Sunday, October 30, 2011

False Climate Solutions Exposed

Earth Grab: Geopiracy, the New Biomassters and Capturing Climate Genes
By Diana Bronson, Hope Shand, Jim Thomas, Kathy Jo Wetter

Preparations for the Rio+20 meeting that could decide whether humans survive or not are hotting up. 1 November 2011 is the deadline for official contributions to its Zero Draft document but over the next seven months decision-makers and campaigners will need all the facts they can lay their hands on.

‘Earth Grab - Geopiracy, the New Biomassters and Capturing Climate Genes‘ - essential, cutting-edge climate science in everyday language – is published this week (27 October 2011). The authors reveal information that the large corporations who profit from climate change do not want the public to know.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Canadian Interfaith Call for Leadership and Action on Climate Change

Citizens for Public Justice
Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

At an historic meeting in Ottawa on October 23rd and 24th, some 30 faith communities of Canada met on Parliament Hill and discussed the urgent need for ecological justice, especially with regards to the climate change crisis. CPJ helped organize these meetings and the CPJ Board chair, Mark Huyser-Wierenga of Edmonton, is a signatory.

This “Canadian Interfaith Call for Leadership and Action on Climate Change” was developed in advance of the 17th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, to be held in Durban, South Africa, November 29th to December 9, 2011.

Read this important statement HERE.

The origin of our species

The  origin of our species might seem a question of purely scientific interest, but it is actually also an intensely political one. Stringer gives us a dialectical understanding of our evolution, argues Elaine Graham-Leigh. 

Written by Elaine Graham-Leigh 
27 October 2011

The origin of homo sapiens might seem a question of purely scientific interest, but it is actually also an intensely political one. From the Just So stories of evolutionary psychology to various ideas about innate human behaviour, there are no shortage of arguments seeking to justify aspects of modern society with reference to the prehistoric past. This is not restricted to the history of our own species, homo sapiens, as our earlier evolutionary history can also be held to be extremely relevant for understanding the present.

An example of this was the development of the theory, in the 1950s and 1960s, about the supposedly violent behaviour of an ancient hominid species called Australopithecus africanus, which was then usually thought to be an ancestor of all later hominid species (the group of species to which homo sapiens belongs).

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The politics of denial

William Marsden's new book takes us to United Nations climate talks in Copenhagen and Cancún, and on expeditions to Canada's Arctic. Here is an excerpt from Fools Rule: Inside the Failed Politics of Climate Change:

The Gazette
October 22, 2011

The journey to Cancún began six months earlier in Bonn, Germany, home to the UNFCCC and a half-dozen other UN environmental agencies. It was here that delegates met for the first time since Copenhagen to begin repairing the wreckage and getting the talks back on track. At least that was the stated desire. Given the jagged pattern of advance and retreat as the game plays out, it's impossible to know the true intentions of each one of the 192 countries involved in the negotiations.

In Bonn, the charged atmosphere of Copenhagen had melted away, leaving behind exhaustion and confusion. Delegates arrived still wrapped in the fog of forgotten purpose. "The confusion is, where is this going in the end?" a senior European Union delegate told me. "Is this leading to a treaty, and what does it look like? What about the Kyoto Protocol? What is happening in the United States? I think what you see is that there is a big realization that very little has happened in terms of shifting positions of countries since Copenhagen. Positions haven't changed. It is funny, because you still hear on the floor people saying, 'Oh yeah, a legally binding agreement.' Then at the same time you also hear people saying in bilateral discussions, 'It's not going to happen.'"

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Art as a Weapon

Eric Drooker and the persistence of the committed artist

By John W. Stuart 
Art Threat
October 19, 2011

There is a particularly cynical groan that comes out of a critic’s voice when the term politics is paired with art or music, especially when the politics in question is current. When politics is buried beneath layers of conceptual academic skulduggery it is much easier to swallow. If it is historical it can also pass – otherwise terms like agit-prop, doctrinaire, and didactic are used with abandon.

This attitude may be a side effect of the post-war boom years, or maybe it was the rise of theory-based art education, which turned its back on craft in favour of lofty intellectual pretensions. Regardless of where it comes from, it is clearly myopically misguided in a world where civil rights are eroding as fast as arable land.

Read more HERE.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Occupy the future -- A new generation reaches for the emergency brake

By Dave Oswald Mitchell
October 14, 2011

When students take to the streets of Paris or London today, it is no longer to bring about a better world, but to defend what they can of the world their parents took for granted.
- Dougald Hine, 'Remember the Future?', Dark Mountain II

If someone has compiled an Occupy Wall Street reading list, investigative journalist Matt Taibbi's book Griftopia is surely on it. Taibbi argues:

"The financial leaders of America and their political servants have seemingly reached the cynical conclusion that our society is not worth saving and have taken on a new mission that involves not creating wealth for all, but simply absconding with whatever wealth remains in our hollowed-out economy."

Taibbi is clearly dabbling in rhetorical hyperbole here, as he so memorably did when he called Goldman Sachs "a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money," but the image of a kleptomaniac elite stripping the commons of everything that's not bolted to the floor because they've lost hope for the future has a certain truthiness to it. The past three years of massive bailouts, deepening debt and vicious public austerity make a lot more sense if Taibbi's right.

