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Material World: Socialism - a Breath of Fresh Air

Material World

Nearly a quarter of all human deaths is caused by pollution. Contaminated water, polluted air, chemical waste, climate change, and UV radiation kill 12.6 million people annually, says a new report from the World Health Organization (WHO). The worst affected are children, the poor, and the elderly, WHO has found. ‘If countries do not take actions to make environments where people live and work healthy, millions will continue to become ill and die too young,’ said Dr. Margaret Chan, the WHO director-general.

Many environmentalist activists advocate lifestyle changes implying that it is the individual who is personally responsible for climate change. It suggests that we are each personally responsible for the pollution and should share in the sense of guilt. One of the greatest weaknesses of the mainstream environmental movement has been its failure or refusal to identify capitalism as the root problem.

Book Review: 'Promising the Earth'

Doing their job

'Promising the Earth', by Robert Lamb, Routledge.

This is a well-written and very readable book covering the history of Friends Of The Earth (FoE) from its conception (and before) in the 1970s to the present day. It has been produced due to the 25th anniversary of FoE.

The author sees FoE as a highly successful campaigning organisation and claims that the environment has been put on the political agenda by groups such as themselves (the Rio summit being the obvious example). The success of various direct action campaigns are also seen as great victories for the environment.

Editorial: Chernobyl - An Accident?

Among the more obvious and immediate dangers of Chernobyl one which went unpublicised was the possibility that the disaster will be regarded as in some way exceptional and unique - the result of some human fallibility or secretiveness by the Russian authorities. In fact, there is more to be said about it.

Book Review: 'Ecology, Policy and Politics - Human Well-Being and the Natural World'

The Costing of The Earth

'Ecology, Policy and Politics: Human Well-Being and the Natural World'. by John O'Neill (Routledge. £11.99.)

This book is an attack on the philosophical basis of so-called "cost-benefit" analysis as a method for deciding whether or not some project with consequences for the environment should go ahead. Cost-benefit analysis involves giving a monetary value to the costs (e.g. loss of amenities, destruction of wildlife habitats, pollution) and benefits (e.g. some new amenity, more jobs, journey times saved).

What price the market?

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