Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Consumption crisis

By Max J. Castro
Progreso Weekly
Wednesday, 31 August 2011

In 1966, Paul Baran and Paul Sweezy, U.S. Marxist economists, published the book Monopoly Capital: An Essay on the American Economic Order, in which they predicted that capitalism would suffer from economic crises not because of an inevitable trend toward falling profits, as Marx predicted, but from under-consumption, the inability of capitalists to sell all the goods the economy is geared to produce.

It was a brave thesis, not only because the authors must have known they would be the object of sharp criticism from more orthodox Marxists, and they were, but more importantly because they were writing at a time when the huge, prolonged and broad based post-war economic boom was still going strong.

For a long time, and especially in the 1990s when the economy benefitted from low unemployment and slow inflation and economic analysts were proclaiming a “new economy” where even recessions were banished, it appeared that Baran and Sweezy were just plain wrong. But the Great Recession of 2008 and its aftermath have vindicated the authors of Monopoly Capital.

Babylon and Beyond

Babylon and Beyond: The Economics of Anti-Capitalist, Anti-Globalist and Radical Green Movements.

By Derek Wall
Pluto Press,
2005, 232 pp.

Reviewed by William K. Carroll
Sociology, University of Victoria
Canadian Journal of Sociology Online
January-February 2006

This book fits nicely within a developing literature on socio-political currents opposing globalized capitalism; indeed, it provides a useful guide to the field, cutting across the boundaries of disciplines and political ideologies in a wide-ranging survey of perspectives. Within his purview Wall includes the anti-capitalist capitalists — lapsed organic intellectuals of global capital such as Joseph Stiglitz and George Soros — whose alternatives amount to a bid to salvage market society via global Keynesianism, but the focus is on approaches emanating from without and from below.

He canvasses the critiques of rampant corporate power offered by Naomi Klein, David Korten and others; the Marxist analysis of exploitation, capital accumulation, imperialism and recent globalization; the autonomist analysis of Empire and Multitude; the small-is-beautiful vision of green localism; and the more comprehensive ecosocialist project, to which Wall seems most sympathetic. There is even discussion of Major Douglas’s ‘social credit’ alternative to domination by the banks, deftly joined to more recent ventures into monetary reform such as the Paris-based Association for the Taxation of Transactions and for Aid to Citizens (ATTAC) — advocates of the Tobin Tax on speculative financial transactions.

She's Alive... Beautiful... Finite... Hurting... Worth Dying for.

Sanctuary Asia

This is a non-commercial attempt to highlight the fact that world leaders, irresponsible corporates and mindless 'consumers' are combining to destroy life on earth. It is dedicated to all who died fighting for the planet and those whose lives are on the line today.

The cut was put together by Vivek Chauhan, a young film maker, together with naturalists working with the Sanctuary Asia network (

The Keystone Pipeline: Can labor and environmentalists work together?

August 31 2011

WASHINGTON - Building Trades unions are backing - and transit unions opposing - the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline, from the tar sands of the Canadian province of Alberta to the oil refineries of the U.S. Gulf Coast.

The unions' stands come as the $7 billion project, which is estimated to create at least 20,000 construction jobs and another 100,000 indirect jobs, was apparently found to have little environmental impact, in the final required analysis that the State Department released

The deadline for the Obama administration's approval of the project - 1,384 miles in the U.S. and just under 400 miles in Canada - is mid-December. The House's ruling Republicans have passed legislation ordering the agency to decide by Nov. 1, with the clear implication that they want the pipeline OK'd. When complete, it could transport up to 830,000 barrels of oil per day, State's environmental impact statement says.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Toward a Nuclear Weapons Convention: A Role for Canada

Canadians for a Nuclear Weapons Convention

Five Canadian civil society organizations urged the Canadian government to act on motions already adopted by both the Senate and the House of Commons calling on the government “to deploy a major worldwide Canadian diplomatic initiative” for nuclear disarmament.

Expert Seminar, April 11 & 12th, 2011, Ottawa, Canada
More information HERE.

Recommendations of the Sponsoring Groups

The Ottawa Experts Seminar on a Nuclear Weapons Convention included participants from the academic community and civil society, as well as diplomats, parliamentarians, and government officials. The discussions addressed a broad range of legal, political, security, and verification requirements for progress toward a global legal ban on nuclear weapons.

Participants welcomed the unanimous motions in the Canadian Senate and the House of Commons encouraging "the Government of Canada to engage in negotiations for a nuclear weapons convention" and "to deploy a major world-wide Canadian diplomatic initiative in support of preventing nuclear proliferation and increasing the rate of nuclear disarmament."

Marxism and Ecology (video)

John Bellamy Foster at Marxism 2011


Crude politics

Sami Ramadani reviews Fuel on the Fire: oil and politics in occupied Iraq , by Greg Muttitt

Red Pepper
August 2011

In Fuel on the Fire, Greg Muttitt has meticulously and forensically examined official and oil industry documents to establish ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ that the Iraq war has the smell of crude oil emanating from many of its blood-soaked tentacles.

