Climate Crisis: Our Last Chance

September 2020 Forums General discussion Climate Crisis: Our Last Chance

Viewing 15 posts - 646 through 660 (of 670 total)
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  • #203468
    alanjjohnstone
    Participant

    Jane Goodall calls for the end of poverty to protect wildlife

    https://www.theguardian.com/science/2020/jun/03/jane-goodall-humanity-is-finished-if-it-fails-to-adapt-after-covid-19

    She called for people to be lifted out of poverty, pointing to its strong impact on the natural world, as people with no alternatives and who are desperate to feed their families will cut down forests to survive, and in urban areas will choose the cheapest food whatever the harm caused by its production, because they have little other choice.

    People must move away from factory farming …

    “Highly intensive farming systems have created an abundance of food but in Europe, at least, there is also significant waste and at times animal suffering,” 

    She nevertheless has a confused understanding of how the economy works

    War and violence also fuelled the destruction of nature, she warned, and so did our overweening consumerism and urge for “stuff that we accumulate”, as well as our diets. The wealthy should put pressure on leaders and take care over what they buy to avoid adding to the problem, she said. “We have got to stop buying their products,” she said, of companies that use factory farming and exploit nature.

    she warned there was only a small window of opportunity to make drastic changes before facing disaster. “One of the lessons learnt from this crisis is that we must change our ways. Scientists warn that to avoid future crises, we must drastically change our diets and move to plant-rich foods. For the sake of the animals, planet and the health of our children.”

    #203469
    ALB
    Participant

    She makes one very relevant point when she points out:

    She called for people to be lifted out of poverty, pointing to its strong impact on the natural world, as people with no alternatives and who are desperate to feed their families will cut down forests to survive, and in urban areas will choose the cheapest food whatever the harm caused by its production, because they have little other choice.”

    Capitalism will never “lift” everybody out of poverty as it is based on excluding the majority from adequate access to what they need so that they are forced by economic necessity to go out a work for the minority who own the means of life. Some get enough to maintain their particular high grade of labour-power and can afford not to buy the cheapest stuff available (and to do the noble things she urges them to do in the second part of the quote), but those without such skills and those who for one reason or another don’t or can’t find an employer or only one that will pay them shit wages don’t have this choice and have no alternative but to buy the cheapest food. Similarly,  the excluded in developing capitalist countries are under the same sort of economic pressure to find a living in whatever way they can, be that cutting down forests or poaching endangered or protected species, or growing plants for the drug trade. That’s the way it is — and must be — under capitalism and so will last until capitalism is ended.

    Under capitalism, as the bible puts it “ye have the poor with you always,” so there will always be these pressures and their negative effects.

    Lesson: it’s no good telling people not to buy cheap food, or cut down forests or poach. People should not be working to try to make capitalism change its spots, but to get rid of capitalism and replace it with a world of common ownership, democratic control, production directly for use and distribution according to needs. Then there will be no “poor”.  It’s the only way to abolish “poverty”.

    #203543
    alanjjohnstone
    Participant

    Jonathon Porritt, one of the UK’s prominent environmentalists, places his faith in capitalism as the solution to climate change.

    We can agree with him when he says, “Firstly, there really is no technological impediment to ultra-low carbon, high-quality life in the near future,” he says. “Just genuinely none. All the technologies are available.”

    But when it comes to his understanding of economics, he explains:

    “Secondly, there’s no shortage of capital. We’ve seen that when the world wants to marshall its energy to make something happen we are capable of doing astonishing things, and there is a wall of capital available to invest in long-term prosperity for nations.”

    It is not the amount of capital that interests capitalists, it is the rate of profit, what is their return on investment and how long will it take to recoup that investment.

    Porritt goes on to tell us of “…the sea change in attitudes from big businesses — a group which over previous decades has hardly enjoyed the strongest alliance with the climate movement.

    “There’s big acceptance in the business community that this has got to change. Almost the whole of the businesses community is saying ‘seize hold of this opportunity because it won’t come back again’. And that is brilliant.” He adds: “Pretty much all the companies you’d see as reasonably responsible partners to wealth creation in this country have absolutely got the message that we need to do it and the sooner we do it the better — because then we can plan for it and do it cost effectively. What they’re worried about is government leaving it until it’s too late and then, guess what, it costs an arm and a leg. So I’m very heartened by that.”

    https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change-jonathon-porritt-coronavirus-extinction-rebellion-environment-boris-johnson-a9549626.html

     

    #203556
    J Surman
    Participant

    “Lesson: it’s no good telling people not to buy cheap food, or cut down forests or poach. People should not be working to try to make capitalism change its spots, but to get rid of capitalism and replace it with a world of common ownership, democratic control, production directly for use and distribution according to needs”

    Above quote from ALB – for which, thank you.

