Ecology

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A Radical Approach to the Climate Crisis
Christian Parenti

Several strands of green thinking maintain that capitalism is incapable of a sustainable relationship with non-human nature because, as an economic system, capitalism has a growth imperative while the earth is finite. One finds versions of this argument in the literature of eco-socialism, deep ecology, eco-anarchism, and even among many mainstream greens who, though typically declining to actually name the economic system, are fixated on the dangers of "growth."

All this may be true. Capitalism, a system in which privately owned firms must continuously out-produce and out-sell their competitors, may be incapable of accommodating itself to the limits of the natural world. However, that is not the same question as whether capitalism can solve the more immediate climate crisis.

Because of its magnitude, the climate crisis can appear as the sum total of all environmental problems -- deforestation, over-fishing, freshwater depletion, soil erosion, loss of biodiversity, chemical contamination. But halting greenhouse gas emissions is a much more specific problem, the most pressing subset of the larger apocalyptic panorama.

And the very bad news is, time has run out. As I write this, news arrives of an ice-free arctic summer by 2050. Scientists once assumed that would not happen for hundreds of years.

Dealing with climate change by first achieving radical social transformation -- be it a socialist or anarchist or deep-ecological/neo-primitive revolution, or a nostalgia-based localista conversion back to a mythical small-town capitalism -- would be a very long and drawn-out, maybe even multigenerational, struggle. It would be marked by years of mass education and organizing of a scale and intensity not seen in most core capitalist states since the 1960s or even the 1930s.

Nor is there any guarantee that the new system would not also degrade the soil, lay waste to the forests, despoil bodies of water, and find itself still addicted to coal and oil. Look at the history of "actually existing socialism" before its collapse in 1991. To put it mildly, the economy was not at peace with nature. Or consider the vexing complexities facing the left social democracies of Latin America. Bolivia, and Ecuador, states run by socialists who are beholden to very powerful, autonomous grassroots movements, are still very dependent on petroleum revenue.

A more radical approach to the crisis of climate change begins not with a long-term vision of an alternate society but with an honest engagement with the very compressed timeframe that current climate science implies. In the age of climate change, these are the real parameters of politics.

Hard Facts

The scientific consensus, expressed in peer-reviewed and professionally vetted and published scientific literature, runs as follows: For the last 650,000 years atmospheric levels of CO2 -- the primary heat-trapping gas -- have hovered at around 280 parts per million (ppm). At no point in the preindustrial era did CO2 concentrations go above 300 ppm. By 1959, they had reached 316 ppm and are now over 400 ppm. And the rate of emissions is accelerating. Since 2000, the world has pumped almost 100 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere -- about a quarter of all CO2 emissions since 1750. At current rates, CO2 levels will double by mid-century.

Climate scientists believe that any increase in average global temperatures beyond 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels will lead to dangerous climate change, causing large-scale desertification, crop failure, inundation of coastal cities, mass migration to higher and cooler ground, widespread extinctions of flora and fauna, proliferating disease, and possible social collapse. Furthermore, scientists now understand that the earth's climate system has not evolved in a smooth linear fashion. Paleoclimatology has uncovered evidence of sudden shifts in the earth's climate regimes. Ice ages have stopped and started not in a matter of centuries, but decades. Sea levels (which are actually uneven across the globe) have risen and fallen more rapidly than was once believed.

Throughout the climate system, there exist dangerous positive-feedback loops and tipping points. A positive-feedback loop is a dynamic in which effects compound, accelerate, or amplify the original cause. Tipping points in the climate system reflect the fact that causes can build up while effects lag. Then, when the effects kick in, they do so all at once, causing the relatively sudden shift from one climate regime to another.

Thus, the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says rich countries like the United States must cut emissions 25 percent to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 -- only seven years away -- and thereafter make precipitous cuts to 90 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. This would require global targets of 10 percent reductions in emissions per annum, starting now. Those sorts of emissions reductions have only occurred during economic depressions. Russia's near total economic collapse in the early 1990s saw a 37 percent decrease in CO2 emissions from 1990 to 1995, under conditions that nobody wants to experience.