Greg and I have worked together in Naftana (Arabic for ‘our oil’), a committee to support the Iraqi oil workers union. And while others on the committee were much more absorbed in other ramifications of the occupation, Greg distinguished himself by pursuing the details of US-led plans to control Iraqi oil. The book is the product of that diligence, for which I think most Iraqis will give him a big thank you.

Significantly, the book has another important but understated merit. It highlights a key feature of the occupation: the deadly divide-and-rule tactics. With more than a million dead, and with the attempt to subdue the Iraqis devouring more lives and destroying more institutions, the war has become one of history’s major crimes. Central to this are the efforts to splinter Iraqi society along sectarian, ethnic and regional lines. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Built to Spill

Book Review: "The Rise of the Green Left"

Viridis Lumen
August 29, 2011

Derek Wall is a former Speaker of the Green Party of England & Wales and a key proponent of the growing ecosocialist movement which is the subject of his book, "The Rise of the Green Left". He teaches political economy, but this is no dry academic text riddled with political theory. Rather, it is a cri de coeur, with a vital analysis of the problems confronting the planet as untrammelled capitalism hungrily gobbles up our biosphere, spreading the poisonous profits it generates so unequally that billions either go hungry or compliantly join in the rape and destruction of our living space, buying into the lie that their hard work will eventually be rewarded.

Derek Wall contrasts the long term sustainability of the shared Commons, written about extensively by Elinor Ostrom, with the inherent need for capitalism to create goods which become obsolete sooner and sooner, either via technical breakdown or aspirational shifts in fashion. The corollary is the burgeoning waste of resources even at a time of rapidly increasing resource scarcity - something which does not alarm capitalism given that it thrives on scarcity.  

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Key Arguments Against REDD fact sheet

Carbon Trade Watch

Key Arguments Against REDD is a new 3 page fact sheet produced by Carbon Trade Watch with input from Global Justice Ecology Project and Indigenous Environmental Network.  It spells out numerous arguments why REDD (the international scheme to supposedly "Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation") is dangerous, destructive, violates human rights and will do nothing to curb climate chaos.

To download the PDF, click on the icon below:

REDD_key_arguments.pdf REDD_key_arguments.pdf

Film: Not a very green revolution

Red Pepper Blog 
28 August 2011

Interview with Devinder Sharma and pictures of Punjabi farming communities

Not a very Green Revolution from the source project on Vimeo.

We are now witnessing the beginning of the second Green Revolution in India. The Punjab in the north west of India was an experiment to test an oil based, chemically dependent, corporately controlled model. The land, the water and its inhabitants are now testament to a failed system. A system driven not by a desire to enhance an already sustainable system but to destroy it and replace it with one orientated around profit and plunder.

The film is from an interview with Indian food policy analyst Devinder Sharma (blog) and the farming communities of Punjab.

It is part of a series by Jason Taylor and Chitan Gohil at the Source Project, where you can find other beautifully-shot short films about agriculture in South Asia.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

‘Ecosocialism or barbarism: There is no third way’

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Ian Angus
Ian Angus is a veteran of the socialist and environmental movements in Canada and internationally. He is a featured guest speaker at the Climate Change Social Change activist conference, which will take place in Melbourne, from September 30 to October 3.

Angus is the founder and editor of, an online journal that focuses on capitalism, ecology and the ecosocialist alternative.

Patrick Bond, the director of the Centre for Civil Society at South Africa’s University of KwaZulu-Natal, has said climateandcapitalism is “the most reliable single source of information and strategic insights for climate justice”.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Ignoring Climate Change, State Department Report Concludes Keystone XL Has ‘No Significant Impacts’

The State Department issued its final environmental review of the Keystone XL pipeline today, finding that it would bring “no significant impacts” on the environment – even while substantially increasing greenhouse gas emissions and crossing major aquifers and wetlands across the country.
The Environmental Protection Agency criticized the last two environmental reviews from the Department of State, saying they lacked adequate study on almost every major environmental issue associated with building the pipeline. But the DOS worked closely with the EPA on this report. The 1,700 mile Keystone XL pipeline would bring over 800,000 barrels of tar sands crude from Alberta to the Gulf Coast each day. The EPA estimates that carbon emissions from tar sands are 80% higher than the average crude refined in the U.S. The process of extracting tar sands oil requires strip mining, causing extensive damage to the boreal forest, creating “dead” water ponds filled with toxic chemicals, and requires four times more water to produce a barrel of tar sands oil than for conventional oil.

Study Series - Planet or Death: Climate Justice versus Climate Change

Toronto Bolivia Solidarity

There are four study sessions in Toronto based on the ideas of the 2010 Cochabamba conference. (For its key documents, see

The aim of each session will be to develop participants’ capacity to explain and defend their views on the session’s basic theme. Sessions will feature brief presentations, mostly by non-experts; full discussions by breakout groups; and a closing plenary sessions. The series will also prepare for the December 2011 climate justice events in Durban, South Africa, and local support activities around the world.

More info HERE.

