All posts tagged: environment

Demands (to Save the World)

Eddison Flame Any good movement needs a list of demands, so I resolved to come up with one. Of course, for now anyway, these are just my demands, but I hope they will inspire others to either share them, reorder them, or come up with other demands of their own. Really, it would be ideal if we could have a public vote about these things. I don’t mean a local governmental vote, but a global public vote. We need to get on the same page globally so we can prioritize what needs to be done. Sure, it may be that we don’t all agree about all the same things, but maybe we all do agree on some things. If we could just determine exactly what these things are, then we could work on a plan to fix them. So, and this is really an aside from the main point of this article, what we need is a system with a few particular features. First, accounts should be verifiable (such that each account is verifiable as …

Capitalist Agriculture: Putting Soil on a Diet of Snake Oil and Doughnuts

Colin Todhunter In their rush to readily promote neoliberal dogma and corporate-inspired PR, many government officials, scientists and journalists take as given that profit-driven transnational corporations have a legitimate claim to be custodians of natural assets. The premise is that under capitalism water, food, soil and agriculture should be handed over to powerful and wholly corrupt transnational corporations to milk for profit, under the pretence these entities are somehow serving the needs of humanity. These natural assets (‘the commons’) belong to everyone and any stewardship should be carried out in the common interest by local people assisted by public institutions and governments acting on their behalf, not by private transnational corporations driven by self-interest and the maximization of profit by any means possible. Concerns about what is in the public interest or what is best for the environment lies beyond the scope of hard-headed commercial interests and should ideally be the remit of elected governments and civil organisations. However, the best-case scenario for private corporations is to have supine, co-opted agencies or governments. And if …

The Stomach-Churning Violence of the Agrochemical Oligopoly

Colin Todhunter As humans, we have evolved with the natural environment over millennia. We have learned what to eat and what not to eat, what to grow and how to grow it and our diets have developed accordingly. We have hunted, gathered, planted and harvested. Our overall survival as a species has been based on gradual, emerging relationships with the seasons, insects, soil, animals, trees and seeds. And out of these relationships, we have seen the development of communities whose rituals and bonds have a deep connection with food production and the natural environment. However, over the last couple generations, agriculture and food production has changed more than it had done over previous millennia. These changes have involved massive social upheaval as communities and traditions have been uprooted and have entailed modifying what we eat, how we grow our food and what we apply to it. All of this has been driven by geopolitical concerns and powerful commercial interests with their proprietary chemicals and patented seeds. The process of neoliberal globalisation is accelerating the process …

India’s Farmers Plan Mass March to the Nation’s Parliament as Agrarian Crisis Reaches “Civilization Proportions”

Colin Todhunter With over 800 million people, rural India is arguably the most interesting and complex place on the planet. And yet it is also one of the most neglected in terms of both investment and media coverage. Veteran journalist and founder of the People’s Archive of Rural India P. Sainath argues that the majority of Indians do not count to the nation’s media, which renders up to 75 percent of the population ‘extinct’. According to the Centre for Media Studies in Delhi, the five-year average of agriculture reporting in an Indian national daily newspaper equals 0.61 percent of news coverage, while village-level stories account for 0.17 percent. For much of the media, whether print or TV, celebrity, IT, movements on the stock exchange and the daily concerns of elite and urban middle class dwellers are what count. Unlike the corporate media, the digital journalism platform the People’s Archive of Rural India has not only documented the complexity and beauty of rural India but also its hardships and the all too often heartbreaking personal stories …

Haughty Imperialism: Genetically Modifying the Way to Food Security?

Colin Todhunter Those familiar with the debate around genetically modified organisms (GMOs) may be forgiven for thinking that science alone can solve the world’s food problems. The industry asserts that GMOs are vital if the world is to increase agricultural productivity and we are going to feed a growing global population. There is also the distinct impression that the GMO issue is all about ‘science’ and little else. People who question the need for and efficacy of GM have been labelled anti-science elitists who are responsible for crimes against humanity as they supposedly deny GM food to the hungry. Critics stand accused of waging a campaign of fear about the dangers of GM. In doing so, the argument goes that, due to ideology, they are somehow denying a technological innovation to farmers. Critics have valid concerns about GMOs and have put forward a credible evidence to support their views. But instead of engaging in open and honest debate, we see some scientists hardening their positions, lashing out at critics and forwarding personal opinions (unrelated to their specific discipline) based on their perceived authority as …

