Showing posts with label ecology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ecology. Show all posts

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. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Green economy or Greed economy

Scotland will become the first state in the world to put a price on the value of its natural environment and the benefits it provides. Academics have estimated that nature is worth between £21.5bn and £23bn a year to Scotland’s economy, but Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond wants a far more in-depth study. He pledged to calculate the monetary value of Scotland’s natural capital, the cost of depleting it and to communicate its importance across business and society. He will also set up collaborative projects to take “tangible action” to protect Scotland’s natural capital.

Supporters of the scheme argue that because most development decisions are based on narrow economic considerations, in terms of the direct costs and benefits, natural resources such as peat should be valued in the same way to ensure their importance is not overlooked. Peat bogs act as water regulators, soaking up rainfall and slowing water flows, helping to curb the frequency and intensity of floods. They also purify the water, store huge amounts of carbon and are important for biodiversity, by nurturing wildlife such as breeding waders. The idea that the whole of the natural world, trees, parks, forests, landscapes can be costed is at the heart of this “Natural Capital”.

The World Development Movement descended on the conference dressed as dodgy salesmen pretending to sell Ben Nevis.The problem with the idea of natural capital starts with the assumption that nature’s processes can be effectively managed as commodities.  Relegating our environment to mere natural capital leads to the next step,  to convert value into price and then sell chunks of nature on the market. All manner of financialisation strategies have emerged to securitise ‘environmental services’, most obviously in the carbon markets. The bait of revenue from natural capital is simply a cover for continued rape of natural resources. With the “green economy,” capitalism is going to fully incorporate nature as part of  capital. They are identifying specific functions of ecosystems and biodiversity that can be priced and then brought into a global market as “Natural Capital.” Ecosystems provide trillions of dollars in clean water, flood protection, fertile lands, clean air, pollination, disease control – to mention just a few. These services are essential to maintaining livable conditions and are delivered by the world’s largest utilities. So how does capitalism secure this enormously valuable infrastructure and its services? The same way it does for electricity, potable water, or natural gas. We pay for it.  It is to privatize the functions and processes of nature, label them environmental services, put a price on them and bring them into the market. Most promoters of “green economy” are very straightforward on this: if there is no pricing of some functions of nature, new market mechanisms and guarantees for their profit,  business will not invest in ecosystem services and biodiversity.

Green capitalists promote the view that cash strapped governments do not have the money to take care of nature and that the only way to get the billons of dollars needed for the preservation of water, forests, biodiversity, agriculture and others is through private investment. The future of Nature relies on the private sector, but the private sector will not invest the billions of dollars that they accumulated by exploiting labor and nature’s wealth, without incentives. And so, governments need to offer them this new business of making profit from the processes and functions of nature. And in steps the politicians like Salmond.  The green capitalist’s agenda is a cynical and opportunistic manipulation of the ecological and social crises. Rather than addressing the real structural causes of a profit-system, capitalists are  using “green” language to launch a new round of expansion. Corporations and the financial sector need governments such as the Scottish Parliament to institutionalize the new rules of the “Green Economy” to guarantee them against risks and to create the institutional framework for the financialization of nature. Many governments are willing partners in this project as Salmond has shown  as they believe it will stimulate a new phase of growth and accumulation.

 Given the lessons of the world economic crisis should we entrust the environment in the hands of the financiers? Describing climate change, global warming and world-wide pollution as market failures implies once the system is fixed business can resume as normal. The current environmental and climate crisis is not a simple market failure. The solution is not to put a price on nature. Nature is not a form of capital. It is wrong to say that we only value that which has a price, an owner, and brings profits. The market mechanisms that permit exchange among human beings and nations have proven incapable of an equitable distribution of wealth. The problem is not the price of nature, but s the values of democracy, of governance, of society, and of humanity. Green capitalism is  destructive because it is premised on the principle that t the rules of market will save nature. We need to overthrow capitalism and develop a system that is based on the Community of the Earth. Capitalism won't save the planet

Monday, November 11, 2013

Real Eco-Socialism or Green Reformism


“It’s blindingly obvious that our economic system is failing us,” said economist Tim Jackson, a professor of sustainable development at the University of Surrey in the UK. “It is a travesty of what economy should be. It has absolutely failed to create social well being and has hurt people and communities around the world.”

Jackson and number of ecological economists say the current self-destructive economy must be transformed into one that delivers a shared and lasting prosperity. This kind of Green Economy is far beyond business as usual with some clean technology thrown in. It is what Jackson calls a “fit-for-purpose economy” that is stable, based on equity and provides decent, satisfying livelihoods while treading lightly on the earth. The current growth-worshiping consumption economy is “perverse” and at odds with human nature and our real needs, he said. “Prosperity isn’t just about having more stuff,” he said. “Prosperity is the art of living well on a finite planet.”

With powerful vested interests in the current economy, making this transformation will be difficult but it is already starting to happen at the community level according to Jackson and co-author Peter Victor of Canada’s York University.

