Archive for the tag “capitalism”

News update

Capitalism is Mother Earths Cancer: World Peoples Summit Issues 12 Demands
Common Dreams
Decrying capitalism as a threat to life, an estimated 7,000 environmentalists, farmers, and Indigenous activists from 40 countries convened in the Bolivian town of Tiquipaya for this weekends World Peoples Conference on Climate Change, aiming to elevate the demands of social movements and developing countries in the lead-up to upcoming United Nations-led climate talks. Capitalism is Mother Earths cancer, Bolivian President Evo Morales told the crowd, which also heard over the course of the three-day conference from United Nations Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon as well as other Latin American leaders.

Why Earth’s future will depend on how we build our cities
Chris Mooney, The Washington Post
It may be the most important number on Earth: 1,000 gigatons. That’s roughly how much carbon dioxide humanity has left to emit, scientists say, in order to have a two-thirds chance of keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius above the temperature in pre-industrial times — and thus, staying within what has often been deemed a “safe” climate threshold. A new report, though, finds that if we don’t build cities more wisely, using much greener infrastructure, then they could be a crucial factor that tips the planet over the 1,000 gigaton line — and indeed, that they could play this role in just five years time.

Europes greenhouse gas emissions fall to record low
The Guardian UK
Greenhouse gas emissions in Europe have plunged to the lowest level ever recorded after the EU’s member states reported an estimated 23% drop in emissions between 1990 and 2014. The bloc has now overshot its target for 2020 of cutting emissions by one-fifth – at the same time that its economy grew by 46%, according to the EU’s climate chief, Miguel Arias Canete .

Integrated Energy Policy Formulated To Boost The Energy Sector
Mondaq.com
In order to provide a collective policy covering all sources of energy including renewable energy sources, the Government of India has formulated an Integrated Energy Policy. The said policy outlines a roadmap to develop energy supply options and increased exploitation of renewable energy sources. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy aims at a capacity addition of about 30,000 MW power during the 12th Five Year Plan from the various renewable energy sources available in the country.

16 commercial building spaces can save 8,960 Mwh/year: TERI Study
The Economic Times
Sixteen commercial building spaces, including that of Wipro, Tata ChemicalsBSE 0.57 % and Genpact, have the potential to save 8,960 megawatt hours a year, which is sufficient to power 2,400 rural homes, says a study. Energy saving in 100 such buildings can power more than 12,000 rural homes, stated a energy audit report of 16 commercial buildings across the country by The TERI Centre of Excellence, launched by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) and United Technologies Corp (UTC) in 2014.

Indias coal-fueled economy taking a toll on environment and rural villagers
LA Times
In central Indias coal-rich Singrauli district, recently labeled one of the countrys most polluted areas, residents and activists have long complained that abuses by energy companies go unpunished. Each and every company is violating environmental norms, including Sasan, said Ashwani Kumar Dubey, a Singrauli resident and lawyer who has challenged the coal industry in Indias Supreme Court. But nothing happens because these companies run the economy of the country.

Indias climate tech revolution is starting in its villages
The Guardian UK
Solar panels drive a water pump that irrigates the fields of farmer Raman Bhai Parmar, 65, who grows bananas, rice and wheat on seven acres of land. Parmar’s solar energy pump is one of the technologies being promoted by a new project designed to help rural Indians adapt to climate change. The project, run by the international NGO, aims to create 1,000 so-called climate smart villages across six Indian states including Haryana, Punjab and Gujarat.

A nomads’ legend keeps the Indian wolf alive: An unconventional conservation story
Scroll.in
Unlike local farmers and herders, the nomads never chased, hunted or hurt the wolves. The filmmakers soon uncovered a legend of three brothers, one of whom is cheated out of his share by the other two. He leaves but not before bestowing a curse that he would come back to claim his due. The tribesmen consider the wolf to be that brother, returning to take what’s rightfully his. It’s possible that this fraternal feeling between tribe and wolf saved Bent Ear and his family.

