Sunday, July 31, 2011

Capitalism in Wonderland

Brett Clark, John Bellamy Foster and Richard York
Monthly Review
May 2009

In a recent essay, “Economics Needs a Scientific Revolution,” in one of the leading scientific journals, Nature, physicist Jean-Philippe Bouchaud, a researcher for an investment management company, asked rhetorically, “What is the flagship achievement of economics?” Bouchaud’s answer: “Only its recurrent inability to predict and avert crises.”

Although his discussion is focused on the current worldwide financial crisis, his comment applies equally well to mainstream economic approaches to the environment—where, for example, ancient forests are seen as non-performing assets to be liquidated, and clean air and water are luxury goods for the affluent to purchase at their discretion.

The field of economics in the United States has long been dominated by thinkers who unquestioningly accept the capitalist status quo and, accordingly, value the natural world only in terms of how much short-term profit can be generated by its exploitation. As a result, the inability of received economics to cope with or even perceive the global ecological crisis is alarming in its scope and implications.

Read more HERE.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Book Review - Kivalina: A Climate Change Story

By Bryan Walker
Hot Topic
July 20, 2011

The remote Alaska village of Kivalina has been in danger for a number of years from the effects of climate change: “Sea ice no longer adequately forms on the village’s coastline, leaving the tiny island—perched on a thin strip of land between a sea and a lagoon—vulnerable to storms and erosion, and requiring relocation.” But the word relocation is easier spoken than achieved, as Christine Shearer’s arresting book Kivalina: A Climate Change Story tells.

Government sources of finance don’t appear to be available for the move estimated to cost between $100 million and $400 million. The village therefore in 2008 filed a claim against twenty four oil, electricity and coal companies alleging that the defendants are significant contributors of greenhouse gas emissions, exacerbating global warming and the erosion in Kivalina, constituting a public nuisance under federal and state law. The suit seeks damages of up to $400 million, enough to cover relocation costs. There were secondary claims of conspiracy and concert of action against eight of the companies for conspiring to create a false scientific debate about climate change to deceive the public. The ruling to date is that the issue of addressing climate change and its negative effects is not a matter for the courts but should be left to the government. The judgment is being appealed.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence

This sweeping narrative opens with the story of a single, ominous killing on the drought-stricken savannas of Northwest Kenya, a land where heavily armed pastoralists are fighting each other for water and cattle.

Moving outward from the iconic death of one man, Parenti takes us on a tour of the "tropic of chaos," a belt of restive post-colonial states that lie along the planet's mid latitudes and are suffering the brunt of the planet's rough weather. He takes us to embattled areas of Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan, vividly describing the way environmental changes have fueled violence and military conflict; he travels to the slums and deserts of Brazil and Mexico, where climate-driven rural crises are pushing people into the furnace of the urban drug wars; and he scopes out the increasingly militarized U.S. border, revealing how this unraveling world in the South is being met by the military of the Global North.

Combining historical research with on-the-ground reporting, Parenti shows how environmental crisis is colliding with the twin legacies of cold war militarism and unbridled free market economics to cause fragile nations to disintegrate into failed states. He also critiques the way the countries of the Global North have responded to this dangerous new world: rather than adapt by defusing tensions and embracing cleaner forms of energy, these governments are responding with greater repression, surveillance, and a program of permanent counterinsurgency.

Tropic of Chaos is a survey of a world in peril and an urgent call to action by one of our most intrepid and respected international journalists: those living in the privileged Global North must recognize that our own future is inextricably linked to the fate of the struggling nations of the Global South. Despite its bleak panorama, Tropic of Chaos ends with pragmatic suggestions for moving toward a more just and sustainable world.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Canada being sued for NAFTA violation by private American wind energy company

Local procurement rules in Ontario Green Energy Act threatened.
July 21, 2011

An Texan wind power firm is taking advantage of a NAFTA clause that lets companies sue the Canadian government if provinces do not comply with the agreement. Shawn McCarthy of the Globe and Mail explains why the Ontario Green Energy Act is being targeted, and what the Ontario Liberals are doing to defend it.

