Monday, August 20, 2012

Fukushima Nuclear Situation “Deteriorating”

By Richard Wilcox
Dissident Voice
August 20th, 2012

Were it not for certain nuclear whistle blowers and outside, independent experts, the public would have to rely on the glib and technically inaccessible reports from Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) or the Japanese government. Not that those reports are entirely without substance, but due to the incomprehensible technical jargon most people simply throw up their hands and hope for the best.
Luckily, in this day of the internet we can learn a lot about what is going on thanks to independent researchers and writers. To the extent that mainstream newspapers have covered the issue responsibly, and there has been substantive coverage, web sites like “”; “” and “” have served as information clearinghouses for mainstream news, academic studies and independent sources of journalism about the nuclear crisis in Japan.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

What to demand from neoliberal Capitalism in crisis

The crisis of neoliberalism has reached the heart of the main countries that assumed unto themselves the right not only to determine the economic-financial processes, but also to set the very course of human history. It is a crisis of the political ideology of the minimalized state and privatization of public goods, as well as of the capitalist form of production, exacerbated to the extreme by a concentration of power such as history has never before seen. We expect that this crisis will have a systemic and terminal character.

The genius of capitalism has always found means to their ends of unlimited accumulation, and has used them all, including war. Capitalism would gain by destroying, and then by rebuilding. The crisis of 1929 was solved not by economic means, but by the Second World War. That course seems now impracticable, because war is so destructive that it could exterminate human life and the better part of the biosphere. But we are not certain that, in its insanity, capitalism will not resort to this means.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Catabolic Capitalism and Green Resistance

By Craig Collins, Ph.D.

In the first installment of this two-part article we examined the notion that any future without globalization must be an improvement. But globalization and growth only constitute capitalism’s expansionist phase, powered by abundant fossil fuels. As energy becomes scarce, boom turns to bust. But profit-hungry capitalism doesn’t die; it morphs into its zombie-like, undead phase.

Growth-less capitalism turns catabolic. The word catabolism is used in biology to refer to the condition whereby a living thing feeds on itself. Thus, catabolic capitalism is a self-cannibalizing system whose insatiable hunger for profit can only be fed by consuming the society that sustains it.

As it rampages down the road to ruin, this system gorges itself on one self-inflicted disaster after another. Unless we bring it down, catabolic capitalism will leave its survivors rummaging through the toxic rubble left behind.

Weapons for the Weak in the Climate Struggle

By Walden Bello
Foreign Policy in Focus
August 16, 2012

This past month was the hottest July in the United States ever recorded. In India, the monsoon rains are long delayed, resulting in the country’s second drought in four years. Triple-digit temperatures in New Delhi and other cities have already provoked the worst power outages in the country’s history and the expected bad harvest is likely to slice at least 5 percent from GDP growth.

In Beijing, which usually suffers from a shortage of water, a storm on July 21 resulted in the worst flooding since recordkeeping began in 1951, according to theEconomist. Meanwhile, here in the Philippines, a protracted, weeklong rainstorm plunged Metropolitan Manila into a watery disaster that is probably the worst in recent history.

If there is any doubt that the abnormal is now the norm, remember that this is shaping up to be the second straight year that nonstop rains have wreaked havoc in Southeast Asia. Last year, the monsoon season brought about the worst flooding in Thailand’s history, with waters engulfing Bangkok and affecting over 14 million people, damaging nearly 7,000 square miles of agricultural land, disrupting global supply chains, and bringing about what the World Bank estimated to be the world’s fourth costliest disaster ever.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

What Cuba Can Teach Us About Food and Climate Change

After the Cold War, Cuba faced many of the agricultural challenges that the rest of the world is now anticipating. 

By Raj Patel
Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012

Cuban farmers sowing sweet potatoes. Photograph by STR/AFP/Getty Images. 

The Studebakers plying up and down Havana’s boardwalk aren’t the best advertisement for dynamism and innovation. But if you want to see what tomorrow’s fossil-fuel-free, climate-change-resilient, high-tech farming looks like, there are few places on earth like the Republic of Cuba.