Borneo – Island devastated, people oblivious

from Indonesian Borneo (Kalimantan): Andre Vltchek and Mira Lubis She was just standing there, in the middle of burning land, surrounded by stumps of trees, fire everywhere, smoke rising towards hopelessly gray sky. The expression on her face was mischievous, almost girlish. I had no idea how old she was: she could have been 28, just as she could easily have been 55. This island, this village, this charred land: it all looked like hell to me, but obviously not to her: it actually made her laugh, burst with pride. After all, it was her island, not mine; it was her land, her trees, and it was all getting royally fucked. She was personally participating in this carnage of nature – she, as well as her husband, her entire family, her neighbors. Her name was Bu Elvi. ‘Bu’ means mom, or mam or Misses, in Bahasa Indonesia. Her scorched land spans near the village of Dusun Terusan, and Dusan Terusan is near Sintang, in the heart of Borneo, on the largest island in Asia, which …

Marching in Circles: Faustian Thinking and the Myth of Science

The recent marches on April 22nd to promote science and to celebrate Earth Day were perhaps well-intentioned, but they were delusional and conducted without any sense of irony. They served power and its propaganda. Obviously science has benefited us in certain ways, but it has become untethered from any sense of moral limits in its embrace of instrumental rationality and its unending efforts to sabotage faith in human freedom by rationally “proving” its illogical deterministic credo.

a look at the “97.4% of climate scientists” meme?

by Sapere Aude as part of our “dissident denial” series On 4 February, 2017 the Daily Mail published an article entitled: “World Leaders Duped by Manipulated Global Warming Data”. “…The Mail on Sunday today reveals astonishing evidence that the organisation that is the world’s leading source of climate data rushed to publish a landmark paper that exaggerated global warming and was timed to influence the historic Paris Agreement on climate change. A high-level whistleblower has told this newspaper that America’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) breached its own rules on scientific integrity when it published the sensational but flawed report, aimed at making the maximum possible impact on world leaders including Barack Obama and David Cameron at the UN climate conference in Paris in 2015. The report claimed that the ‘pause’ or ‘slowdown’ in global warming in the period since 1998 – revealed by UN scientists in 2013 – never existed, and that world temperatures had been rising faster than scientists expected. Launched by NOAA with a public relations fanfare, it was splashed across …

Threatened Forests: a new look at “green energy”

Threatened forests’ explores some hidden realities behind “green energy” in the EU. Filmmaker Benoit Grimont made this documentary as a response to the development of a large scale biomass electricity installation in Gardanne, southern France. His film discovers that renewable energy – heavily supported by EU countries – may not be anything like as ‘green’ as we are led to believe.

The EU and the Deforestation of Ukraine

by Dmytryi Kovalevich Since 2014 we have in Ukraine a mass deforestation. The entire forests and parks are being eliminated, causing local environmental disasters. However, until now the logging has been mostly illegal. But now the EU is demanding from Ukraine to lift the ban on exporting timber/wood as a condition of obtaining the next EU macrofinancial aid (1.2 billion euro), reminding Kiev that this is a term of the Euroassociation agreement, – reports Ukrainian Minister of economic development and trade. Currently, even the polluted radioactive forests of the Chernobyl zone are being cut: “But logging in a post-apocalyptic forest would pose a number of health concerns. Trees, like moss, absorb radiation from the subsoil. Also, clear-cutting churns up soil, stirring radioactive dust and accelerating erosion,” reports New York Times. Not to mention the Carpathians, which have turned into ‘devastated lands’ in the two years since Maidan.   “The total devastation of protected forests in the Carpathians has been underway in recent years,” notes Censor Net, providing photographic evidence of the environmental destruction that’s taking place. …

Last Roundup For The EU’s Commitment To Public Health And The Environment

by Peter Rossman, for Social Europe German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble famously remarked that “elections change nothing”. He was talking about debt and public finance. The European Commission now seems intent on confirming Schäuble’s maxim when it comes to ensuring the protection of public health and the environment. Voting in the European Parliament, public opinion and credible, independent scientific research appear increasingly irrelevant. An estimated 100,000 workers die each year in the EU from work-related cancers, prompting the ETUC to demand stronger laws and enforcement. Yet we are experiencing a generalized retreat from regulation. Consider the case of glyphosate – the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup and the world’s most widely used herbicide – whose authorization for use in the EU is currently up for renewal. In March last year, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) issued a report which classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans,” citing evidence from Canada, Sweden and the US. The use of such chemicals in pesticides is forbidden under EU law. Academic research has …