The political implications of all this are mind-bending. As daunting as it may sound, it means that it is this society and these institutions that must cut emissions. That means, in the short-term, realistic climate politics are reformist politics, even if they are conceived of as part of a longer-term anti-capitalist project of totally economic re-organization.

International Uranium Film Festival
New York City, Feb. 14-19, 2014

Pavilion Theater 188 Prospect Park West, Brooklyn, NY 11215
Subway: F/G train to 15th Street

Addmission: $12.50 (adult), $9.00 (children, senior and matinee), $40 (1-day pass), $70 (2-day pass), $90 (3-day pass), $170 (6-day pass) Available at Box office (sorry, cash only).

:::::Program:::::

FRIDAY FEBRUARY 14

:::11 AM - NEW NUCLEAR ANIMATED FILMS

HERR HOPPE AND THE NUCLEAR WASTE - Germany, 2011, 4 min, Directors: Jan Lachauer and Thorsten Löffler, Animation, English

AFTER THE DAY AFTER - USA, 2011, 6 min, Director and Producer: Nathan Meltz. Animation/ Experimental, English

THE LAST FLOWER - Iran, 2013, 6 min, Director: Sima Baghery, Fiction, Animation, no dialog

ABITA. CHILDREN FROM FUKUSHIMA - Germany, 2012, min, Directors: Shoko Hara and Paul Brenner, Animation, English subtitles

LEONID`S STORY - Germany / Ukraine, 2011, min, Director: Rainer Ludwigs, Producer: Tetyana Chernyavska, Animated Documentary, Russian, English Subtitles

HIBAKUSHA - USA, 2012, 54 min, Directors: Steve Nguyen and Choz Belen, Documentary with animation, English

:::1 PM - FILMS ABOUT NUCLEAR USA

SLOUCHING TOWARDS YUCCA MOUNTAIN - USA, 2011, 17 min, Director and Producer: Eve- Andrée Laramée. Experimental

THE ATOMIC STATES OF AMERICA - USA, 2011, 92 min, Directors: Don Argott & Sheena M. Joyce. Documentary

:::3 PM - ABOUT URANIUM MINING

TAILINGS - USA, 2012, 12 min, Director: Sam Price-Waldman, Documentary, English

SACRED POISON - USA, 2011, 30 min, Director and Producer: Yvonne Latty. Documentary

URANIUM - Canada, 1990, 48 min, Director: Magnus Isacsson, Producer: National Film Board of Canada, Documentary, English.

:::5 PM - GERMANY‘S SECRET URANIUM MINE WISMUT

YELLOW CAKE. THE DIRT BEHIND URANIUM - Germany, 2010, 108 min, Director: Joachim Tschirner, Documentary, English

:::7 PM - AUSTRALIAN ATOMIC FILMS

ATOMIC FOOTPRINTS - Australia, 2006, 14 min, Director: Pip Starr, Documentary, English
KINTYRE - Australia, 2012, 15 min, Director: Curtis Taylor, Producer: Curtis Taylor and Eleonor Winkler, Documentary, Martu and English, English subtitles

MUCKATY VOICES - Australia, 2010, 10 min, Director: Natalie Wasley. Documentary

AUSTRALIAN ATOMIC CONFESSIONS - Australia, 2005, 49 min, Director: Katherine Aigner, Documentary, English

:::9 PM - FILMS ABOUT NUCLEAR BOMB TESTS

ATOMIC BOMBS ON THE PLANET EARTH - UK/The Netherlands, 2011, 13 min, Director: Peter Greenaway, Producer: Video Design Irma de Vries, Experimental documentary, no dialog

NUCLEAR SAVAGE: THE ISLANDS OF SECRET PROJECT 4.1 - USA, 2012, 87 min, Director: Adam Jonas Horowitz, Documentary, Marshallese & English.

