Showing posts with label climate change. Show all posts
Showing posts with label climate change. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Fracking Scotland

“The IPCC [UN climate science panel] is quite clear about the need to leave the vast majority of already proven reserves in the ground, if we are to meet the 2C goal. The fact that despite this science, governments are spending billions of tax dollars each year to find more fossil fuels that we cannot ever afford to burn, reveals the extent of climate denial still ongoing within the G20,” said Oil Change International director Steve Kretzman.

The most detailed breakdown yet of global fossil fuel subsidies has found that the US government provided companies with $5.2bn for fossil fuel exploration in 2013, Australia spent $3.5bn, Russia $2.4bn and the UK $1.2bn. The government money went to major multinationals as well as smaller ones who specialise in exploratory work, according to British thinktank the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and Washington-based analysts Oil Change International. The report found that  four times as much money was spent on fossil fuel exploration as on renewable energy development.

It shows an extraordinary “merry-go-round” of countries supporting each others’ companies. The US spends $1.4bn a year for exploration in Columbia, Nigeria and Russia, while Russia is subsidising exploration in Venezuela and China, which in turn supports companies exploring Canada, Brazil and Mexico.

Britain, says their report, proved to be one of the most generous countries. In the five year period to 2014 it gave tax breaks totalling over $4.5bn to French, US, Middle Eastern and north American companies to explore the North Sea for fast-declining oil and gas reserves. A breakdown of that figure showed over $1.2bn of British money went to two French companies, GDF-Suez and Total, $450m went to five US companies including Chevron, and $992m to five British companies. Britain also spent public funds for foreign companies to explore in Azerbaijan, Brazil, Ghana, Guinea, India and Indonesia, as well as Russia, Uganda and Qatar, according to the report’s data, which is drawn from the OECD, government documents, company reports and institutions.

“The evidence points to a publicly financed bail-out for carbon-intensive companies, and support for uneconomic investments that could drive the planet far beyond the internationally agreed target of limiting global temperature increases to no more than 2C,” say the report’s authors.

“This is real money which could be put into schools or hospitals. It is simply not economic to invest like this. This is the insanity of the situation. They are diverting investment from economic low-carbon alternatives such as solar, wind and hydro-power and they are undermining the prospects for an ambitious UN climate deal in 2015,” said Kevin Watkins, director of the ODI.

The above should be noted regards to the latest development to frack beneath the Firth of Forth in the already well-polluted Grangemouth/Kincardine area. Cluff Natural Resources [what an environmentally sounding company name that is] said plans are being drawn up to extract coal from under the Firth of Forth following a large discovery.  The company is seeking permission to build the UK’s first deep offshore underground coal gasification (UCG) project to extract it. Cluff said two of the coal seams identified have 43mln tonnes of coal in place (CIP), or the equivalent of 1.4 billion cubic feet (BCF) of natural gas-in-place. For context, 1bn cubic feet of gas could serve 11,000 homes for one year. The process of gasification involves drilling horizontally into a seam and then injecting air and oxygen to produce syngas - a mixture of combustible gases which include hydrogen, carbon monoxide, methane and carbon dioxide.

WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said Scotland needs to rely more on electricity and renewables rather than coal and gas. “Plans to ‘burn’ coal under the Firth of Forth will not deliver that aim and should therefore be a complete non-starter,” he said. “In a worst-case scenario, proposals such as this one could even extend our use of fossil fuels, locking us into a high carbon world. Just over a week ago, scientists from the United Nations issued their latest predictions of the growing threat from global climate change and the need to be rapidly phasing out our use of fossil fuels. Since the developers themselves have admitted that carbon dioxide will be emitted by their plans, from a climate change perspective this scheme is nothing short of irresponsible.”