"Ontario's controversial green energy policy is facing a new assault as famed oilman tycoon T. Boone Pickens has launched a $775-million NAFTA challenge alleging the government has discriminated against his privately owned wind energy company.

With the Dallas-based Mesa Power Group's action, the Liberal government is now fighting multi-front battles over its Green Energy Act and the feed-in tariff that pays renewable energy companies premium prices for electricity - so long as they procure a percentage of the goods and services in the province.

Ontario Conservative Leader Tim Hudak has vowed to kill the Green Energy Act if his party wins the October election, while Japan has challenged the act's local procurement rules at the World Trade Organization…"

For the complete article, please click HERE.

Too Many People?: Population, Immigration, and the Environmental Crisis

Too Many People?: Population, Immigration, and the Environmental Crisis By Ian Angus and Simon Butler

List Price: $19.00
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Product Description

Too Many People? provides a clear, well-documented, and popularly written refutation of the idea that "overpopulation" is a major cause of environmental destruction, arguing that a focus on human numbers not only misunderstands the causes of the crisis, it dangerously weakens the movement for real solutions.
No other book challenges modern overpopulation theory so clearly and comprehensively, providing invaluable insights for the layperson and environmental scholars alike.

Ian Angus is editor of the ecosocialist journal Climate and Capitalism, and Simon Butler is co-editor of Green Left Weekly.

Product Details

  • Amazon Sales Rank: #1269940 in Books
  • Published on: 2011-10-11
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Binding: Paperback
  • 280 pages

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Ian Angus is editor of Climate and Capitalism, an online journal focusing on capitalism, climate change, and the ecosocialist alternative. His previous books include Canadian Bolsheviks, and The Global Fight for Climate Justice.

Simon Butler, a climate justice activist based in Sydney, Australia, is co-editor of Green Left Weekly, the country’s leading source of anti-capitalist news, analysis, discussion and debate.

DYSTOPIA: What is to be done?

Dr. Garry Potter

Dystopia is a nightmare vision of the future. Dystopia is hell on earth. And dystopia is already here for at least one billion people! Dystopia is coming soon for the rest of us unless urgent action is not taken soon. This film  provides a diagnostic compendium of pressing human problems, such as peak oil, global warming, poverty and disease. It also give a controversial set of answers to the most pressing question of our age: What is to be done?

View film and information HERE.

Click image above to view film

Monday, July 25, 2011

Ecological Imperialism: The curse of capitalism

Socialist Register 2004

In the spring of 2003 the United States, backed by Britain, invaded Iraq, a country with the second largest oil reserves in the world. The United States is now working to expand Iraqi oil production, while securing for itself an increasingly dominant position in the control of this crucial resource as part of its larger economic and geopolitical strategy.

Earlier, the same US administration that invaded Iraq had pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol, designed to limit the growth in the emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases responsible for global warming – a phenomenon threatening all life as we know it.

It is no wonder, then, that the last few years have seen a growth of concern about ecological imperialism, which in many eyes has become as significant as the more familiar political, economic and cultural forms of imperialism to which it is related.

Read article HERE.

Building an Environmentally Friendly City in Palestine

This Week in Palestine
July 25th 2011

Despite being under occupation, Ramallah grows and thrives. Part of this progress includes caring for the environment. The city’s mission states: “We want the city of Ramallah to be beautiful, green, safe, clean, and environmentally friendly for the sake of all its residents, a city with a distinguished architectural style that preserves its cultural heritage and a city that believes in intellectual, social, and political pluralism.”

The Ramallah Municipal Council takes seriously its responsibility to ensure that Ramallah become a green city.

“Ramallah is a central city. It is the centre of the Palestinian Authority. It is an economic centre, a medical centre, an educational centre,” explained Mayor Janet Michael.

Canadian Government Tries To Silence Artist Franke James

By Lloyd Alter, Toronto 
July 25, 2011
franke james image

Treehugger has been pleased to show the work of Franke James a number of times; delivers a strong environmental message in a humourous and trenchant style. She was off to Europe to tour 20 cities with her work. She has been critical of the Canadian government's policies with respect to the tar sands and climate change, but she is not exactly Garry Trudeau of Doonesbury fame, really. One would think that they had bigger fish to fry, but that didn't stop the government from stepping in to stomp her, with one top official saying:

"Who was the idiot who approved an art show by that woman, Franke James?"