Click image above to enlarge

Planet or Death: Climate Justice Versus Climate Change is the title of a book by Bolivian President Evo Morales, to be published by Verso in October 2011. Verso catalogue HERE. (pdf)

Click image above to enlarge

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Science & Humanism of Stephen Jay Gould reviewed in Human Ecology Review

Thursday August 25th, 2011
The Science & Humanism of Stephen Jay Gould reviewed in Human Ecology ReviewBOOK REVIEW
The Science and Humanism of Stephen Jay Gould
By Richard York and Brett Clark
New York: Monthly Review Press, 2010.
ISBN: 978-1583672167

Reviewed by Stefano B. Longo, University of Illinois, Springfield

Undoubtedly, Stephen Jay Gould is one of the great thinkers of the Twentieth Century. Gould was a leading figure in the fields of evolutionary biology and paleontology, and made important theoretical and empirical contributions to those fields over his accomplished career. The Science and Humanism of Stephen Jay Gould, by sociologists Richard York and Brett Clark, broadly examines the philosophical underpinnings of Gould’s work, and its application for understanding the interweaving relations among and between natural and social systems.

This book provides a concise, yet remarkably thorough, survey of key aspects of Gould’s powerful worldview and philosophy, applying a rich overarching analysis of a scientific perspective that reveals numerous insights into the complexity of nature and, compellingly, society. It explores the larger themes that run through Gould’s work, including historical change and contingency, as well as the structural and multilevel character of his analysis. In addition, the book examines Gould’s long running critique of biological determinism and his efforts towards developing a humanistic component for understanding the interrelationship between nature and the human condition.

Taking on Tarmageddon: Trailer

Taking on Tarmageddon

Campbell Road Productions has partnered with the environmental campaign groups People & Planet and the UK Tar Sands Network to produce a documentary investigating the tar sands oil extraction project in Alberta, Canada. People & Planet have selected 8 students from their network that will head off to Canada to meet with the Beaver Lake Cree first nation who live right in the middle of the biggest industrial project on Earth. The documentary will follow each of the students through their investigations documenting their experiences, thoughts and emotions on seeing the impacts of tar sands oil extraction.

The Canadian Tar Sands hold 15% of the total world oil reserves, the second largest on the planet. The biggest and most environmentally destructive project in the world is set to try and extract this dirty oil from the ground. The Royal Bank of Scotland, owned by British taxpayers, are already financing these destructive developments; perpetuating our dependency on oil, rather than financing clean energy.

This documentary will inspire young people to protest against UK business involvement in the Tar Sands. Working closely with the student campaign group People and Planet, the film will follow a youth exchange between the Beaver Lake Cree and UK students. Throughout the documentary we will look at both the environmental and the human cost of the tar sands; massive deforestation, the vast amounts of greenhouse gasses emitted and the destruction of the way of life for the Beaver Lake Cree first nation.

Tar Sands Action in Ottawa!


On September 26th 2011 we’re planning a peaceful protest in Ottawa to say no to a toxic tar sands industry and defuse the largest carbon bomb in North America.

With people power and the time-tested tactics of civil disobedience – join thousands of people from across the country in a sit-in. Together we’ll amplify our voices and escalate the movement and stop the tar sands and build the just, healthy future we all want to see!

An Invitation

"There comes a time…"
There comes a time when you need to take a stand. When sending letters and signing petitions isn't enough. When together we must say, "enough is enough — not on our watch".

That time is now. We must act together for the health of our planet, our air, our water, our climate, and our children.

On September 26th we need you to come to Ottawa to join a historic action to oppose the tar sands. In a large peaceful protest, many will be risking arrest to tell the Harper governmentthat we don’t support his reckless agenda; that we want to turn away from the toxic tar sands industry; and that we oppose the direction he's taking this country.

In the U.S., people by the thousands are taking a stand. From Aug 20th to Sept. 3rd, thousands are pledging to risk arrest in daily acts of civil disobedience to convince President Obama to reject the Keystone XL pipeline that would bring dirty tar sands oil to the U.S. On September 26th, we will stand up to Prime Minister Harper to pressure him to stem the tar sands industry at its source.

Tar sands mining and other extreme forms of energy extraction like Arctic drilling, shale fracking, and nuclear power generation send us in the exact opposite direction that we, as a civilization, must go to ensure global survival. If we burn the tar sands, we blot our nation's reputation; if we leave that carbon in the ground, we'll do the world an enormous favour.

On September 26th we are asking you to come to Ottawa to participate in one of the largest acts of civil disobedience on the climate issue that Canada has ever seen.

Be a part of turning Canada away from the toxic tar sands industry. Help forge the future we all want to live in.

If you are interested and willing to take action email or go to to sign-up today. It will be a powerful day, and more powerful if you're a part of it.

The Council of Canadians
Greenpeace Canada
Indigenous Environmental Network

This action has been endorsed by:
Maude Barlow – Chair, Council of Canadians
Shirley Douglas - Canadian television, film and stage actress and activist
George Poitras – Mikisew Cree Indigenous First Nation
James Hansen – Internationally renown Climate Scientist.
Graeme Gibson – Author and Member of the Order of Canada.
John O’Connor – Medical Doctor
Clayton Ruby – Member of the Order of Canada and Criminal Lawyer
Judy Rebick – Journalist, political activist and feminist.
Naomi Klein – Author and Journalist
Tom Goldtooth – Director, Indigenous Environmental Network
Bill McKibben – Writer and Environmentalist
Gordon Laxer – Professor of Political Economy
Tony Clarke - Author and director of the Polaris Institute
Bruce Cox - Executive Director Greenpeace Canada
Toghestiy Wet’suwet’en – Wet’suwet’en Nation
Kai Nagata – Ex-CTV Bureau Chief and journalist
James Biggar - Executive Director
Joseph B. Uehlein – Labor organizer and environmentalist

Why now?

