Greenpeace Pour Mocking Scorn onMiners and Mining Communities and ex-Communities

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bbbbb
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Nov 15 2008 11:19
Greenpeace Pour Mocking Scorn onMiners and Mining Communities and ex-Communities

Most nuclear power stations are on the coast, but Greenpeace don't tend to sail their ship outside them any more, limiting themselves to taking part in rare minor disagreements over where the waste goes.

But recently they spent money taking their vessel to protest against a coal-fired power station at Kingsnorth, in the Medway area of Kent. "PUT COAL ON THE DOLE" said a large banner they hung out, mocking the heroic miners' strike of the mid-1980s, the defeat of which paved the way for the horrendous attacks on working class people which have proceeded with hardly any meaningful resistance ever since - to a point where we are on the brink of a depression which will be worse even than the 1930s. To a point where most working class people are in debt up to their eyeballs. To a point where the authorities paint working class people as Neanderthal knuckle-dragging Nazi cretins. To a point where the "green" lie is always on the authorities' and businesses' lips as they paint as "anti-social" those who don't want to help them with their advertising by carrying "green" shopping bags (or can't afford them), who don't want to give raw materials back to big business without getting paid for it, or who don't feel things are hunky-dory when their streets are plagued with rats, now that domestic rubbish collections only happen once a fortnight rather than once a week.

Faced with such a hate-filled attack on working class people, by "activists" who know exactly what they are saying, we can only say in return: "Where are the French secret service when we really need them?"

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Steven.
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Nov 15 2008 12:55

er, right...

Of course, burning coal (or any fossil fuels) is ecologically catastrophic and unsustainable.

A working class response to this would be demanding a reorientation of the coal industry towards renewable energy sources instead (similar to Lucas Aerospace workers who demanded that production switch from arms to medical supplies: http://libcom.org/history/1976-the-fight-for-useful-work-at-lucas-aerospace )

Greenpeace a crap NGO, but this is a bit hysterical

bbbbb
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Nov 15 2008 18:12

"A working class response would be..." You seem to be thinking in terms of political representation. My response is a working class response. Sure that doesn't make it good, but it is certainly a working class one, and it is one that is shared by ex-miners I know, and would obviously be agreed with by most ex-miners.

In actual fact, most miners do support some kind of cleaning up of the coal industry. Note that greens mostly support nuclear power, which is much more dangerous and harmful than coal production will ever be. Their ideas on this are little more than a sick joke, a paid-for one at that.

Note also that the basic point was that these scumbags have mocked working class struggle and basically said that workers are dirty bastards who can fuck off and rot. How do you feel about that? You say they're a bad NGO; what's a good one??

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Nov 15 2008 19:50

greenpeace are a shower of wankers who should be ignored and left to themselves. they are not interested in class politics.

lalala
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Nov 15 2008 22:43

a few ruminations:

class is an economic concept originating in capitalism... do we want to destroy industry or get better pay/rights/etc out of it?
if you think we can do away with capitalism and industry entirely, then the greenpeace people are right in saying 'put coal on the dole'.. after all, if workers want to put the companies that exploit them/pay them out of business and get the boss on the dole... fine, it's like going on strike at a company that's on its way out of business. it's not like the boss can really satisfy your demands, but strike anyway to hit em while they're down?

however, if you think we have to make it work for us instead of against us, and put different people in charge of it/rework it, then those lucas aerospace workers are your peeps. but isn't industry fundamentally destructive of humanity and nature? how could any part of the flesh grinding machine of Work / Industrial Production be preserved in a just society?

personally i've never heard of any 'greens supporting nuclear power.' that seems totally absurd ...i've met a lot of them and have never heard that one.

Wellclose Square
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Nov 15 2008 22:44

Judging from the original post, bbb has just looked at the www.revoltagainstplenty.com website and its most recent article - a juxtaposition of a 1982 leaflet attacking green ideology by Phil Meyler and the Wise brothers, and Dave Wise's reappraisal of that leaflet in the light of his involvement in the Kingsnorth climate camp and the encounter between miners and green protestors. I'm sorry I can't provide a direct link or any more specific info than that right now, but you should be able to use your initiative to find it - reading the leaflet and the reappraisal should be a minimum requirement informing any further contributions to this thread. Any reading of these will show that bbb's original post, while understandable from what jambo 1 calls 'class politics', is a somewhat knee-jerk reaction to the general import of what I think (perhaps wrongly) Dave Wise was trying to get at, that is, to find a means of integrating working-class combativity and creativity with some of the requirements thrown up by the real global crisis - of life on earth, rather than the 'life' of the economy - which has hitherto been monopolised by middle-class pressure groups like Greenpeace and FoE. It's dialectical (q.v.).

