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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

STOP THE GREENWASH!- Skycity Protest today

Today; inside Sky City- the 4th Australia-New Zealand climate change and business conference is underway. This is a chance for the biggest polluting companies of both nations to get together and figure out how they’re going to keep causing the world’s most catastrophic environmental and social disaster human beings have ever been subjected to, while at the same time giving us all the impression that everything is fine. They would like you to think that business can keep ticking along as usual as long as you buy some new fancy lightbulbs and shut up, but this ain’t the case. Lets take a look at their credentials…

Fonterra - The worlds second biggest Dairy exporter and New Zealand's most powerful company. New Zealand's Agricultural sector is responsible for producing 49% of the country's greenhouse gases, with Dairy responsible for the biggest increases since 1990, for wrecking the country's rivers, driving small family farms out of the industry and being the single largest driver of deforestation including that of native forests. Fonterra is by far NZ enviro-criminal number one yet is exempt from climate change legislation , leaving it up to you, your taxes and your children to deal with the problem.

Genesis Energy - Owner of Huntly power station, the biggest source of carbon dioxide in NZ are now promoting carbon capture and storage technology. CC&S as it is known is one of the latest technological fairytales the coal industry have conjured up to delay real solutions coming into place to deal with climate change. Genesis are in the process of building a new Gas fired power station just North of Auckland despite a so called ‘moratorium’ on new thermal powered electricity generation. Rio Tinto Aluminum New Zealand - These guys own Tiwai Point aluminum smelter which devours 15% of New Zealand’s electricity generated each year. Rio Tinto, one of the worlds biggest mining companies holds a legacy of environmental, labor and human rights violations in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Namibia, Madagascar, the United States, Australia, and elsewhere.

Solid Energy - A state owned enterprise which was exposed last year for paying a private investigations company to spy on the environmentalist group 'Save Happy Valley coalition'. The investigations company is currently in court facing charges of using illegal investigative techniques. Internationally, Solid energy has recently secured an $80 million contract to supply 'coking coal' to the Tata group, India's largest private company. Coking coal is used in steel manufacturing and Tata have designed the world's cheapest car with PricewaterhouseCoopers suggesting that by halving the cost of India's entry-level vehicle Tata could create 1.8 million new car buyers. How stupid is this??

So would you trust these charactars to halt climate change? The point we’re making here today is that asking big business to look after the environment is a bit like asking a monkey to mind a banana. Executives who work for massive companies like these are legally obliged to maximise shareholder value no matter what. The climate, your welfare and that of your family, community, children simply dosen’t come into it. These are the same companies and people who organise campaigns to make sure that climate change legislation and our safety doesn’t get in the way of their profits and therefore is rendered useless. The New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme is such an example of rubbish legislation made even worse by the people inside Sky City today.

Get out there and Get active on climate change, because they don’t give a damn about you

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

What sort of society can save the planet?

A sustainable future requires a radical break with capitalism, argues Martin Empson

There is no doubt that capitalism is bad for the planet. Multinationals exploit natural resources in the interest of profit, pumping their waste into our rivers, oceans and atmosphere.

Vast regions of the world are stripped bare in the search for coal and other minerals. Entire ecosystems are destroyed in the hunt for profits. And the problem of climate change threatens the planet as a whole.

Capitalism isn’t the first economic system to exploit the natural resources of the planet. However it is the first to do so on an industrial scale, using advanced technologies to maximise profits. This relentless drive to make money out of the world’s resources means there is no chance for the planet’s ecosystems to recover naturally.

In the past natural mechanisms would break down greenhouse gases before they would even approach a level that could trigger climate change. But ever since we started systematically burning fossil fuels, the amount of these gases pumped into the air has increased dramatically.

We now produce more greenhouse gases, and as their concentrations increase, they threaten to destabilise the world’s environmental systems to such an extent that life as we know it may be endangered.


What is true of climate change is also true of many other aspects of the environment. Capitalism’s short term interests are incompatible with the preservation of the natural world upon which society rests.