LibCom series on Capitalist agriculture

Part 4 Capitalist agriculture: class formation and the metabolic rift

Libcom.org

Capitalist agriculture: class formation and the metabolic rift

In this fourth installment on our series on food and climate, we look at the dynamics of capitalist agriculture in terms of production, class formation, and the ‘metabolic rift’ in the nitrogen cycle.

Part 1 (Climate, class, and the Neolithic revolution) looked at the first emergence of agriculture at the end of the last ice age. Part 2 (Class struggles, climate change, and the origins of modern agriculture) looked at the early modern emergence of specifically capitalist agriculture though enclosures and colonialism in the Little Ice Age. Part 3 (The political economy of hunger) analysed the political economy of hunger.

Read part 4: Capitalist agriculture: class formation and the metabolic rift

Challenging Thomas Piketty: Growth is not the answer to inequality

 Tim Jackson, The Guardian, UK

Those like me who fear that the continued pursuit of economic growth on a finite planet might be neither possible nor desirable face a different kind of challenge, brought home to us by Thomas Piketty’s 700 page tome Capital in the 21st Century. The astonishing popularity of the “rock-star economist” is itself a resounding testament to our concern for inequality.

But his painstaking analysis reveals an uncomfortable story. Piketty places the responsibility for rising inequality firmly and squarely on declining growth rates. Like Benjamin Friedman in The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth, he implies that only growth can bring civility, in part because an expanding economy allows for a degree of ‘catching up’ by the poorest in society, without much sacrifice or compromise by the rich.

For those of us less than convinced by the mantra of growth at all costs, the idea that only growth can save us from disastrous inequality poses some pretty serious challenges to our endeavour. Serious enough, that two of us – my Canadian colleague professor Peter Victor and I – decided to spend a bit more time analysing Piketty’s arguments.

What we found was fascinating. Piketty’s hypothesis only holds when the growth rate, savings rate and return on capital remain unchanged over long periods of time. When they move about, as they usually do, the economy is always chasing equilibrium but never quite arrives. In some circumstances, Piketty is absolutely right: declining growth can lead to rising inequality. In others, the exact reverse can happen: de-growth can in fact be compatible with greater equality.

This was definitely good news of a kind. Even more striking were the circumstances that made the difference. It turns out that if we are serious about reducing inequality, we must pay attention to the quality – as well as the quantity – of work in our economy. The endless mining of working life in pursuit of productivity gains for the owners of capital is not just detrimental to prosperity, it is inimicable to social justice.

If the debate about inequality is really back on the political agenda, it seems important that we approach it sensibly, without resorting to comforting half-truths. It remains to be seen how that will play out in a political debate mired in trivialities. Read the original article

Read Tim Jacksons paper: Does slow growth increase inequality?
Read another article by Tim Jackson: The dilemma of growth: prosperity v economic expansion

Digital Pamphlet: Do We Live on a One Party Planet?

Introducing a new digital pamphlet designed to connect the dots on advanced-stage, 21st Century neoliberalism

/The Rules

one_party_pamphlet.jpg

We now all live on a One Party Planet.

This is a provocative claim, pregnant with meaning and implication. If it’s true in the way we believe it to be, it means there is an identifiable form of totalitarianism casting a shadow over the entire human race.  It means that there is a force so broad, so enmeshed within the logic of modern global power, that the solutions we all work toward in the specific struggles we care most about – be that rampant inequalities in income and opportunity, widespread poverty, or climate change are all facing it. Not a force that lives in any single person, organization or structure, but that is ephemeral in the way that all ideology is ephemeral.  It transcends and thereby unites the leadership of the vast majority of political parties, governments and corporations that have any proximity to global power. But for all this, it is also specific, definable, and visible through the right lenses.  Which means it can be challenged.

It’s got many names but we call it Neoliberalism, because that fits it well enough and is very common, recognizable currency. It’s not primarily an economic agenda; it’s a moral philosophy.  As Margaret Thatcher, one of its seminal champions herself said, “economics are the method, the object is to change the heart and soul”.

