Wednesday, November 30, 2011

COP17: Indigenous activists from North America join African activists to target Shell

From the Indigenous Environmental Network
November 30, 2011

Durban, South Africa–In Canada and the United Kingdom, Indigenous activists and their supporters targeted Shell today for violating agreements made with Indigenous communities in Canada. In Durban, site of the ongoing UN climate talks, activists from Canada joined activists from Africa to denounce Shell and their repeated violations of human rights and environmental regulations. Appearing outside a Shell refinery, a number of Indigenous activists joined with youth from Canada and Africa to support the community of Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN), who recently announced their lawsuit against Shell.

“Shell has left a trail of broken promises and ravaged eco-systems. They have been pushing their dirty fossil fuels plans on every country they can bully. It’s time to stand up and say get the Shell out of there, we don’t want your broken promises anymore,” declared Eriel Deranger, a community member of ACFN and director of Sierra Club Prairies.

Too Many People? reviewed

By Julie Filer
Socialist Review
December 2011

Too Many People? is a compelling rebuttal of the idea that underlies calls for population control - that population growth must be halted through limiting the reproductive rights of poor black women and stopping migration to more economically developed countries.

Both authors share a passion for social change and are deeply frustrated at argument that "population control" is a means of stopping climate change.

Rather than denouncing those in the Global South and portraying them as passive victims without agency, the book calls for solidarity with the many struggles against climate change, particularly in Latin America. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Harper Offensive: Selling Tar Sands to Europe and the USA

Martin Lukacs
Canadian Dimension
November 29th 2011

In the halls of power in Europe and the United States, well out of sight of Canadians, the Harper government has been waging a diplomatic and political war over the energy future of North America.

The Alberta tar sands are the centrepiece of Harper’s Canadian energy agenda, and he and his Conservative government have spared no effort in protecting and promoting the industry.

On the domestic scene, Harper has carefully defended the industry in the face of increasingly loud criticism about the industry’s environmental destructiveness and massive output of greenhouse gases. But as new threats over the last few years have emerged to markets abroad, his government has mounted an under-the-radar and increasingly sprawling offensive to undermine European and American green initiatives and environmental campaigns, ensuring that the tar sands can expand unfettered.

Canada's fossil fuel exports a threat to global climate: study

To get serious about climate change, Canada needs to not only cut its consumption of fossil fuels, but also stop peddling fossil fuels in export markets, says a study released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).

According to the study, greenhouse gas emissions embodied in Canadian exports of fossil fuels in 2009 were 15% greater than the emissions from all fossil fuel combustion within Canada, and almost four times the emissions from extracting and processing fossil fuels in Canada.

"Canada is more than an addict to fossil fuels," says CCPA Senior Economist Marc Lee, the study’s lead author. "We are a major dealer. And that has huge consequences for people in other parts of the world who have done little to cause climate change." 

Of Elephants and Blind Men and Noah’s Ark and Elephants Again

A View of the UN Climate Talks in Durban, South Africa

By Jeff Conant
Earth Island Journal
November 28, 2011

Like the parable of the three blind men coming upon an elephant and determining, each on his own, that this thing before them is a tree trunk, or an enormous boulder, or a thick scaly snake, one’s perspective on the events here at COP17, the UN Climate Summit kicking off today in Durban, South Africa, reflects one’s position and willingness to grope with searching hands in the dark.

But no matter where you come from, if you are actually concerned about the climate crisis, it’s going to be an ugly two weeks.

The science tells us that maintaining global temperature rise to 2 degrees centigrade – the current best case scenario – will lead to the inundation of coastal areas, loss of glaciers, and a tremendous toll in human lives and species lost, but may – just may – prevent what climatologist James Hansen calls, forebodingly, the “Venus Syndrome.” But given the gridlock in the UN negotiations and the absolute unwillingness of the most polluting nations to reduce their carbon emissions, a mere 2-degree rise is increasingly unlikely. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

African Activists Blast Tar Sands

Tar sands highlighted in lead up to UN climate summit in South Africa

By Tim McSorley
The Dominion
November 28, 2011

In Durban this week, you're blinded by green. From billboards to uniforms, it's impossible to miss that this South African city is hosting the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

One would think you could not get any further from the northern hinterlands of the Alberta's Athabasca watershed. But in a city filled with palm trees and tens of thousands of delegates engaging in another round of high-level climate negotiations, environmental and community organizers from across Africa, the Middle East and North America came together over northern Alberta's tar sands and similar projects around the world.