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Fossil Fuel Independence for Denmark

Medway Green Party Blog
July 25, 2011

Copenhagen green power island
The Danish Commission on Climate Change Policy has found that Denmark can remove fossil fuels entirely from its energy system – including transport – by 2050 without introducing nuclear energy or carbon capture and storage. In response, the Danish government adopted the goal of becoming independent of fossil fuels by 2050.

Apparently, complete removal of fossil fuels from the Danish energy system would result in an estimated greenhouse gas emissions reduction of around 80%, relative to 1990, with the largest remaining source being the non-CO2 greenhouse gases from agriculture.

Below is a table of the total gross energy consumption in Denmark today and the projections for 2050 under different possible energy scenarios.  To read a full article about the Danish goal of becoming independent of fossil fuels by 2050, please visit the Solutions web site.  (You may also like to read our Zero Carbon Britain blog.)

David M. Davison

Total gross energy consumption (in PJ/year) in Denmark today and in 2050 under different possible energy scenarios.

The Danish Commission on Climate Change Policy and Richard  Morin/Solutions. Total gross energy consumption (in PJ/year) in Denmark today and in 2050 under different possible energy scenarios. The "future scenarios" represent the total elimination of fossil fuel use in Denmark, in the context of ambitious or unambitious international climate policy. The "reference scenarios" represent Denmark's energy consumption with the continued use of fossil fuels in both ambitious and unambitious worlds. Values are rounded to the nearest integer.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Tar Sands Protest in DC

Elizabeth Randolph
July 23, 2011

On August 20, 2011, we will begin our demonstration in front of the White House, practicing peaceful civil disobedience to oppose to the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. This is a challenge.

We're already on our way to making this the largest collective act of civil disobedience in the history of the American climate movement - over 1,000 people have signed up to join the sit-in. That's an impressive number of people coming together to do something hard - take a legal risk in Washington's swampy heat to stop this monster project. We're now aiming to double that number to 2,000 before the action begins in August.

But even this might not be enough. The tar sands industry is upping their pressure: just this week they bought up more high-powered Washington lobbyists, and are ramping up their PR machine to push President Obama into making the worst climate decision of his Presidency.

Just the other day, Harriet, a New Jersey mother of two reached out with a blog post she wrote about visiting her native Alberta, where she saw the tar sands up close:

"A week after I visited the Canadian Tar Sands 'to see for myself' what that area is all about, I received emails from several of my friends and colleagues, encouraging me to join them in Washington, DC for a 'peaceful protest' against the proposed pipeline that would carry tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada to Texas...

I am signed up for a Tar Sands protest at the White House in Washington, DC that has the potential to get the protesters arrested. Do I feel this cause is important enough to take these risks? YES I do. I hope my kids will be proud of me, and that it builds on my legacy and actions to try to raise awareness to the growing reality of climate change that is threatening my children's future and mine. I want to WAKE UP my neighbors, friends, colleagues and total strangers by showing them that a mom of two `tweens thinks that these risks are worth it."

Noam Chomsky on Darwinism

Friday, July 22, 2011

What is the secret to success of Germany's anti-nuke movement?

Beyond Nuclear
July 22, 2011

"Nuclear power? No Thanks!" in German
Intense grassroots organizing. Several decades worth.

In a story entitled "Germany's Anti-Nuclear Shift," Public Radio International's "The World" looks at the long history of Germany's anti-nuclear power movement, especially its resistance to the national radioactive waste dumpsite at Gorleben. That long history laid the groundwork for massive street demonstrations, as well as Green Party electoral victory, in the immediate aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe. Even pro-nuclear Conservative Party Prime Minister Angela Merkel could not withstand the popular pressure, and announced a dramatic reversal to her previous plans to extend the operations of Germany's 17 atomic reactors: the immediate shutdown of the 7 oldest units, followed by the gradual shutdown of the 10 remaining units by 2022.

