Ian Rappel

We need a system change to solve climate change

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Twenty years since the Rio Earth Summit, Ian Rappel looks at the growing ecological crisis and how we can rekindle resistance.

It's that time of the decade again. In June we will see the world's attention focus upon another United Nations-sponsored international environment conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil ("Rio+20").

Twenty years ago the UN's conference at the same venue took place in an atmosphere of giddy post Cold War optimism. The importance of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (or the "Rio Summit") reflected a growing scientific consensus over the emerging environmental crisis.

Ordinary Matter

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Review of 'A People's History of Science', Clifford D Connor, Nation Books £11.99

Biologist Stephen Jay Gould once argued, "I am somehow less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein's brain than in the near-certainty that people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweatshops."

In a climate of public ignorance, attempts to explain the history of human scientific achievement are to be welcomed. Unfortunately, most attempts have been heavily influenced by the bourgeois "big men/women" approach. Thus the history of science becomes a list of scientists who have laboured independently to establish their particular theories.

Fight the Power

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Noam Chomsky speaks to Ian Rappel about resisting the G8.

The G8 are coming to Scotland in July, and they've put forward what appears to be a progressive agenda on Africa, Third World debt and global warming. But what in your opinion is the US, under George W Bush, looking to get out of the G8 summit?

Interview of the Month: War Lies and Broken Laws

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Lawyer and author Philippe Sands explains to Ian Rappel why the Iraq war was illegal and Blair should be held to account.

In your book Lawless World you have concentrated upon the approaches of the US, and to a lesser degree Britain, to international laws. What areas have these states actively supported, and what areas have they cast aside or ignored?

Environment: Trading in Destruction

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The solutions put forward at a recent conference on climate change in Exeter are inadequate, writes Ian Rappel. Our interview of the month is with environment activist George Monbiot.

Another month passes, and the issue of global warming hits the headlines once again. A series of dire predictions and scenarios poured forth from a conference on 'Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change' held at the Hedley Centre of the UK Meteorological (Met) Office in Exeter last month. This event brought together over 200 scientists from 30 countries, and was sponsored by the UK government's Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), at the behest of Tony Blair himself.

The Good Ship Agitprop

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Review of 'The Greenpeace to Amchitka', Robert Hunter, Arsenal Pulp Press £13.99

In 1969 thousands of students and anti-war activists closed the border between the US and Canada for the first time since the war of 1812. The roots of one of today's largest environmental organisations can be traced to the days that followed this protest against the testing of nuclear weapons in the Bering Sea. The Greenpeace to Amchitka tells the story of the episode that gave Greenpeace its embryonic form and launched the modern environmental movement.

Disaster Western Style

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Review of 'Unpeople', Mark Curtis, Vintage £7.99

Under Tony Blair, the Labour government's rationale and decisive role in realising the terrible invasion and occupation of Iraq can often prove difficult to comprehend. In this context, Mark Curtis's book Unpeople is an important resource for Britain's anti-war movement because it presents us with a useful exploration of the real motivations behind Britain's foreign policy, with reference to the invasion of Iraq and a number of important historical interventions that British governments have made in the post-war era.

Climate Change: Reaping a Whirlwind

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Tony Blair has intervened to ensure that British power stations and industries will be given increased allowances to emit carbon dioxide (CO2) over the next three years.

As ministers from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) announced this development through the media, they sought to reassure us that the new CO2 allowances were still a step in the right direction, but were now more 'balanced' because they would not undermine the 'competitiveness' of British industry. Needless to say, Digby Jones of the Confederation of British Industries (CBI) and other business leaders welcomed the news.

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