Saturday, February 19, 2011

Change the System, Not the Climate!

Resistance Books

The fundamental problem facing humanity today is catastrophic climate change brought on by runaway greenhouse gas emissions. The relatively narrow band of climatic conditions within which we can function has been destabilised. As average temperatures rise extreme weather events are increasing (cyclones, floods, heat waves and droughts) and ocean levels look like rising dramatically, potentially making refugees of hundreds of millions of people. The very survival of the human race has now been called into question.

Human societies have always impacted on their environment. But the source of our current crisis is quite specific: it is the operations of modern capitalism. The drive for profits by the giant corporations (predominantly Western) has been relentless and has been pursued in complete disregard of any impact on the environment.

Read more HERE.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The case for an electric car industry in Canada?

By Richard Girard
February 17, 2011

Over the past two years a serious buzz has built over the electric car. The high-profile marketing and release of the Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf in the United States has prompted much of this attention while the mainstream press in Canada and the United States has been scrutinizing these products in reports and editorials. Every car show around the world is featuring electric vehicles, and it seems that they could become the next big thing in personal mobility.

Electric propulsion of automobiles has been around for over 100 years, so why are electric vehicles only now making a serious run at the buying public? One answer is that automobiles have become one of the most pervasive symbols of the fossil fuel economy that is devastating the natural environment. Cars have therefore become a regular focal point in environmental debates about "what is to be done" about green house gas emissions and climate change, issues that have now entered into mainstream consciousness.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Green Jobs: Frustration with Neoliberals over ‘Industrial Policy’

By Carl Davidson
Beaver County Blue

Nearly 2000 people gathered at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel over three bitterly cold days in Washington, DC Feb 8-10 for the 4th Annual ‘Good Job, Green Jobs’ conference. The attendees were a vibrant mixture of seasoned trade union organizers, representatives of government agencies and young environmental activists waging a variety of battles around climate change and the green economy.

“We want everyone to work at a green job in a green and clean economy,” declared David Foster, executive director of the sponsor, the Blue-Green Alliance, opening the first plenary. “But what stands in our way?” The answer was a new Congress stalemated by neoliberal resurgence centered in a bloc of the GOP and the far right. “It’s not going to be easy. We’re going to have to fight for it the old-fashioned way, from the bottom up, brick by brick, and floor by floor.”

Monday, February 14, 2011

Karl Marx, Ecologist

“Even an entire society, a nation, or all simultaneously existing societies taken together, are not owners of the earth. They are simply its possessors, its beneficiaries, and have to bequeath it in an improved state to succeeding generations.”

By Simon Butler
Green Left Weekly
February 21, 2009

As the world economy spirals down into its deepest crisis since the great depression, the writings of Karl Marx have made a return to the top seller lists in bookstores. In his native Germany, the sales of Marx’s works have trebled.

His theories have been treated with contempt by conservative economists and historians. Yet, in the context of the latest economic downturn, even a few mainstream economists have been compelled to ask whether Marx was right after all.

Marx argued that capitalism is inherently unstable, fraught with contradictions and prone to deep crises.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

For Darwin Day 2011


D.A. Stack

Myths, misunderstanding and neglect have combined to obscure our understanding of the relationship between left-wing politics and Darwinian science. This article seeks to redress the balance by studying how radical and socialist thinkers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, desperate to legitimate their work with scientific authority, wrestled with the paradoxical challenges Darwinism posed for their politics. By studying eight leading radical and socialist thinkers—ranging from the co-founder of the theory of evolution by natural selection, Alfred Russel Wallace, through to Britain’s first Labour Prime Minister, J. Ramsay MacDonald—this article analyses the often tortuous relationship between Darwinism and the left, as well as providing fresh insights into the historiographical debate over ‘continuity’ in radicalism and socialism.

A strict definition of ‘Darwinian’ is adopted throughout, in order to help us delineate what was specifically ‘Darwinian’ from what merely reflected the general evolutionary ethos of the age, in left-wing thought, and to move us beyond the sensational and distorting focus on eugenics which has characterized previous studies.