A companion piece shows that the replacement power will come from Germany's renewable and efficiency industries -- already world leaders -- redoubling efforts, despite challenges. Gerry Hadden, the reporter of the two stories above, added his thoughts in a blog entitled "In Nukes’ Shadow, Fearlessness and Fatalism," comparing and contrasting the feelings of those living near the permanently shuttered (for safety reasons, after a fire) Brunsbüttel nuclear power plant in Germany, with those living near the shattered Chernobyl Unit 4 in Ukraine. 

Canadian Delegation Talks Pipeline Impacts in Washington

Fears over spills, environmental impact spur concerns on both sides of border

By Trevor Kehoe
The Dominion
July 22, 2011

VANCOUVER—First Nations and environmental representatives from Canada are ratcheting up the pressure against the oil sands by taking their campaigning to the United States. In late May, a delegation headed to Washington, DC, to lobby against the proposed Keystone XL pipeline expansion and future impacts on the environment and their communities.

The controversial project would funnel over a million barrels of oil sands bitumen each day from Northern Alberta down to the Gulf of Mexico and has caused concern over pipeline safety and environmental and land rights issues that have yet to be addressed.

Framing the Climate Justice Story

Let’s refocus on core problems: fossil fuel addiction & the need for systemic change

By Patrick Reinsborough
Climate Justice
May/June 2011

As movements around the planet mobilize to counter the effects of climate destabilization on their communities, cultures and ecosystems, a framing battle of global significance is underway.

In the climate fight, as with so many other struggles, the heart of the framing battle is naming the problem, since how we define the problem determines what solutions are possible. To varying degrees, governments and multinational corporations around the world have acknowledged the crisis and claim they are working to address it. However, they present the climate crisis through a reductionist lens as merely a problem of too much carbon in the atmosphere—while ignoring the underlying issues of justice, equity and humanity’s relationship with the Earth.

Climate Change: Crisis and Challenge

How our movements can achieve both global justice and ecological balance

By Orin Langelle and Anne Petermann
Climate Justice
May/June 2011

There is no better example of the interconnection of the root causes of social injustice, ecological destruction and economic domination than climate change. Climate change may well be humanity’s greatest challenge. It is a crisis that must be rapidly addressed if catastrophe is to be averted.

Already the impacts are being felt by millions in the world’s most vulnerable and marginalized communities. Climate change is at once a social and environmental justice issue, an ecological issue and an issue of economic and political domination. As such, it must be addressed through broad and visionary alliances.

To successfully address the climate crisis, we must also identify and address the deep root causes that link it to the myriad other crises we face—economic crises, militarism and war, as well as the intertwined crises of food, water and biodiversity loss. These crises are unified by their common roots in an economic system that encourages banks and corporations to ignore ethical and moral considerations and gamble with the Earth, peoples’ lives and our collective futures in the service of higher profits.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Bruce Carson's Fingerprints on 'National Energy Strategy'

Kanananskis agreement was framed by former Harper top aide before scandals, investigation.
21 Jul 2011

Bruce Carson and Harper
Harper relied on Carson to burnish image of oil sands
When Canadian energy ministers met recently in Kanananskis, Alberta, a former top advisor to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, now under investigation by the RCMP, was nowhere to be seen.

But the oil sands-friendly "national energy strategy" pushed hard by the Albertan and federal governments had Bruce Carson's fingerprints all over it, green observers say.

"He really laid the groundwork for what happened in Kanananskis," Greenpeace Canada's Keith Stewart, who has blogged extensively about Carson, told the Tyee. "The ghost of Bruce Carson was definitely at that meeting."

Groups urge provincial governments to clarify outcome of ministers meeting and support clean energy

Climate Action Network Canada
July 20, 2011

(Ottawa) As premiers gather today at the annual Council of the Federation meeting, leading non-governmental groups from across the country are calling on provinces to clarify their support for the Kananaskis energy minister’s national energy plan. This plan included using a scenario for energy demand that would spur catastrophic levels of global warming as well as identifying the tar sands as a “sustainable” source of energy. Ontario refused to sign citing concerns about calling the tar sands sustainable and responsible and has called on the federal government to renew clean energy funding.