There is no peoples’ mandate for the fossil fuel industry to unleash and bring on runaway global warming that will bring humankind to its knees, sink whole island countries, and may eventually cause the death of half or more of the species on the planet and billions of human souls. Politicians  have ignored the damage to sustainable world resources, and have invited chaos. Instead of being acquiescent, we should all be angry.  Our children and their children's future depends on it.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

A truly green world can be had by all

How long can people go on pretending that nothing is amiss with the world's weather? Legend has it that Nero fiddled while Rome burned. Not to be outdone, the present ruling class is fiddling while the Earth burns up.

 Capitalism's profit motive is the culprit for this, as well as many other unthinkable environmental disasters in the making. The profit motive and capitalism are bringing civilisation to the brink of disaster, and time is running out to take corrective actions where it is still possible or to lessen the effects where the damage is already too advanced to be undone. It ought to be clear by now that the system primarily responsible for bringing humanity such peril and which even now continues to ignore the warnings of scientists is not about to spend the hundreds of billions needed to avert or mitigate the dangers. Socially harmful decisions are made because, in one way or another, they serve the profit interests of the capitalist class. Capitalist class rule over the economy also explains why government regulation is so ineffective: under capitalism, government itself is essentially a tool of the capitalist class. Politicians may be elected "democratically," but because they are financed, supported and decisively influenced by the economic power of the capitalist class, democratic forms are reduced to a farce. The capitalist class and its government will never be able to solve the environmental crisis. They and their system are the problem.

Freed from any restrictions imposed by private-ownership interests and operating only for the good of humankind and the world, and in sharp contrast to the feeble and timid actions of the environmental activists tied to the capitalist system who are perennially preoccupied with garnering political influence among politicians and trying to raise the monetary funds to carry on their work socialists find themselves in the task of rebuilding our world. The action workers must take is to realise their  political power with the goal of building a new society with completely different motives for production -- human needs and wants instead of profit -- and to organise their own political party to challenge the political power of the capitalists, express their mandate for change at the ballot box and dismantle the state altogether.

 Too often environmentalists are limited in their world view and understanding of the capitalist system, imbued with notions of the "evil men [or corporations]" theory of history, are prone to divorce their specific environmental cause from the whole socio-economic fabric. These environmental warriors of capitalist society endlessly flounder, winning, at best, only a delaying action against the disintegrating effects of capitalism on the natural world. Government regulations pose no threat to capitalism, and never have, regardless of how they may affect or place certain restraints on specific capitalist interests. The real threat to capitalism and the crimes that capitalism commits against nature and humanity is an informed and active working class. Only socialism can satisfy our needs while operating all the industries in harmony with the best interest of the whole planet. However, until the working class decides that it must take control of the economy and establish a new form of democratic government based on collective and democratic ownership of the economy, all creatures on earth will continue to suffer under the capitalist dictum of "business as usual."

The best capitalism can do is to substitute one set of risks for another. Every time capitalism "solves" a problem it creates a new one. It will take a fundamentally different type of social and economic system to even begin to rationally address the problem of global warming-- a socialist society, freed from what Marx once referred to as "the furies of private interest" that now control energy sources and its uses. As always, the moneyed interests come first, and people last. The fossil-fuel industrial complex spends millions of its ill-gotten profits on a persistent campaign of disinformation that is readily augmented, amplified and widely disseminated by the capitalist media. Despite all warnings, the situation will continue to deteriorate as long as the capitalist system continues to exist. The capitalists will defend their source of profits by every means in their power and we will near ever closer to the brink of social disaster. We'll be taken over the edge of the abyss unless the workers awaken to the danger, recognise that capitalism is both the cause of the problem and the obstacle to its solution, and take steps to abolish capitalism and establish socialism.

 There exists mountains of studies, reports and research papers that amount to indictments of capitalism as the culprit for the destruction of the environment. University libraries are bulging,  publishers are glutted and periodicals are saturated with facts and figures. Hardly anything seems to have escaped the scrutiny of those scientists who have produced  findings that Nature and the planet’s eco-system is in deep trouble. Rare indeed are explicit condemnations of the capitalist systems operations. These scientists have drawn conclusions, without the essential inference that environmental degradation is inherent in capitalist development. Such an inference would, of course, have led to only one conclusion: that meaningful action to repair our world can only be taken when the competitive pressures of capitalism, indeed the capitalist system itself, is abolished and socialism established.