This summer, 11 veteran U.S. and Canadian scientists and environmentalists — Maude Barlow, Wendell Berry, Tom Goldtooth, Danny Glover, James Hansen, Wes Jackson, Naomi Klein, Bill McKibben, George Poitras, David Suzuki, and Gus Speth — issued a continental call-out. The call was for people right across the U.S. to come to Washington D.C. and join in two weeks of non-violent civil disobedience actions to try to stop the massive tar sands Keystone XL pipeline. The response has been overwhelming.

Knowing the horrific impacts a mega-pipeline from the tar sands in Alberta to refineries in the U.S. gulf coast would pose to communities, waterways, ecosystems and the planet, people are signing up by the thousands. They are pledging to risk arrest to draw a line in the sand and say “no.” They'll deliver that message by daily risking arrest until the project is stopped.

On September 26th, we have a chance to match their courage and do the same in Ottawa.

If you are interested and willing to take action email or go to to sign-up today.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tantoo Cardinal: Why I Joined the Tar Sands Action

StopKeystoneXL's Channel
Stop the Tarsands Action
August 23, 2011

Agent Orange in Vietnam Apocalypse

Interview with André Bouny, author of "Agent Orange in Vietnam Apocalypse"

Silvia Cattori/André Bouny
Wednesday August 24, 2011

In the past the United States fought in Vietnam devastating using chemical weapons against communism, a regime that so embodied the struggle for national independence of the Vietnamese people who opposed their rule. Today, continuing the same policies as absurd as unjustifiable, from Afghanistan to Iraq through Serbia, from Lebanon to Gaza, the United States, NATO and Israel throw phosphorous weapons, fragmentation or depleted uranium on civilian populations who refuse to undergo its dictates. Now it is known that these weapons cause particular cancers and monstrous malformations in newborns, and will continue to affect the health of a growing number of people. In his recent book â Agent Orange - Apocalypse Viêt Nam [Agent Orange to Vietnam Apocalypse], André Bouny reminds us that nearly half a century after the war the Vietnamese mothers are giving birth to babies monstrous. Responds here to questions from Silvia Cattori.

Silvia Cattori : All politicians with conscience and means to act should read and take seriously his book Agent Orange to Vietnam Apocalypse, which I devoured in one sitting and with a sinking heart. This works well documented and illustrated with moving pictures of most chemical warfare in the history of humanity should be disclosed to the public, mobilize the youth and all parents, whose children ’s health is at risk if there is life after the madness sa war destroys these which, curiously, has never opposed any Green Party. Neither ecologists Daniel Cohn -Bendit and Joschka Fischer opposed the war tons of depleted uranium dropped on Serbia. What you describe here and should be one of the major concerns for anyone still strangely ignored by the media. How do you, that ’s not a journalist, or doctor, or scientist, has come to be involved at that point for half a century later, to bring to light the frightening consequences of chemical warfare that took place in Vietnam? Could you explain what motivated him?

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Ecological Rift reviewed in Journal of World-Systems Research

Foster, John Bellamy, Brett Clark, and Richard York. 2010. The Ecological Rift: Capitalism’s War on the Earth. New York: Monthly Review Press. 544 Pages, ISBN: 978-1-58367-218-1 Paper ($17.95).

By Kirk S. Lawrence
Research Assistant, Institute for Research on World-Systems
University of California, Riverside

Journal of World-Systems Research
Monday August 22nd, 2011

The Ecological Rift reviewed in Journal of World-Systems ResearchEcological degradation is the elephant in the room for many people; they are aware of its presence yet would prefer to ignore it rather than be forced to consider both its severity and possible remedies. This practiced ignorance occurs despite numerous problems, such as global climate change, species extinction, deforestation, overfishing, and dramatic disasters such as the recent oil “spill” from offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and the radiation releases from nuclear power plants in post-tsunami Japan. This elephant is enormous, destructive, and cannot be imagined away.

John Bellamy Foster, Brett Clark, and Richard York have been taking on the elephant for years. Foster is renowned for his editorship at the Monthly Review and for his work in political economy and as an environmental sociologist, having published popular books such as The Vulnerable Planet. Clark and York are also well respected and broadly-published in the same areas. Together, they are a formidable trio whose work is influential and innovative. Their publication of The Ecological Rift was therefore a welcome event.

Read more HERE.

Remembering Jack Layton

By Gerald Butts 
WWF Canada
August 22, 2011

Throughout his life, Jack was a great friend to the Canadian conservation movement. Sometimes described as a “poster boy” for the environment, Mr. Layton often led the way on important environmental issues, particularly clean air and climate change. He was a forward thinker on topics like options for limiting greenhouse gas emissions and growing renewable energy.

He was behind important proposed legislation, passed by the House of Commons, that set science-based hard targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions with the long-term goal of reducing emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. Jack personally championed this Climate Change Accountability Act for four years.