“I am confident that the Quebec Government would never consciously support six degrees of global warming or a statement calling the tar sands ‘sustainable’,” says Steven Guilbeault of Equiterre. “Hopefully Quebec can clarify this position and join Ontario in their push to support for clean, safe and renewable energy at the Council of the Federation meeting.”

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

BP Oil Declares "Mission Accomplished"

Looking back a little more than a year into the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster, three things are clearly evident: first, BP believes the worst of the environmental and economic damage to the region has past; second, new evidence shows that the company is clearly mistaken; and third, BP’s main priority is to improve their ruined public image.
Earlier this month BP claimed that the Gulf Coast economy is now booming
Multiple lines of evidence demonstrate that, to the extent that portions of the Gulf economy were impacted by the spill, recovery had occurred by the end of 2010, and that positive economic performance continues into 2011, with 2011 economic metrics exceeding pre-spill performance.
BP argued that “there is no basis to assume that claimants, with very limited exceptions, will incur a future loss related to the spill.” Echoing this sentiment of “economic progress,” BP’s claims administrator Ken Feinberg proudly stated, “I’ve used just over $4 billion, (and) I don’t envision a flood of new claims.” Feinberg used only one fifth of the money set aside to assist victims of the spill, and has recently closed down eight regional offices because he believes the claims have almost stopped.

Reality paints a bleak picture for the future of the region. Just last week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that “crude oil continues to wash ashore along the Gulf of Mexico coast a year after” the BP oil rig exploded and 4.9 million barrels of oil spewed into the environment. Furthermore, the agency stated that “23 percent of the oil the government couldn’t account for may have settled to the bottom of the sea or remained suspended in the water as tart balls that will eventually wash ashore.” Even worse, the NOAA reported that as of July 9, “close to 500 miles of coastline in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida were still contaminated with oil from the spill.”

Local communities are challenging BP’s blanket claims of “positive economic growth” in 2011. The Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship held a field hearing in Pensacola, Florida to discuss recovery efforts and the economic impact the spill has had on the small tourism-based economy. The overall concern, echoed by state officials and business members alike, was that of long-term environmental and economic “uncertainty.”

BP recently released a statement that it will “voluntarily impose a series of additional offshore drilling standards for its Gulf of Mexico operations.” These new “self regulated” rules are potential steps in the right direction to ensure that another environmental disaster does not occur in the region. Without enforcement, however, they amount to little more than an attempt to repair the negative image of the company.

A year out, BP is still battling with the initial fact that they caused the “worst environmental disaster America has ever faced.”

-Samantha Sanfilippo, CAP Summer Intern, and resident of the Gulf Coast region.

Monday, July 18, 2011

China, From the Inside Out

By Rob Honeycutt
Skeptical Science
19 July 2011

I have been traveling to China for nearly 15 years now for both business and pleasure. Ten years ago I married a wonderful woman in China and now have the unique perspective of being an adopted member of a normal middle-class Chinese family.  My wife and I travel back to China annually for her to see her family and to get our two kids fully immersed in speaking Chinese. This year I thought I would take the opportunity to take a look at climate issues related to China, from an inside perspective.

The year we were married when I first traveled to Chongqing (CQ), my wife's home town, I was stunned by the level of air pollution. I mean, this had to be what London looked like in the late-1800s. Every day, even on the best days, visibility was no more than 1-2 miles. I have a pilot's license and I would always comment that every day is IFR (instrument flight rules) in CQ (VFR, or visual flight rules, in most air space requires a minimum 3 statute miles visibility). The air there has consistently been like this every year I've visited.

This year I noted a marked difference. I fully admit this is anecdotal, so there could be influence from the weather pattern on this trip, but the air was significantly cleaner. The entire week I was in CQ we had 10+ SM visibility. Don't get me wrong. It was still hazy and polluted. There was, though, a noticeable improvement.

Climate change impacts on human health

By Linda Greene
The Bloomington Alternative
July 18, 2011

Global climate change is having profound effects on human health.

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), by 2020 climate change-induced ground-level ozone, the primary component of smog, will cause millions of respiratory illnesses and thousands of hospitalizations for serious breathing problems, including asthma. The cost will be about $5.4 billion.

