Category Archives: Solutions

Division, not consensus, may be the key to fighting climate change

By Razmig Keucheyan, May 5, 2014. Source: The Guardian

A toxic waste dump in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. 'With climate change, a long-standing form of inequality is becoming more and more visible: environmental inequality.' Photo: Issouf Sanogo/AFP

A toxic waste dump in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. ‘With climate change, a long-standing form of inequality is becoming more and more visible: environmental inequality.’ Photo: Issouf Sanogo/AFP

With the release of the fifth report by the UN’s intergovernmental panel on climate change, calls for the international community to once and for all transcend its divisions and get serious at last about climate change have multiplied. The content of the report is nothing less than frightful: global warming has been occurring since the middle of the 20th century at an unprecedented rate, already engendering all sorts of disasters. No doubt is permitted as to the principal cause of the phenomenon: mankind. This changes everything, to quote the title of Naomi Klein’s forthcoming book. Because climate change will affect all of humanity, it renders past conflicts and traditional political categories – left and right among them – obsolete.

Well, this widespread ecological consensus isn’t getting us anywhere, and it will certainly not help us fight climate change effectively. The environmental crisis is not brought about by an endless proclivity of mankind to destroy its environment and deplete natural resources, as Jared Diamond, among others, would make us believe in his neo-Malthusian bestsellers. It finds its origin in the logic of a quite recent system, one that was born in the 19th century: industrial capitalism.

Capitalism is productivist, ie it seeks to increase productivity indefinitely (it has no embedded self-limiting mechanism). Moreover, it is predatory, programmed to exploit and exhaust natural resources and biodiversity. Finally, it is irreparably tied to a carbon – coal, oil and gas – energy system. To use the words of German Marxist Elmar Altvater, industrial capitalism is necessarily fossil capitalism. All three features combine to give way to the dreadful situation described by the IPCC report.

This is exactly why the environmental crisis doesn’t render past conflicts and divisions obsolete, but on the contrary reinforces them. Climate change doesn’t change anything, it rather worsens existing problems. To paraphrase a famous dictum by Lenin, it is the highest stage of capitalism.

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Filed under Climate Change, Climate Justice, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Pollution, Solutions

The browning of the world

By Christy Rodgers, April 29, 2014. Source: Dissident Voice

There are a lot of seemingly disparate things happening at various levels of scale in the world outside my window these days. But there is one color that describes them more than any other.

My world is browning. As deserts grow and forests shrink, as smog, soot and dust clouds fill the skies horizon to horizon, as average heat levels (represented by yellows, oranges and browns on maps where they are most intense) increase, you start to see that color everywhere, eating away at the greens and blues of our old picture of the planet. What is the color of drought, which has struck the place where I live with an intensity not seen for 500 years? Brown. What is the color of oil slicks on oceans and chemical spills in rivers and mudslides on denuded hills? Brown. What is the color from space of barren ranges that were once clothed in glaciers and yearlong snows? Of flooded rivers filled with the irreplaceable topsoil, thousands of years old, which washes into them every year from giant monoculture farms? Brown. Our gentle euphemism for the toxic waste dumps that fester at the edges of cities and towns is “brownfields.”

The world’s human population is browning too. Northern European and European American populations, never a majority in the world, are losing even the percentage share they once had, while overall their proportion of the world’s income and consumption of its resources remains grossly, disproportionately large. But the ranks of global billionaires are browning as well, for whatever you think that’s worth (it’s currently worth about as much for the 2100 of them as what 2 billion of the rest of us possess). And the mostly white middle class, shrinking in my country, is growing in many others, like India, China, and Brazil, while desperate poverty there is shrinking – for the time being.