Capitalism is also tremendously wasteful. It is more profitable for companies to manufacture single-use packaging than reusable materials. Colossal amounts of money and resources are wasted on advertising. Bureaucrats and managers waste their lives working on jobs that have little social benefit. Inefficiency is built into the system.

And meanwhile we see the obscenity of massive overproduction of goods existing side by side with people starving because they don’t have the money to access the basic necessities of life. Capitalism is an unsustainable and unjust economic system.

Karl Marx described a “irreparable rift” between the natural world and humanity under capitalism. He argued that this relationship could only be restored through the rational organisation of society in the interests of people today and of future generations:

“Even an entire society, a nation, or all simultaneously existing societies taken together are not owners of the earth. They are simply its possessors, its beneficiaries, and have to bequeath it in an improved state to succeeding generations.”

But what would a sustainable society look like? If capitalism cannot exist in balance with nature, how would we organise an alternative society that could?

Some aspects of what such a society would look like are quite straightforward. Instead of relying on fossil fuels, a sustainable society would generate the bulk of its energy from renewable sources. Such a society would need to use dramatically less energy in total.

Houses and offices would be properly insulated. Wasteful industries would either be made more efficient or be eliminated altogether.

Combined plants would produce both heat and power. Instead of venting waste heat into the sky, as they do today, this energy could be used to heat local buildings. Such a scheme at Battersea power station heated homes for 11,000 people at the end of the Second World War.


A sustainable city would have massively improved public transport systems. We would reduce reliance on cars, which are inefficient, dangerous and polluting, with better provision for cyclists and pedestrians. Over time we would redesign our towns and cities to ensure that the era of the long commute was over.

Longer distance transport would be shifted towards fast, efficient and cheap railways. Current airport expansion plans are thoroughly unsustainable – but this shouldn’t be a barrier to travel abroad.

Finally, a sustainable society would be one where collective social institutions, such as creches and laundrettes, would be much more common.

It’s not impossible to imagine many of these changes taking place under capitalism. But the problem is that production under capitalism is organised in the interests of profit, irrespective of the interests of people or the planet.

Indeed capitalist production often runs directly against the needs of society as a whole. In recent years, vast tracts of agricultural land have been shifted to the hugely profitable business of the growing of biofuels, rather than being used to produce food that could feed the starving.

In contrast, a sustainable society would be one where production is rationally and democratically organised. Every aspect of production, from the goods manufactured in factories to the design of computer software, needs to be collectively planned.

For many people, the idea of a planned economy brings to mind the bureaucratic command structures of the former Soviet Union, where a few unelected and unaccountable individuals made all the decisions.

Rather than produce for people’s needs, this system usually led to inefficiency, pollution and, at worst, terrible environmental disasters such as the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986.

The socialist vision of a planned economy is entirely different. Genuine planning can only occur in the context of informed debate over every aspect of production.

Production decisions at each workplace would be made in conjunction with overall strategies on a city-wide, national and even international level.

Under capitalism each country tends to organise its own production in its own interest. But a more rational society would recognise the unequal distribution of natural resources and ensure that every region of the world had access to the materials it needed.

If we want to seriously deal with the problem of climate change and its consequences, then we need this kind of planning on an international scale. While the United Nations might come up with targets for carbon emissions today, there is no mechanism for implementing or enforcing these.

A rationally organised world would be able to decide what reductions were required and then ask every industry, city and workplace to come up with strategies for reducing emissions.

Every individual would be involved in deciding how to implement the required changes. Planning would eliminate overproduction and concentrate resources on developing better goods rather than chasing profits.

Planning requires social ownership – but the logic of capitalism is to divide the world into private property.

The people who own and control the factories and workplaces, the mines, forests and farms, won’t give them up easily. They will want to hold on to their wealth and power.

Mass movement

So this ruling class will have to be challenged by a mass movement determined to redistribute the land and the factories – a movement for the revolutionary transformation of society.

People have challenged the existing system in the past, and in those attempts we can see the potential for a new, rational society that is organised and run by the mass of people who create all the wealth in society.