Can Margaret Atwood's environmental message reach a broad public?

By Kurt Cross
Resource Insights
Sunday, October 16, 2011

Okay. So you want to reach the broad public about the multiple, intertwining, galloping climate, resource, and environmental disasters facing every living creature on Earth. Do you write up a detailed, compact analysis of the problem and make it available on the Internet? Should you put it all into a documentary film to make it more accessible? Maybe you should write a companion book as well for the few remaining readers willing to pay for an actual physical copy of something.

All of that has been done, of course. And, it would be unfair to say that it has had no effect. There is now a markedly larger group of people in the world who are conversant about all the major climate, resource and environmental problems we face. There are even many more politicians and policymakers who've been educated in this way. But instead of the swift, decisive action one might expect to address these onrushing catastrophes-in-the-making, the response--when there has been any at all--has been rather tepid.

David Suzuki speaks his mind at Occupy Montreal

Friday, October 14, 2011

“Pipe Dreams” hits screens

U.S. documentary maker takes on the Keystone XL

By Julia Pyper
Art Threat
October 14, 2011

American filmmaker, Leslie Iwerks, has turned her attention to Canada once again in her new film “Pipe Dreams.” In 2009, Iwerks produced two documentaries — “Downstream” and “Dirty Oil” — that were critical of the health and social impacts associated with the Alberta oil sands. This year, the Academy Award nominated director is shedding light on the environmental battle surrounding the Keystone KL Pipeline.

The documentary is narrated by actress Daryl Hannah, who was arrested in front of the White House in August during an anti-pipeline protest. The film features interviews with California Representative Henry Waxman (D) and Nebraska Senator Tony Fulton (R), amongst others. It also and gives voice to farmers and landowners living in America’s heartland near the Nebraska Sand Hills and Ogallala Aquifer, who fear oil spills from the proposed pipeline will damage their land and contaminate their water.

The U.S. State Department held its final public hearing on the controversial $7 billion Keystone XL project last week. A large number of presentations focused on environmental concerns, while others pointed to America’s need for safe oil and jobs. To check out Iwerks’ contribution to the Keystone XL saga, watch for screenings of “Pipe Dreams” as the film slowly makes it debut around the continent.

New Report on CETA and Tar Sands

By Andrea Harden-Donahue
Council of Canadians
October 14, 2011

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Organizing Cools the Planet!

By Joshua Kahn Russell
Organizing Cools the Planet
Order Organizing Cools the Planet HERE.

Organizing Cools The Planet offers a challenge to all concerned about the ecological crisis: find your frontline. This booklet weaves together stories, analysis, organizing tools, and provocative questions, to offer a snapshot of the North American Climate Justice movement and provide pathways for readers to participate in it.

Authors share hard lessons learned, reflect on strategy, and grapple with the challenges of their roles as organizers who do not come from “frontline communities” but work to build a movement big enough for everyone and led by the priorities and solutions of low-income people, communities of color, Indigenous, youth, and other constituencies most directly impacted by the crisis. Rooted in the authors’ experiences organizing in local, national, and international arenas, they challenge readers to look at the scale of ecological collapse with open eyes, without falling prey to disempowering doomsday narratives. This booklet is for anyone who wants to build a movement with the resiliency to navigate one of the most rapid transitions in human history.

Prospects for Eco-Socialism

By Saral Sarkar
Our Place in  the World
October 11, 2011

I. The Question

In Beijing, one of the listeners of my lecture on Eco-Socialism said after hearing me that he was fully convinced, but, he asked, “When will eco-socialism come?” It was a very difficult question, a short answer to which was not possible. I only answered that I was not an astrologer. It was, however, an interesting question, though not exactly in this form. It is better to ask: what are the prospects for eco-socialism? Or: are there indications today that give us hope that the majority of the people of the world or of some countries would in the near future embrace eco-socialism and transform their capitalist society to an eco-socialist one? It is a question worth reflecting upon because, as the world situation is today, it cannot go on like this for long.

For all who consider themselves to be a socialist, Marx's view on this question can well serve as a starting point. Marx wrote in his preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy:

"No social order ever perishes before all the productive forces for which there is room in it have developed; and new higher relations of production never appear before the material conditions of their existence have matured in the womb of the old society itself. Therefore mankind always sets itself only such tasks as it can solve; since, looking at the matter more closely, it will always be found that the task itself arises only when the material conditions for its solution already exist or are at least in the process of formation.” (Marx & Engels.1977: 504).

Read more HERE.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Canada needs system change not climate change

What does it mean where the rubber hits the road?

By Eric Doherty
October 11, 2011

The slogan “System change not climate change” is well known in Europe, and is becoming a central rallying cry in the growing global movement for climate justice. But to many people in North America, it is still an unfamiliar and even threatening slogan. So what does “system change” mean where the rubber hits the road?

The climate crisis is among the most serious challenges ever faced by humanity, but there are real and equitable solutions. These solutions will have benefits beyond climate stability, including cleaner air, healthier communities, and sheltering us from the wild oil price swings expected due to the peaking of conventional oil production.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Climate change social change conference attracts hundreds

By Viv Miley
Green Left Weekly
Saturday, October 8, 2011

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.