Among the most serious problems facing society today is that of environmental pollution and
 destruction. Air pollution, acid rain and acidic seas, tainted and toxic water, poisonous industrial pollutants in our rivers and oceans, cancer-producing pesticides on the food we eat, unhealthy hormones and antibiotics in meat and dairy products, nuclear waste leakage and accidents like Japan’s Fukushima, ozone depletion and last but by no means the least, global warming -- the list of bad news on the environment is seemingly unending.

Marx and Engels perceived enormous squandering of society's resources, a fact that caused Engels to observe: "When one observes how here in London alone a greater quantity of manure than is produced by the whole kingdom of Saxony is poured away every day into the sea with an expenditure of enormous sums, and what colossal structures are necessary in order to prevent this manure from poisoning the whole of London, then the utopia of abolishing the distinction between town and country is given a remarkably practical basis." (The Housing Question.)

The world in which we live does not belong to this generation, or even to the human species so is it reasonable, then, to permit its ongoing destruction -- not by the humanity, but by that tiny minority of the human species that is befouling the nest of all -- the capitalist class? There is no reason whatsoever  that prevents mankind from living in harmony with its natural surroundings. Indeed, humanity is itself an integral part of the total environment and no more at odds with it by nature than any other animal. Pollution is not an inevitable by-product of modern industry. Methods exist or can readily be developed to safely neutralize, recycle or contain most industrial wastes. Less polluting forms of transportation and energy CAN be built. Adequate supplies of food CAN be grown without deadly pesticides. The problem is that, under capitalism, the majority of people have no power to make these kinds of decisions about production. Under the capitalist system, production decisions are made by the small, wealthy minority that owns and controls the industries and services -- the capitalist class. And the capitalists who make up that class make their decisions to serve, first and foremost, one goal -- that of maximising profit for themselves. That is where the environmental crisis begins  and offer  grim testament to the anti-social character of capitalism.

Capitalism was at one time a necessary development of the human species  humanity must continue to progress its social development -- to socialism.  It seems all too obvious that every move ruling classes make is calculated to increase their profits or consolidate their power over the peoples and the countries they control. The clean up of polluted waters, the reclamation of toxic land, and the restoration of the natural environment generally will have to wait for the advent of socialism. That is the only sane, logical and practical way to eliminate all such unnatural disasters because it is the only way to take control of the economy away from an impervious ruling class and place it under the direct control of society as a whole. A socialist industrial democracy  is what is needed to solve the environmental crisis. By placing the economic decision-making power  in the hands of the people, by eliminating capitalist control and the profit motive in favor of a system in which workers produce to meet their own needs and wants, the necessary resources and labour could be devoted to stop pollution at its source and repair the damage already done. Socialism, of course, could not immediately halt the use of coal, oil and nucclear power as energy sources; nor could it immediately clear the atmosphere of the already accumulated greenhouse gases. Socialism could and would set corrective processes in motion by eliminating the anarchy and duplication characteristic of capitalist production; by putting an end to the massive production of nuclear arms; by decreasing the use of fossil fuels wherever possible; by the elimination of a host of other wasteful industrial activities and polluting practices that are part and parcel of the capitalist system and the mad drive for profits that it engenders. It would, thereby, provide time and resources to our researchers and scientists to enable them to discover and/or develop alternative non-polluting and renewable energy sources, even as nature begins to clear the atmosphere.