Canada Wins 1st and 2nd Place Fossils – Threatens, Insults

CAN International
November 28 2011

Durban, South Africa – The first day of the United Nations climate change negotiations started off badly for Canada. It earned the First Place Fossil of the Day for failing to support a Second Commitment Period for the Kyoto Protocol, and abandoning even its current participation in Kyoto.

It also took Second Place Fossil for insulting the Least Developed Countries, some of the nations that will suffer most from Canada and other industrialized countries' greenhouse gas pollution. Rounding out the awards, the United Kingdom received Third Place for helping to move tar sands oil into Europe.

The Fossils as presented read:

Ecosocialist Horizons

Report from South Africa Announcing the launch of Ecosocialist Horizons! 

Quinzy Saul
November 28, 2011
Visit the site HERE.

Dear friends, Greetings from Durban, South Africa! As many of you know, I am here with thousands of people from all over the world who have gathered around the 17th meeting convened by the United Nations on climate change. There are two things about this meeting about that just about everyone agrees on.

Together, they make for a deadly paradox of epic proportions:

1. Given the current level and growth of greenhouse gas emissions, the Durban talks are the last chance for the governments of the world to stabilize climate change below 2 degrees celsius. It is scientifically well
established that a 2 degree increase will result in hundreds of millions of deaths worldwide.

2. Political commentators across the spectrum, from ultra right to radical left, are pretty much agreed that the Durban talks will fail. While there is controversy over the precise otucome of the talks and the nature of the
failue to come, it is basically accepted in mainstream discourse that global governance, when it comes to climate change, has lost legitimacy. In light of these realities, an international climate justice movement has converged in Durban, both to challenge the UN process and delegates (from both the inside and the outside), and to strategize about what is to be done.

At this historic moment, I am very excited to announce the launch of a new organization, of which I am a co-founder, called Ecosocialist Horizons. Over the next two weeks, our small delegation will be participating in the mobilizations, teach-ins, forums and debates that are part of this convergence of the climate justice movement. You will be able to read my semi-regular reports on the Ecosocialist Horizon.

Spread the word! Stay tuned! Amandla!

Quincy Saul

COP17’s Dirty Secret

By Patrick Bond
New Left Project
November 28, 2011
As the Durban Conference on Climate Change begins, we present the first of several pieces about climate change and the climate justice movement: an extract from the newly published Politics of Climate Justice by the South African activist and academic, Patrick Bond. Here Bond argues that another failure in UN climate talks will please certain South Africans. 

One of the world’s most extreme cases of climate injustice happens to be the site for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties 17 (COP17) climate summit. According to our government’s National Climate Change Response White Paper: ‘potential impacts on South Africa in the medium- to long-term are significant and potentially catastrophic’ for under conservative assumptions, ‘after 2050, warming is projected to reach around 3–4°C along the coast, and 6–7°C in the interior’.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Durban climate summit: ALBA to fight for humanity

By Federico Fuentes
Green Left weekly
Monday, November 28, 2011

Representatives from the Latin American and Caribbean governments that make up the Bolivarian Alliance of the Peoples of Our Americas (ALBA) met in Bolivia on November 17-18 to coordinate their battle plan ahead of the international climate change summit in Durban later this month.

ALBA unites eight countries, including the radical governments of Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador and Nicaragua. It helped lead the fight at the 2009 Copenhagen summit against attempts by rich nations to impose their anti-environmental plans.

This year’s summit will try to reach agreement on commitments for the second period of the Kyoto Protocol, set to begin in 2013.

The Ecological Crisis, Capitalism and Ecososcialism

By Laurence H. Shoup
ICSS Crisis Group
April 2009

Humanity is now facing the greatest challenge in its history, a rapidly maturing ecological crisis. This long-term crisis constitutes the gravest direct threat to civilization and human life that we as a species have ever encountered.

It signifies that the socio-economic regime of capital has now reached its limits, meaning that there must be an end to capitalist business as usual and the advent of a massive struggle for new life affirming socio-ecological regime, best labeled ecosocialism. An ecological perspective is central to our full understanding of alienation under capitalism, the failure of the attempt to create socialism in the former USSR, and the overall struggle for an egalitarian and sustainable human future.

UK secretly helping Canada push its oil sands project

Canadian interests and oil lobby win coalition's support for highly polluting process in runup to European fuel quality vote  
By Damian Carrington 

Tar Sands pit in Fort McMurray, Alberta

The UK government has been giving secret support at the very highest levels to Canada's campaign against European penalties on its highly polluting tar sands fuel, the Guardian can reveal.