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Filed under Climate Change, Climate Justice, Corporate Globalization, False Solutions to Climate Change, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, Solutions

Towards an ecological general strike – The Earth Day to May Day assembly and days of direct action

By Elliot Hughes and Steve Ongerth, April 4, 2014. Source: Indy Bay

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

ecostrikeDirect actions are planned in the Bay Area between Earth Day on April 22 and May 1st to raise awareness about the intersections of labor rights, immigration rights, and environmental issues. Actions may include sit-ins, tree sits, guerrilla gardening, pickets, marches, blockades, and strikes. Our goal is to challenge the “Jobs vs Environment” myth, to unite workers and environmentalists against the bosses, and rapidly transition unsustainable industries through direct action. The process in which we would achieve so, is through directly democratic workers assemblies and Environmental Unionist Caucuses within our existing unions where we would organize actions to halt the destruction of the planet. We seek to live up to our IWW Preamble which states that we must “abolish wage slavery and live in harmony with the Earth.”

We know that the workers, the community, and the planet are exploited by the state and capitalist forces that rule over our lives, but now the ruling class is escalating that attack on the working class and the planet we inhabit. We must come together to fight back or our planet will be completely destroyed. Recently the concentration of CO­2 in the Earth’s atmosphere exceeded 400 ppm. It greatly surpasses the 350 ppm that scientists argue is the limit to avoid run away global warming. As the capitalist class continues their “extreme energy” rampage including offshore oil drilling, tar sands mining, mountain removal, and fracking, a mass movement to oppose these forms of energy is rapidly growing and radicalizing. Recently, there has been an increased amount of oil spills, pipeline ruptures, oil train derailments, refinery fires, and chemical dumps. These disasters have not only destroyed the environment, but they have also injured and/or killed the very workers whom the capitalists depend on to extract these “resources”.

The same capitalist economic system destroying the Earth destroying the lives of the workers. Some of their methods of class warfare include eroding health and safety standards, downsizing and outsourcing the workforce, establishing a “blame the worker” safety culture, and creating dangerous labor conditions all around. These conditions that endanger the workers are also directly harming the communities around them, for example while the company towns develop cancers and asthma from air pollution, the workers often breathe in a higher density of these toxins because they work in close proximity with them. Yet, the bosses, through their use of propaganda are able to convince many exploited workers that environmentalists are their enemy are threats to their jobs. We must debunk this myth and come together to take direct action for health and safety and a halt to the destruction of our world.
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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Politics, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, Solutions

Defending the earth in Argentina: From direct action to autonomy

By Marina Sitrin, April 6, 2014. Source: Tidal

argentina1While corporations continue to land grab, exploit and privatize the little we still hold in common – people around the globe have been rising up. Women are preventing dams from being built in India; indigenous are Idle No More, defending the earth; entire town and villages have organized to prevent airports, roads and mines from being developed in France, Italy and Greece; thousands in the US have used their bodies to block the construction of pipelines intended for fracking; and throughout the Americas there are struggles everywhere against mining and the exploitation of land and water. Not only are people fighting back – but in many places, such as the one in Corrientes, Argentina described below, people are creating horizontal and self organized ways of being in the space of the resistance. Not only are people collectively shouting  No! and using direct action en mass to prevent the destruction of the earth, but together they are finding ways to autonomously recreate their relationships with one another, to work and with the land.

The below conversation is with Emilio Spataro, an organizer in Corrientes, who has been active in various movements in Argentina since his teen years. He was a part of the popular rebellion in December of 2001 and the subsequent neighborhood assemblies, building occupations and horizontal self organized projects. Since 2009 he has been living in Corrientes, collaborating with territorially based movements. He is currently on tour in the US with another movement participant from Guardians of Iberá (salvemosalibera.org). One of the targets of their most recent campaign is Harvard University. Harvard owns massive timber plantations in Corrientes and the movements together with students, faculty and staff at Harvard have been organizing to hold them accountable.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Corporate Globalization, Forests, Latin America-Caribbean, Political Repression, Politics, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, Solutions

Land conflicts in Argentina: From resistance to systemic transformation

By Zoe Brent, January 2, 2014. Source: Upside Down World

This article is an excerpt from Food First’s Land & Sovereignty Series. Click here to download the full report.

argentina_land_grab1

Following Argentina’s economic crisis in 2001, the country leaned heavily on mining and large-scale agribusiness (especially soy) to reinvigorate its ailing economy. The expansion of these industries requires the accumulation of new lands and the violent displacement of rural communities. Many farmers and indigenous communities don’t have titles to their lands, leaving them vulnerable to displacement or criminal charges for squatting. Peasant movements like Argentina’s National Peasant and Indigenous Movement (MNCI) are resisting this assault on their lands and fighting to transform the system through political education and collective action.

