Tag Archives: Ecology

Against Climate Exceptionalism

Today, members of Unity and Struggle, along with comrades from Sloths Against Nuclear State and Barnard Columbia Divest for Climate Justice * will be engaging in the People’s Climate March in New York City.  We wrote a short pamphlet to share with people who are engaging in these struggles, and who are working through questions of reform and revolution in regards to climate change and environmental destruction.

“Climate Change is Not an Environmental Issue”
It’s easy to forget the roots of climate change.  For many people, climate change and environmental destruction are synonymous with human society, or population growth.  Non-profits, academics, and even some radicals blame environmental destruction on the “anthropocene” and “human intervention.”  But we want to call the origin of the crisis what it is. We are not only dealing with an environmental crisis.  The same root cause that creates climate change is behind inequality, poverty, many contemporary illnesses, homelessness, and everyday alienation.  This root cause is not humans, or “human society” writ large.  It is instead a particular form of human social relations: capitalism. Continue reading Against Climate Exceptionalism

Green capitalism seeks sustainable misery.

by JF

On the eve of the “People’s Climate March” 2014, a member of U&S NYC offers up some theses for discussion. It has been rightly observed within U&S that these theses do not engage directly with the crisis itself, and its particular relationship to capitalism. In this regard, they can be understood as supplementary reading to the excellent pamphlet “Why Climate Change is Not And Environmental Issue“. A more rigorous engagement with these questions is forthcoming.

 

I. The first person to fence off a piece of land and say “this is mine” was the original “climate criminal”. The first person to defend this right was the forebear of today’s “green capitalist”. Continue reading Green capitalism seeks sustainable misery.

BP’s oil spill on the backs of the working class and planet earth

The collapse of British Petroleum’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico continues to tear through both working class lives, and the ability of the Gulf’s ecosystem to create and sustain life.

Eleven workers lost their lives in the accident, and now the livelihood of more working class families are threatened.

A mechanism that should have sealed the well in the event of a blowout failed, and now hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil are spilling out, threatening to create another dead zone in the Gulf.

A device, known as an acoustic switch, could have prevented this massive spill. But despite earning almost $6 billion in profits, BP resisted regulation that would have required these devices to be installed on deep sea oil rigs.

While the entire coastal region is threatened, a state of emergency has been declared in Louisiana.  Wetlands and marshes along the coast, already under stress due to capitalist land use planning, are now being threatened with collapse.

In addition, hundreds of families who make a living in the fishing industry are losing work due to the contamination.  BP is recruiting them for “paid volunteer work” to assist in the cleanup, but are denying them basic safety equipment and compensation for either injury or damage to their equipment.

The extant of the devastation is being described as a Hurricane Katrina redux.  There is a general sense of helplessness and malaise, as some held signs demanding help from Obama along the road as he drove through Louisiana.

Capital’s global crisis, thought to be slowing down, is not hovering; it’s dropping like a hammer on both the working class and planet earth.  The profit demands of the current energy infrastructure based overwhelmingly on coal and oil have proved to be an obstacle to transition towards an ecologically sustainable energy production.  Obama’s expansion of offshore drilling, the maintenance of a coal-centered energy production via Copenhagen, and the expansion of nuclear energy production in the US in over 30 years are just the most recent examples.

But as the spill in the Gulf demonstrates, this energy economy is inextricably bound up with the ability of capital to attack and exploit the working class and ecological systems.  Complex life requires more complex ecosystems to survive, but capital has long demanded that we forfeit the very conditions of life for it to grow.  The future of free life on this planet will depend on the working class’s ability organize itself against these attacks.

Below are two articles on the catastrophe.

Continue reading BP’s oil spill on the backs of the working class and planet earth

The Ecology Movement, Climate Change & US Empire

There has been a lot of excitement by the left and the ecology movement lately, particularly around the G20 protests in Pittsburgh, the climate bill proposed by the House and recently amended by the Senate, and finally around the upcoming UN climate talks in Copenhagen.  But it’s worth noting how the broader political terrain today forms the hot topics of the ecology movement if we’re to effectively plan our campaigns and strategies.

This past spring, despite the hopes of environmentalists that lined up behind Obama’s presidential campaign, the EPA okayed over 40 mountain-top removal coal-mining projects without scrutiny. This form of coal mining is one of the more the ecologically destructive methods of coal mining.  The process dumps tons of chemicals and unwanted material down the sides of the mountain. burying wildlife and vegetation on the sides, and contaminating local water supplies.  It also allows mining companies to lay-off workers and cut labor costs because less people are needed than traditional forms of mining.

But just before labor day the EPA released a letter that indicates that the Obama administration and the EPA are seeking to block one of the largest mountain top mining permits issued, citing violations of the Clean Water Act.

Around the same time, the NYTimes began a series on water pollution noting violations of the Clean Water Act by coal mining companies.  The piece sites the lack of oversight and enforcement as a major problem, with companies dumping as much as 1000% of the allowed chemical concentration into local water systems in W Virginia.

So why the about-face?  Is Obama finally fulfilling his campaign promises to the environmental movement?

Continue reading The Ecology Movement, Climate Change & US Empire