At the same time, the UK government was being lobbied by Shell and BP, which both have major tar sands projects in Alberta, and opened a new consulate in the province to "support British commercial interests".

At least 15 high-level meetings and frequent communications have taken place since September, with David Cameron discussing the issue with his counterpart Stephen Harper during his visit to Canada, and stating privately that the UK wanted "to work with Canada on finding a way forward", according to documents released under freedom of information laws.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Peru's Gold Mine Conundrum

Green Canada
November 25, 2011

Peru's biggest mining investment is under threat and government social welfare programs with it as highlands peasants step up protests against a gold-and-copper mine they fear could taint and diminish their water supply.

About 400 protesters tried to enter the mine's grounds Friday and some hurled rocks at police, who responded with tear gas and shotgun blasts, wounding one protester in the leg, Interior Minister Oscar Valdes told a Lima TV station.

On Thursday, an estimated 10,000 residents marched to protest the project

Opposition to the $4.8 billion project, an extension of the Yanacocha open-pit gold mine that is Latin America's largest, poses the first major challenge to President Ollanta Humala's leadership.

The People' Democratic Struggle and the Struggle for the Environment

An Interview with Fred Magdoff
By Farooque Chowdhury
November  25, 2011 
"The people' democratic struggle and the struggle for the environment should be intimately tied together." -- Fred Magdoff
Fred Magdoff is professor emeritus of plant and soil science at the University of Vermont and adjunct professor of crop and soil science at Cornell University.  He is a co-author of What Every Environmentalist Needs to Know about Capitalism: A Citizen's Guide to Capitalism and the Environment(with John Bellamy Foster, Monthly Review Press, 2011); a co-author of The Great Financial Crisis (with John Bellamy Foster, Monthly Review Press, 2009); and a co-editor of Agriculture and Food in Crisis (with Brian Tokar, Monthly Review Press, 2010).

As climate crisis threatens millions of people around the world, the latest round of climate talks, COP 17, will begin in Durban on November 28.  I interviewed Fred Magdoff about what strategies and tactics people can employ to tackle climate crisis at COP 17 and beyond.

FC: COP 17 is going to begin within days in Durban.  What issues should the most affected and vulnerable countries raise in the conference?

SACSIS Newsletter Weekly Roundup
25 November 2011
Latest News and Video Clips
SACSIS - The South African Civil Society Information Service
A nonprofit news agency promoting social justice. Seeking answers to the question:
How do we make democracy work for the poor?
Dear Reader,

The Unite Nations Climate Conference, COP17, kicks off on Monday in Durban and we've dedicated almost this entire edition of the SACSIS weekly roundup to the event. We bring you a report and video footage from a SACSIS roundtable discussion, co-hosted with the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung South Africa office, on how the South African media reports on climate change. I have penned a summary of the key debates at the event, attended by media representatives and activists from civil society. Do dip into our video booth for clips from the roundtable discussion featuring our keynote speakers and participants.

There is indeed a huge amount of excitement about COP17 being hosted in South Africa (our media have even compared it to the soccer world cup), but Glenn Ashton argues that South Africa is simply an inappropriate host, given that we are the biggest polluter on the African continent.

Finally, Michelle Pressend argues that South Africa's neoliberal water policies exacerbate the effects of climate change on the poor.

Thank you for reading.
Fazila Farouk
News and Analysis
Fazila Farouk - SACSIS and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in South Africa co-hosted a roundtable discussion on "The Media and Climate Change." The purpose of the event was to interrogate the South African media's messaging in the run up to COP17.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Welcome to Durban (excerpt from new book, 'Durban’s Climate Gamble')

Nov. 24, 2011

The following is an excerpt from a new book, Durban’s Climate Gamble: Playing the Carbon Markets, Betting the Earth, launched on November 23, 2011, ahead of the November 28–December 9 COP17 climate change talks by UNISA Press.

* * *

By Patrick Bond, Durban

Durban’s Climate Gamble is devoted to exploring two interlocking, overlapping scales of political ecology: local eco-social conditions and environmental justice campaigning in Durban, South Africa and climate justice advocacy against market-based “false solutions” at the global scale. Their fusion at the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) links up myriad battles over ecosystems that mainly revolve around “neoliberalised nature”.

For example, the pricing of socio-ecological services has been extreme when applied to carbon sequestration and Durban is a leading site. More generally, the tendency to commodify nature has become the defining philosophical stance behind global environmental governance, with inevitable conflicts of which Durban’s are emblematic. For example, “cost-reflective” (unsubsidised) pricing of South African electricity at a time of increased coal-fired power plant construction has generated an intense battle over access to energy in Durban’s informal settlements where illegal connections are rife.

