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Showing posts with the label environment

Summer School 2017

Summer School 2017  21st – 23rd July
Fircroft College, Birmingham

These days, concerns about the environment tend to get pushed into the background by issues like Brexit, Trump’s presidency and ongoing austerity measures. But climate change, pollution and extinctions don’t go away just because the headlines are filled with other events. 2016 was the warmest year on record, with implications for sea levels and habitats; more and more waste is produced for future generations to deal with, and many hundreds of species continue to become extinct every year. Legislation places some restrictions on the use of dangerous materials, hunting and waste disposal, for example. However, legislators can only work within a system which is structured to safeguard the interests of the wealthy elite, rather than everyone. And of course laws don’t always prevent environmentally-damaging methods from being used if they save or make money. Capitalism turns the natural world into a resource to be exploited for …

Goodbye to the Future

Climate change and global warming are the most pressing threats facing the world today. Hardly a day goes by without some mention in the media of climate change. We cannot build a green capitalism and even if we could we cannot build it in time. The two degrees increase in global warming signals the point at which ‘dangerous’ climate change is unleashed. Given the amount of devastation by extreme weather events that is already taking place around us, it is sobering to think what ‘dangerous’ climate change might actually look like. Most scientists predict that unless drastic action is taken the speed of global warming is set to accelerate and the consequences will become irreversible. All the available evidence points to a simple conclusion; even if green capitalism is possible, it cannot be adopted in time to stave off increasingly severe eco-system collapses. Paris agreements for implementation tomorrow is too late. Let us pledge ourselves not to a far-off future but system change r…

No More Empty Promises

“Accumulate, accumulate! That is Moses and the prophets!” - Marx
Capitalism has now become a threat to life on Earth. The system’s need for infinite growth and the finite resources of Earth stand in contradiction to each other. Successful capitalism means growth which means that on the one hand nature is treated as a resource to be exploited ruthlessly, and on the other, toxic waste is dumped. The capitalist class appoint economists, rather than environmental scientists to advise them on the ecological crisis. What these economists do not appear to realise is that, while starting from the assumption that the ecological crisis can be solved within the capitalist system, their calculations, which show the required costs would be unsustainable, prove the opposite, namely that this environmental  crisis cannot be solved within capitalist relations of production. It is clear that the demands of the capitalist system, namely profits via cheap energy are being followed in preference to any s…

Complex problems have simple solution

Governments agree that it is an imminent environmental crisis yet they are unwilling to act in an effective manner that shows that they have taken the facts on board. Inaction is attractive when polluters do not care about the impacted and refuse to accept the fact that ultimately everyone on planet Earth is vulnerable. Politicians commit large amounts of money climate research yet pays scant attention to its science. Negotiations to tackle climate change have remained largely political lip-service. There is no longer any talk of binding commitment to emissions reduction by nations and instead proposals for vague voluntary self-monitoring action. The further away the target dates for measures are, the easier it is for political leaders to agree to such plans. The nearer the implementation of these dates is, the less enthusiastic support for them. The urgency of the climate crisis demands that the world decarbonises urgently. No one can predict the outcome of the December Paris climat…

Sorry....(video)

Apologies for the lifestyle reformism offered at the end as some sort of remedy but a good video otherwise.

A return to nature

“Many people look at these expansive views and call them beautiful,” says Alan Watson Featherstone, looking out over the remote hillsides north of Loch Ness. “But what we’ve really got is a barren landscape that is almost entirely devoid of native woodlands and predators. What we’ve done here, and across much of rural Britain, is to allow herbivores [deer, sheep and cattle] to run wild, destroying flora and fauna,” he says. “At the same time, we’ve hunted all their natural predators to extinction.” He goes on to say “By eliminating our native forests and replacing them with non-native and fast-growing pines, we have stripped out the bottom layers of the eco-system. In places the rampant deer population and forestry has shaved the earth, so we have exposed peat hags of ancient tree stumps. These are an open sore on our landscape.”
 Featherstone is a leading advocate of rewilding – a strand of the conservation movement with ambitious plans to revive the biodiversity of rural Britain by…

