

Locals have tried to intervene and stop the cutting of 300-year-old trees, but the politicians, bureaucrats and business community aren't listening.

So we've decided to help motivate them. Hence, this video.

You can write the Mayor of Whistler here: mayorsoffice@whistler.ca

More info here: http://www.whistlerwatch.org/events.html

"Let's save the trees!"

(Lead singer, Oly and the Fat Cats)

Socialist Futurism: Sci-Fi for Reds and Greens

By Maeve66

A lot of socialists have a yen for science fiction. I mean, apart from the fact that we are often geeks anyway, science fiction almost always tries to imagine an alternate future. It extrapolates from current situations, social and technological, and tries to predict what could be.

That’s REALLY useful, because honestly, since Marx, socialists haven’t been very good at actually describing what a socialist future could be like, except in terms of negatives: there won’t be sexism, there won’t be oppression based on race, or sexuality, or ethnicity or culture. There won’t be material inequality: the productive means of the world will be carefully organized so that everyone has a decent material existence that also works with what is sustainable on this earth.

But that is a pretty amorphous description. How will the economy be organized? How will people live together? What new technologies will exist? Really, wouldn’t it be easier to recruit if we had something to point to as a model?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Gramsci Lives!

Michael Ekers, Alex Loftusb, Geoff Mann

Antonio Gramsci’s writings provide a valuable conceptual and political sensibility for critical approachesto nature. In this editorial introduction to a theme issue on Gramscian Political Ecologies we establish the broad contours to such an approach, stressing Gramsci’s integral marxism and commitment to a transformative politics relevant to the contemporary moment. Subsequently, we provide an introduction to existing political ecological research inspired by Gramsci’s wide-ranging writings.

In order to stimulate future research, we question Gramsci’s reflections on ‘nature’ in order to examine the embyonic possibilities and limitations therein. Gramsci, we suggest, provides stimulating commentary on the differentiated unity of nature and society: in part, this anticipates recent arguments on this subject. Similarly, we reflect on how Gramsci’s conceptualization of hegemony relates to core issues within political ecology.

Given the centrality of ‘environmental issues’ in the contemporary moment, it is necessary to consider how social groups enrol natures and environments (both material and symbolic) in their struggles for hegemony.

Read this article here.


Joni Mitchell, 1970.

Canada’s greenhouse gas regulations may have little or no effect

Muchmor Canada Magazine

The proposed federal government regulations to cut emissions from cars and trucks may have little or no effect, according to the first in-depth analysis of the regulations, conducted by the Pembina Institute.

Environment Minister Jim Prentice has presented the regulations, which apply to vehicle model years 2011-16, as the centrepiece of the federal government’s climate change initiatives, claiming that they will “generate substantial benefits for the environment, consumers and industry alike.” But Pembina’s analysis shows the relatively weak level of the standards, plus a major loophole in the regulations, may allow automakers to avoid improving fuel economy beyond business-as-usual levels before 2016, or even for the regulations’ entire lifespan.

Friday, August 13, 2010

How the Tar Sands Threaten Canada's Economic Fate

A short course in Dutch Disease, deindustrialization and the Bitumen Curse.

By Andrew Nikiforuk,

Every week Canada's least favorite Emir, Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach, earnestly lectures Canadians that the mighty tar sands are a boon to the national economy because "Alberta's engine drives Canada."

Just a week ago the eloquent Stelmach told the folks at the annual Canadian premiers conference that the project has the grandest of national visions: "It's all about jobs and it's all about the tax revenue that will flow to the federal government and the provinces." In other words dirty oil now cements prosperity and serves up stacks of cash for fat and lazy governments.

Read more here.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Russia's Agony a "Wake-Up Call" to the World

By Stephen Leah
VIENNA, Aug 11, 2010 (IPS)

A wind turbine on an acre of northern Iowa farmland could generate 300,000 dollars worth of greenhouse-gas-free electricity a year. Instead, the U.S. government pays out billions of dollars to subsidise grain for ethanol fuel that has little if any impact on global warming, according to Lester Brown.

"The smartest thing the U.S. could do is phase out ethanol subsidies," says Brown, the founder of the Washington-based Earth Policy Institute, in reference to rising food prices resulting from the unprecedented heat wave in western Russia that has decimated crops and killed at least 15,000 people.

Oil, Gas, and Canada-Colombia Free Trade

By Dawn Paley

Canada has been involved in oil and gas in Colombia since the 1920s, when the Canadian-based International Petroleum Corporation (IPC), then a subsidiary of Standard Oil of New Jersey, owned Tropical Oil and the Andian Pipeline Company. When ownership of these companies was due to revert back to the Colombian state in 1951(concessions at the time were for 30 years), IPC feared that it was going to lose both companies. So the foreign company tricked the Colombian government into believing that Andian was a separate company from Tropical, even though they shared the same parent company. These shenanigans earned Andian National a new concession, who then established its new head office in Canada until the 1970s.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Mammoth trucks en route to Canada’s tar sands threaten Montana

By Rick Bass
Cross posted from Grist.org

A new scheme threatens to tear up Montana to facilitate tar-sands oil extraction in Canada.

Imperial Oil (you couldn’t make up a name like that) has contracted with the Dutch company Mammoet (meaning “mammoth,” another apt name) to transport giant machines from South Korea through Idaho and Montana to Canada’s Athabaskan tar-sands project in Alberta.

Read more here.