From the 1871 Paris Commune to the 1917 Russian Revolution, and in many struggles since, working men and women have invented organisations that have helped them take control of their own lives.

In the midst of revolution, bodies such as workers’ councils have sprung up to organise strikes and demonstrations. But these bodies have also organised production to look after the distribution of essentials to ensure that people don’t starve and are kept informed of all the latest news.

For a brief period of time after the Russian Revolution, before its isolation and defeat in the 1920s, workers ran their own factories and workplaces in the interest of the collective.

But the overthrow of capitalism won’t create a sustainable society overnight. Marx predicted that after a successful revolution, a “new society will have emerged from capitalist society, which is thus in every respect, economically, morally and intellectually still stamped with the birthmarks of the old society from whose womb it emerges”.

The productive apparatus of today has been created and designed in the interest of generating profits. It would have to be radically altered and rethought. Some industries are incompatible with a vision of a long-term sustainable society – the nuclear or the arms industries, for instance.

There would be much work to be done to create this new society.

We would need to ensure it is run in the interests of the majority of people and the future of the planet. But it is only after we have removed capitalism that we can fully explore this potential to create a sustainable future.

Stop Global Warming – change the world
by Jonathan Neale


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Protest the CLimate Change and Business Conference

Monday 18 August - 4pm
- Outside the Skycity Convention Centre 88 Federal Street Auckland

Protest the Lack of real action on climate change and demand real and adequate change.

This Monday the Climate and Business conference will be held at the Skytower Convention Centre

schedule: The event goes from Monday morning (18th) till Wednesday (20th) 5.30pm evening. - Programme available here:
http://www.climateandbusiness. com/program. html

The official start is at 4pm on Monday 18th at 4pm.

Meet outside the entrance to the Convention Centre and give a clear message that immediate action is wanted, and half way measures are not going to cut it.

Greenwash and marketing

New Zealand is known for its clean and green image, but the reality reveals something else. Emissions trading schemes are the new corporate 'solution' to rising emissions and unsustainable growth dependent on fossil fuels. Simply re-branding industries like the coal and oil industries and allowing 'offset options' for airfares does not change the reality of a warming world and changing climate.

Demand change, and call for real action and polluter pays, not public subsides and corporate wellfare for the largest polluters, like Fonterra, Comalco and NZ Steel.

Take part in the welcoming committee for the government ministers and corporate lobbyists and CEOs who are debating out future, supposedly on our behalf, and make your voice heard.

There will be other events held too.

Read more about the climate and buisness conference:
http://www.climateandbusiness. com/

Read about carbon trading and the limits of offsets: org/


Friday, December 14, 2007

Will it take a ban on flying to stop climate change?

Stopping global warming means cutting air travel. Jonathan Neale looks at how this could be done without targeting the poor

Jonathan Neale’s book Stop Global Warming: Change the World will be published by Bookmarks in next year.

Tackling climate change means cutting carbon emissions drastically. We have to start now – that’s clear. But there’s confusion over what to do about air travel.

Half of global carbon emissions come from seven sources – heating buildings, air conditioning, cars, trucks, petroleum refineries, cement plants and steel plants.

Air travel may seem less important right now. Planes are responsible for 3 percent of carbon emissions globally.

But air travel puts other, more powerful and rarer greenhouse gases directly into the stratosphere. It’s the fastest growing carbon source.

It’s true that planes now use 70 percent less fuel per mile than they did 40 years ago, and further design changes are possible. But that alone won’t be enough.

One common answer starts by saying cheap flights are the problem – so tax them heavily, and fewer people will fly.

Sounds good. But then only the rich would fly. This is the problem with all green taxes.

There is always another solution that is fairer and cuts more emissions.

For instance, you can tax cars and roads heavily. Then only the rich will drive, and ordinary workers will hate environmentalists.

A better solution is to ban cars in cities and provide excellent public transport. Then you have beautiful cities where parks replace most roads.

Again, if you tax energy and make it expensive to heat houses, the poor and the elderly will freeze. And most people will hate environmentalists every time they open their bill.