    That lesson, as we know, is not simply about poverty but about our whole lives and a shift to democracy as most people understand it – inclusion, basic equality, not being ignored etc. All the world over the majority are being screwed and ignored on a huge range of topics. Here’s one I just read about the UK and HS2, another example of the capitalist system’s lack of interest in ordinary people’s wishes and interests:

    https://d2ag3jdu89hmr4.cloudfront.net/link_click/e0vIBsC36h_aAgvs/7833f36283073ae14e43f3483faf61c8

     

    #203565
    ALB
    Participant

    Bijou, one reason why landowners and speculators prefer to use the land for golf courses rather than housing is that the Green Belt prevents houses being built there. Golf courses may be more profitable than agriculture but not more than housing. Developers are itching to build houses there but they are not allowed to.

    The HuffPost has lent itself to a campaign by developers to be allowed to build houses on the Green Belt. And Shelter is being naive if it thinks that the houses that would be built on golf courses would be for the homeless, certainly not in Surrey for instance, They’d be luxury houses for stockbrokers and others who play golf.

    Another reform of the post-war Labour government would bite the dust.

    #203566
    ALB
    Participant

    More on the economics of golf courses in particular in Surrey in this old article from the Grauniad:

    https://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/apr/26/why-surrey-has-more-golf-courses-land-than-homes

     

    #203622
    alanjjohnstone
    Participant

    Despite Murray Bookchin’s exposure, the deep greens still remain

    https://www.dw.com/en/radical-environmentalism-we-need-to-be-ready-to-risk-our-lives/a-53729503

     

    #203623
    alanjjohnstone
    Participant

    In defence of the Planet of the Humans film

    Big Green Meltdown Over Planet of the Humans

    “Even if we could power the status quo with wind and solar, why would we want to? My favorite quote from Planet of the Humans is, “If we get ourselves under control, all things are possible.” “

    #204179
    alanjjohnstone
    Participant

    A silver lining for farming?

    https://www.dw.com/en/in-europe-climate-change-brings-new-crops-new-ideas/a-53785519

    Places in northern Europe, meanwhile, could see agricultural benefits from climate change, including longer growing seasons and a shorter frost period “allowing the cultivation of new crops and varieties,” said the report. Suitable cropland around the Baltic Sea could more than double by 2100, from 32% of land area today to about 76%, with certain crops now common to southern Europe taking root further north.

    In the northern German state of Lower Saxony, where average temperatures have risen nearly 2 degrees Celsius in the last several decades, some farmers have started cultivating fruits typically found further south, such as apricots and nectarines.

    Sicily is one of Italy’s top olive oil-producing regions, along with Calabria and Puglia. But some farmers there have begun focusing their attention on crops native to tropical regions, including mangoes, avocado and lychee fruit, recent years have seen an exponential growth of these crops and the introduction of new species such as papaya, replacing citrus fruits which “are no longer remunerative,” said Vittorio Farina, an associate professor in agriculture at the University of Palermo.

    #204715
    alanjjohnstone
    Participant

    The Democratic Party’s GND

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jun/29/democrats-climate-crisis-carbon-emissions

    The plan has no chance of passing a Republican-controlled Senate, and would be a difficult sell even for some Democrats if their party took back that chamber and won the White House.

     

    #204717
    alanjjohnstone
    Participant

    Planet of the Humans may have dropped out of the conversation but there are still some who wish to promote its message

    https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/06/29/arctic-heat-overwhelms-green-infighting-issues/

    what has 33 years of green advocacy wrought? Answer: Record high CO2 in the atmosphere and nearly 80% dependency upon fossil fuels, same as 50 years ago.

    And now there is the counter-attack by the capitalist apologists – no longer climate change denialists, more that they do not envisage disaster or catastrophe.

    Michael Shellenberger’s book ‘Apocalypse Never, Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All’

    Shellenberger promotes industrialization as humanity’s savior.

    “While industrialization causes a short-term rise in carbon emissions, in the long term it’s beneficial to the environment as people move to cities, allowing farmland to revert to nature, and as prosperity enables them to switch to cleaner and more compact forms of energy.”

    He actually suggests capitalist entrepreneurs saved whales by discovering cheap substitutes for whale oil, like petroleum

     

    #205046
    alanjjohnstone
    Participant

    Animal farming and fossil fuels have driven global emissions of the potent greenhouse gas methane to the highest level on record, putting the world on track for dangerously increased heat levels of 3C to 4C.

    The findings, published in Earth System Science Data and Environmental Research Letters, show that more than half of the methane in the atmosphere now comes from human sources. Of this share, ranching, agriculture and landfills account for about two-thirds, while the fossil fuel industry, composed of oil, gas and coal, makes up the rest.

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jul/14/livestock-farming-and-fossil-fuels-could-drive-4c-global-heat-rise

    #205056
    Bijou Drains
    Participant

    Shellenberger promotes industrialization as humanity’s savior.