History cannot stand still. If we do not move forward we must either stagnate or regress. It is time to choose. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Wasted Capitalism

One third to one half of all food produced in the world goes to waste uneaten, according to data recently collected by the Natural Resources Defense Council and presented this month at the 2012 Reuters Food and Agriculture Summit. Yet the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimated that 925 million people went undernourished in 2010 alone. And hunger is not a problem restricted to developing countries: last year, an estimated 1 in 4 American children lived in households where food was not always available, and 1 in 5 Americans sought food aid through the federal food stamp program.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that the average American throws away 33 pounds of food each month — that’s nearly 400 pounds each year. Food waste makes up nearly 14% of American families’ trash. Americans toss more food in their garbage cans than plastic products. This waste includes both leftover cooked foods, and food that was purchased but allowed to spoil without being eaten. The foods most commonly discarded without ever being eaten include fresh produce, eggs and fish.

Farmers, packaged food producers and retailers all waste edible food, too. Farmers may throw away excess produce that cannot be sold; food process may discard edible byproducts; grocery stores often reject or discard produce with minor defects. And at any point along the food supply chain, failure to deliver food promptly or store food properly may lead to spoilage.

Agriculture and food production are highly energy-intensive industries. Industrialized farms use petrochemicals to fertilize soil, and fossil fuels to power farm equipment. Transporting food from field to plate consumes even more energy. According to the a report issued by the UN FAO in November 2011, the food sector accounts for nearly 30 percent of the world’s energy consumption. Wasted food, essentially, is wasted energy. And wasted water, too: the international Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development reports that agriculture accounts for roughly 70 percent of human water consumption. Beyond the substantial environmental impact of the wasted energy and water represented by wasted food, food waste contributes significantly to global climate change when it decomposes in landfills. When left to decompose in natural conditions or in a compost pile, food waste naturally releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. But under unnatural landfill conditions, in the absence of air, most food waste undergoes anaerobic decomposition, which results in the production of large amounts of methane gas instead. Though both carbon dioxide and methane are greenhouse gases that can contribute to climate change, EPA scientists estimate that methane gas is 20 times more efficient at trapping the sun’s heat than carbon dioxide — making excess methane much more dangerous to the climate than excess CO2. Landfills are currently the third-largest source of methane in the United States, producing more of the dangerous greenhouse gas than coal mining or crude oil production. And much of the methane in landfills comes from decomposing food waste.

Read more:

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Who owns the North Pole - Part 10 , and other climate change threats

Been a while that Socialist Courier reported on the competition to exploit the ever warming Arctic regions , the last time being here . Well , just because the problem isn't reported , it doesn't mean it has disappeared . Also raised in the article are the other potential causes of conflicts , like for instance possible "water wars" and other competition for resources

European Union leaders will receive a stark warning next week of potential conflict with Russia over energy resources at the North Pole as global warning melts the ice cap and aggravates international security threats. A report by EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and the executive European Commission describes climate change as "a threat multiplier" that will exacerbate many existing tensions and heighten instability.

"A further dimension of competition for energy resources lies in potential conflict over resources in Polar regions which will become exploitable as a consequence of global warming," the eight-page report obtained by Reuters said.

The report said the EU needed to address the growing debate over Arctic territorial claims and access to new trade routes that challenge its ability to secure its trade and resource interests and may put pressure on relations with "key partners." It suggested the 27-nation bloc develop a specific Arctic policy "based on the evolving geo-strategy of the Arctic region, taking into account ... access to resources and the opening of new trade routes."

The study suggested the EU should do more to focus international attention on security risks related to climate change using the U.N. Security Council, the Group of Eight major industrialized powers and specialist U.N. bodies.

It cited a host of regional examples of the increased prospect of conflict caused by the reduction of arable land, water shortages, dwindling food and fish stocks, increased flooding and prolonged droughts which were already occurring.The east coasts of China and India, as well as the Caribbean region and Central America, face particularly severe economic damage from sea-level rise and increasing natural disasters, the report said.Loss of territory as coastlines recede and large areas are submerged would magnify disputes over land and maritime borders. "Europe must expect substantially increased migratory pressure," the report said, as millions of "environmental migrants" flee poverty, poor health and unemployment, risking increased conflicts in transit and destination areas.