Background: Argentina’s Soy and Mining Explosion

Since the legalization of genetically modified soy in Argentina in 1996, the crop has exploded to cover over half (59 percent) of the country’s cultivated land. Ninety-nine percent of this soy is transgenic and 95 percent is for export. Similarly, mining exports increased by 434 percent between 2001 and 2011. Andean provinces—those located along the western edge of the country—are particularly affected by the expansion of mining. Jujuy, for instance, experienced a 1,948 percent increase in mining investments since 2003.

While the soy and mining sectors are often credited for fueling the country’s economic rebound after the 2001 crisis, the expansion of these sectors has displaced rural communities and led to numerous conflicts over territorial rights.

Nationally, nearly a quarter of Argentina’s farming families are engaged in some kind of dispute over their land, 64 percent of which began within the last 20 years. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, there are 857 distinct conflicts over land, affecting 63,843 family farms, covering nearly 23 million acres. These high levels of conflict indicate that lands recently incorporated into soy production, while often untitled, are not unclaimed or empty by any means—most are inhabited by small-scale peasant farmers or indigenous communities.

The social costs of this boom have been devastating. In order to free up new lands for development, private security forces hired by new land claimants often use violence to evict peasant farmers. In the past three years 11 farmers and indigenous people have died, all of whom opposed the incursion of large-scale developments on their lands. Some were murdered in cold blood, while others died in mysterious traffic accidents that their families claim were also premeditated.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Food Sovereignty, Genetic Engineering, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, Political Repression, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, Solutions

Naomi Klein: Why unions need to join the climate fight

By Naomi Klein, September 3, 2013. Source: Naomi Klein

Naomi delivered the following speech on September 1, 2013 at the founding convention of UNIFOR, a new mega union created by the Canadian Autoworkers and the Canadian Energy and Paper Workers Union.

NKleinuniforI’m so very happy and honoured to be able to share this historic day with you.

The energy in this room – and the hope the founding of this new union has inspired across the country – is contagious.

It feels like this could be the beginning of the fight back we have all been waiting for, the one that will chase Harper from power and restore the power of working people in Canada.

So welcome to the world UNIFOR.

A lot of your media coverage so far has focused on how big UNIFOR is – the biggest private sector union in Canada. And when you are facing as many attacks as workers are in this country, being big can be very helpful. But big is not a victory in itself.

The victory comes when this giant platform you have just created becomes a place to think big, to dream big, to make big demands and take big actions. The kind of actions that will shift the public imagination and change our sense of what is possible.
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Filed under Climate Change, Corporate Globalization, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Mining, Oil, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, Solutions, Tar Sands

Confessions of a climate change denier

By Yotam Marom, July 30, 2013. Source: Waging Nonviolence

Mural by the artist Bansky along Regent’s Canal in London. Photo: Flickr/Matt Brown

Mural by the artist Bansky along Regent’s Canal in London. Photo: Flickr/Matt Brown

I suppose it wasn’t really until I was standing on the west side of Hoboken, N.J., in water and oil up to my thigh, that climate change really made sense. And it wasn’t until I was out organizing on New York City’s outer beaches after Hurricane Sandy that I understood my sluggishness on climate justice was nothing short of climate change denial.