As head of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities in the late 1990s, he collaborated closely with WWF in a successful legal battle confirming the constitutional rights of municipalities to control the cosmetic use of pesticides — a precedent that has been applied right across Canada to this day.

His support for environmental campaigns also had a lighter side: just last February, he and other NDP MPs participated in WWF’s National Sweater Day to help raise awareness about the importance of energy conservation. Mr. Layton was also known for his personal commitment to conservation – the sight of him bicycling to work through his career was a familiar one.

I had the pleasure of meeting Jack many times over the years. He was a passionate advocate and tireless worker for our common cause. In a happy accident, I last saw Jack when we were both stranded at the Ottawa airport due to a massive thunderstorm, on Oceans Day in June. We spent much of the evening together, cheering on the Canucks in game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. In retrospect, it’s amazing how much energy and enthusiasm he exhibited that evening. His excitement at taking on his new role as Leader of Her Majesty’s Official Opposition was then evident and now tragic. He will be sorely missed. May he rest in peace.

Friday, August 19, 2011

VIDEO: Tar Sands Action By “Gasland” Director Josh Fox

The Understory

“There’s only been one tool that people have turned to in desperate times to change the world: Civil disobedience.”

Director Josh Fox was nominated for an Oscar for his film Gasland, which exposed the impact of hydraulic fracturing of the earth for natural gas, also known as fracking. Today, he turns his documentarian skills towards the Alberta tar sands to lay out the facts about this devestating oil project and to invite you to join him at the rolling sit-in Tar Sands Action at the White House from August 20th – September 3rd, along with Maude Barlow, Bill McKibben, Naomi Klein, Thom Yorke, Mark Ruffalo, James Hansen, and thousands more.

In Josh’s words, “Now is the time.”

Tar Sands Facts

  1. The Alberta tar sands is the biggest industrial development project, the biggest capital investment project, and the biggest energy project in the world.
  2. The tar sands project is irreversibly destroying an area of ancient Boreal Forest the size of England.
  3. The tar sands uses more water than a city of two million people.
  4. The tar sands produces 36 million tons of carbon dioxide per day. It emits the same amount of greenhouse gas emissions as 1.3 million cars.
  5. In 2007, the tar sands used approx. 1 billion feet of natural gas per day, much of which was obtained through fracking.
  6. Waster from the tar sands is stored in toxic ponds that are so big they can be seen from space. These toxic lakes leak 11 million liters of contaminated water every day into groundwater and drinking water for local communities, including Indigenous First Nations communities of Canada.
  7. The proposed Keystone XL pipeline would pipe tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.
You can help stop the Keystone XL pipeline.

Take Action

Sign & Share the Petition to Obama

Only the President of the United States has the authority to block the Keystone XL pipeline. Tell President Obama to keep the Keystone XL oil pipeline out of our backyards. Everyone in North America needs to be aware of this dangerous pipeline proposal, so please share this petition with your friends and family. Make sure they know that the opportunity to stop Keystone XL is right now.

Join the Tar Sands Action in D.C.

From August 20th to September 3rd, concerned people from across the continent — students, celebrities, scientists, Indigenous peoples, church groups, environmentalists, parents, and more — are gathering in Washington for a mass act of civil disobedience at the White House. Over 1500 individuals are already registered to join this wave of sustained sit-ins and send a clear message to the President: The People are saying NO to the 2000-mile climate-destroying Keystone XL pipeline.

If you’re ready to do whatever it takes to stop climate change, you can register to join the action at

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Top 10 Great Works of Nuclear Cinema

By Scott Thill
August 18, 2011

Threads poster
Despite the maddening lack of mainstream coverage, Fukushima remains a ticking time bomb, according to physicist Michio Kaku, who said Northern Japan was almost wiped off the map. In other words, there's really no good news.

The only positive outcome of the Fukushima clusterfuck is that nations around the world have now seriously considered abandoning their nuclear programs altogether. Germany and Switzerland announced they're finished with nukes, although not until 2022 and 2034, respectively. Italy is of a similar mind, and of course so is Japan, which is ready to scrap the Fukushima plant, along with its nuclear ambitions in general, if it can ever get close enough to the its still-lethal meltdowns without being irradiated to death.

Aliens may destroy humanity to protect other civilisations, say scientists

Rising greenhouse emissions may tip off aliens that we are a rapidly expanding threat, warns a report for Nasa

Ian Sample
Thursday 18 August 2011
Read reaction to this article - Right Wing Freaks Out About Aliens  

A scene from Mars Attacks!

When they see what a mess we've made of our planet, aliens may be forced to take drastic action. Photograph: PR
It may not rank as the most compelling reason to curb greenhouse gases, but reducing our emissions might just save humanity from a pre-emptive alien attack, scientists claim.

Watching from afar, extraterrestrial beings might view changes in Earth's atmosphere as symptomatic of a civilisation growing out of control – and take drastic action to keep us from becoming a more serious threat, the researchers explain.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Bauman: consumerism coming home to roost
August 18, 2011

The famous sociologist Zygmunt Bauman argues that the London riots point us towards a minefield of defective and disqualified consumers.

By Zygmunt Bauman

These are not hunger or bread riots. These are riots of defective and disqualified consumers.