Read more HERE.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Why can't capitalism solve climate change?

Cuba shows the way forward

By Jesse Thomson-Burns
February 11, 2011

Across the United States, storms have been raging, the likely result of climate change and global warming brought about by rising levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

According to a Democracy Now! news summary, Feb. 2: “A massive winter storm has affected 100 million people from New Mexico to New England. … The National Weather Service issued storm watches, warnings and advisories in more than 30 states and blizzard warnings for eight. States of emergency were declared in Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri and Oklahoma. Many scientists have linked the extreme winter weather patterns to climate change.”

Good Jobs, Green Jobs 2011

By Scott Marshall
People's World
February 11 2011

This week's Good Jobs Green Jobs conference in Washington DC is the embodiment of a continually developing and powerful coalition in action. Like most progressive efforts the group is grappling with changes in the political landscape in the wake of the 2010 elections. And like many in labor and the social movements they see grassroots focus on state and local organizing as critical to moving forward.

The presentations and discussion were energetic, determined and full of fighting spirit (see video below). This 2011 conference brought together 1600 delegates representing 795 organizations from 48 states. It included a broad array of labor, environmental, civil rights, business and social justice activists.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Another World Is Possible - It's Called Ecosocialism

Kanya D'Almeida interviews U.S. scholar and organiser JOEL KOVEL

Joel Kovel
NEW YORK, Feb 9, 2011 (IPS) - As the powerful collective energy continues to surge through Dakar, veterans of the World Social Forum (WSF) are taking a moment to examine the history, trajectory and future of the alternative global movement.

Widely considered the father of the fast-growing Ecosocialist movement, Joel Kovel has played a leading role in the WSF since 2003, following the movement from Mumbai to Nairobi to Belem.

Co-author of the Ecosocialist manifesto, which details an alternative route to humanity's current path of environmental destruction, Kovel told IPS that we have to name this "other world" and position it firmly against the threat of global capital. Excerpts from the interview follow.

Q: What has been your role in past WSFs?

World Social Forum kicks off in Senegal

Associated Press

 Bolivia's President Evo Morales stands near a flag representing Bolivia's
indigenous Andean peoples as he speaks at Chiekh Anta Diop
University on the opening day of the World Social Forum in Dakar.

DAKAR, Senegal — The World Social Forum kicked off in this corner of west Africa on Sunday, its mantra of social change – “another world is possible” – proving especially resonant as anti-government uprisings continue to rock Egypt in the northern part of the continent.

“This forum comes at a time when the world is changing,” the forum’s Africa coordinator, Taoufik Abdallah, told thousands assembled at Dakar’s Cheikh Anta Diop University Sunday. “It is up to us to act. It is up to us to change the world.”

The weeklong event, now in its 11th year, serves as a counterweight to the World Economic Forum, which recently concluded in Davos, Switzerland. It opened with a march through downtown Dakar attended by Bolivian President Evo Morales, A hero of the anti-capitalist movement, Morales was elected in 2005 and is the country’s first leader from its indigenous majority.

“The enemies of the people are the neo-liberalism and the neo-colonialism which not only oppress us but also take our natural resources,” Morales said. “We are going to raise the people of the world, whether they be workers, intellectuals or youth, against these enemies. In the interest of their countries and their people, they are able to rise up. They have already done it in Latin America just as they are doing it today in the Arab world and in Africa.”

The forum defines itself as an open space where those “opposed to neo-liberalism and a world dominated by capital or by any form of imperialism come together to pursue their thinking.”

Besides Morales, the event is expected to draw other well-known socialists, including a planned Monday appearance by former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Brazil’s first working-class president.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Decision allowing transport of radioactive waste condemned

By Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility and affiliated groups
February 7, 2011

The Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, the Coalition for a Nuclear Free Great Lakes, the Mouvement Sortons le Québec du Nucléaire, and many affiliated groups, join together in condemning the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission's decision to allow Bruce Power (BP) to ship 16 used steam generators -- amounting to 1,600 tonnes of radioactive waste -- through the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River halfway around the world to Sweden.