Socialism – The Resource of Hope

'The greatest cause of poverty is hover-population,' remarked Harlow. 'Yes,' said old Joe Philpot. 'If a boss wants two men, twenty goes after the job: ther's too many people and not enough work.' 'Over-population!' cried Owen, 'when there's thousands of acres of uncultivated land in England without a house or human being to be seen. Is over-population the cause of poverty in France? Is over-population the cause of poverty in Ireland? Within the last fifty years the population of Ireland has been reduced by more than half. Four millions of people have been exterminated by famine or got rid of by emigration, but they haven't got rid of poverty. P'raps you think that half the people in this country ought to be exterminated as well.' The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
In ‘Imagine’ Lennon was asking us to imagine a place where things that divide people (religion, possessions, etc.) did not exist. The thing that set …

Eco-socialism, another grand concept with an adjective.

Marx summed up radical green politics when in Capital III he noted: “From the standpoint of a higher socio-economic formation, the private property of individuals in the earth will appear just as absurd as the private property of one man in other men. Even an entire society, a nation, or all simultaneously existing societies taken together, are not owners of the earth, they are simply its possessors, its beneficiaries, and have to bequeath it in an improved state to succeeding generations, as boni patres familias” [good heads of the household]”
Marx took Feuerbach’s notion of fetishism to describe such radical humanism. Feuerbach famously argued that human beings invent gods and goddesses, forget they have invented them and bow down to worship their own creations. Marx reminds us that human beings, through social action, create the economic system; we then forget that the economy is a human construct and worship it as if it were a god. Ecological sanity can only come when we recogni…

Hunger? What's the real problem?

Whereas progress was made in reducing chronic hunger in the 1980s and the first half of the 1990s, hunger has been slowly but steadily on the rise for the past decade, FAO said. The number of hungry people increased between 1995-97 and 2004-06 in all regions except Latin America and the Caribbean. But even in this region, gains in hunger reduction have been reversed as a result of high food prices and the global economic downturn that started in 2008.
Today, one in nine people do not get enough food to be healthy and lead an active life, making hunger and malnutrition the number one risk to health worldwide -- greater than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. The greatest scandal of our age is the fact that just under 1 billion people on the planet go to bed hungry every night. This is despite the fact that we produce more than enough to feed every single person in the world.
Why is there hunger? The obvious answer to this question is that there must be a lack of food. It’s noth…

Change the system, not the climate!

Catastrophic climate change is coming to a town near you, and it’s coming sooner than you think. The threat is staggering: One half of all the species alive on earth today will probably be extinct by the end of the century; already we are losing them at the rate of hundreds a day. Millions of human beings will soon be refugees, as their homes are lost to the oceans or to the deserts. Already hundreds of thousands perish every year as a direct result of climate change. There is a climate crisis all around and no amount of free trade, investment or technology will eliminate the roots of this crisis. We forget that the crises has emanated from the way our society is structured – an edifice based on an unending desire for profit and a way of life that sees nature as an object of exploitation and extraction. It is now fundamental to ask ourselves who and what is causing the climate to change like this. We urgently need to unmask all the abstract answers, which attempt to blame all of huma…

Only Socialists Can Save The World

The Socialist Party agree with the many environmentalists who have concluded that “business as usual” is the path to global disaster. The economic system that dominates nearly all corners of the world is capitalism. Unconsciously, we learn that greed, exploitation of workers, and competition  are not only acceptable but are actually good for society because they help to make our economy function “efficiently.” No-growth capitalism is an oxymoron: when growth ceases, the system is in a state of crisis. Capitalism’s basic driving force and its whole reason for existence is the amassing of profits and wealth through the accumulation.  It recognizes no limits to its own self-expansion—not in the economy as a whole; not in the profits desired by the wealthy; and not in the increasing consumption that people are cajoled into desiring in order to generate greater profits for corporations. The environment exists, not as a place with inherent boundaries within which human beings must live tog…

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 …