Appeal for Support for the No TAV Movement

We are guilty of defending our land. Support us!

WE ARE GUILTY OF DEFENDING OUR LAND AND THE COMMON GOOD
WE ARE ASKING EVERYONE TO SUPPORT US AND PROVIDE CONCRETE SOLIDARITY

Contributions can be made to the following account:
“Spese legali NO TAV” (Legal fees)
IBAN : IT22L0760101000001004906838 – BIC : BPPIITRRXXX
c/o BancoPosta in the name of
Pietro Davy Maria Chiara Cebrari

On the 7th of January 2014 (filed on 1/14/14) the Ordinary Court of Turin, detached section of Susa, ruled: “We jointly condemn and hold Alberto Perino, Loredana Bellone and George Vair to the payment of punitive damages amounting to € 191,966.29 to the plaintiff [LTF]” as well as € 22,214.11 to be paid to LTF sas for legal fees, for a total amount of € 214,180.40.

The civil lawsuit was filed by LTF sas http://www.ltf-sas.com/ because, according to them, on the night between 11 and 12 January 2010 they were prevented from carrying out the S68 survey in the area of the Susa autoporto (truck parking). The geognostic or exploratory surveys S68 and S69 were useless, so much so that they were never conducted or proposed again, neither in the preliminary draft nor in the final draft project for the international section of the Turin – Lyon new railway line.

That night, not far from the autoporto (truck parking), hundreds of protesters congested road access to prevent geognostic survey operations.

The Digos (the Division of the Italian Police for General Investigations and Special Operations) said that police forces would not come to clear out the protesters, they would politely ask to do the survey and, if they were refused, they would go away. And that’s what happened.

Later we discovered that it was a trap to tie the NO TAV Movement’s hands employing a new strategy: the imaginary claim for damages amounting to hundreds of thousands of Euros charged to key figures in the movement.

Call for an Ecosocialist Conference
Saturday, April 20, 2013, New York City

[Schedule, presentations and workshops in formation.]

To endorse and participate in conference planning, contact Chris, ecologyandsocialism@gmail.com or Michael, michaelware1205@gmail.com

The extreme weather of 2012 and recent news that climate change is worse than previously thought have made it a front-page issue again. The Obama campaign’s silence on the issue and worldwide government paralysis have added to activists’ frustration and fueled participation in 350.org’s historic February 17th demonstration and campus fossil fuel divestment campaigns. This has also opened the door to a more radical analysis of global warming and environmental destruction.

For a radicalizing and substantial fringe of people touched by the ideas of Occupy, an ongoing economic crisis and growing ecological crisis, they recognize that it’s not enough to limit your analysis to only fossil fuel corporations (though that’s a good start) or absolve politicians based on the lobbying power of those particular companies.

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Rural Rebels and Useless Airports: La ZAD – Europe’s largest Postcapitalist land occupation.
Laronce

October 2012, Notre dames des Landes, France.
Chris leans forward, her long fingers play with the dial of the car radio “I’m trying to find 107.7 FM“ … a burst of Classical music, a fragment of cheesy pop. “ Ah! Here we go! I think I’ve got it?” The plastic pitch of a corporate jingle pierces the speakers: “Radio Vinci Autoroute: This is the weather forecast for the west central region…happy driving to you all. Traffic info next.” Chris smiles.

The narrow winding road is lined with thick hedgerows. Out of the darkness the ghostly outline of an owl cuts across our headlights. We dip down into a wooded valley, the radio signal starts to splinter. The well-spoken female voice fractures into static, words tune in and out and then another kind of sound weaves itself into the airwaves. We rise out of the wood onto a plateau, the rogue signal gets clearer, for a while two disturbingly different voices scramble together – the slick manicured predictable sounds of Radio Vinci wrestles with something much more alive, something rawer – a fleshier frequency.

Discussions have covered a range of topics.