Reading Dave Wise's anecdote about the Greenpeace ship and its banner saying PUT COAL ON THE DOLE reminded me of those endlessly recycled ICC articles warning proletarians against getting involved in pressure groups like CND and ANL because they're 'cross-class alliances' in which working-class perspectives are drowned out. I remember one 'professional activist' who was arrested at the blockade of RAF/USAF Upper Heyford in 1983 who, with a straight face and a tone of injured pride, described the policeman who testified against him as a 'lower class twit'. It grieves me that I allowed that 'character', when we were both participants at a 'peace camp' the year before, to mockingly imitate my presumably dopey-sounding voice/accent without belting him one. That said, it doesn't justify calling for the involvement of the French secret service or a retreat into a class identitarianism that ignores the capitalist-driven processes leading to ecological catastrophe: 'the common ruin of the contending classes' (I know Marx said it, but I don't know where).

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Nov 15 2008 22:50

well, as for integrating "working-class combativity and creativity with some of the requirements thrown up by the real global crisis - of life on earth, rather than the 'life' of the economy" The revolt against Work star green black gives true cross class solidarity... everyone working together ...to stop working. ends capitalism, ends pollution, does away with upper and lower class pride, anxiety, alienation ...it covers all the bases. but it's not too libcommie, they hate "primmos," and all this 'end of work' "shite" probably bugs them. they'd like i guess to see a continuation of work... a kinder gentler work
i don't know... i read a lot on here, but i haven't got some fixed in stone ideology about it all...
confused

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Nov 15 2008 22:55
lalala wrote:
a few ruminations:

class is an economic concept originating in capitalism... do we want to destroy industry or get better pay/rights/etc out of it?
if you think we can do away with capitalism and industry entirely, then the greenpeace people are right in saying 'put coal on the dole'.. after all, if workers want to put the companies that exploit them/pay them out of business and get the boss on the dole... fine, it's like going on strike at a company that's on its way out of business. it's not like the boss can really satisfy your demands, but strike anyway to hit em while they're down?

however, if you think we have to make it work for us instead of against us, and put different people in charge of it/rework it, then those lucas aerospace workers are your peeps. but isn't industry fundamentally destructive of humanity and nature? how could any part of the flesh grinding machine of Work / Industrial Production be preserved in a just society?

personally i've never heard of any 'greens supporting nuclear power.' that seems totally absurd ...i've met a lot of them and have never heard that one.

You can have industry without capitalism. A communist state will still need to produce a large amount of (if not more) the goods produced under capitalism. That slogan is either ridiculously insensitive or offensive. Either way it's produced by idiots. There are quite a lot of greens in favour of nuclear power because it doesn't produce air pollution (usually). There needs to be a re-evaluation of energy usage and production, capitalism is unable to do this and as a result will lead us into serious ecological problems (asuming it hasn't already) as a result.

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Nov 15 2008 23:05

lalala are you lem by any chance?

primmoes are hypocrites who talk about a return to nature. It's complete rubbish unless you plan to wipe out masses of the human population in which case you'd end up with a nuclear war (destroying the planet) unless you could persuade everyone to stick to Rwandan genocide rules. Furthermore you'd have all the ecological problems inhherent with capitalism, pollution doesn't just go away, waste storage facilities don't maintain themselves etc. and none of the technological expertise to deal with them.

Primitivists are like maoists they get some kind of power trip from imagining themselves as some kind of uber race when in fact the brutal realities of guerilla warfare, subsistence lifestyle would have them screaming for mercy very quickly. They fantasise about survival of the fittest scenarios assuming that they would be the fittest, rather than the one of the many who would either not be able to survive or would be abandoned. They tell you that industrial society makes us ill when until the invention of penicillin it was common to die from infections that wouldn't even keep us off work for more than a day or two now.

lalala
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Nov 16 2008 00:24

agreed. but i can't imagine anyone really concerned with ecology to support nuclear power which produces the most toxic and everlasting waste... i think the example of jack common's getting fired because he 'invented an ingenious way to do his job more easily' is going to have to be applied and the workers will have to come up with ways to limit pollution... and to prevent their own poisoning by their working conditions.
who's lem? i'm lalala.