Solana and EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said climate change could increase instability in failed or failing states, stoking tensions between ethnic and religious groups and political radicalization.Existing tensions over access to water in the Middle East were almost certain to intensify, "leading to further political instability with detrimental implications for Europe's energy security and other interests," the report said. It also saw additional potential for conflict in central Asia from an increasing shortage of water, vital for both agriculture and power generation, with an impact on EU strategic and economic interests.

War is indeed the natural condition of capitalism .

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Global Warming and Capitalism

We are not at all surprised . We have been saying it all along .

The Independent On Sunday carries an article on a report that global warming ranks far down the concerns of the world's biggest companies . Nearly nine in 10 of them do not rate it as a priority . The report's publishers believe that big business will concentrate even less on climate change as the world economy deteriorates.Nearly twice as many see climate change as imposing costs on their business as those who believe it presents an opportunity to make money.

The survey found that only 5 per cent of the companies questioned – and not one in China – regarded global warming as their top priority. And only 11 per cent put it in second or third place. Overall it ranked eighth in business leaders' concerns, below increasing sales, reducing costs, developing new products and services, competing for talented staff, securing growth in emerging markets, innovation and technology. Although most are taking limited action to reduce their own emissions, almost one in five had done nothing.

What we of the world socialist movement said was "We can only 'cure the planet' by establishing a society without private productive property or profit where humans will be freed from the uncontrollable economic laws of the pursuit of profit and the accumulation of capital."

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Christmas Good Cheer

The Herald reports that food prices are set to rise around the globe after years of decline, with climate change making it harder for the world's poorest to get adequate food . Rising global temperatures as well as growing food consumption in rapidly developing countries such as China and India are pressuring the world food system, meaning that prices will rise for the foreseeable future, according to the International Food Policy Research Institute. In addition, switching to crops used for biofuels will also reduce the amount of available food and increase prices

Hunger and malnutrition could rise as poor agricultural communities most sensitive to the environment, such as in Africa, are affected. Dependency on food imports will also increase as cereal yields decline in poorer countries. The world's agricultural production is projected to decrease by 16% by 2020 due to global warming, the report said, with land used for certain crops shrinking.

And we have the Independent reporting that the World's wealth already cannot provide for all its population and it is making the customary Christmas appeal for charity and alms .

Even in this supposed rich developed country there are tens of thousands of homeless yet according to Empty Homes Agency, a campaigning charity there are currently 663,000 wasted empty homes in England .

There are three main reasons for these 663,000 empty homes:-

First group have small-scale owners who've let the properties fall into disrepair, or have bought/inherited them in that state. But they don't have the time or the means, and so nothing is done year after year.

The second group are a consequence of property speculation. They are new-builds bought for investment. People buy off-plan with the intention to sell, will wait for their high expectations to be met rather than to accept what they're worth now or to rent them out. They'll gamble for big returns in the future rather than settle for a small but good income now .

The third group are publicly owned such as the Ministry of Defence or local authorities compulsory-purchasing homes with a view to regeneration. But some of those regeneration projects take forever, and in the meantime, homes that could be put to good use are sitting vacant.

Meanwhile between July 2005 and June 2006 139,760 were found to be homeless and the rate of homelessness in London is twice as high as the rest of England with over 50,000 homeless households. In Scotland , the number of households officially recognised as newly homeless in 2005/06 was 40,000.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Who owns the North Pole part 3

We warned here and here that due to the global warming and the increased accessibility of the Arctic Ocean and thus to the natural resources in the region that a new rivalry for sovereignty has begun in the Arctic .

Canada has announced plans for six naval patrol vessels and deep-water port in the north to assert its claim to territorial waters in the Arctic , all at a cost of $3bn (£1.5bn) .

Prime Minister Stephen Harper says the time has come to re-assert Canada's claim to the north to remind other countries - including the US - of Canada's claim to the waters off its northern coast.

The claim could also have serious economic implications. Natural resources including oil, gas and diamonds are thought to lurk - perhaps in abundance - under the Arctic ice. And then there is the North-West Passage - the northern shipping route between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans that European explorers sought for centuries. With a warming climate, the route may just become viable and lucrative.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Scotland's Weather Forecast for Tomorrow ?