But if the government gives grants to insulate every house, we can cut energy use from heating by more than half.

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s California is building one million solar roofs. We could do the same in Ireland.

The way to stop global warming is almost always not to cut what we have, but to do things differently. So it is with air travel. Here are some social justice solutions that will work:

First, ban all flights in Europe. But don’t make people give up their holidays. Instead have subsidised trains that prebook until they’re full, like cheap flights.

We would need new train lines. Those trains will have to be publicly owned. Privately owned railways invest less, cut the number of trains and raise the ticket prices.

What about longer flights? One answer is to ban expensive flights, not cheap ones. Luxury transatlantic seats create four to five times as much carbon.

But much more important, much long haul travel is done by business people. There are not so many of them, but each makes many flights.

The solution is rationing. Let people have one long flight a year. But don’t let them sell that ration – they use it or lose it. The business people can teleconference.

With new railways, that means more travel, more holidays, and less carbon emissions. And if we cover the world with wind farms and solar power, we can run the railways on almost carbon free electricity.

These kinds of massive public works that create jobs and improve people’s standard of living is what will stop climate change.

Otherwise, activists lay themselves open to the right. Look what Tony Blair said about air travel. He claimed his hands were tied because ordinary people wanted their holidays, and would never stand for airport cuts.

In reality right wing governments build new airports to please business travellers.

Blair posed as the working people’s champion because he could smell the weakness in green taxes – they’re unfair.

We have to build a global mass movement to stop climate change. Time is short, and nothing less will work.

We can’t build that movement by asking ordinary people to sacrifice when the rich don’t.

In almost every area where we have to act on climate change, there is a choice. The conservative answer is to keep the economy the same. Then we have to cut living standards.

The radical answer is to change the way the economy is organised, so we can have both growth and fairness.

None of this means we wait for the new railways before we shut down runways.

We have to fight for both, now.

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Marx and the Global Environmental Rift

Marx and the Global Environmental Rift
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Written by John Bellamy Foster
Monday, 10 December 2007

Ecology is often seen as a recent invention. But the idea that capitalism degrades the environment in a way that disproportionately affects the poor and the colonized was already expressed in the nineteenth century in the work of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels.

Writing in Capital in 1867 on England’s ecological imperialism toward Ireland, Marx stated: “For a century and a half England has indirectly exported the soil of Ireland, without even allowing its cultivators the means for replacing the constituents of the exhausted soil.” Marx was drawing here on the work of the German chemist Justus von Liebig. In the introduction to the seventh (1862) edition of his Organic Chemistry in its Applications to Agriculture and Physiology Liebig had argued that “Great Britain robs all countries of the conditions of their fertility” and singled out Britain’s systematic robbing of Ireland’s soil as a prime example. For Liebig a system of production that took more from nature than it put back could be referred to as a “robbery system,” a term that he used to describe industrialized capitalist agriculture.[i]

Following Liebig and other analysts of the nineteenth-century soil crisis, Marx argued that soil nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) were sent in the form of food and fiber sometimes hundreds and thousands of miles to the cities, where, instead of being recycled back to the land these nutrients ended up the polluting the urban centers, with disastrous results for human health. Meanwhile, faced with an increasingly impoverished soil, Britain, as Liebig pointed out, imported bones from Napoleonic battlefields and from Roman catacombs together with guano from Peru in a desperate attempt to restore nutrients to the fields. (Later on the invention of synthetic fertilizers was to help close the nutrient gap, but this was to lead to additional environmental problems, such as nitrogen runoff.)