Under the Warsaw Pact, Cuba sent rum and sugar to the red side of the Iron Curtain. In exchange, it received food, oil, machinery, and as many petrochemicals as it could shake a stick at. From the Missile Crisis to the twilight of the Soviet Union, Cuba was one of the largest importers of agricultural chemicals in Latin America. But when the Iron Curtain fell, the supply lines were cut, and tractors rusted in the fields.

Unable to afford the fertilizers and pesticides that 20th-century agriculture had taken for granted, the country faced extreme weather events and a limit to the land and water it could use to grow food. The rest of the world will soon face many of the same problems: In the coming decade, according to the OECD, we’ll see higher fuel and fertilizer costs, more variable climate patterns, and limits to arable land that will drive cereal prices 20 percent higher and hike meat prices by 30 percent—and that’s just the beginning. Policymakers can find inspirational and salutary ideas about how to confront this crisis in Cuba, the reluctant laboratory for 21st-century agriculture.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Why "going green" isn't enough

Raul Alonzo Jr. argues that the keys to preventing catastrophic climate change and stopping environmental degradation can't be found under capitalism.

Socialist Worker
July 24, 2012

DEPRESSINGLY, THOUGH very importantly, something all who believe in changing the world and transforming society must come to terms with is the fact that monumental changes rarely come about easily and solutions are seldom simple.

Such is the case with a great deal of the methods being used to curb the ecological crisis--from buying organic or driving a hybrid car to even something as engrained as recycling.

Society must ask itself: Can we truly create a sustainable future through market-based, consumerist conclusions--by "going green?" Can we buy our way to a better future? Or will the task, perhaps, involve a more holistic approach--one that looks at the current, growth-based, capitalist system and a reassessment of where to direct efforts?

Friday, August 10, 2012

Creative accounting, not climate progress behind Kent's 'progress' report

August 9, 2012

During the press conference that accompanied yesterday’s launch of the 2012 edition of Environment Canada’s “Canada’s Emissions Trends”, Environment Minister Peter Kent claimed the report shows that Canada is now “half way to its target of reducing total greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020.” While Kent went on to claim credit for this purported progress on behalf of the Harper government’s sector-by-sector regulatory approach to greenhouse gas pollution, for most observers it seemed to good too be true, given that the previous year’s installment of the same report indicated that the country had only gone a quarter of its way to that target.

Indeed, a closer read of the report reveals that it is changes in carbon accounting practices rather than actual changes in the federal government’s climate policy that explain most of the difference between this year’s and last year’s numbers. Lower emission numbers on paper are not matched by lower emissions to the atmosphere or any improvements within federal climate policies. In fact, about two thirds of the “progress” claimed by Kent on behalf of his government can be attributed to these changes in accounting. What’s more, more than half of the amount resulting from these dodgy figures would probably trigger an investigation into fraudulent accounting practices, at least in the world of financial accounting.

Murray Bookchin: The Man Who Brought Radical Ecology and Assembly Democracy to the Left

By Janet Biehl
New Left Project
August 9, 2012

Murray Bookchin (1921-2006) understood earlier than almost anyone that an ecological crisis was not only looming but posted a challenge to capitalism and the whole social order. In the 1950s and 1960s, before most people even knew what ecology was, he was proposing fundamental solutions. Being ahead of his time, however, meant that his ideas were either ignored or condemned when they were first published; they remain insufficiently recognized today.

Bookchin joined the American Communist movement at the age of nine, during the Great Depression; disillusioned, he was a Trotskyist—a member of the Socialist Workers Party (Fourth International)—from 1939 to 1947. He thereafter abjured political Marxism but remained committed to advancing the project of anticapitalist revolution. He would rethink revolutionary politics, find a new framework for it. He dedicated the rest of his life to theorizing, inspiring, and trying to organize a revolution that would be not only socialist but (unlike Marxian socialism) antihierarchical, democratic, and ecological.