Zygmunt Bauman
Revolutions are not staple products of social inequality; but minefields are. Minefields are areas filled with randomly scattered explosives: one can be pretty sure that some of them, some time, will explode – but one can’t say with any degree of certainty which ones and when. Social revolutions being focused and targeted affairs, one can possibly do something to locate them and defuse in time. Not the minefield-type explosions, though.

In case of the minefields laid out by soldiers of one army you can send other soldiers, from another army, to dig mines out and disarm; a dangerous job, if there ever was one – as the old soldiery wisdom keeps reminding: “the sapper errs only once”. But in the case of minefields laid out by social inequality even such remedy, however treacherous, is unavailable: putting the mines in and digging them up needs to be done by the same army which neither can stop adding new mines to the old nor avoid stepping on them – over and over again. Laying mines and falling victims of their explosions come in a package deal.

Earth Jurisprudence & Rights of Nature News

August 4, 2011 
The Center for Earth Jurisprudence has published a teaching monograph entitled An Introduction to Earth Jurisprudence: Guiding Principles and Wild Law Possibilities. The monograph collects foundational works in the field of Earth Jurisprudence, providing a succinct, accessible format that facilitates teaching , reflection, analysis, and discussion. It is good for classroom or group discussion. You can access it at Intro to Earth Jurisprudence 7-28-11.

Global Exchange Hosts a Rights of  Nature Summit

Twenty-one climate change and rights of nature activists convened on July 29-30 in San Francisco for a strategy summit. See an insider’s perspective by checking out this post featured on the Global Exchange blog written by Meera Karunananthan, National Water Campaigner for the Council of Canadians.

Waterkeeper Magazine, Summer 2011 features an article by Linda Sheehan, Executive Director of the California Coastkeeper Alliance, “Rights of the Waterways.”

The Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature announces the first successful case of the Rights of Nature implementation in Ecuador.

See recent blog of Begonia Filgueira,  And About Time for Rights to Nature? on the UK Human Rights Blog.

Global Exchange and the Council of Canadians have published new book, Rights of Nature: Making a Case for the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth. Order your copy by emailing

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

TransCanada Says Keystone Pipeline Could Be Used for Bulk Water Removals

Council of Canadians
August 16, 2011

Ottawa and Washington, D.C. — The Council of Canadians and Food & Water Watch are sounding the alarm over TransCanada’s speculation that the Keystone Pipeline could potentially be used for bulk water removals from the Ogallala aquifer.

TransCanada pipelines operations director Jim Krause testified at the Nebraska state assembly earlier this year that the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline could be used in the future to mine or transport water, potentially from the Ogallala aquifer. Krause is quoted as testifying that, if approved, the pipeline would only be decommissioned “if the pipeline is not needed for oil somewhere down the road and there is no other use for any other product to go through that pipe, let’s say gasoline, or maybe by that time in the future, water” [emphasis added].

Overheard: Asia's View of Alberta, Tar Sands and Pipelines

If this insider is right, Gateway is purely a ploy and Canadians are rubes.

By Michael Byers
TheTyee.ca16 August 2011

"The small Canadian oil companies have been windfalls for us. They won't work with the majors. They don't trust them. And they don't know anything -- they want to export bitumen to Asia!"

The East-West Center is a U.S. government-funded think tank that has been promoting cooperation with Asia for half-a-century. I'm the only Canadian at a Honolulu workshop about the financial picture for Asian shipping and energy companies. We're in a coffee break, and dozens of Korean, Chinese and Japanese executives and academics are diligently exchanging business cards.

The voice that attracts my attention belongs to the chairman of a Singapore-based consulting firm that operates at the highest levels of the global oil and gas industry. He's talking about Alberta's tar-like crude oil, so incredibly thick that it has to be mixed with natural gas condensate before it will flow through pipelines.

Jaitapur, India: a New Nuclear Folly

The Fukushima disaster has highlighted the fact that insecurity is inherent to nuclear energy. It is quite simply not possible to predict all the technical or human malfunctions or the outbursts of nature. 

This disaster, of a magnitude unequalled since Chernobyl and the extent of whose consequences is still not known, has reopened in India the debate on the safety of civil nuclear power and the Indian government’s policy of nuclear expansion.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Book Excerpt – Deep Green Resistance: Strategy to Save the Planet

All content below is excerpted from the book Deep Green Resistance: Strategy to Save the Planet by Aric McBay, Lierre Keith, and Derrick Jensen

Excerpt from Part I: Resistance

The Problem
by Lierre Keith

A black tern weighs barely two ounces. On bodily reserves less than a bag of M & Ms and wings that stretch to cover twelve inches, she’ll fly thousands of miles, searching for the wetlands that will harbor her young. And every year the journey gets longer as the wetlands are desiccated for human demands. Every year the tern, desperate and hungry, loses, while civilization, endless and sanguineous, wins.

A polar bear should weigh 650 pounds. Her biological reserves may have to see her through nine long months of dark, denned gestation, and then lactation, giving up her dwindling stores to the needy mouths of her species’ future. In some areas, the female’s weight has dropped from 650 to 507 pounds. Meanwhile, the ice has evaporated like the wetlands. When she wakes, the waters will stretch impassably opened, and there is no Abrahamic god of bears to part them for her.