Sadly these well-intentioned academics' proposed alternative is another form of capitalism which is not capable of superseding the current system.  Community banks, credit unions and cooperative investment schemes that enhance local communities, creating local currencies and community-owned energy projects simply cannot prevail against the power and dominance of an alliance of corporations and governments. And even if they were to, it would be only a matter of time before in the search for profits to sustain their existence , these enterprises will revert back to the inherent base nature of exploitative capitalism. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Killing nature for profits

Mountain hares are facing extinction in large parts of the Scottish Highlands because landowners are killing thousands of them every year in order to protect the grouse shooting industry, wildlife experts have warned. The distinctive mammals are being shot and snared by gamekeepers on grouse moors due to fears that ticks carried by hares spread a viral disease, which can be fatal to grouse. However, experts have poured doubt on claims that killing hares protects grouse.

“A preventable catastrophe has befallen the mountain hare,” said Dr Adam Watson, a veteran mountain ecologist. “This is a national scandal.” This was “due to deliberate efforts by estates to eradicate them,” he said. “Gamekeepers on several estates have told me that they were instructed to reduce hare numbers and to try to eradicate them.”

Watson condemned the government’s wildlife conservation agency, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), for failing to protect mountain hares under European law. “SNH has known what has been happening for years and has done nothing about it,” he said. “In my view, this is supine behavior, pleasing to or subservient to powerful grouse-shooting interests, but wholly against the wider public interest.”

Tim Baynes of Scottish Land and Estates claims that even though thousands of hares are destroyed each year, this was ‘less than 10% of the population’. The most up-to-date UK population estimate appears to have been made in a 1995 publication. It’s also ludicrous for Baynes to be referring to a (fairly dodgy) population estimate from 1995 – that was 18 years ago.  Baynes also failed to mention was that the 25,000 culled only related to information provided by 90 estates; a further 102 estates (68 driven grouse estates and 34 walked-up grouse estates) did not provide any information to the survey, so the actual figure culled was likely to be considerably higher.

Alex Hogg of the Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association is also quoted in The Herald article, claiming that gamekeepers have ‘no alternative but to suppress the numbers of mountain hares on grouse moors because of the dangers of Louping Ill Virus, which can infect humans’. However, here is an article that suggests humans are “rarely” affected by the Louping Ill Virus. And here is an article about a scientific publication that suggests there is “no compelling evidence base” that culling mountain hares can stop the spread of Louping Ill Virus. A tick-borne disease that seems to be of more concern to humans is Lyme Disease. And what spreads Lyme Disease? Pheasants, amongst other species. Given Mr Hogg’s concern for human health, can we expect to see him advocating a moratorium on the release of 43 million pheasants, per year, into our countryside?

Thursday, August 08, 2013

We are not alone

Socialist Courier came across this article by Richard Smith at “Capitalism and the destruction of life on Earth”  on the Real World Economic Review. It is well worth reading in full but these are some pertinent extracts. We would, however,  not accept some of what Smith suggests to address the environmental problems such as his advocacy of nationalization for the large key industries and the continuance of small businesses.


Corporations aren’t necessarily evil, though plenty are diabolically evil, but they can’t help themselves. They’re just doing what they’re supposed  to do for the benefit of their shareholders. Shell Oil can’t help but loot Nigeria and the Arctic  and cook the climate. That’s what shareholders demand. BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and other  mining giants can’t resist mining Australia’s abundant coal and exporting it to China and India.  Mining accounts for 19% of Australia’s GDP and substantial employment even as coal  combustion is the single worst driver of global warming. IKEA can’t help but level the forests  of Siberia and Malaysia to feed the Chinese mills building its flimsy disposable furniture (IKEA  is the third largest consumer of lumber in the world). Apple can’t help it if the cost of extracting  the “rare earths” it needs to make millions of new iThings each year is the destruction of the  eastern Congo – violence, rape, slavery, forced induction of child soldiers, along with  poisoning local waterways.  Monsanto and DuPont and Syngenta and Bayer Crop Science have no choice but to wipe out bees, butterflies, birds, small farmers and extinguish crop diversity to secure their grip on the world’s food supply while drenching the planet with their Roundups and Atrazines and neonicotinoids. This is how giant corporations are wiping out  life on earth in the course of a routine business day. And the bigger the corporations grow, the  worse the problems become.

In  Adam Smith’s day, when the first factories and mills produced hat pins and iron tools and  rolls of cloth by the thousands, capitalist freedom to make whatever they wanted didn’t much  matter because they didn’t have much impact on the global environment. But today, when everything is produced in the millions and billions, then trashed today and reproduced all over  again tomorrow, when the planet is looted and polluted to support all this frantic and  senseless growth, it matters – a lot.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Addressing the Green Party

Many Greens claim to advocate a society based on cooperation and production for use, a sustainable society where production is in harmony with the environment and affairs are run in a decentralised and democratic manner. They argue that only in such a system can ecological problems such as pollution and global warming be solved. The ultimate aim is a participatory economy, based on smaller-scale enterprise, with a greatly-reduced dependence on the world market. What is being proposed is the abolition both of the world market, with the competition for resources and sales it engenders, and of existing centralised states, and their replacement by a worldwide network of smaller human communities providing for their own needs. This will involve a steady-state economy based on maximum conservation of materials and energy.

