Environment

On the edge of climate disaster

Issue section: 
Author: 

A new United Nations Synthesis Report on climate change makes grim reading, and despite attempts by various governements to skew its findings, it is unambiguous in its conclusions.

November saw the publication of the Synthesis Report for the fifth Assessment Report by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

This presents the conclusions and policy recommendations that arise from three earlier reports by working groups on the causes of global warming, its current and potential impacts, and suggested solutions.

It is the most comprehensive and authoritative document on the subject yet published. It is also the most forthright statement made by the panel on the reality and risks of climate change.

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate

Issue section: 
Author: 

“I am convinced that climate change represents an historic opportunity to advance policies that dramatically improve people’s lives, close the gap between rich and poor, create huge numbers of good jobs and reinvigorate democracy from the ground up.” So says Naomi Klein is her latest book, This Changes Everything.

In a call to arms, Klein outlines what’s at stake. The non-binding agreement to keep the increase in global warming at 2°C that all the major powers signed at the Copenhagen Summit in 2009 is fast becoming a “utopian dream”.

Marx and Nature

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

Can Marxism help us understand our relationship with the environment? Did Marx himself ignore the role of nature? And do his theories need to be updated to incorporate ideas from the green movement?

Paul Burkett’s Marx and Nature, along with Marx’s Ecology by John Bellamy Foster, was a major contribution to these debates.

Marx and Nature was originally published in 1999, a time when it was common sense, even among some on the left, to argue that Marx neglected the role of the
natural world.

How big oil is fracking to climate disaster

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 
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.

Land and Labour by Martin Empson

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

Published by Bookmarks, 13.99

Humans are part of the natural world yet we also shape that world. The type of society we live in, and crucially the way human labour power is organised, are central to how we relate to nature. But as Martin Empson argues, the changes we make to nature also affect the ways that societies are run. Crucially the shift from fairly egalitarian hunter-gatherer societies towards societies based on agriculture - known as the Neolithic agricultural revolution - enabled the evolution of class society.

Fracking: neither cheap nor safe

Issue section: 
Author: 

The growing resistance to fracking - the "hydraulic fracturing" of deep level shale rocks to extract natural gas - promises to reignite the climate movement after years of demoralisation following the failure of the UN climate talks in 2009.

A feature of the recent march and blockades at Cuadrilla Resources' drilling site near Balcombe in West Sussex was the diversity of the people involved, as well as the numbers. Local residents were central to the protests, as they have been at Fylde, near Blackpool, where two Cuadrilla fracking operations led to minor earthquakes.

Landgrabbers

Issue section: 
Author: 

In 2011 the charity Oxfam estimated that in the previous decade around 227 million hectares of land had been bought up in large scale "land grabs". This was mostly for the imposition of industrial agriculture.

In the process people are thrown off their land, local markets are broken up and ecologies are destroyed.

In recent years there has been growing awareness that land grabbing is taking place in the Global South. In particular, Africa and South America have been targeted by large multinationals and certain states.

But a new report published in April this year shows that very similar processes are taking place in Europe as business is gaining control of enormous parts of the continent, and land ownership is becoming concentrated in a smaller and smaller number of hands.

Silent Spring

Issue section: 
Author: 

The publication of Silent Spring 50 years ago in September 1962 caused shockwaves through an America dominated by the belief that, through technology, humans could dominate nature in their own interests. The book and its author, Rachel Carson, are credited with inspiring the modern environmental movement.

Born in 1907 Rachel Carson had been a biologist working for the US Fisheries Bureau, but became a full-time writer in the 1950s. Her trilogy of books on the sea explored ocean life and had been bestsellers. In Silent Spring she examined the growing environmental problems caused by pesticides, locating the problem in the wider interaction of humans and the natural world. It was a book that was rooted in growing environmental awareness, particularly public understanding of the dangers from radiation.

Nuclear power failure

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

Since its inception, critics of nuclear power have concentrated on the industry's lamentable safety record, its growing and deadly radiological legacy for future generations and its links to military development and maintenance of nuclear weapons.

But the fraud at the heart of the economic case for nuclear power has received less attention. The murky world of nuclear economics reveals how an inherently unreliable and unsafe range of military-born technologies have been sold to the public on the basis of ideologically driven fantasies of strategic energy security and creative accountancy. From the start there has never been any intention to take account in any nuclear energy programme of the calculation, let alone funding, of the long-term decommissioning and waste management costs.

We need a system change to solve climate change

Issue section: 
Issue: 
Author: 

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.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Environment