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Nov 16 2008 00:28

Most in the 'green movement' are not realistically concerned with ecology and are not informed about it either.
lem is a banned posted, some of your posts looked like his, I'm pretty sure that you're not him now though smile

lalala
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Nov 16 2008 00:28

as for what you say here:
"There needs to be a re-evaluation of energy usage and production, capitalism is unable to do this and as a result will lead us into serious ecological problems (asuming it hasn't already) as a result."
i totally agree, and i think it has already led us into serious ecological problems
check ens-newswire.com they have great articles about ongoing pollution disasters, species going extinct, etc.
it's not the most happy-go-lucky site, but i enjoy its articles.
just a totally non-judgmental question:
what's more important to you, the well-being of the working class as its employers lose their ability to get loan money (economic crisis style), or the well-being of the planet as industry thoughtlessly pollutes the icecaps away?

personally i'm undecided. But it's our future we're talking about!

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Nov 16 2008 00:29
jef costello wrote:
lalala wrote:

personally i've never heard of any 'greens supporting nuclear power.' that seems totally absurd ...i've met a lot of them and have never heard that one.

There are quite a lot of greens in favour of nuclear power because it doesn't produce air pollution (usually).

I've not heard of "greens" supporting nuclear power. I suppose it depends how you define "green". I suppose the Green government of Germany expanded nuclear power. But talking about individuals who aren't part of some institutional power structure I disagree with this entirely.

And jef, while the process of fission itself does not release carbon dioxide, it leaves highly dangerous and volatile radioactive waste which has to be looked after in high-tech facilities for tens of thousands of years (this itself means that we can never have a society without advanced technology, because this waste exists already, and there is nothing else we can do with it. There is no primitivist response to this). Accidents will always happen at some point or other, which are devastating to humans and the environment.

Furthermore, all the associated industry that goes with nuclear power does require huge amounts of energy that comes from fossil fuels - the huge amounts of mining, uranium extraction, raw material and waste transportation, construction, and then tens of thousands of years of monitoring and storage. I don't have time to search now but I remember seeing a study demonstrating that the amount of carbon dioxide released as a result is on a level with burning fossil fuels.

lalala
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Nov 16 2008 00:37

you say "Most in the 'green movement' are not realistically concerned with ecology and are not informed about it either,"
so, do you think they're mostly concerned with their own accession to power, like the maoists? what do you think they're missing about the science that's been coming out?
i wonder what you think is the most concerned and informed group because i'd like to check out their site/info. I'm personally very concerned with ecology (this doesn't make me a primitivist!!!!), with labor rights, and with total political upheaval/change... so i'd like to know.

anyway, on a related note, i wonder whether most even in the anti-capitalist labor movement are realistically informed about the financial system and its workings... i mean, i read 'wall street: how it works and for whom' (warning! this is a big PDF!) by doug henwood... really interesting stuff... and i found that even though i've been thinking about this (capitalism, finance, exploitation) for a while, i didn't really understand a lot of the financial instruments that got us into the present mess (still probably don't even after a concerted attempt to get through all he talks about in there), and i don't think too many anti-capitalists understand them either; i mean, we read marx and all, but i don't know that he could have predicted all the intricacies of the present situation...what do you think?

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Nov 16 2008 00:39

Greenpeace definetely put their foot in their mouths, at same time there are so totally doctrinal stolid people willing to support the coal mining industry for the sake of it rather than their own communities & decent jobs that are safe, then they use government propaganda to say nuclear is only other option to coal,bollox.
Many miners i know have had health side effects & would rather be coppicing wood-logging which is 10 times as carbon nuetral for heating purposes or working on sustainable tech like geothermal shafts which can create more than enough energy to fuel industry & domestic, especially if done in areas with granite like the peak district & wales. Clean coal tech does not exist& its expensive to do + a dirty job, geothermal is cheaper to do of all the sustainable techs & one that applies to miners.
Put hot rocks Durham geothermal in your search engine to find the latest large geothermal shaft, yes its near the gala. The other large geothermal project was one in Southampton, a great success.