It is defined by a circular and hermetically sealed logic, in three parts. Firstly, that survival of the fittest through eternal competition between self-interested parties is, practically speaking, the only law upon which human society can realistically be ordered; secondly, that, in the moral hierarchy, financial wealth equates with life success which equates with virtue; and thirdly that man [sic] is, if not an island, then, at most, a part of an archipelago of islands of shared interests, answerable only to himself, his peers and, possibly, his God, in that order. To see only the familiar economics – i.e. belief in small government, low taxes, the sanctity of private property and private industries, and free markets, particularly in labor, all of which feed, above all else, the double-headed hydra of profit and economic growth – and not connect it back to the moral philosophy is to miss the point.

To back up this provocative claim, we have released a pamphlet today called, The One Party Planet.

News update

Why the Fracking Phenomenon Will Leave Us High and Dry
Asher Miller, Post Carbon Institute
A new, landmark report shows that hopes of a long-term golden era in American oil & gas production are unfounded.

Eight Pieces of Our Oil Price Predicament
Gail Tverberg
A person might think that oil prices would be fairly stable. Prices would set themselves at a level that would be high enough for the majority of producers, so that in total producers would provide enough–but not too much–oil for the world economy. The prices would be fairly affordable for consumers. And economies around the world would grow robustly with these oil supplies, plus other energy supplies. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to work that way recently.

Is there really an oil glut?
Kurt Cobb, Resource Insights
Yes, the price drop has only just occurred, and, of course, we cant expect that it will have an immediate affect on consumption. But, increased consumption would likely take the oil markets back above $100 per barrel since small changes in supply and demand tend to move the oil price sharply. At the $100 level no one would be calling the situation a glut.

How can oil as dirty and destructive as the tar sands be profitable? Massive subsidies.
Priceofoil.org
A new report by Oil Change International, Cashing in on All of the Above: U.S. Fossil Fuel Production Subsidies under Obama, demonstrates the huge and growing amount of subsidies going to the fossil fuel industry in the U.S. every year. In 2013, the U.S. federal and state governments gave away $21.6 billion in subsidies for oil, gas, and coal exploration and production.

IPCC Report Says Climate Change Is ‘Severe, Widespread and Irreversible’
Bill McKibben, Ecowatch
Breaking the power of the fossil fuel industry won’t be easy, especially since it has to happen fast. It has to happen, in fact, before the carbon we’ve unleashed into the atmosphere breaks the planet. I’m not certain we’ll win this fight—but, thanks to the IPCC, no one will ever be able to say they weren’t warned.

Why We Can’t Ditch the 2 C Warming Goal
Jonathan Coomey, EcoWatch
The warming limit approach is the most powerful analytical way of thinking about the climate problem that the climate science and policy community has yet devised. So the answer is not to “ditch the 2 C limit,” but to use it to show (in Victor and Kennel’s words) that “politicians … pretend that they are organizing for action when, in fact, most have done little.

Hydropower May Be Huge Source of Methane Emissions
Bobby Magill, Climate Central
Reservoirs and hydropower are often thought of as climate friendly because they don’t burn fossil fuels to produce electricity. But what if reservoirs that store water and produce electricity were among some of the world’s largest contributors of greenhouse gas emissions?

Revealed – the capitalist network that runs the world
New Scientist
As protests against financial power sweep the world, science may have confirmed the protesters worst fears. An analysis of the relationships between 43,000 transnational corporations has identified a relatively small group of companies, mainly banks, with disproportionate power over the global economy.

Terrifying US cluelessness on interest rates suggests politics is powerless
Andrew Critchlow, The Telegraph UK
Clues to the current market turmoil can be found in the Scottish referendum, the Ebola outbreak, and a set of seventeen dots. The last of these are the “dots diagrams” that the US Federal Reserve uses to illustrate where its officials think interest rates will be in the future. They provide a glimpse inside the decision-making process of the main monetary control room in the world. And the picture that emerges is, frankly, terrifying.

Naomi Klein: Capitalism vs The Climate

Naomi Klein, author of the groundbreaking books, No Logo and The Shock Doctrine, is back with a new groundbreaking work, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate. The book resets the debate over global warming by focusing on how it is integrally related to the current economic system that spans the globe.