In addressing these environmental issues Marx took over the concept of Stoffwechsel or metabolism from Liebig,[ii] describing the ecological contradiction between nature and capitalist society as “an irreparable rift in the interdependent process of social metabolism.” Indeed, “capitalist production,” Marx explained, “only develops the techniques and the degree of combination of the social process of production by simultaneously undermining the original sources of all wealth—the soil and the worker.” This rift in the metabolic relation between humanity and nature could only be overcome, he argued, through the systematic “restoration” of the metabolism between humanity and nature “as a regulative law of social organization.” But this required the rational regulation of the labor process (itself defined as the metabolic relation of human beings to nature) by the associated producers in line with the needs future generations. “Even an entire society, a nation, or all simultaneously existing societies taken together,” Marx stated, “are not owners of the earth. They are simply its possessors, its beneficiaries, and have to bequeath it in an improved state to succeeding generations as boni patres familias [good heads of the household].”[iii]

Marx’s ecological discussions, coupled with those of Engels, therefore went well beyond the general understanding of his time. Today the ecological issues that Marx and Engels addressed (albeit sometimes only in passing) read like a litany of many of our most pressing environmental problems: the division of town and country, the degradation of the soil, rural isolation and desolation, overcrowding in cities, urban wastes, industrial pollution, waste recycling in industry, the decline in nutrition and health, the crippling of workers, the squandering of natural resources (including fossil fuel in the form of coal), deforestation, floods, desertification, water shortages, regional climate change, conservation of energy, the dependence of species on changing environments, historically-conditioned overpopulation tendencies, and famine.

Marx saw the materialist conception of history as related to the materialist conception of nature, the science of history as related to the science of nature. He filled his natural science notebooks with studies of geology, chemistry, agronomy, physics, biology, anthropology, and mathematics. He attended the lectures at the Royal Institution in London of the Irish-born physicist John Tyndall. Marx was fascinated by Tyndall’s experiments on radiant heat, including the differentiation of the sun’s rays.[iv] It is even possible that he was in the audience in the early 1860s when Tyndall presented results of his experiments demonstrating for the first time that water vapor and carbon dioxide were associated with a greenhouse effect that helped to retain heat within the planet’s atmosphere. (No one at that time of course suspected that the greenhouse effect interacting with carbon dioxide from the human burning of fossil fuels might lead to human-generated global climate change—a hypothesis not introduced until 1896 by the Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius.)

Today the dialectical understanding with regard to nature-society interactions that Marx and Engels embraced is increasingly forced on us all, as a result of an accelerating global ecological crisis, symbolized above all by global warming. Recent research in environmental sociology has applied Marx’s theory of metabolic rift to contemporary ecological problems such as the fertilizer treadmill, the dying oceans, and climate change. Writing on the social causes of the contemporary “carbon rift,” stemming from the rapid burning up of fossil fuels, Brett Clark and Richard York have demonstrated that there is no magic cure for this problem outside of changes in fundamental social relations. Technology is unlikely substantially to alleviate the problem since gains in efficiency, according to what is known as the “Jevons Paradox” (named after William Stanley Jevons who wrote The Coal Question in 1865) lead invariably under capitalism to the expansion of production, the accompanying increases in the throughput of natural resources and energy, and more strains on the biosphere. “Technological development,” Clark and York therefore conclude, “cannot assist in mending the carbon rift until it is freed from the dictates of capital relations.”[v]

The only genuine, i.e. sustainable, solution to the global environmental rift requires, in Marx’s words, a society of “associated producers” who can “govern the human metabolism with nature in a rational way, bringing it under their collective control instead of being dominated by it as a blind power; accomplishing it with the least expenditure of energy and in conditions most worthy and appropriate for their human nature.”[vi] The goals of human freedom and ecological sustainability are thus inseparable and necessitate for their advancement the building of a socialism for the 21st century.

[i] Karl Marx, Capital, vol. 1 (New York: Vintage, 1976), 860; John Bellamy Foster, Marx’s Ecology (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2000), 164. See also Erland Mårald, “Everything Circulates: Agricultural Recycling Theories in the Second Half of the Nineteenth Century,” Environment and History, vol. 8 (2002), 65-84.

[ii] As indicated in the editor’s notes to the Penguin/Vintage edition of Capital, vol. 3: “Liebig is referred to several times in both this volume and Volume 1, and it seems that Marx took from Liebig the concept of metabolism (Stoffwechsel) that he applied there, suitably transformed, to the analysis of the labour process (Chapter 7).” In Karl Marx, Capital, vol. 3 (New York: Vintage, 1981), p. 878.