lalala
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Nov 16 2008 00:41

reading steven's thoughts made me think back to that movie "the china syndrome" ... the workers wanted to keep their jobs, but they knew how destructive the industry is... interesting ideas there... i mean, are workers really willing to destroy the very industry that employs (impoverishes?) them? that's the question i think in this thread.
what do you think about the idea (i guess it sounds 'situationist') that while coal is polluting, ideology is the biggest pollution of all?
in the most radical working-class uprisings (i wonder if you think these sorts of uprisings were the most radical?), the workers haven't hesitated to destroy even their own cars, and of course their own workplaces, etc...
beyond just revolting against the bosses they seem to revolt against work and industry themselves...

like i say, no ideological conflict here, just thoughts...

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Nov 16 2008 00:48
Steven. wrote:
I've not heard of "greens" supporting nuclear power. I suppose it depends how you define "green". I suppose the Green government of Germany expanded nuclear power. But talking about individuals who aren't part of some institutional power structure I disagree with this entirely.

And jef, while the process of fission itself does not release carbon dioxide, it leaves highly dangerous and volatile radioactive waste which has to be looked after in high-tech facilities for tens of thousands of years (this itself means that we can never have a society without advanced technology, because this waste exists already, and there is nothing else we can do with it. There is no primitivist response to this). Accidents will always happen at some point or other, which are devastating to humans and the environment.

Furthermore, all the associated industry that goes with nuclear power does require huge amounts of energy that comes from fossil fuels - the huge amounts of mining, uranium extraction, raw material and waste transportation, construction, and then tens of thousands of years of monitoring and storage. I don't have time to search now but I remember seeing a study demonstrating that the amount of carbon dioxide released as a result is on a level with burning fossil fuels.

I'm talking about self-defined 'greens' I don't care enough to look through and find out exactly which groups.
Again I wasn't saying that nuclear power was safe at all, I was just giving the argument, and I thought sublty pointing out that they think it's safe because they think it doesn't have big old industrial chimneys belching out black smoke. Obviously I didn;t manage that. I mentioned the problem of waste myself, do I not get a little credit ffs.

lalala
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Nov 16 2008 04:15

.

lalala
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Nov 16 2008 00:58

right, black smoke, worse than radioactive steam. got it. credit granted. smile

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Nov 16 2008 01:30

If only they were better informed


Wellclose Square
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Nov 16 2008 02:30

A lot of verbiage has been generated on this thread, which seems to have led nowhere other than lalaland. The article(s) on www.revoltagainstplenty.com can be found by clicking on the 'Recent' box - it's called 'Kingsnorth 2008/Lisbon 1982. Miners and ecos. Monbiot and Scargill'. Reference to that should at least dispel some of the primitivist/anti-working class chaff that's hanging around...or maybe not.

lalala
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Nov 16 2008 04:15

"led nowhere other than lalaland"
hey are you making fun of my name smile

akai
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Nov 16 2008 08:09

Actually, if anybody has some, eh, serious thoughts about this matter of coal, I would be most interested in them as I am writing an article right now and am pondering some matters.

In a couple of weeks there is going to be a climate change summit here in Poland. This is going to be a very tricky topic to handle. Right now, several unions are protesting Brussels to drop (or at least raise) CO2 limits for Poland. This is obviously because they believe (although I am not throughly convinced) that heavy industry, where most of their members work, will be negatively affected by these limits. (Poland would have to buy CO2 credits, which would make production more expensive, etc. etc. Of course pay raises also make production more expensive. In my opinion, the Catholic church's propaganda about the greenhouse effect being left-wing nonsense plays a big role in their attitude.)

The union Aug, 80, which some anarchists support, recently set up a new coalition and had some actions. Among their demands is that Brussels fuck off with their CO2 limits and with their limits on things such as cod fishing in the Baltics. Unfortunately, Workers' Initiative fully support Aug. 80s, demands, or at least the leaders of the group who sign everything (some of the rank and file disagree or were misinformed about what these demands were).

At the same time, the proponents of nuclear energy are saying that the only way to lower CO2 in Poland is to build nuclear power plants. The government want to build two within the next years, including in a location where anarchists and local citizens forced a referendum and blocked building in the 80s.

I would like to prepare something on this issue, especially as I envisage unionists and ecologists standing on different sides of the barricades here.