- The struggle for land as a central focus of class struggle in an age of resource peaks.
- The limitations of ‘clean’ energy and the critique of technological fixes. Ie. Indigenous resistance to windfarms in Mexico to strikes in the German wind sector. Solar panel toxic-waste struggle in China.
- ‘Green’ capitalism’s ability ( or not ) to adapt to climate crises and create new forms of accumulation.

Everyday Revolution After Fukushima<
16 Beaver, New York City, Oct. 07, 2012

A day long forum on everyday revolution after Fukushima

What: A Forum on Creating Everyday Revolution After Fukushima
When: October 7th at 11:00 am - 8pm
Where: 16 Beaver Street, 4th Floor
Who: Free and Open to All

Join us for a day long intensive learn-in on Fukushima from a global
perspective.

Session I (11am – 1:30pm)
An Introduction: Silvia Federici
An Intro from China; Cold-war History in America, and post-fukushima
development of Asia: with Yoshihiko Ikegami (skype)
‘Nuclearity’ and colonial aspects of nuclear productions: with Gabrielle
Hecht (skype)

Session II (2 – 4:30pm)
Radiation-Monitoring Movement and Exodus: with Shiro Yabu
Evacuation and Becoming the Media: with Iori Mochizuki

Session III (5 – 8pm)
Agent of Struggle and Direct Action: with Joel Kovel, George Caffenztis,
Arkadi Filine (skype) and Marina Sitrin

Childcare will be shared and organized

Grabbing ‘Green’: Questioning the Green Economy

17 May – 19 May 2013
University of Toronto, Canada

Abstracts due: Nov. 7, 2012
Papers due: March 1, 2013

Description:

Over the past two decades 'the market' has increasingly been represented as the solution to issues of sustainability and conservation, leading to a reimagining of 'nature'. Market forces are now deeply embedded in the policy, planning and practice, of environmental management and conservation leading to constructs such as ecosystems services (and payments for them), biodiversity derivatives and new conservation finance mechanisms like REDD, REDD+, species banking, and carbon trading. These changes reflect a larger transformation in international environmental governance—one in which the discourse of global ecology has accommodated an ontology of natural capital, culminating in the production of what is taking shape as “The Green Economy.” This “Green Economy” is not a natural or coincidental development, but is contingent upon, and to varying degrees coordinated by, actors drawn together around familiar (UNEP, States, World Bank, etc) and emergent institutions of environmental governance (TEEB, WBCSB, investment companies, etc). While case studies have begun to reveal the social and ecological marginalization associated with the implementation of market mechanisms in particular sites, this conference seeks to explore the more systemic dimensions involved in the production, circulation and consumption of “The Green Economy,” and the neoliberal 'logics' within environmental policy, conservation, development, and business that are mobilizing it.

On Any Sunday
Martin Hardie

Last weekend my old friend, Timorese ‘boss’ in the days of the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) and the current Secretary of State for Energy Policy (SEPE), Avelino Maria Coelho da Silva, invited me to his traditional land outside of Ossu on the southern slopes of the great mountain range that runs the length of the island of Timor. I had spent the best part of the previous three weeks with Avelino, first travelling with him to remote villages as he campaigned for the Timorese Socialist party (PST) in the Parliamentary elections, and then in his office at the Palacio do Governo, in Dili, working on a draft of a law on renewable energy.

New issue of ephemera on 'the atmosphere business' released

The contributions collected in this special issue of ephemera question the underlying ideologies and assumptions of carbon markets, and bring to light many of the contradictions and antagonisms that are currently at the heart of ‘climate capitalism’. They offer a critical assessment of the political economy of carbon trading, and a detailed understanding of how these newly created markets are designed, how they (don’t) work, the various actors that are involved, and how these actors function together to create and contest the ‘atmosphere business’. In 5 notes, 6 articles, 1 interview and 3 book reviews, some of the most prominent critical voices in debates about the atmosphere business are brought together in this special issue.

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