It seems like everywhere we turn, we’re being fed the same old climate Armageddon story. You’ve heard it, I’m sure: If we continue to be dependent on fossil fuels, hundreds of gigatons of CO2 will continue to pour into the atmosphere, the temperature will rise above 2 degrees Celsius, and we’re done. There will be a biblical cocktail of hurricanes, floods, famines, wars. It will be terrifying, awful, epic and, yes, as far as any reputable scientist is concerned, those projections are for real.I call this narrative the Armageddon Complex, and my own denial was a product of it. I spun all sorts of stories to keep the climate crisis out of my life, ranging anywhere from “it can’t be that bad” to “if it is that bad, there’s nothing I can do about it,” and “it’s not my role. That’s for climate activists; I’m a different kind of activist.”
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Filed under Climate Change, Climate Justice, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Occupy Wall Street, Oil, Politics, Solutions

It begins with respect: The meaning of living well for the Tseltal and Tsotsil Mayans of Chiapas

Note: Jeff Conant is the former Communications Director for Global Justice Ecology Project.

-The GJEP Team

By Jeff Conant, July 30, 2013. Source: Intercontinental Cry

A dialogue with Pedro Hernández Luna and Miguel Sanchez Alvarez concerning el lekil kuxlejal, June 29, 2013

Throughout the Americas and the world, the name of Chiapas, Mexico, has become synonymous with struggles for indigenous resistance. From the First Indigenous Congress held in San Cristóbal de las Casas in 1974 to the 1994 uprising in which the Zapatista Army of National Liberation launched a struggle for land and liberty that would change the political geography of Mexico and shake loose historical memory across the continent and around the world, to the 2001 March for Indigenous Dignity in which thousands descended on Mexico City to demand that the congress of the nation amend the constitution to include a Law of Indigenous Rights and Culture, Chiapas has been at the vibrant heart of the construction of new forms of indigenous struggle and territorial autonomy.

One set of beliefs, generally translated as el buen vivir, or living well, is at the heart of indigenous resistance. A similar concept, the Quechua notion of sumak causay, gained a certain recognition among climate justice activists following the Cochabamba People’s Summit on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth convened by President Evo Morales of Bolivia in 2009. Assumak causay was brought to the awareness of the non-indigenous by Andean social movements a few years ago, now in Chiapas a generation of autocthonous scholars is bringing to light – theorizing, they would say – the local understanding of buen vivir: a concept articulated in Tseltal and Tsotsil as el lek’il kuxlejal.

I first encountered el lekil kuxlejal in 2009 in a book by scholar Antonio Paoli called Education, Autonomy, and lekil kuxlejal. Paoli resists a simple definition of lekil kuxlejal in favor of giving its socio-linguistic context amidst related concepts such as k’inal, (meaning environment, including both ecosystem and mind) and the broader slamalil k’inal, a tranquility of mind on which the state of lekil kuxlejal depends. “lekil kuxlejal, or buen vivir,” Paoli writes, “is not a utopia, because it is not a non-existent dream. No, lekil kuxlejal has been degraded but not extinguished, and it is possible to recover it.”
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Filed under Chiapas, Climate Justice, Indigenous Peoples, Latin America-Caribbean, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, Solutions

KPFK Sojourner Truth Earth Watch: Clayton Thomas-Muller on Quebec oil disaster, Tar Sands Healing Walk, Sovereignty Summer

Note: Clayton Thomas-Muller is a good friend and member of the board of Global Justice Ecology Project.

-The GJEP Team

July 11, 2013

kpfk_logoClayton Thomas-Muller co-director of the Indigenous Tar Sands Campaign discusses the oil rail disaster that left scores dead in Quebec, the Tar Sands healing walk and Sovereignty summer.

Global Justice Ecology Project teams up with the Sojourner Truth show on KPFK Pacifica Los Angeles for a weekly Earth Minute each Tuesday and a weekly Earth Watch interview each Thursday.

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Filed under Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Idle No More, Indigenous Peoples, KPFK, Oil, Pollution, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, Solutions, Tar Sands

KPFK Sojourner Truth Earth Minute: La Via Campesina international gathering ends, rejecting capitalism and promoting agroecology, solidarity

kpfk_logoGlobal Justice Ecology Project teams up with the Sojourner Truth show on KPFK Pacifica Los Angeles for a weekly Earth Minute each Tuesday and a weekly Earth Watch interview each Thursday.

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Filed under Africa, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Food Sovereignty, Indigenous Peoples, KPFK, Latin America-Caribbean, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, Solutions