Her new book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate out now from Simon & Schuster, is a broad challenge to those who want a livable planet: We need to come up with a livable economic system too. Deeply researched and personally reported, Kleins third book takes us from the tar sands in Alberta (Earth, skinned alive) to the oil-soaked waters of the Gulf of Mexico (a miscarriage), from climate denier conferences to a meeting of would-be geoengineers, as she traces the path of destruction that capitalism and a mindset she terms extractivism that is perhaps even older have left on the Earth.

At one point, Klein concedes, it might have been possible to stop the climate crisis with a few regulations here, a carbon tax there. But were too far gone for that, and nothing but a full-on change in how humans relate to the Earth and to each other will save us now. Read Truthout.orgs interview with Klein

Kleins 2010 piece on Climate Change: How science is telling us all to revolt

 

Ted Trainer: The Simpler Way

Ted Trainer, Social Work, University of NSW

(Editors Note: Below is a summary of Ted Trainers The Simpler Way, which he defines as Working for transition from consumer society to a more simpler, more cooperative, just and ecologically sustainable society. In the web page linked above, Trainer provides more information and an exhaustive set of documents arguing how environmental problems cant be solved in or by consumer capitalist society)

1. THE GLOBAL SITUATION
Global problems cannot be solved without huge and fundamental change, because they are directly caused by our present socio-economic system.

The basic cause of the problems is over-consumption the grossly unsustainable demand for high material living standards in a world of limited resources. We cannot keep up the present levels of production and consumption and resource use for long, and there is no possibility of all the worlds people ever rising to these levels. People in rich countries have these high living standards only because we are taking much more than our fair share of the available resources and depriving the majority.

Even though present levels of production and consumption are unsustainable this economic system must have constant and endless increase in output, i.e., economic growth. A sustainable world order is not possible unless we move to much less production and consumption, and much less affluent lifestyles within a steady-state economic system.

Our second major mistake is allowing the market to determine our fate. An economy which relies heavily on free market forces will inevitably allocate most of the worlds wealth to the few, produce inappropriate development, destroy the environment, and ignore the needs of the majority. What is done must be determined by what humans and ecosystems need, not by what is most profitable in a market.

Underlying these faults is a culture based on competition, individualism, acquisitiveness, wealth and luxury. There must be a value change to much more concern with cooperation, sharing, helping, caring, collective welfare and living more simply.

Technical advance cannot solve these problems. It cannot make a big enough difference to levels of resource use and ecological impact. It cannot eliminate the need for radical change in our living standards, values and economy.

Consumer-capitalist society cannot be fixed reforms to it will not solve the problems. Its basic structures and systems must be replaced.

2. THE SOLUTION
We cannot achieve a sustainable and just world order unless we change to,

Simpler lifestyles, much less production and consumption, much less concern with luxury, affluence, possessions and wealth.
Small, highly self-sufficient local economies, largely independent of the global economy.
More cooperative and participatory ways, enabling people in small communities to take control of their own development.
A new economy, one not driven by profit or market forces, and a zero-growth or steady-state overall economy, which produces much less than the present economy.
Some very different values, especially cooperation not competition, and frugality and self-sufficiency not acquisitiveness and consuming.

The Simpler Way is about ensuring a very high quality of life for all without anywhere near as much production, consumption, exporting, investment, resource use, environmental damage, work etc. as ther e is now. There are many rich alternative sources of satisfaction other than material acquisition and consuming. Consider having much time for arts and crafts and personal growth, living in a rich and supportive community, having to go to work for money only two days a week, living in a diverse and productive leisure-rich landscape, having socially worthwhile and enjoyable work with no fear of unemploymentand knowing you are not contributing to global problems. There is no need to sacrifice modern technology to achieve these benefits.

The fate of the planet depends on whether initiatives such as the Transition Towns movement can provide many impressive examples of sustainable, just and pleasant ways showing people in consumer society that there is a better way.

The main purpose of this website is to provide information which will help people in their efforts to educate about the need for change to The Simpler Way.

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