Amy Leather

Is our diet wrecking the environment?

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In the first of a series on food and the climate crisis, Amy Leather explains how capitalist agriculture has shaped our diet and the planet.

Earlier this year the Lancet medical journal published what they called the “planetary health diet”. They claimed that if their universal scientific targets for healthy diets were adopted, not only would it save at least 11 million lives but would also help avert global environmental catastrophe and prevent the collapse of the natural world. Their central message was that “the world’s diets must change dramatically” to both save ourselves and the planet. The diet they recommended was largely plant-based, and therefore boosted the claim that only by going vegan can we save the planet.

Why capitalism loves plastic

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There has rightly been public outcry over the state of the oceans, with shocking images of sea creatures trapped in plastic bags. Amy Leather looks at how plastic developed as a by-product of fossil fuel processing, and has been promoted by the petrochemical industry ever since.

Plastic is bad, isn’t it? That is certainly the new consensus. And no wonder there has been a public outcry. Many of us have been shocked by images like those on Blue Planet of a sperm whale with a stomach full of plastic waste, albatrosses feeding their young plastic or turtles trapped in plastic bags.

A report prepared in 2016 for the billionaires attending the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, estimates that there are more than 150 million tonnes of plastics in the oceans already, with another 8 million tonnes being added each year.

The state and revolution

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In the weeks running up to the October Revolution Lenin took time out to write one of his most important works, a study of state power and who gets to hold it, writes Amy Leather.

State and Revolution was written by Lenin in the summer of 1917, during the momentous year of revolution in Russia. It addresses the central problem of all revolutions: that of state power and which class is to hold it. This was not an abstract question. The February Revolution had got rid of the Tsar but many of the issues that had led to it were not resolved. The new Provisional Government refused to distribute land to the peasants, continued the war, and offered little to workers.

Hopelessly devoted to fossil fuels

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With Donald Trump in the White House and the Tories pushing through damaging policies as fast as they can, the future for our climate looks bleak. But we have to look beyond individual politicians if we are to understand capitalism’s love affair with fossil energy, writes Amy Leather.

World leaders are failing on climate change. Theresa May’s Tory government has given the go ahead to a new nuclear reactor at Hinkley Point, backed the expansion of Heathrow airport and overturned the local decision in Lancashire to stop fracking. Meanwhile climate change denier Donald Trump is heading to the White House.

Oil

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This is a hard hitting, often quick witted and thought-provoking production. A play with the title “Oil” interested me. That it managed to span the arrival of kerosene in the 1800s all the way to a post-apocalyptic future, while taking in questions of race, gender, class, colonialism and family relationships, left me mind-blown. If you are planning on going to see the play — and I would recommend you do — it might be best to stop reading now. The less you know what to expect the better.

How big oil is fracking to climate disaster

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Fracking site in the US

Hydraulic fracturing has rescued the oil and gas industry, producing huge profits and cutting dependence on crude. But the price to be paid will be huge.

In the past few years a new word has entered our lives: “fracking”. This is a method of extracting gas and oil from rocks. It originated in the US, where it was seen as the biggest energy development in decades, and is now coming to Britain. Although only in its exploratory stages here, it has already caused controversy and protests.

Debating the sex industry

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An influential book by Melissa Gira Grant, Playing the Whore, has opened a debate about the nature of sex work, criminalisation and moralism.

The debate about sex work has received much attention recently, and Melissa Gira Grant’s book, Playing the Whore, has been acclaimed for offering new insights into the discussions about the sex industry. Although there are some aspects of Grant’s arguments that socialists would welcome, there is much to disagree with in this book.

A revolutionary Brand

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The call for revolution by the comedian and actor Russell Brand in his interview with Jeremy Paxman has had a wide reasonance. Amy Leather looks at what this tells us about the radical mood in society today.

Most readers have probably seen the Youtube clip of Russell Brand taking on Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight. With over 10 million hits it has both resonated with the feelings of many people and sparked further debate.

It was refreshing to see someone not only challenging the mainstream consensus that there is "no alternative" to cuts and austerity but actually talking about the need for revolution on mainstream TV.

Flight Behaviour

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Dellarobia is a frustrated young mother and housewife. Married at 17 after accidently becoming pregnant, ten years on she is living on a run down farm in the Appalachian Mountains, spending her days at home with two little children.

It is a yearning for something more that leads her to seek escape in an affair.

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