The struggle over the price of water and sanitation has led to South Africa’s famous water wars. The “green economy” (often interpreted as multinational corporate promotion of biofuels and geoengineering) and “Payment for Environmental Services” are set to become conventional wisdom at the Rio+20 summit in mid-2012, but not to ensure that the North’s ecological debt to the South is properly acknowledged, but rather to establish a range of financialised investment options that securitise “natural capital”.

Read more HERE.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Naomi Klein's Thought Bubble: Ethical Oil?


Capitalism Is Leading Us to Total Disaster

By Dave Holmes
November 23, 2011

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.

The Changing Face of Oil Extraction

By The Media Co-op
The Dominion
November 23, 2011

Development of shale oil and gas plays in the Middle East could mean a dramatic shift towards Israeli power and away from the traditional sources of oil in the region.

You may have heard of "Dirty Oil", "Ethical Oil", "Bloody Oil" or even "Conflict Oil"-- but have you heard of "Apartheid Oil"? This is the topic that Edmonton-based writer and activist Macdonald Stainsby has been exploring ever since he visited the Middle East and Northern Africa earlier this year.

In a four-part series to be released over the next month, Stainsby examines key shifts in technology and politics that could change the face of oil extraction in Israel/Palestine, Jordan and Morocco. As an introduction to the series, The Media Co-op had a chance to talk with Stainsby about what he learned on his visit and through the writing process.

Corporations spending billions to exert 'undue influence' to prevent global climate action

By Mike De Souza
Postmedia News 
November 22, 2011

A handful of multinational corporations are "exerting undue influence" on the political process in Canada, the U.S. and other key nations to delay international action on climate change, alleges a new report released Tuesday by Greenpeace International.

The report documents a series of alleged lobbying and marketing efforts led by major corporations and industry associations, representing oil and gas companies as well as other major sources of pollution in Canada, the U.S., Europe and South Africa, which is hosting an international climate-change summit that begins next Monday.

H2Oil movie trailer

Monday, November 21, 2011

Seven billion? That's not a problem

The mistake that the pessimists make is in seeing each of us solely as consumers

By Mark Steel 
The Independent
02 November 2011

Many people seem to feel it's a disaster now there are seven billion people on the planet, but there are several arguments that can be used against this view. The most important one may be, "What a miserable, grumpy, cynical, snobbish, wretched way to look at the world. I bet you're fun when a friend has a baby. Do you send them a card saying 'With deepest regrets' and if someone's killed in a car crash send their family a balloon with a picture of a champagne bottle on the side and 'Congratulations! It's a corpse!' in bright purple letters?"

These people must wish the news would end with Fiona Bruce saying, "And finally, on a lighter note, an earthquake in Indonesia killed 50,000 people today, so at last that's knocked a bit of a hole in the world population. Good night." Presumably when they were at school they'd shout at the start of every history lesson "Can we do the plague again please sir? Oh PLEASE".

Climate change and the need for ecosocialism

By Wayne Deluca
Socialist Action
November 20, 2011

We are living in a period of intense ecological crisis. Climate change caused by human activity is at the forefront of this crisis, which extends throughout the natural environment and threatens the very future of humanity as a species.

Global warming caused by industrial production has pushed us to a tipping point beyond which lie untold disasters. We have seen a rise in sea level, melting of glaciers, severe weather, and changes in the composition of the oceans. Our current level of atmospheric carbon dioxide is around 391 parts per million, while 300 or less would actually be sustainable. As temperatures rise we can expect more super-storms, more flooding and droughts, and extreme changes in the oceans that are the cradle of life on earth.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Good Society/Green Society? The Red-Green Debate

A Compass publication

The articles in the book discuss questions raised by the proposition that reds and greens should co-operate, as part of a new pluralistic politics. Some of the articles tackle difficult questions such as economic growth, the influence of consumerism on the labour movement, and the limitations of anti-cuts campaigns.

Others explore possible common ground, around ideas about equality, values, and international trade. There are also articles providing a feminist angle on red-green dialogue, and an account of the experience of red-green co-operation and coalitions in other countries, such as Germany.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Naomi Klein explains the right's successful anti-climate framing

Real climate solutions depend on 'seizing economic terrain from the right', framing discussion around 'enlightened economic system'.

By Naomi Klein
The Nation


There is a question from a gentleman in the fourth row.