Read more HERE.

Fighting the Minerals-Petroleum-Coal Complex’s Wealth and Woes

Patrick Bond, Khadija Sharife
August 2011

Ecocide by the "minerals-energy complex" should be faced by a broad-based opposition, focusing on sanctions against neo-colonial exploitation, and international solidarity with the communities affected.

When African National Congress youth leader Julius Malema recently proposed the mining industry’s partial nationalization – and last week asked, quite legitimately, ‘what is the alternative?’ to those in the SA Communist Party (SACP) and Business Leadership South Africa who threw cold water at him – a debate of enormous ideological magnitude opened in public, which workers, communities and environmentalists have already joined in their myriad struggles.

For those of us in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, awareness of mining’s foibles is vital for several reasons, including new scientific findings about overestimated coal industry reserves; SACP leader Jeremy Cronin’s recent useful suggestion to ‘phase out aluminum smelters’ at the vast Richards Bay port (and we might add, at Durban’s killer-manganese Assmang at Cato Ridge which alone chews a third of our city’s electricity); and the global climate summit that Durban hosts in November-December.

Shifting from ego-centricism to eco-centricism

By Jim Harding
No Nukes
August 15, 2011

World-renowned biologist, Rene DuBos, coined the now familiar phrase “Think globally, Act locally”. In Wooing of Earth he suggested that “Humanized environments give us confidence because nature has been reduced to the human scale…” He continued “…but the wilderness in whatever form almost compels us to measure ourselves against the cosmos.”

Perhaps this is why anthropocentric religion was so influential in the emergence of industrial society, with its naive attempt to “tame” nature. Seeing natural systems in human terms means that natural systems simply aren’t seen. And it ensures that the unknowability and unpredictability of nature remains threatening to us. Yet, we arise out of natural systems, are sustained by them, and return “to them” when our individual fire goes out. We never really leave nature, not even when we fly out of the biosphere on a spacecraft.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Proposed coal plant avoids crucial emissions regs

Maxim Power Corp. receives final approval for a new coal fired plant and effectively a 45-year free pass to pollute.


Ottawa (12 August 2011) – More than 40 diverse civil society organizations from across Canada have signed a letter calling on federal Environment Minister Peter Kent to protect the integrity of Canada’s forthcoming coal regulations by ensuring that this proposed new coal plant is not permitted to evade Ottawa’s rules.

The letter makes the case against building new conventional coal plants in Canada, instead supporting the development of renewable energy like wind and solar. The signatories request that Kent ensure that the Maxim proposal is not fast tracked to evade Ottawa’s pending regulations.

Video: La Via Campesina in Movement...

La Via Campesina

Mark Ruffalo Supports the Tar Sands Action

Tar Sands Action

Actor Mark Ruffalo, who has been an outspoken activist on fracking in his home state of New York and across the country, is lending his support to the Tar Sands Action in Washington, DC this August. To join the action, click here to sign up.

Nearly 2,000 people are already registered to take part in an ongoing sit-in at the White House this August 20 – Sep 3 to pressure President Obama to stand up to Big Oil and deny a permit for the Keystone XL, a 1,700 mile pipeline from the tar sands in Canada to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico.

“I’ve seen the kind of damage that out-of-control energy development can do to water and to communities near my own home, where fracking for natural gas is causing widespread pollution,” Mark says in the video. “All these problems are connected—we need to get off fossil fuel.”

As Mark concludes, the Tar Sands Action is a chance for all of us to “put our values into action.” Hope to see you all in DC this August!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Capitalism's terminal crisis and the global cooperation of eco-socialists

By Grant Morgan
Unity (Aotearoa)
July 23, 2911

Global capitalism faces a constellation of existential crises similar to those which collapsed every previous civilization. This terminal crisis will in the years to come bring about profound social, ecological and political upheavals.

Evidence of the crises propelling the world system towards it’s collapse in a historically short timeframe can be seen in trends visible to us today:
  • ongoing financial upheavals in Europe and America, along with the dangers of an asset bubble collapse in China, any of which could again plunge the world into economic slump, and right now are sparking trans-continental outrage among victims of government austerity plans;
  • willingness of oppressed majorities in the Arab world to risk their lives to topple undemocratic neoliberal regimes;
  •  moves within the global scientific community to identify specific extreme weather events with the onset of climate change;
  • the ever upwards spikes in energy prices towards economically and socially catastrophic levels as peak oil is passed and capitalism comes up against the physical limits of fossil fuel industrialization;
  • insane leveraging of financial instruments as the global marketplace becomes ever more dependent on profits made from money (M - M+) rather than commodities (M - C - M+), creating a system that limps onwards only by undermining its historic basis of survival, which is commodity production;
  • escalations in global food prices in the wake of climate change events, oil price hikes, water shortages and futures speculation in farm products, sparking fears, shortages and riots in many countries, and
  • mired in the bog of war across the Middle East, with the greenback weakening as the world reserve currency, US imperial hegemony is ebbing away ever more quickly, yet China is beset with economic, political, social and ecological problems which are growing at a faster pace than the global reach of its Communist Party rulers, creating a leadership vacuum at the heart of the world system, and
These and other world historic upheavals, in combination, point towards the end times of the 500-year-old civilisation we know as "global capitalism".