    “While industrialization causes a short-term rise in carbon emissions, in the long term it’s beneficial to the environment as people move to cities, allowing farmland to revert to nature, and as prosperity enables them to switch to cleaner and more compact forms of energy.”

    ______

    Whilst completely disagreeing with the conclusions that Shellenburger reaches, I would think that the development of a Socialist, production for use society would also result in a short term, but necessary increase in environmental damage in some areas. Although a fall similar to the one we have seen in the early days of lockdown, where reduction in travel, etc. occurs, there would be an increase in other areas as we move to less envirnmentally harmful production and transport measures. This would occur because whilst newer and cleaner technology was being built, which would necessarily require the production of greenhouse gases, we would also need for a while to keep some of the older less environmentally friendly production processes running.

    As in every aspect of capitalism, the environmental movement has been influenced by the vested interests and financial motivations of Capital. For instance the move towards the replacement of petrol/diesel cars and lorries with electric versions is being driven by the interests of car manufacturers, who conveniently ignore the level of greenhouse gasses which are created in the manufacture of the car in the first place. The Union of Concerned Scientists (USA) reckon that by the end of their lives, petrol-powered cars create almost twice as much global warming pollution than the equivalent electric car and that disposing of both types of vehicles (excluding reusing or recycling their batteries) produces less than a ton each. That said the actual manufacture of a either type of car is responsible for up to about 1/2 of the entire production of greenhouse gases the car will produce. Strange as it is seems therefore it is less harmful to keep old polluting vehicles on the road and trying to mitigate and retro fit them, than trying to replacing them with newer cleaner cars, lorries, buses, etc.

    Obviously that logical and coordinated approach to environmental issues cannot be replicated in a market based society where the need for built in obsolecence and replacement is required and where individual financial concerns will always trump the collective requirements of humanity as a whole.

    I think this in itself is proof (there is a mass of similar such evidence) that Mises diatribe on the “Socialist Calculation Debate” is built on a false premise. The idea that a Socialist society would not determine how resources could be used rationally, presupposes that captialism actually currently uses resources rationally, a premise which is demonstrably false.

    For example global food production per head of global population currently runs at about the 3,000 calories per person. The recommended calorie in take per person is about 2,000 calories for women and 2,500 for men, so a rough average of 2,250 per person. Given the cost of waste, which is bound to happen we still produce enough food for everyone with a 25% over production to take into account waste, yet The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates that about 815 million people of the 7.6 billion people in the world, or 10.7%, were suffering from chronic undernourishment and that whilst almost all the hungry people live in lower-middle-income countries, there are 11 million people undernourished in developed countries.

    So we can see that on when looking at the main resource we need to produce, there is absolutely no rationality in the way it is distributed, leaving aside the ridiculously inefficient and polluting way food in which food is produced in a capitalist society.

    But as the defenders of capitalism would say, never mind we have the important essentials covered. It is clear they would argue that any rational use of resources, any sane society indeed, would ensure that the well known all round good guy, Philip Green has access to a £120,000,000 yacht and no doubt they would argue, the fact that £9,400,000,000 of human resources have been used to build the current 20 most expensive super yachts in the world is a clear demonstration of just how well capitalism rationally distributes resources. (Those of you worrying about the impoverished conditions the super rich have to put up with on their boating holidays will take solace from the fact that the Sinot Aqua, a hydrogen-powered superyacht with an estimated price tag of $644 million is currently under production in the Netherlands, so at least one super rich family will be lifted from the dispicable conditions they currently have to holiday in)

    • This reply was modified 2 months, 1 week ago by Bijou Drains.
    #205058
    alanjjohnstone
    Participant

    I would think that the development of a Socialist, production for use society would also result in a short term, but necessary increase in environmental damage in some areas. 

    I think our goal of achieving a steady-state zero-growth society takes into account that there will indeed be a first phase of raising production and output levels arising from the urgent emergency action to relieve the worst problems of food shortages, health care and housing which affect billions of people throughout the world. Then there would be follow-up stage of further infrastructure improvements and re-designing such things as cities, transport and manufacturing. Although focused on sustainable methods and processes, as you say, there will be an unavoidable initial consequence of some degree of environmental damage. But once reached, from then on, socialism would be a slowly developing society as peoples basic needs change slowly and production would fall with the disappearance of the capitalist consumerist culture.

    Although no Malthusians we can look forward to the present trend of a future falling population and with the higher levels of automation and accompanying reduced work-force, we can become a society that can support the increasing longevity of its people and honour and respect our aged and elderly, our disabled and infirm (areas of our case against capitalism, we sometimes overlook.)

    #205061
    ALB
    Participant

    I think this has been mentioned here before but methane is only more “potent” than CO2 in a particular defined sense. See:

    How Potent Is Methane?

    The other side of the coin is that as it only lasts in the atmosphere for 12 or so years (while CO2 lasts for much longer) its effects are easier to reverse. It’s CO2 emissions that are the biggest problem.

     

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