Changing Planet, Changing Health: How the Climate Crisis Threatens Our Health and What We Can Do about It, by Paul R. Epstein, M.D., and Dan Ferber (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011), probes the topic of climate disruption’s effects on health in depth.

The respiratory problems that the UCS alluded to are only a small fraction of how climate change is harming human health, according to Changing Planet.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Let’s talk utopia

It’s utopian thinking, not grim pragmatism, that best informs and inspires the struggle for a better society, argues Mike Marqusee

By Mike Marqusee
Red Pepper
July 2011

In 1818, Shelley visited his friend Byron in Venice, where his Lordship was camped out in a decaying palazzo, ruminating on the city’s faded glories. Their conversations – on human freedom and the prospects for social change – formed the basis for Shelley’s poem Julian and Maddalo, in which the mild-mannered English rationalist Julian (Shelley) puts the case for hope, and the brooding Italian aristocrat Maddalo (Byron) argues for despair. ‘We might be otherwise,’ Julian insists, ‘we might be all / we dream of: happy, high, majestical’ were it not for our own ‘enchained’ wills. To which Maddalo replies bitterly: ‘You talk utopia!’

That snap dismissal echoes down to our own day. We’ve been taught to fear utopian thinking, which is denounced as not only impractical but positively dangerous: the province of fanatics. In ignoring the lessons of history and the realities of human nature, utopian idealism results, inevitably we are told, in dystopian outcomes. It’s a modern version of the myth of Pandora’s box: a warning against being too enquiring, too ambitious.

Rifts and Shifts: Getting to the Root of Environmental Crises

Brett Clark and Richard York
Monthly Review
November 2008
Humans depend on functioning ecosystems to sustain themselves, and their actions affect those same ecosystems. As a result, there is a necessary “metabolic interaction” between humans and the earth, which influences both natural and social history. Increasingly, the state of nature is being defined by the operations of the capitalist system, as anthropogenic forces are altering the global environment on a scale that is unprecedented.

The global climate is rapidly changing due to the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation. No area of the world’s ocean is unaffected by human influence, as the accumulation of carbon, fertilizer runoff, and overfishing undermine biodiversity and the natural services that it provides.

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment documents how over two-thirds of the world’s ecosystems are overexploited and polluted. Environmental problems are increasingly interrelated. James Hansen, the leading climatologist in the United States, warns that we are dangerously close to pushing the planet past its tipping point, setting off cascading environmental problems that will radically alter the conditions of nature.

Read more HERE.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Cooking up a National Energy Strategy in Kananaskis

Will ministers let oil industry dictate the recipe? And thumb their nose at the world?

July 16, 2011

Here's a puzzler for you:

Why are both the oil industry and the Alberta Government, who usually use the word "Ottawa" as an insult, suddenly calling for a national energy strategy? The provincial and federal energy ministers gather today in Kananaskis, Alberta, and on the agenda is this very conversation.

Remembering our history, the legacy of the 1980s National Energy Program was enough to spark such a backlash that we gave away the energy store in Chapter 6 of NAFTA, tying our hands in front of the Americans to ever intervene in our energy industry again. (The Mexicans thought we were loco to sign Article 605, so themselves refused).

Sustainable Development, Not ‘Green Economy’

Emilio Godoy
July 16, 2011

HAVANA TIMES, July16 (IPS) — With less than a year to go for the Rio+20 Summit, civil society in Latin America and the Caribbean is mustering its strength to defend the principles of sustainable development, as opposed to the model of a “green economy”, which it views as only benefiting the business interests of big companies.

“The green economy is the new international environmental vogue, but it has lost all vestiges of the concept of sustainable development and has taken another direction,” Maureen Santos, an expert on international issues at the Brazilian Federation of Agencies for Social and Educational Assistance (FASE), told IPS.

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Worst Environmental Disaster in the World, the Canadian Tar Sands

The Truth Report 101
July 4, 2011

The Canadian tar sands are probably the worst environment disaster in the World today. The area of the tar sands takes up a territory of a small country and generates more yearly green house gases than the entire country of Switzerland. But the real damage is being done in the refining process. To get one barrel of oil out of the tar sands, the refining process creates a barrel and half of deadly cancer causing toxins heavy metals like mercury, lead and arsenic.

