Support the Climate Strikes!

There’s a climate crisis, and Labour and the Greens are failing to act.

The climate crisis is upon us, but on some more than others, as more frequent, more extreme weather events take place. In March this year Cyclone Idai affected three million people in Mozambique, Madagascar, Zimbabwe and Malawi, including over 1,000 dead, over 2,000 missing and over 2,400 injured. Yet these Black African victims did not cause the rulers and carbon emitters of the Global North to lose any sleep. Even when the United States was violently affected by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 the American ruling class displayed heartless indifference to the mainly Black low-lying neighbourhoods around New Orleans and were not jogged into action on global warming.

Human victims of climate change-induced catastrophes are more likely to be in equatorial latitudes where the pre-change climate was already very wet. It is not only a matter of geography. The unequal world market, which has been determined by the whole history of imperialist capitalism, puts people in harm’s way. This capitalist world order of economic inequality between nations and between social classes has condemned millions of people in the tropical latitudes to live in dangerous locations in poverty. Millions of people living in river deltas, low-lying coastal littorals, or in river valleys below deforested hills, are already vulnerable to inundations, mudslides and extreme heat. Poverty-struck states in vulnerable regions that have emerged from under imperial subjection, such as Mozambique, lack the infrastructure that could be used to rescue victims of extreme weather events or mitigate effects. In these circumstances Cyclone Idlai brought cholera in its wake.

If catastrophes threatening people living in such places as Pacific atolls or the deltas of the Ganges, Brahmaputra, Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy) and Mekong are more immediate, catastrophe for everyone, and for many animal and plant species on the planet, is set in train. Extinctions are underway, ecosystems are collapsing. Disaster for humankind looms at frightening speed. Yet at governmental levels worldwide there is deadening complacency.

Regarding sea level rise, in May this year the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) published a report that predicts a global sea level rise of over 2 metres by 2100, double the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimate.

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Chernobyl

Chernobyl, written by Craig Mazin, dir. Johan Renck. A co-production of HBO and Sky UK.

Reviewed by Keith Davies

This outstanding TV miniseries covers the accident that occurred in the early hours of 26 April 1986 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine, then part of the USSR. From the confusion in the control room straight after the explosion of Reactor 4 to the truth being revealed at the trial of those who were deemed responsible, the show keeps you gripped with its human-centric retelling of events.

The show excels at bringing forward the tremendous human cost and heroics that such a disaster entails, whether it be the firefighters first on the scene battling the initial blaze, unaware of the radiation that would ultimately take their lives, the scientists and bureaucrats tasked with creating a plan to contain and clean up an event that had never occurred on this planet before, or the legion of liquidators tasked with carrying out said plan in the now most dangerous place on earth.

However, I believe the show’s main strength is how it portrays the Soviet government from top to bottom and what appears to be the culture at the time of downplaying setbacks to appease higher ups and to keep the true significance of the disaster ambiguous.  This is shown via cognitive dissonance of plant management refusing to believe that the reactor had exploded, despite the clear evidence that it had, and through the unwillingness of officials to call for the evacuation of the nearby city of Pripyat until 36 hours after the explosion, for fear of causing a panic. With this culture in place, it is easy to see how the events portrayed occurred and the struggle of the chief scientist Valery Legasov to prevent further catastrophe and get the truth out.

In all aspects of its production the show excels at bringing out the sense that you are really watching the events unfold in mid-1980’s Soviet Ukraine.

Chernobyl is a poignant reminder of the terrible outcomes that can arise from design decisions made to cut costs, covering up the flaws that arise from such decisions and a culture of workplace hierarchy and bullying. I think it is essential viewing as it demonstrates the critically high cost to the environment and humanity that can arise if any of the above reasons are left unchecked.

Chernobyl is available for streaming on Neon, Sky Go and Sky OnDemand.

Capitalism is killing the planet

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By Joshua O’Sullivan

 

It is hard to write an article about climate change without being accused of scaremongering, because of the size and scale of the truly existential crisis that lies before us. The challenge is immense and the effects of it are starting to hit hard across the planet. 2017 has been another record-breaking year to follow multiple record-breaking years. In the U.S. alone in the first 9 months of 2017 has been hit by 15 different natural disasters that together caused more than $1bn damage, including record-breaking rainfall from Hurricane Harvey and the strongest-recorded intensity making landfall Hurricane Irma. This does not include the state of California which at the beginning of the U.S. winter is now aflame in some of the largest wildfires in the state’s history.

 

In New Zealand as a result of the La Niňa phenomena, temperatures this December are reaching 6 -7 degrees Celsius above normal for this time of year, resulting in the spectre of drought for nearly all of the country. This heatwave is likely to continue throughout the summer and already we have water restrictions and crises in Wellington, Hawke’s Bay and Christchurch. Climate change is no longer some spectre haunting our future but rather hitting us right now.