The Socialist Party of Great Britain place ourselves unambiguously in the camp of those who argue that capitalism and a sustainable relationship with the rest of nature are not compatible and unless the Green Party embraces socialism, their vision is unachievable. Because people believe there is no alternative to capitalism, it keeps on existing. The environmentalist’s dream of a sustainable ‘zero growth’ within capitalism will always remain just that, a dream. If human society is to be able to organize its production in an ecologically acceptable way, then it must abolish the capitalist economic mechanism of capital accumulation and gear production instead to the direct satisfaction of needs.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Rio = Zero

For what was billed as an historic summit, Rio+20 was an anti-climax.

Many are touting a mythical new "green economy" they say will solve all our climate challenges. Under the rhetoric of “green economy”, capitalists are actually attempting to use nature as capital, proposing unconvincingly that the only way to preserve natural elements such as water and forests is through capitalist investment. For capitalists, nature is mainly an object to possess, exploit, transform and especially to profit from. This will open the door to the development of a new speculative market. This will allow some banks, corporations, brokers and intermediaries to make a lot of profit for a number of years until their financial bubble explodes, as can be seen with past speculative markets. While still ill defined, they're generally referring to a model of economic growth based on massive private investment in clean energy, climate-resistant agriculture, and ecosystem services - like the ability of a wetland to filter water. Under this new concept, Wall Street gets to reap profits from a whole new line of business, and governments get to spend less protecting the environment.

Khadija Sharife
, an Africa Report journalist who attended the conference, believes "It is the bankers' dream - the legitimisation of the green economy where valuation deepens the commodification of ecosystems," she said. "This has the extended impact of financialising ecosystems as priced or monetised services."

Patrick Bond
, Director of the Centre for Civil Society and Professor in the School of Development Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal believes the failure of international environmental diplomacy lies in the way it is structured. "Every negotiating team goes to these conferences to secure the right for its business elites to emit more greenhouse gases."

Nature cannot be submitted to the will of the market. Putting a price on things like water or biodiversity as a way of managing their use turn them into commodities and risk having basic needs and services fall victim to speculators who make money off volatile prices. Does it make sense to put the future of our remaining common resources - forests, genes, the atmosphere, food - into the hands of people who treated our economy like a casino? Powerful transnational corporations and international businesses councils have successfully pressed for the ‘marketisation’ which will amount to a dramatic expansion of the commercialisation and commodification of the natural environment and its life services. In effect, genuine sustainable development has therefore been denuded of meaning and is not supported by concrete measures to move away from the logic of capitalist growth that destroys irreplaceable ecological resources.

 Capitalism, a system based on the drive to accumulate more and more (endless and unlimited growth) – is at the root of these crises. Capitalism cannot be green.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

the waste of capitalism

Hotels and restaurants send 130,000 tonnes of waste to landfill in Scotland every year. More than three-quarters is recyclable.

53,500 tonnes of the waste from the hospitality sector is food waste - two-thirds of which could have been eaten.

Food waste extends beyond the hotel industry, with more than £1 billion worth of food wasted by consumers in Scotland each year - an average of £430 per household. Households throw away 566,000 tonnes of food every year in Scotland.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Nature loss 'to hurt global poor'

Damage to forests, rivers, marine life and other aspects of nature could halve living standards for the world's poor, a major report is to conclude.

G8 environment ministers meeting in Japan last weekend agreed a document noting that "biodiversity is the basis of human security and... the loss of biodiversity exacerbates inequality and instability in human society". But the main CBD target agreed by all signatories at the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit in 1992 - to "halt and begin to reverse" biodiversity loss by 2010 - is very unlikely to be met.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Capitalism's Waste

Waste & Resources Action Programme reports that a third of the food we buy, amounting to 6.7 million tonnes, gets discarded from UK households annually. Fruit and vegetables are a major component at around 40% of this. The top five fruit & vegetables which get binned without even being touched are apples (4.4 million or 179,000 tonnes pa), potatoes(5.1m or 177,000 tonnes pa), bananas (1.6m or 77,000 tonnes pa), tomatoes (2.8m or 46,000 tonnes pa) and oranges (1.2m or 45,000 tonnes). Producing, storing and getting the food to UK homes consumes much energy through transport, packaging etc. If we could stop the wastage of all this food, it would save the equivalent of at least 15 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. This would be equivalent to taking 1 in 5 cars off UK roads, according to WRAP.

The amount of discarded food-stuff is boosted by supermarket marketing promotions such as "two-for-one" deals with the result millions of Britons buy more than they need and then fail to eat much of what they bought before it goes off.

The study findings show essentially that much is discarded because it simply goes off, and storage conditions at home bear much blame. Simply storing most fresh fruit and vegetables inside the fridge keeps these foods stay fresh for up to 2 weeks longer.

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."