In my opinion, good ecological conditions are a concern for workers in certain industry as well as the population, and this is largely a problem of capitalism. From an anarchist point of view, I believe we should be limiting our negative environmental impact as much as feasible and also countering the situation we have today where much environmental waste is confined to areas where the poor live or shipped to developing or "underdeveloped" nations, and where certain categories of workers must expose themselves to unhealthy work conditions for extended periods of time. The question then is what position might be reasonable for the here and now?

Again, if anybody has any serious thoughts on the matter, it would be helpful. This problem reappears quite often. The worst thing I saw was years ago when anarchist environmentalists protested the awful metallurgical works in Cherepovetz (in Russia) but were brutally attacked by the workers. The protests were done in a damned stupid way, the workers were alienated but they are also the victims of that place, with extremely high cancer rates from exposure.

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Nov 16 2008 15:18
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Most nuclear power stations are on the coast, but Greenpeace don't tend to sail their ship outside them any more, limiting themselves to taking part in rare minor disagreements over where the waste goes.

As far as their stance on nuclear power goes, a quick google search reveals that this is complete bollocks http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/blog/climate/nuclear-power-increasing-carbon-emissions
Greenpeace are a shit liberal ngo, their move away from activism and towards lobbying, alongside their shady practices in the house of lords has left them widely discredited even in liberal activist circles. the offensive tastelessness of this particular publicity stunt is just another nail in their coffin.
This said pretending that greenpeace are representative of all environmentalists or pretending that greenpeace or ''greens'' in general somehow support nuclear power; all in order to advance your clean coal agenda is kind of bizarre.
Then again i guess its no more bizarre than the way in which this clean coal mantra is being chanted. I mean sure in the short term if we had a revolution tommorow or whatever, you'd still have coal plants and nuclear power and you;d have to make them as ''clean'' as possible as a short term solution to our energy needs. However, in the long term if we're talking about the future of humanity its fairly obvious that we currently have the resources and the technology to produce a lot of our energy through renewable sources and that fossil fuels will run out and/or have to be slowly phased out.
This just seems like common sense, or do you honestly imagine that in 100 years time we'll still have loads of oil and coal reserves to be burning?

bbbbb
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Nov 16 2008 20:09

OK, I should have said Greenpeace complain about both waste and CO2 emissions from nuke stations. The point still stands: they support nuclear power. That's why they come out with all this expert crap about lowering its emissions. Do you not suss they're an asset of private interests? In fact, even before we get to that stage, don't you realise that those who are given platforms in the spectacle feed the punters ASSUMPTIONS by supposedly asking QUESTIONS?

The green movement when it started (1950s, ICU, WWF, backed by Euro high society and overlapping with Bilderberg) was to help pave the way for global government action (in favour of the private interests which own all governments), then later (1970s) it was positioned to stop any link-up between radical cause-trouble-in-the-streets middle-class lefties and the workers (Germany was the laboratory in this regard, and then out from Germany into most of the rest of the 'advanced' West), and now (noughties) largely to back belt-tightening (generally) and nuclear power (in particular).

It's absolutely classic PR. Remove the issue you want to remove. Then create concepts that 'everyone' agrees with, such as 'energy mix'. It's so MIDDLE CLASS to talk about problems for the whole society. I couldn't give a shit about such problems. I'm too weak to do so. So's my class. It's a complete distraction. If that's 'dialectics', you can keep it. I wouldn't be surprised if most electrical power is generated by nuke stations within 20-30 years. Nice little earner if you own those uranium-rich areas in Canada. (That's a reference to the Brit nuke power industry. You can read about the deal with the Rothschild family in Frederick Morton's 'approved' biography - which incidentally doesn't leave out half so much as Niall Ferguson's recent bullshit Oxford effort).

Someone mentioned crisis. Life on earth is NOT in crisis. Neither is capitalism. They sound good as slogans though, especially if you're looking into a mirror. Whether or not you're a 'libertarian communist' smile

Meanwhile, oh look - the Rockefeller organisation backs population studies, while David Attenborough backs population control... Get it?

Lastly, let's take a look at that expert crap by Greenpeace, that someone linked to, for a laugh. I certainly didn't have the stomach to read it all, but here's a bit at random:

Known uranium reserves will last for roughly 50 years at present consumption rates, but the 438 plants operating world-wide produce only 16% of global requirements. If the world's entire electricity needs were to be met by nuclear power, then reserves of high-grade uranium ore would be used up within three to four years.

