Climate change & violence in the sub-Sahara

The role of climate change in the Syrian crisis is now well documented. Here is a piece documenting its impact regarding political instability and conflict in sub-Saharan Africa:

Conflict, an influx of displaced families and erratic weather are hitting food security in Cameroon’s Far North
NEWS.TRUST.ORG|BY THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION
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Energy – Burma goes for coal

Following the ‘democratic revolution’ in Myanmar, here comes a policy that will help to doom future generations. Truly, social justice and poverty reduction without ecological sustainability can only lead to the equality of the grave:

http://www.climatechangenews.com/…/for-myanmar-temptation-…/.

It is another example of how many people just do not get it, failing to see how climate change changes everything. ‘Sharing a smaller pie’ is the only sustainable way to link improvement in the lot of poorer peoples with the long-term common good of all peoples and all species.

[The phrase ‘Sharing Smaller Pies’ was, I think, first publicly used by radical architect Tom Bender in this essay, over 40 years old but even more relevant than ever: http://www.tombender.org/societyworthlivingforar…/SSP140.pdf]

NEWS: Big expansion of coal power on track as Aung San Suu Kyi forms first civilian-led government in over 50 years
CLIMATECHANGENEWS.COM

EU – Caroline Lucas on environmental benefits

This new piece by Green Party MP Caroline Lucas spells out some positive arguments about EU membership. At the same time in its current form, the EU is structured as a growth machine, one which pays no attention to local or regional carrying capacity. Structural funds have wrought great environmental damage too. EU-funded new motorways have torn apart whole stretches of countryside. The CAP has subsidised large-scale agro-chemical intensive monocultural farming, not, as mythology has it, small farms.
Then there are all the little negative actions, For example, EU commissioners in Brussels have done a deal with the washing machine manufacturers to standardise on cold-fill washing machines across the whole of the EU. You cannot buy a new washing machine which uses your own hot water supply – they all use cold water and then use electricity to heat it. Across many parts of the EU and especially, of course, Southern Europe, many houses have a solar water heaters on the roof but now that free hot water cannot be used in washing machines any more. A dirty little deal in Brussels which gives washing machine manufacturers has a huge negative environmental impact.
Still, you cannot change the EU from the outside. We have to work with what we’ve actually got (including the often wretched UN), not what we hope we would have.

Environmental problems don’t queue politely waiting for their passports to be checked.
OPENDEMOCRACY.NET

Other illusions about Syriza & Greece

This is an interesting article on the rise and fall of Syriza in Greece:

https://newleftreview.org/…/stathis-kouvelakis-syriza-s-ris…

It is a bit heavy-going and lacks any ecological insight but it still makes several good points. It is all the more useful given how starry-eyed many people have been about Syriza. At the Green Party conference in Liverpool last year, for example, the session on Greece, with a Syriza contributor, gave the impression that Syriza was the best thing since sliced bread. 

Of course any radical party in Greece risks being stuck between a rock and a hard place. Furthermore, Syriza was better than its socialist predecessor PASOK, It would be naive to see the Greek crisis purely as some foreign concoction and nothing at all to do with popular lifestyles and behaviours inside Greece pre-meltdown.

That said, Syriza did embody legitimate disgust at the ‘Troika’ (some background: https://corporatewatch.org/…/greek-debt-what-they-dont-tell…) But that should not mean that rose-tinted spectacles must be worn when looking at what Syriza represented and what it was doing. The same applies to Podemos in Spain and a certain Jeremy Corbyn closer to home.

Yet, overall, none of these tendencies ‘get it’ when it comes the really big challenges of climate change and general ecological overshoot. All are little more than a radical Keynesianism, with in some cases, an extra dollop of technocracy added.

The widespread illusions about Syriza and co entertained inside the Green Party reflect a certain ‘anti-intellectualism’, with, in particular, a disdain for ‘theory’ It is often treated as little more than medieval-style disputation, as opposed to a ‘get-on-with-it’ activism. But activity not guided by good theory is likely to round and round in fruitless circles. That in turn will breed disillusion and despair. New Left Review might suffer sometimes from a certain ‘ivory tower’ theorising, divorced from any kind of useful activity, but, as this article shows, careful analysis and rigorous debate are still vital if we are to make sense of the world iso that we can change it.

Why did the Tsipras government sign up to a third Memorandum, within days of the massive popular rejection of austerity in the July 2015 referendum? Stathis Kouvelakis tracks Syriza’s repositioning since 2012 and its self-imprisonment inside the single-currency regime.
NEWLEFTREVIEW.ORG

Impeachment crisis in Brazil

Given the row in Brazil over President Dilma Rousseff, leader of the Workers’ Party, it may be worth recalling this:

http://www.theguardian.com/…/brazilian-rouseff-pardon-defor…

A revealing case study is the disastrous Bela Monte dam:
http://amazonwatch.org/work/belo-monte-dam;
http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/…/__lse.ac.uk_storage_LIBRARY_Seco…
http://www.theguardian.com/…/brazil-rousseff-corruption-bel…

Then there was this under Lula:
http://www.theguardian.com/…/j…/26/amazon-land-rights-brazil

‘Workers Party’ might sound somehow more progressive than, say, Bosses Party. But both can be equal enemies of the Earth. After all, few regimes have devastated both human communities and environmental systems as those of Stalin and Mao. Both acted in the name of The People and indeed enjoyed at times a measure of popular support, all their crimes nothweithstanding.

Attack on president’s environmental credentials comes weeks before she is due to host Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro
THEGUARDIAN.COM|BY JONATHAN WATTS