They then put these toxic residues into retention ponds that then seep the deadly toxin into the ground water and rivers and are causing high incident rates of deadly cancer to the indigenous people living in the area. Further, the smoke that pours out of the refineries 24 hours a day is also laced with deadly toxins that land in rivers; stream and land the indigenous people use to live off of. But the bigger pictures is that these deadly cancer causing heavy metals will find their way into the environmental echo systems all over the world over time as more and more companies and country’s rush to the Canadian Tar Fields to get a piece of the action.

Capitalism and the Environment: An Interview with Chris Williams

July 14, 2011

Chris Williams is a long-time environmental activist and author of "Ecology and Socialism: Solutions to Capitalist Ecological Crisis." He is a chemistry and physics professor at Pace University, and chairperson of the Packer Collegiate Institute science department.

JON HOCHSCHARTNER: Children in Fukushima recently tested positive for trace amounts of radiation exposure. Is concern about nuclear plants in the United States alarmist?

CHRIS WILLIAMS: I think Americans should definitely be concerned about the nuclear power plants that exist in this country, all 104 of them. There have been several reports out recently, since the spotlight has been shown on the murky and obscure world of nuclear power and nuclear power regulation. I don't know if you're familiar with the Associated Press reports that came out recently saying that three-quarters of plants have leaked radioactive tritium, some of which has been accompanied by longer-lived isotopes, such as caesium 137. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Satirical Tabloid Mocks Anti-Immigrant Arguments about Population and the Environment

Centre for New Comuinity
Also read Race, Migration and the Environment (pdf)

The Center for New Community, a national civil rights organization, released a satirical tabloid today titled, The Borderline.  
The publication mocks attempts by anti-immigrant groups to lure environmentalists into scapegoating immigrants, challenging the manufactured facts that the anti-immigrant movement uses to promote US population stabilization and control. 



Click HERE to download a PDF of the tabloid.

Africa: Activists to Drum up Continent’s Position at COP 17

By Henry Neondo
News from Africa
12 July 2011

The activists will be developing climate justice petitions derived from interaction with citizens of ten African countries which they expect to present both to their national governments as well as the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) members who will be participating at the 17th Conference of Parties scheduled for December in Durban, South Africa.

NAIROBI---As preparation for the next discussions on climate change move to high gear, African activists on climate change are to begin beating drums to rouse interests among the rural populace, most of who although are aware of the changes in the weather pattern, hardly link these to the changes in climate change.

The activists will be developing climate justice petitions derived from interaction with citizens of ten African countries which they expect to present both to their national governments as well as the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) members who will be participating at the 17th Conference of Parties scheduled for December in Durban, South Africa.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

‘America Pacifica’ And Science Fictional Social Change

By Alyssa Rosenberg
Jul 13, 2011

I’ve long been a fan of Anna North‘s work, so I was excited to read her debut novel, America Pacifica. It’s an unnerving novel, based on the idea that as life on the continental United States becomes unlivable, a few surviving humans fled to a tropical island, counting on the idea that they’d be able to build it out on landfill and set up a viable alternative society.

And it raises an interesting question that I think more works of science fiction might usefully consider: what if we only start working on solutions to climate change and other environmental problems after we’re past the point of no return?

Power Play: The fight for control of the world's electricity

By Sharon Beder
Book available HERE.

'Lucidly written, strongly argued, highly informative and deeply alarming.'
Merle Rubin (Los Angeles Times) 

'Beder has written a brilliant global history of the catastrophic consequences of neo-liberal fundamentalism.'
Mike Davis

Noted author Sharon Beder argues persuasively that the track record of electricity privatisation and deregulation around the world indicates that it is a confidence trick. Her book shows how simplistic ideology and economic theory have been used to mask the pursuit of self-interest; how control of electricity has been wrested from public hands to create profit opportunities for investors and multinational corporations; and how an essential public service has been turned into a speculative commodity in the name of ‘reform’.