He introduces himself as Richard Rothschild. He tells the crowd that he ran for county commissioner in Maryland's Carroll County because he had come to the conclusion that policies to combat global warming were actually "an attack on middle-class American capitalism". His question for the panelists, gathered in a Washington, DC, Marriott Hotel in late June, is this: "To what extent is this entire movement simply a green Trojan horse, whose belly is full with red Marxist socioeconomic doctrine?"

Here at the Heartland Institute's Sixth International Conference on Climate Change, the premier gathering for those dedicated to denying the overwhelming scientific consensus that human activity is warming the planet, this qualifies as a rhetorical question. Like asking a meeting of German central bankers if Greeks are untrustworthy. Still, the panelists aren't going to pass up an opportunity to tell the questioner just how right he is.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

System Change - Patrick Bond

Council of Canadians

Patrick Bond is the Director of the Centre for Civil Society, University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa

Patrick describes why he takes hope from the growing climate justice movement going into the UN climate negotiations in Durban, South Africa (December 2011).

One Year Since Cancun and Just Days Away from Durban: MORE THAN 4°C

By Pablo Solon 
Hoy es Todavía
November 2011

Balance sheet and perspectives on the climate change negotiations (Part I)

Pablo Salon in Cancun
Almost a year has gone by since the results of the climate change negotiations in Cancun were imposed with the objection of only Bolivia. It’s time to take stock and see where we are now.

In Cancun, the developed countries listed their greenhouse gas emission reduction pledges for the 2012-2020 period. The United States and Canada said they would reduce emissions by 3% based on 1990 levels, the European Union between 20 and 30%, Japan 25%, and Russia from 15 to 25% [1]. Adding up all the reduction pledges of the developed countries, the total reduction in emissions by 2020 would be 13-17% [2] based on 1990 levels.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Conservative free trade agenda low on jobs, environmental protection

Council of Canadians
November 15, 2011

Free trade agreements with Panama and Jordan, legislation for which was announced today by International Trade Minister Ed Fast, will have little effect on jobs or the economy while putting Panamanian workers, Indigenous peoples and environmental protections at risk, says the Council of Canadians and MiningWatch Canada.

"The amount of trade Canada does with either Panama or Jordan is minimal and the Canadian experience shows just having a free trade agreement in place does not encourage exports," says Stuart Trew, trade campaigner with the Council of Canadians. "What's worse about these deals is that they place the rights of Canadian investors in these countries above the rights of workers and Indigenous peoples, the right to protect the environment, and the ability of governments to support local economic development and create jobs."

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Cuba Shares Its Experiences in Agroecology

By Dalia Acosta
Havana Times
November  16, 2011

Farmers and experts on agriculture from Haiti, Guadeloupe and Martinique are touring fields in Cuba this week, along with local colleagues, to exchange experiences to foment ecological fruit growing on Caribbean islands.

“I’m leaving with a different take on things,” Audrey Retory, who grows fruit and vegetables and raises barnyard fowl in Guadeloupe, told IPS. “There’s no reason for there to be an antagonistic relationship between agricultural production and nature.

“From now on I’m going to use vermiculture (composting using earthworms), which does not require a major investment, and I know that many people will see what I’m doing and want to replicate it,” she said.

Unravelling Carbon Markets

By Ed Lewis, Larry Lohmann
New Left Project
November 15, 2011

Larry Lohmann is a scholar and activist who works with The Corner House, a UK-based NGO that supports democratic and community movements for environmental and social justice. As part of NLP’s series of pieces around this year’s Socialist Register – The Crisis and the Left – Lohmann spoke to Ed Lewis about his contribution to the volume, “Financialization, commodification and carbon: the contradictions of neoliberal climate policy”.

The image of carbon markets that still seems to prevail in the minds of many is that of ‘cap and trade’ – governments set overall limits on the amount of greenhouse gases that may be emitted and permits to the right to emit are then traded amongst different economic actors. With this image in mind, many see the key issue as being whether states are able to agree amongst themselves a sufficiently low limit of GHG emissions and question of whether or not there is a carbon market in place to distribute the emissions as a secondary issue.

What do you see as being wrong with this picture? What are the intrinsic problems with carbon trading?

The carbon market creates new asset classes (and opportunities for accumulation) at a time of profit crisis. It is part of a "new phase of accumulation" that is also reflected in -- to take two other prime examples -- the trends in public service commodification described in Ursula Huws' chapter in this year's Socialist Register[1], and the growing global trade in "ecosystem services" generally.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Climate Change and Indigenous Movements

By Ben Powless
New Socialist webzine
07 November 2011

Climate change: you can't get away from it these days.