Sounds great, until you realise that 100% divided by 16% is about 6, and 50 divided by 6 is 8, not 3-4. Oh dear, no-one noticed. Imagine that! Why? Because if you really admire shit like that, you don't bother reading it. The whole point is to keep the rest of us in our place, which for a couple of generations is playing a role, passively or actively, having "opinions" on issues defined by the bosses, chosen "freely" from the range of "opinions" permitted by the bosses, often to do with answering questions chosen by the bosses. Like how do "we" save the planet? Dunno, mate. Ask Tesco's!

Sorry to be old-fashioned. Personally I'm anti the spectacle, anti all you politico wankers (therefore anti "libertarian communism"), and for autonomous working class communication - which is at a horrendously low level and extremely weak in Britain and nearby countries, but still happens in all sorts of places and contexts which you lot don't have a clue about...

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Nov 17 2008 01:59
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Life on earth is NOT in crisis. Neither is capitalism.

Are you really this much of a cretin? We are currently living through the worst mass extinction in 65 million years. Industrial capitalism is destroying the ecosystem that is ALL life on earth. Any system that ultimately takes more from the ecosystem than it gives back is unsustainable, which means that it will sooner or later reach a crisis point and collapse. this is simple maths. i would suggest that we are now in that phase of the collapse of a system. That does not mean the collapse happens overnight, it can be a relatively prolonged occurrence. I would be interested to hear any argument you care to make demonstrating that life on earth is not in crisis, and even more so that the same is true for capitalism. If you fail to demonstrate (as i think you will) that life (a huge proportion, if not the vast majority) on earth, is not in crisis, in the sense of being at extreme risk, you're gonna have a difficult time disproving the same for capitalism, depending as it does on terrestrial life.

You should really take a look at http://www.ipcc.ch/ and actually READ the reports. Or if thats too much of a task for you try the book 6 degrees by mark lynas.
or perhaps this: (i only include this cos i want you to read something at least about the subject you're all too obviously completely ignorant of and i've got little faith you'd actually go to the effort of reading something of any more than the most superficial depth.)

Animal Extinction - the greatest threat to mankind

By the end of the century half of all species will be extinct. Does that matter?

By Julia Whitty
Monday, 30 April 2007

In the final stages of dehydration the body shrinks, robbing youth from the young as the skin puckers, eyes recede into orbits, and the tongue swells and cracks. Brain cells shrivel and muscles seize. The kidneys shut down. Blood volume drops, triggering hypovolemic shock, with its attendant respiratory and cardiac failures. These combined assaults disrupt the chemical and electrical pathways of the body until all systems cascade toward death.

Such is also the path of a dying species. Beyond a critical point, the collective body of a unique kind of mammal or bird or amphibian or tree cannot be salvaged, no matter the first aid rendered. Too few individuals spread too far apart, or too genetically weakened, are susceptible to even small natural disasters: a passing thunderstorm; an unexpected freeze; drought. At fewer than 50 members, populations experience increasingly random fluctuations until a kind of fatal arrhythmia takes hold. Eventually, an entire genetic legacy, born in the beginnings of life on earth, is removed from the future.

Scientists recognise that species continually disappear at a background extinction rate estimated at about one species per million per year, with new species replacing the lost in a sustainable fashion. Occasional mass extinctions convulse this orderly norm, followed by excruciatingly slow recoveries as new species emerge from the remaining gene-pool, until the world is once again repopulated by a different catalogue of flora and fauna.

From what we understand so far, five great extinction events have reshaped earth in cataclysmic ways in the past 439 million years, each one wiping out between 50 and 95 per cent of the life of the day, including the dominant life forms; the most recent event killing off the non-avian dinosaurs. Speciations followed, but an analysis published in Nature showed that it takes 10 million years before biological diversity even begins to approach what existed before a die-off.

Today we're living through the sixth great extinction, sometimes known as the Holocene extinction event. We carried its seeds with us 50,000 years ago as we migrated beyond Africa with Stone Age blades, darts, and harpoons, entering pristine Ice Age ecosystems and changing them forever by wiping out at least some of the unique megafauna of the times, including, perhaps, the sabre-toothed cats and woolly mammoths. When the ice retreated, we terminated the long and biologically rich epoch sometimes called the Edenic period with assaults from our newest weapons: hoes, scythes, cattle, goats, and pigs.