Power Play explores the battles between private and public ownership in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia since the early twentieth century, and the agenda-setting and public relations strategies involved. It investigates the way that developing countries such as Brazil and India have been forced to allow foreign investors to exercise a stranglehold over their electricity systems. And it uncovers the campaigns waged by think tanks, corporate interests, and multinational companies such as Enron to swindle the public in dozens of countries out of rightful control over an essential public service.

Monday, July 4, 2011

The UN Is Aiding a Corporate Takeover of Drinking Water

By Scott Thill
July 3, 2011

Early last month, pharmaceutical titan Merck became the latest multinational to pledge allegiance to the CEO Water Mandate, the United Nations' public-private initiative "designed to assist companies in the development, implementation and disclosure of water sustainability policies and practices."

But there's darker data beneath that sunny marketing: The CEO Water Mandate has been heavily hammered by the Sierra Club, the Polaris Institute and more for exerting undemocratic corporate control over water resources under the banner of the United Nations. It even won a Public Eye Award for flagrant greenwashing from the Swiss non-governmental organization Berne Declaration. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Kleptocratic Capitalism: Challenges of the green economy for sustainable Africa

By Yash Tandon
Pambazuka News

Africa remains at the mercy of a self-interested international ruling class interested purely in maximising profit at all costs and consolidating its position, writes Yash Tandon. As the continent faces up to the enormous challenge of climate change and the creation of a sustainable ‘green economy’, it must look inwards and draw upon its own expertise and resources and resist the temptation to rely on compromised external ‘experts’, Tandon stresses.

This meeting seeks to address one of the most difficult issues of our times – the question of sustaining growth and development in Africa while at the same time protecting the environment and ensuring that growth benefits entire communities and not just a small minority.

There are only two points I wish to make in the limited time I am given. One is that Africa’s development or growth model is seriously flawed. It has not translated into people’s welfare over the last 40–50 years. And the second is to caution African countries and the African Union against ‘outsourcing’ policy issues, especially those relating to international negotiations – such is the case with climate change – to ‘experts’ from outside Africa.

Dialectical Nature

Reflections in Honor of the Twentieth Anniversary of Levins and Lewontin’s The Dialectical Biologist

By Brett Clark and Richard York
May 2005

Richard Levins wrote in these pages (July–August 1986) that an appreciation of history and science is necessary to understand the world, challenge bourgeois ideological monopoly, and transcend religious obscurantism. Knowledge of science and history is needed in order not only to comprehend how the world came to be, but also to understand how the world can be changed. Marx and Engels remained committed students of the natural sciences throughout their lives, filling notebooks with detailed comments, quotes, and analyses of the scientific work of their time.

Marx, through his studies of Greek natural philosophy—in particular Epicurus—and the development of the natural sciences, arrived at a materialist conception of nature to which his materialist conception of history was organically and inextricably linked. Marx and Engels, however, rejected mechanical materialism and reductionism, insisting on the necessity of a dialectical analysis of the world. Engels’s Dialectics of Nature serves as an early, unfinished attempt to push this project forward. A materialist dialectic recognizes that humans and nature exist in a coevolutionary relationship. Human beings are conditioned by their historical, structural environment; yet they are also able to affect that environment and their own relationship to it through conscious human intervention.

Read more HERE.

Time to Pay the Piper

Book Review By Rebecca Clausen
Monthly Review
June 2010

Ariel Salleh, ed., Eco-Sufficiency and Global Justice: Women Write Political Ecology (New York: Pluto Press, 2009), 324 pages, $34.00, paperback.

In 2001, Wilma Dunaway wrote that the “tentacles of the world-system are entwined around the bodies of women.” Yet her literary analysis revealed a profound silence about the role of women in reproductive labor, subsistence households, and commodity chain analysis. Dunaway characterized this omission as, “the greatest intellectual and political blunder” in her field.1

Nearly ten years later, Ariel Salleh has answered this unspoken call with the resounding voices of seventeen feminist scholars who address transdisciplinary issues of global political ecology. The anthology Eco-Sufficiency and Global Justice: Women Write Political Ecology brings together authors from multiple theoretical frameworks to address why the regenerative activities of humans and nature have been devalued, as well as how various forms of resistance could reclaim their centrality in theory and practice.