Environment

Climate change: radical solutions needed

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Building a Low-Carbon Economy, Lord Adair Turner's 511 page report, made interesting Xmas reading for environmental campaigners. Produced by the Committee on Climate Change, which Turner chairs, it is the government plan to drag the world out of the clutches of uncontrolled climate change.

But, as campaigner and author George Monbiot writes in the Guardian, "Lord Turner has two jobs. The first, as chair of the Financial Services Authority, is to save capitalism. The second, as chair of the Committee on Climate Change, is to save the biosphere from the impacts of capitalism. I have no idea how well he is discharging the first task, but if his approach to the second one is anything to go by, you should dump your shares and buy gold."

Stop Global Warming

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Jonathan Neale, Bookmarks, £11.99

Jonathan Neale's new book poses a strategy which is not to be found in the majority of literature on the subject as well as covering more familiar territory. On both counts Neale's book is to be welcomed and recommended both to those who have read widely and those who are beginning to get to grips with the issue. His examination of the more recent grasping of the possibility of abrupt climate change gives a framework for understanding the problem. The urgency associated with trying to avoid a "tipping" point leading to abrupt climate change is not outlined in order to prompt fear.

Fuel for thought

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As of 15 April, all petrol and diesel sold at British filling stations has to be blended with biofuels.

The British government, through the Renewable Fuel Transport Obligation (RFTO), and the European Union have continued to push ahead with biofuel expansion despite scientific studies which show that this is one of the quickest ways of heating the planet, and despite United Nations (UN) agencies warning that biofuels are fuelling a catastrophic food crisis.

E is for Ecology

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The ecological relationship between human society and the planet's environment has become a major preoccupation for thousands of people around the world.

The extent to which we have already changed the world's climate and how much more we will change it is a matter hotly debated by the media and politicians.

Few would deny that humans have an impact on their environment - it is easy to see the connection between a dead fish and a toxic chemical leak into a river.

The Carbon Neutral Myth - Offset Indulgences for your Climate Sins

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Kevin Smith, Carbon Trade Watch

Every time a politician takes a flight these days, they are hardly off the aircraft steps before they boast that they have "offset" their emissions and made their flight carbon neutral. We can be safe in the knowledge that our leaders haven't made the environment any worse flying to the G8.

Carbon offsetting does seem too good to be true. After all, if you can really pay a third party to offset the consequences of the fossil fuel you have burnt driving your SUV around town, then we might not have to worry about climate change instead we can continue behaving exactly as we like.

Climate change and class conflict

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Global warming threatens all humanity, but fighting it requires more than individual action, reliance on government or dropping other concerns. Chris Harman explains.

In the past two years the question of climate change has moved from the margins of mainstream political debate to the centre. Hardly a week goes by without some international meeting discussing it. Politicians and corporations of all hues now declare their commitment to do something; even George Bush admits that there is a problem.

South Africa: Capital's Dangerous Gimmick

With climate change posing one of the gravest threats to capital accumulation - not to mention humankind and our environment - it is little wonder that economists such as Sir Nicholas Stern, establishment politicians like Gordon Brown and Al Gore, and financiers at the World Bank and the City of London have begun warning the public. They are all pushing for more market solutions as the way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

This was the key theory motivating capitalist states' support for the Kyoto Protocol. And since February 2005, when the protocol was ratified by Russia and formally came into effect, a great deal more money and propaganda has been invested in the carbon market, including at a major Nairobi climate conference last month.

Feeling the Heat?

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Governments and big business clamour to show their green credentials but their 'solutions' fall way short of what is necessary. George Monbiot talked to Andrew Stone about his new book, Heat, and the more radical policies he believes are essential.

George Monbiot does not start Heat, his prospectus for fighting climate change, with melting glaciers or parched soil. He begins with the metaphor of Faust, the 16th century cautionary tale popularised by dramatist Christopher Marlowe in The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus: "Faust is a man who swaps the long term for the short term," he tells me, "in order to have 24 years of indulging himself to the absolute limit. He strikes a deal with the devil. He can get whatever he wants now, in return for eternal damnation. He refuses to believe that eternal damnation is a reality.

Should We All be Tightening Our Belts?

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Halting climate change requires a change more fundamental than a series of lifestyle choices.

On the face of it, the threat which climate change poses to the environment - and even to the possibility of human life of this planet - has nothing to do with the class struggle.

In January the US energy secretary claimed that the private sector will deal with the problem because it affects them as much as anyone else: "The people who run companies do have children, they do have grandchildren, they do live and breathe in this world."

No Need for Nukes

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Hermann Scheer explains why it is time for nuclear power to be relegated to the technology museum.

The end of the fossil energy age approaches. Its ecological limits draw near as material resources are exhausted. The advocates of nuclear energy see a new day dawning. Even some of its critics have joined the appeal for new nuclear power plants. There are now 442 nuclear reactors operating worldwide with a total capacity of 300,000 megawatts. Two and a half times this number will be added by 2030 and four times as many by 2050, says the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the bastion of the global nuclear community.

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