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 sovereignty, against environmental destruction, for women's rights, for queer rights, for peace, social justice and workers’ rights.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Africa Must Lead: COP 17 Must Deliver Climate Justice to Developing Nations

By Glenn Ashton
October 7, 2011

Climate change predominantly impacts those who have benefited least from fossil fuelled industrialisation. The poor have less social, economic and political capacity to adapt to climate change than the rich. The arrival of the global climate negotiating lobby on African shores must focus the minds of the world on how climate change impacts developing nations and how we propose to solve this problem.

When the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP 17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meets in Durban in late November this year it is important to raise global awareness of the implications for the global South – the poor and developing nations of the world. The matter of climate justice is central to any fair and binding solution.

The UN climate change framework arose from agreements made during the first earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, which destabilise global climatic systems. The best-known outcome from the many subsequent meetings was the agreement made in 1997 at COP 3 in Kyoto, Japan, with the so-called Kyoto protocol to reduce CO2 emissions.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Marxism's environmental legacy

Dan Sharber looks at the deep connections between Marxist thought and environmentalism.

By Dan Sharber
Socialist Worker
October 6, 2011

ALTHOUGH NOT as popular a charge as it once was, Marxists are sometimes accused of being concerned with economics to the exclusion of environmental concerns. According to some environmentalists and leftists, Marxists praise the domination of nature by man, while leaving environmental problems to be sorted out by some future technological innovation.

Reading Marx, however, tells a different story. In his 1844 political manuscripts, Marx wrote about the link between humans and the natural world:

Physically, man lives only on these products of nature, whether they appear in the form of food, heating, clothes, a dwelling, etc. The universality of man appears in practice precisely in the universality which makes all nature his inorganic body--both inasmuch as nature is (1) his direct means of life, and (2) the material, the object, and the instrument of his life activity. Nature is man's inorganic body--nature, that is, insofar as it is not itself human body. Man lives on nature--means that nature is his body, with which he must remain in continuous interchange if he is not to die. That man's physical and spiritual life is linked to nature means simply that nature is linked to itself, for man is a part of nature.

Anti-Capitalism and Environmentalism as a Political Alternative

By Esther Vivas
October 6, 2011

The starting point for today’s debate is to note that humanity is in a global ecological crisis that is an intrinsic part of the systemic crisis of capitalism. And one of the differences from past economic crises, from that of the 1970s or the crash of 1929, is precisely its ecological aspect.

Indeed, we cannot analyse the global ecological crisis separately from the crisis in which we are immersed or the critique of the economic model that has led us into it. It is also necessary to reject outright the logic of profit maximization of the capitalist system and the productivist orientation which takes no account of the limits of planet Earth.

The reality is that we are witnessing a crisis of civilization that has multiple dimensions: a crisis of ecology, food, care, finance, and as José Saramago says, ethics and morality. A crisis which puts on the agenda the inability of the capitalist system to meet the basic needs of the majority of the population and threatens the very survival of humanity. Therefore, we are not in a passing crisis. The crisis is going to last. And there is no light at the end of the tunnel. Or worse yet, as argued by the philosopher Slavo Sizek, the light at the end of the tunnel has proved to be that of a train approaching us at full speed.

Read more HERE.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Climate Activists Stand With Occupy Wall Street Movement

By Stephen Lacey
Climate Progress
Oct 5, 2011

The Occupy Wall Street Movement started with a handful of protesters in the middle of September. Today, it is snowballing into a national movement for “the other 99 percent” — representing a diverse group of Americans who feel disenfranchised by a political and financial system that ignores them.

And now, riding on the momentum created by the Keystone XL pipeline protests in Washington last month, leaders of the climate movement are getting involved.

This evening, a coalition of climate activists led by co-founder Bill McKibben is marching through New York City and joining the thousands of protesters outside of Wall Street:

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Can genetics explain human nature?

The Marxist Theory of Art
Friday, 30 September 2011

A 45-minute talk  by Steven Rose which sets out a persuasive and progressive approach to the dialectics of genetics and culture. He argues:

“To argue that we are determined by our genes, without actually understanding that our genes are meaningless except in the context of the cells in which they are embedded, the bodies in which those cells exist, the societies in which those bodies actually grow up, and the ways in which we transform continuously those societies as we grow and change the world around us, is to fundamentally misunderstand the nature of what it is to be the bio-social organism that we are.“

View videos HERE.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Playing into enemy hands

By Derek Wall
Morning Star
01 September 2011

Nobody can say that the left suffers from too much agreement. Divisions run deep within political parties and the bitterness between different organisations on the British left leaves an intense taste.

Sectarianism of various kinds is a major barrier to presenting an alternative or alternatives to the decaying neoliberal consensus. How can we move forward and cooperate overcoming such divisions to achieve positive goals?

The neoliberal consensus is bankrupt but like the cartoon character who runs over the cliff and continues into space unaware that the ground has disappeared, neoliberalism continues to stride into the dark abyss of empty space.