What the Zapatistas can teach us about the climate crisis

By Foreign Policy in Focus

With their 1994 battle cry, “Ya basta!” ("Enough already!") Mexico’s Zapatista uprising became the spearhead of two convergent movements: Mexico’s movement for indigenous rights and the international movement against corporate globalization.

Skip to 2010: the movements for indigenous rights and against corporate globalization have converged again, this time globally, in the climate justice movement. Following the widely acknowledged failure of the climate negotiations in Copenhagen last December, the greatest manifestation of these converging movements took place this past April at the World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Cochabamba, Bolivia.

While political forces have conspired to make the Zapatistas largely invisible both inside Mexico and internationally, their challenge has always been to propose a paradigm of development that is both just and self-sustaining. It seems fair, then, to see if Zapatismo can shed any light on the muddle of politics around the climate crisis. Can the poetic riddles of Zapatista spokesperson Subcomandante Marcos serve as signposts on the rough road toward just climate solutions?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Co-opting the Green Movement

By Michael Barker
New Left Project

“American environmentalism emerged in the context of the most rapid economic expansion in history and matured in the technological culture that capitalism had spawned. To the extent that it has been a response to technology itself, American environmentalism has been shaped by it. And it has been shaped by capitalism as well.” Mark Dowie, 1995.

Needless to say, the ‘green’ ideas spewing forth from the world’s leading capitalists are unlikely to bring about any sort of meaningful resolution to the environmental destruction wrought by capitalism. This has not, however, stopped representatives of the world’s most toxic corporations from using their wealth to create well-endowed grantmaking bodies to manage their environmental opposition; a manipulative process that was successfully institutionalized by America’s leading robber barons in the early 20th century through the creation of not-for-profit corporations, otherwise known as philanthropic foundations.
Read more here.

Ecuador Sets Major Rainforest and Climate Protection Precedent

From Earth’s Newsdesk and the Rainforest Portal, projects of Ecological Internet (EI)http://www.ecoearth.info/newsdesk 

It is reported Ecuador will be compensated for leaving oil reserves in Yasuni National Park untouched. This is a major victory for Ecuador, the rainforest movement, and Ecological Internet – who was the first to campaign internationally on the issue.

Ecuador’s government announced today it has reached a deal with the United Nations Development Program under which donor countries will compensate Quito for leaving oil reserves untouched in a large primary rainforest filled national park. Yasuni National Park – covering some 9,820 km2, or about the size of Massachusetts – is thought to be one of Earth’s most biodiversity rich sites and is also home to several nomadic Indian tribes. Yasuni’s preservation (total protection, not “sustainable management” or “conservation”) would spare Earth some 410 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions that contribute to global warming; while keeping biodiversity, ecosystems and cultures fully intact. The official signing is reported to be held on Tuesday.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Up From the Skies

Sylvia Rae Tracey sings Jimi Hendrix's classic 'Up From The Skies' taken from her album of the same name on TenToTen Records.

Original by Hendrix here.

The No-Nonsense Guide to Green Politics

New Internationalist Books

The No-Nonsense Guide to Green Politics measures the rising tide of eco-activism and awareness and explains why it heralds a new political era worldwide.

Climate chaos and pollution, deforestation and consumerism: the crisis facing human civilization is clear enough. But the response of politicians to it has been cowardly and inadequate, while environmental activists have tended to favour single-issue campaigns rather than electoral politics.

About the Author: Derek Wall is a former Principal Speaker of the British Green Party and was a founder of the Ecosocialist International and Green Left. He is the author of numerous books, including Getting There: Steps Towards a Green Society, 1990; Green History: A Reader in Environmental Literature, Philosophy, and Politics, 1994; and Babylon and Beyond: The Economics of Anti-Capitalist, Anti-Globalist and Radical Green Movements, 2005.

Available from New Internationalist books here.
Amazon "Look Inside" here.

Ignoring nature’s wake-up call

Linda McQuaig
Toronto Star

If there is a God, she’s surely bewildered by the apparent determination of the human race to ignore the deafening wake-up call she’s recently sent our way.

As wake-up calls go, it’s hard to beat the BP oil spill. The relentless gush of oil into the Gulf of Mexico for the past 85 days, captured live on camera, should be enough to finally force us to look critically at the deeply flawed concepts that have become the guiding ideologies of our times — starting with unbridled capitalism, and its elevation of economic gain above the very sustainability of the Earth we inhabit.

Another dominant creed that cries out for rethinking is blind faith in technology and the human ability to solve any problem.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The paralyzing struggle over purpose in the northern left

Posted by Adam Davidson-Harden
Canadian Dimension

Those who embrace the moniker of the ‘left’ in the richer, northern countries acknowledge that a host of issues and struggles play into its definition. While the labour movement embodies the core of what is conventionally understood as the left, the 20th and early 21st century has seen a blossoming of movements that have brought critical issues together in a mindset that cherishes principles of deep egalitarianism, substantive democratization, cultural diversity (respecting human rights), expansive and well-protected civil rights and freedoms, and increasingly, sustainability and ecological justice.

 Both the terms ‘social justice’ and ‘global justice’ hint at the passion which drives many who self-identify as being ‘on the left’, to work to advance and enact politics which can help steer the world onto a sustainable course by remedying both the terrifying inequality and deprivation, as well as the severe ecological impacts that attend our standard economic way of doing things in the north.
Read more here.