This shipment contains at least six times - and possibly more than 50 times -- the maximum amount of radioactivity allowed by IAEA regulations. Because of this, the CNSC had to make a "Special Arrangement" exempting Bruce Power from standard IAEA regulations.

Stephen Jay Gould’s Critique of Progress

By Richard York and Brett Clark
Monthly Review
February, 2011

A question of central importance in the interpretation of patterns of evolution is whether history had to turn out the way it did. From before Charles Darwin’s time up to the present it has been commonly assumed that history, both human history and the history of life in general, unfolded in a somewhat deterministic manner, that the present was inevitable, either ordained in Heaven or, in the scientific view, mechanically produced by deterministic natural laws. This view contrasts with that of the historian: that the quirks, chance events, and particularities of each moment make history, and that the world could have been other than it is.

The renowned paleontologist and evolutionary theorist Stephen Jay Gould struggled throughout his career to come to terms with the nature of history and to understand the interplay of general laws and historical particulars, the respective importance of necessity and contingency.1 He developed a sophisticated and nuanced position that recognized both the importance of general laws and the role of contingency, arguing that, although natural laws limit the pathways that can be taken, the particular pathway—one of the many available—that is actually taken depends on numerous contingent events. Thus the world could not have been just any way, but many worlds are possible, of which we live in just one.

Read more HERE.

Richard York is an associate professor of sociology at the University of Oregon and co-editor of the Sage journal Organization & Environment. Brett Clark is an assistant professor of sociology at North Carolina State University. This essay is an adapted chapter from their book The Science and Humanism of Stephen Jay Gould (Monthly Review Press, 2011).

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Honduras: Massive UN-Supported African Palm Plantations Leading to Oppression, Kidnapping and Murder

February 5th, 2011

A young palm plantation, Honduras
The promise of carbon credits and free money from schemes like the U.N.-backed Clean Development Mechanism, appear to be among the causes of renewed violence. Jeff Conant is a journalist and also Communications Director for Global Justice Ecology Project. - The GJEP Team

Since the 2009 coup that overthrew the government of President Manuel Zelaya in Honduras, the countryside of the lower Aguan Valley, a long embattled region and one of Central America’s richest agricultural areas, has undergone a brutal rash of kidnappings, murders, detentions and intimidation.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Carbon Trading - an Ecosocialist Critique

By Daniel Tanuro
International Viewpoint
March 2008

This contribution identifies 5 fundamental reasons why carbon trading is inadequate for the struggle against Climate Change. It focuses in particular on the European Emission Trading System (EU-ETS) but most of the conclusions are generally applicable.

1. Carbon trading is a source of windfall profits for polluting sectors. They invest little or none of that profit in low carbon technologies, and instead try to slow or delay the implementation of climate policy. The over-allocation of quotas in the phase 1 of the EU-ETS provided the steel sector a windfall profit of 480 million Euros at the end of 2005. In the same period, RWE, a German utility, made a huge profit of 1.8 billion Euros. Even the oil businesses made windfall profits: Esso (£10 million), BP (£17.9 million), Shell (£20.7 million).

Friday, February 4, 2011

Engels' Dialectics of Nature and the Joy of Cooking

By Thomas Riggins
Political Affairs
July 17 2007

One of the chapters (incomplete) in Engels' 'Dialectics of Nature' is entitled: 'The Part Played by Labour in the Transition from Ape to Man'. Although this was written in the 1870s it compares well, I think, with scientific ideas that are considered new today. I propose to compare Engels' views with those reported by Ann Gibbons in an article in the June 15, 2007 issue of Science ('Food for Thought: Did the first cooked meals help fuel the dramatic evolutionary expansion of the human brain?').

This article is primarily about Harvard primatologist Richard Wrangham's theory that cooking led to the expansion of the human brain, that is, the Homo erectus brain, and resulted in the intellectual development of Homo sapiens.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Leo Panitch on Cap and Trade

Leo Panitch
The Real News
June 7, 2009

Leo Panitch, co-editor of Socialist Register, author of Renewing Socialism, on why capitalist mechanisms won’t end CO2 emissions.