While doing the previous blog posting Socialist Courier came across research describing the possible local effects of climate change upon Scotland , a report by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency .

The weather will become more erratic and therefore less predictable, with a greater likelihood of extreme events.

More frequent and severe river flooding, affecting 77,000 properties
Increased likelihood of summer droughts leading to river water quality problems and disruption of water supply
Periods of reduced river flow providing less dilution for discharges with increased sewage treatment costs
Increased treatment costs to provide water supplies
Increased run-off impacting on bathing water quality
Enhanced plant/algal growth due to increased temperature
Increase run-off increasing nutrient loading in water
Changes in abundance and distribution of species and length of growing season
Higher temperatures less favourable for native species
High intensity rainfall causing destruction to river habitat
Increased erosion and siltation with consequences for fish spawning
Disruption to food chain with potential catastrophic loss of species (e.g. island breeding sea bird populations)
More frequent and coastal flooding affecting 93,000 properties
Higher sea level, increased wave height leading to coastal erosion and loss of habitat
Loss of traditional commercial fishery
Drying out of soils combined with higher intensity storm events causing landslides, with potential disruption of transport links
Accelerated decomposition of peaty soils resulting in increased emissions of carbon dioxide and methane, fuelling further climate change
Increased soil loss through water and wind erosion
Changes to agricultural practice and crops
Increased flood-related stress, illness and economic costs
Increased respiratory illness and heat-related distress
Local and regional ozone air quality goals probably more difficult to achieve in the future
An increase in summertime photochemical smog, linked to increasing temperatures and small reductions in cloud cover

The future indeed looks bleak . Left unchecked, climate change will accelerate with significant consequences for Scotland’s environment and society. It is time for a real change of the political climate . Scotland and the world needs Socialism .

Its going to get hotter

Global warming may reduce the number of people who will die from the cold each winter , In the UK for instance, there are 20,000 cold-related deaths but researchers in America claim that this will be off - set by an increase of deaths resulting fro heat-waves ( at present, about 1000 deaths a year are related to heat in the UK ).

Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health looked at the deaths of more than 6.5 million people in 50 US cities between 1989 and 2000. They found that during two-day cold snaps there was a 1.59% increase in deaths because of the extreme temperatures, but during similar periods of extremely hot weather death rates rose by 5.74%.

The 2003 European-wide heat wave and its associated fatalities ( nearly 15,000 deaths in France ) , can be expected to repeat itself .

Not just deaths but economic effects such as reduced crop harvests , too , Wheat had an overall short-fall of 10% .

Professor Bill Keatinge of Queen Mary's School of Medicine and Dentistry in London said about the report :-

"In the long term we may have to make some lifestyle changes - working at different times for instance, but nothing that is not manageable."

Socialist Courier believes that the change which is necessary is one of social systems , a change from Capitalism to Socialism , not simply a switch to siestas in the mid-day sun .

Elsewhere on the BBC website we read a study was produced by more than 200 experts from 25 countries predict tens of millions of people could be driven from their homes by encroaching deserts, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and Central Asia ( this supports earlier research ) . 50 million people could be displaced within the next 10 years. Desertification is an environmental crisis of global proportions, and one third of the Earth's population are potential victims of its effect. Over-exploitation of land and unsustainable irrigation practices are making matters worse. Climate change was also a major factor degrading the soil.

Zafar Adeel, the lead author of the report, said: "...we need to provide alternative livelihoods - not the traditional cropping based on irrigation, cattle farming, etcetera - but rather introduce more innovative livelihoods which don't put pressure on the natural resources. Things like ecotourism or using solar energy to create other activities."

In a sane , rational , logical society indeed that is what would probably happen , but we live in a market -dominated , profit-motivated world where such decisions are made by partisan politicians at the beck and call of businessmen and accountants and not by sober-minded scientists and other experts .