Except for a few die-hard holdouts, the scientific argument has carried the day in most places. It is now recognized as an international priority, though you wouldn't know it from the actions of our so-called leadership. That urgency is being felt by nobody more than Indigenous Peoples, who happen to live in the most diverse and fragile ecosystems remaining in the world. In Canada, the Inuit are experiencing some of the greatest temperature changes in the whole world, disrupting a traditional culture that depends on the cold as much as the Amazon does on the rain.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

We won one battle against big oil, but not the war

Statement of the Indigenous Environmental Network
November 11, 2011

Mother Earth Achieves a Victory Today with Obama Administration Decision to Delay the Keystone XL Pipeline Decision

The United States Department of State and President Barack Obama announced they would seek a new environmental review of the Keystone XL pipeline. This will delay and hopefully stop the Trans Canada Corporation from pursuing to build the 1,700 mile long Keystone XL pipeline. The pipeline is part of the expansion of the flow of dirty oil from the tar sands of Canada. The Indigenous Environmental Network, through its Canadian Indigenous Tar Sands Campaign and its Keystone XL Pipeline organizing work has successfully put an indigenous and human rights face to this dangerous and environmental destructive tar sands pipeline.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Soviet environmentalism: The path not taken

Arran Gare
November 2, 2011


Capitalism is a system that by its very nature must expand until it destroys the conditions of its own existence. It IS hardly surprising then, that Marxists in the Soviet Union argued that in the current environmental crisis lay the ultimate reason for replacing capitalism with socialism: As A. D. Ursal, the editor of Philosophy and the Ecological Problems of Civilization, argued:

The crisis of the environment, which is reaching extreme development almost everywhere, coincides with the last stage of the general crisis of capitalism. A conviction is growing throughout the world that only collapse of the capitalist system and victory of Socialism throughout the world will create a general, fundamental, social opportunity for rational use of natural resources and the highest degree of optimum interaction with nature. . . . Convincing evidence that socialism is a necessary condition for optimizing relations between society and nature is Socialism as it actually exists, and the policy of socialist countries in respect of the environment.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, however,. all hope that Soviet communism might be transformed into a more attractive, less environmentally degraded social order than the liberal democratic societies of the West has been destroyed. The description of the modern predicament by Alvin W. Gouldner has become even more poignant: "The political uniqueness of our own era then is this; we have lived and still live through a desperate political and social malaise, while at the same time we have outlived the desperate revolutionary remedies that had once been thought to solve them.,, If this is the case, there is reason to examine the environmental failures of the Soviet Union more closely. Was it possible that things might have worked out differently?

If so, does this provide any orientation for the present? In this chapter, I will show how an alternative path for Soviet society had been charted and partly implemented in the 1920s by the radical wing of Bolshevism, a path that made environmental conservation a central issue. And I will suggest that this is the path that holds most hope for the future.

Read more HERE.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Who profits from the 7 billion population frenzy?

By Vanessa Baird
New Internationalist Blog
November 1, 2011

So, now we are 7 billion. Or maybe not.

Maybe we will be 7 billion next March – or maybe we already were last July.

Because if you read the small print from the United Nations, the week’s landmark date – October 31 – is ‘symbolic’.

But the frenzy in the build-up to the big day has had effects that should alarm anyone concerned with equality, human rights and the real causes of climate change. Even serious media outlets resorted to the 1960s language of ‘overpopulation,’  ‘explosion,’ ‘overcrowding’. Spectres of hunger, poverty and global turmoil were paraded as the products of population growth.

Wanted: Good green energy jobs

Wind and solar energy projects don't create a lot of jobs and the ones they do create don't pay all that well

By Marjorie Griffin Cohen and John Calvert
Vancouver Sun
October 27, 2011

The energy sector is often promoted as an area where a "winwin" situation exists for labour and climate change policy. The prevailing view is that the economy will create many good new jobs as it shifts from dirty energy production to clean, renewable energy.

We wish this were so, but our study of employment in the energy sector finds that these claims are largely wishful thinking. While there are new developments, overall Canadian energy policy is "more of the same." It is explicitly driven by private-marketbased decisions, rather than careful planning by governments to ensure both good environmental and labour outcomes. To the extent that there is public planning, it is focused on delivering outcomes the energy industry wants. This planning failure has implications both for the lack of greening of the energy sector, and the types of jobs being created.