Environment

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.

The Science News

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Climate change may act more suddenly than we have expected till now.

The genesis of two Category 5 hurricanes in a row (Katrina and Rita) over the Gulf of Mexico is an unprecedented and troubling occurrence. But for most tropical meteorologists the truly astonishing 'storm of the decade' took place in March 2004. Hurricane Catarina - so named because it made landfall in the southern Brazilian state of Santa Catarina - was the first recorded South Atlantic hurricane in history.

New Orleans, Old Prejudices

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Mike Davis finds that every aspect of the response to Hurricane Katrina disaster was shaped by race and class.

The tempest which destroyed New Orleans was conjured out of tropical seas and an angry atmosphere 125 miles offshore of the Bahamas. Labelled initially as 'Tropical Depression 12' on 23 August, it quickly intensified into 'Tropical Storm Katrina'. Making landfall near Miami on 24 August, Katrina had grown into a small hurricane - 'Category 1' on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. Crossing over Florida to the Gulf of Mexico where it wandered for four days, Katrina underwent a monstrous and largely unexpected transformation.

Ecology against Capitalism: Slum Ecology

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Urban poverty and climatic hazards are a deadly cocktail for millions, as Mike Davis explains.

A villa miseria outside Buenos Aires may have the world's worst fenshui: it is built 'over a former lake, a toxic dump, and a cemetery, and in a flood zone'. But then a hazardous, health-threatening location is the geographical definition of the typical squatters' settlement: whether it is a barrio perched precariously on stilts over the excrement-clogged Pasig River in Manila, or the bustee in Vijayawada where 'residents have door numbers written on pieces of furniture because the houses, along with the doors, [are] washed away by floods every year'.

Ecology against Capitalism: Put the Heat on Governments

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We can deal with the challenge of climate change, argues Jonathan Neale.

Scientists are now agreed that the atmosphere is getting hotter, and getting hotter more quickly. Global warming is caused by 'greenhouse gases'. Right now one gas, carbon dioxide (CO2), accounts for more than 80 percent of warming.

Ecology against Capitalism: Nuclear Reaction

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Mary Black and Andrew Stone attack New Labour's desire for a nuclear renaissance.

It was looking increasingly ominous. 'Government sources' were leaking that New Labour, having pursued a 'rule nothing out' policy on nuclear power for its first two terms, was intent on initiating a new reactor building programme immediately after the election. These rumours were strengthened when a confidential briefing note from Joan MacNaughton, the director general of energy policy at the Department of Trade and Industry, counselled urgent new nuclear build.

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