[iii] Foster, Marx’s Ecology, 155-70. See also Paul Burkett, Marx and Nature (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999); Paul Burkett and John Bellamy Foster, “Metabolism, Energy, and Entropy in Marx’s Critique of Political Economy,” Theory & Society, vol. 35 (2006), 109-56.

[iv] Spencer R. Weart, The Discovery of Global Warming (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2003), pp. 3-4; Y. M. Uranovsky, “Marxism and Natural Science,” in Nikolai Bukharin, et. al., Marxism and Modern Thought (New York: Harcourt, Brace, and Co., 1935), p. 140. In 1865 Engels reported that a chemist that he had just met—probably Carl Schorlemmer, who was to become one Engels and Marx’s closest friends, a Fellow of the Royal Society and the first individual in England to occupy a chair in organic chemistry— had explained to him Tyndall’s “sunbeam experiment.” See W. O. Henderson, The Life of Friedrich Engels (London: Frank Cass, 1976), vol. 1, p. 262.

[v] Brett Clark and Richard York, “Carbon Metabolism: Global Capitalism, Climate Change, and the Biospheric Rift,” Theory & Society, vol. 34 (2005), p. 419. For further work on the metabolic rift and global ecological crisis see Rebecca Clausen and Brett Clark, “The Metabolic Rift and Marine Ecology,” Organization & Environment, vol. 18, no. 4 (2005), pp. 422-44; Philip Mancus, “Nitrogen Fertilizer Dependency and its Contradictions,” Rural Sociology, vol. 72, no. 2 (June 2007).

[vi] Marx, Capital, vol. 3, p. 959.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Heathrow climate protest defies anti-terrorism laws

1,800 police sent in to deal with the climate camp at Heathrow - using “anti-terrorism” as an excuse

by Kelly Hilditch

New Labour’s anti-terror legislation is being used this week against protesters wanting to take part in the climate camp near Heathrow airport.

The government has given the police the go-ahead to deal “robustly” with campaigners.

This move follows the failure last week of an attempt to use anti-stalking laws to prevent protesters from “harassing” BAA, the airport corporation.

The police used anti-terror laws to stop and search everyone approaching the camp, to prevent any access to the site by vehicles, and to “inspect” the site.

The heavyhanded tactics have been paralleled by scaremongering in the mainstream media, with headlines such as “Heathrow Protesters ‘Are Terrorists’ ” and “Extremists To Hijack Climate Change Demo”.

But these tactics have not been enough to scare off the protesters. “The camp is brilliant,” one told Socialist Worker on Tuesday of this week. “People of all ages and backgrounds have been turning up to take part.”


The police haven’t been exactly welcoming, he added. “A woman on her way to the camp was held for 30 hours under the legislation – then they let her go without charge. Another guy was arrested then released – the police said he looked too old to have his student rail card.

“The police are being heavyhanded because they can be. At one point they were refusing to allow water or medical supplies onto the camp. It’s basically petty bullying.”

The number of police at Heathrow has more than doubled from the 800 meant to protect the airport against a terrorist attack to the 1,800 to protect the airport from climate campaigners.

Alistair from Birmingham was cycling to the protest on Tuesday of this week.

He told Socialist Worker, “Cyclists are coming from all over to join the camp – I’ve met people who have got this far from all over Britain.

“We went to meet people near London City airport and picked up police along the way as well – at the last count there were eight coppers on bikes with us, and six vans full of police following behind.”

One activist from Edinburgh said there was anger at police use of counter-terrorism legislation to hold demonstrators:

“To invoke anti-terrorist legislation to stop us from our protest is really inappropriate and irresponsible.

“This isn’t just about people’s freedom to fly. This is about people’s freedom to live on a planet that has a future.”

The following should be read alongside this article:
» Campers win solidarity from local people against BAA

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Aotearoa LIve- Stop Climate Change!


Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Climaction- Live Earth day protest for free Public Transport

Click the poster above to view it life size, then print it off and put it up for all to see!

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