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A Climate Catastrophe

climate change nasaBy Josh O’Sullivan

Last year, at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, the world’s governments agreed to keep warming to a 1.5 degrees Celsius limit by a zero increase in carbon emissions from 2030. While they may have agreed to the target, there was no bite to the bark. Each country made a declaration to limit climate change, but nothing was guaranteed. Few countries managed to meet their commitments under the Kyoto Protocol signed in 1997. Even Europe, which is well ahead on climate policies compared to the rest of the western world, has yet to draft a plan to reduce emissions by 2030. Naomi Klein stated recently at a talk about her new book ‘This Changes Everything – Capitalism Vs. The Climate’, “The emission reduction plans of all participating nations — which, by the way, aren’t legally binding — add up to warming levels twice that.”

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Forestry bosses have blood on their hands

NorthTec_Forestry13 forestry workers have died in work related accidents in the past 3 years, 30 in the last 6 years. Just to put this in perspective the death rate in the UK forestry industry is 10.4 per 100,000 workers and in NZ 343 per 100,000. Some bosses blame workers drug use and call for increased drug testing but there no amount of excuses can justify this outrageous number of fatalities. We need explanations, and the forestry bosses need to be held to account for all these needless deaths.

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How the 1 Percent conjured a monster storm

Chris Williams, author of Ecology and Socialism: Solutions to Capitalist Ecological Crisis, examines the man-made factors contributing to the disaster of Hurricane Sandy.

October 30, 2012

“If the study to which you apply yourself has a tendency to weaken your affections, and to destroy your taste for those simple pleasures in which no alloy can possibly mix, then that study is certainly unlawful, that is to say, not befitting the human mind. If this rule were always observed; if no man allowed any pursuit whatsoever to interfere with the tranquility of his domestic affections, Greece had not been enslaved; Caesar would have spared his country; America would have been discovered more gradually; and the empires of Mexico and Peru had not been destroyed.”
— Dr. Victor Frankenstein, in Frankenstein, or, the Modern Prometheus, by Mary Shelley

Manhattan deluged by flooding as Hurricane Sandy strikes

Manhattan deluged by flooding as Hurricane Sandy strikes

THERE IS little doubt that freakish and unnaturally assembled storms are a taste of what the future holds under an economic system that has “interfered with the tranquility of domestic affections” and galvanized the forces of nature into a fury of clashing dislocations as we pump ever-more heat-trapping gases into our atmosphere and industrial filth into our lungs. [Read more…]

Capitalism, the Environment, and Socialism

It’s apparent to everyone today that the world is going through an ecological crisis.  Wilderness is disappearing fast as whole ecosystems – from forests to grasslands to marshlands – are becoming endangered.   For the past two centuries, factories have spewed forth pollution into the atmosphere, poisoning the very air we breathe while lakes, rivers and even the ocean have been transformed into festering sludge-pits.  So much has the earth been altered that even its chemistry is changing, the build-up of carbon dioxide threatening the delicate climatic balance of the past 11,000 years is acidifying the ocean and wrecking havoc with the weather.  One could be forgiven for concluding that humankind is nothing but “a cancer on the earth”.

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“Overpopulation” is not to blame for the ecological crisis

Overpopulation is a common theme when discussing environmental destruction. It’s undoubtedly true that since the 1960s an ecological crisis has emerged causing loss of biodiversity, plunging fish stocks, deforestation, and dangerous climate change.. Coincidentally since this time the global population has doubled.  It might seem logical therefore to link the two.

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The Rena Oil Spill: One Year On

Friday the 5th of October marked one year since the container ship MV Rena struck an artificial reef off the coast of Tauranga as it headed into port, triggering New Zealand’s worst ever environmental disaster. The clean-up that followed took months, and is still not complete: the Rena remains grounded on the Astrolabe Reef and oil from the ship still occasionally washes up on Bay of Plenty beaches.  Media attention for much of the past year has vilified the ship’s captains and whipped up racism aimed at the Filipino crew.

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What’s abhorrent? John Key, whaling, and racism

John Key is engaging in a bout of populist moralising, describing killing whales as ‘abhorrent’ in response to South Korea’s indication that they may resume whaling. The hypocrisy is staggering – this same week National has announced further concessions to New Zealand’s dirty and polluting farming industry. If the concept of killing whales is ‘abhorrent’, what about farming practices that contribute to the loss of ecosystems that threaten endangered species in New Zealand? Since it is largely Pakeha capitalists in New Zealand that reap the profits farming they do not criticise.

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