The world's social, economic, political, ecological and ideological conditions are pushing the international left towards a single imperative: cooperate or become spectators to historic events. Either promote a Global Uniting, or see a socialist alternative perish along with capitalism.

To organise sufficiently large-scale change, a qualitatively large number of eco-socialists must get beyond the idiocies of "left competition". And this must happen on a world scale, since only a Global Uniting will be able to save humanity from the catastrophes of collapsing capitalism.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Video: A Changing Environment

Private Property is Not the Right Solution for the Natural Commons

Michel Bauwens
P2P Foundation
9th August 2011

Excerpted from a stirring speech by Maude Barlow, an advocate of commons-oriented approaches to natural resource issues. In this speech, she strongly stresses the link between the environmental crisis and social justice, and calls for an end to “silo thinking” on that issue. When I co-organized the International Commons Conference last October in Berlin, Maude Barlow refused to attend a previously agreed on panel on the relationship and mutual enrichment of the digital commons with the natural commons. We hope that in the future, that silo too will be broken! Digital commons and their information and knowledge sharing, as well as the sustainability aspects of shared design when coupled with relocalized and distributed ‘making’, has many synergies with the preservation of the natural commons, at least that is our conviction.

The excerpt has a strong critique of misguided market approaches which further enclose and privatize nature, and gives examples of succesful commons approaches to date. Very much worth reading.

Maude Barlow:

“From the perspective of the environmental movement, I see two problems that hinder us in our work to stop this carnage. The first is that, with notable exceptions, most environmental groups either have bought into the dominant model of development or feel incapable of changing it. The main form of environmental protection in industrialized countries is based on the regulatory system, legalizing the discharge of large amounts of toxics into the environment. Environmentalists work to minimize the damage from these systems, essentially fighting for inadequate laws based on curbing the worst practices, but leaving intact the system of economic globalization at the heart of the problem. Trapped inside this paradigm, many environmentalists essentially prop up a deeply flawed system, not imagining they are capable of creating another.

Capitalism’s ecological footprint condemns South to poverty

By Samir Amin
August 9, 2011

The expansion of capitalism is destroying the planet and placing the future of people in the South in jeopardy, writes Samir Amin in this week’s edition of Pambazuka News. Consumption levels in Europe, North America and Japan are four times higher than the per capita global average, a figure which already outstrips the earth’s ecological carrying capacity. If this pattern continues, says Amin, its logical conclusion is ‘either the actual genocide of the peoples of the South – as “over-population” – or at least keeping them in ever increasing poverty.’

1) The work of Wackernagel and Rees (first publication in English, 1996) instigated a major strand in radical social thinking about construction of the future.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Globalresearch Monday, August 6, 1945, at 8:15 AM, the nuclear bomb ‘Little Boy” was dropped on Hiroshimaby an American B-29 bomber, the Enola Gay, directly killing an estimated 80,000 people. By the end of the year, injury and radiation brought total casualties to 90,000-140,000.[1]
“On August 9, 1945, Nagasaki was the target of the world's second atomic bomb attack at 11:02 a.m., when the north of the city was destroyed and an estimated 40,000 people were killed by the bomb nicknamed ‘Fat Man.’ The death toll from the atomic bombing totalled 73,884, as well as another 74,909 injured, and another several hundred thousand diseased and dying due to fallout and other illness caused by radiation.”[2]
In the European Theatre, World War II ended in early May 1945 with the capitulation of Nazi Germany. The “Big Three” on the side of the victors – Great Britain, the United States, and the Soviet Union – now faced the complex problem of the postwar reorganization of Europe.
The United Stateshad entered the war rather late, in December 1941, and had only started to make a truly significant military contribution to the Allied victory over Germany with the landings in Normandy in June 1944, less than one year before the end of the hostilities. When the war against Germany ended, however, Washington sat firmly and confidently at the table of the victors, determined to achieve what might be called its “war aims.” the country that had made the biggest contribution and suffered by far the greatest losses in the conflict against the common Nazi enemy, the Soviet Union wanted major reparation payments from Germany and security against potential future aggression, in the form of the installation in Germany, Poland and other Eastern European countries of governments that would not be hostile to the Soviets, as had been the case before the war. 
Moscow also expected compensation for territorial losses suffered by the Soviet Unionat the time of the Revolution and the Civil War, and finally, the Soviets expected that, with the terrible ordeal of the war behind them, they would be able to resume work on the project of constructing a socialist society. The American and British leaders knew these Soviet aims and had explicitly or implicitly recognized their legitimacy, for example at the conferences of the Big Three inTehran and Yalta.
That did not mean that Washington and London were enthusiastic about the fact that the Soviet Union was to reap these rewards for its war efforts; and there undoubtedly lurked a potential conflict with Washington’s own major objective, namely, the creation of an “open door” for US exports and investments in Western Europe, in defeated Germany, and also in Central and Eastern Europe, liberated by the Soviet Union. In any event, American political and industrial leaders - including Harry Truman, who succeeded Franklin D. Roosevelt as President in the spring of 1945 - had little understanding, and even less sympathy, for even the most basic expectations of the Soviets.