But, as harmful as our forebears may have been, nothing compares to what's under way today. Throughout the 20th century the causes of extinction - habitat degradation, overexploitation, agricultural monocultures, human-borne invasive species, human-induced climate-change - increased exponentially, until now in the 21st century the rate is nothing short of explosive. The World Conservation Union's Red List - a database measuring the global status of Earth's 1.5 million scientifically named species - tells a haunting tale of unchecked, unaddressed, and accelerating biocide.

When we hear of extinction, most of us think of the plight of the rhino, tiger, panda or blue whale. But these sad sagas are only small pieces of the extinction puzzle. The overall numbers are terrifying. Of the 40,168 species that the 10,000 scientists in the World Conservation Union have assessed, one in four mammals, one in eight birds, one in three amphibians, one in three conifers and other gymnosperms are at risk of extinction. The peril faced by other classes of organisms is less thoroughly analysed, but fully 40 per cent of the examined species of planet earth are in danger, including perhaps 51 per cent of reptiles, 52 per cent of insects, and 73 per cent of flowering plants.

By the most conservative measure - based on the last century's recorded extinctions - the current rate of extinction is 100 times the background rate. But the eminent Harvard biologist Edward O Wilson, and other scientists, estimate that the true rate is more like 1,000 to 10,000 times the background rate. The actual annual sum is only an educated guess, because no scientist believes that the tally of life ends at the 1.5 million species already discovered; estimates range as high as 100 million species on earth, with 10 million as the median guess. Bracketed between best- and worst-case scenarios, then, somewhere between 2.7 and 270 species are erased from existence every day. Including today.

We now understand that the majority of life on Earth has never been - and will never be - known to us. In a staggering forecast, Wilson predicts that our present course will lead to the extinction of half of all plant and animal species by 2100.

You probably had no idea. Few do. A poll by the American Museum of Natural History finds that seven in 10 biologists believe that mass extinction poses a colossal threat to human existence, a more serious environmental problem than even its contributor, global warming; and that the dangers of mass extinction are woefully underestimated by almost everyone outside science. In the 200 years since French naturalist Georges Cuvier first floated the concept of extinction, after examining fossil bones and concluding "the existence of a world previous to ours, destroyed by some sort of catastrophe", we have only slowly recognised and attempted to correct our own catastrophic behaviour.

Some nations move more slowly than others. In 1992, an international summit produced a treaty called the Convention on Biological Diversity that was subsequently ratified by 190 nations - all except the unlikely coalition of the United States, Iraq, the Vatican, Somalia, Andorra and Brunei. The European Union later called on the world to arrest the decline of species and ecosystems by 2010. Last year, worried biodiversity experts called for the establishment of a scientific body akin to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to provide a united voice on the extinction crisis and urge governments to action.

Yet, despite these efforts, the Red List, updated every two years, continues to show metastatic growth. There are a few heartening examples of so-called Lazarus species lost and then found: the wollemi pine and the mahogany glider in Australia, the Jerdon's courser in India, the takahe in New Zealand, and, maybe, the ivory-billed woodpecker in the United States. But for virtually all others, the Red List is a dry country with little hope of rain, as species ratchet down the listings from secure to vulnerable, to endangered, to critically endangered, to extinct.

All these disappearing species are part of a fragile membrane of organisms wrapped around the Earth so thinly, writes Wilson, that it "cannot be seen edgewise from a space shuttle, yet so internally complex that most species composing it remain undiscovered". We owe everything to this membrane of life. Literally everything. The air we breathe. The food we eat. The materials of our homes, clothes, books, computers, medicines. Goods and services that we can't even imagine we'll someday need will come from species we have yet to identify. The proverbial cure for cancer. The genetic fountain of youth. Immortality. Mortality. The living membrane we so recklessly destroy is existence itself.

Biodiversity is defined as the sum of an area's genes (the building blocks of inheritance), species (organisms that can interbreed), and ecosystems (amalgamations of species in their geological and chemical landscapes). The richer an area's biodiversity, the tougher its immune system, since biodiversity includes not only the number of species but also the number of individuals within that species, and all the inherent genetic variations - life's only army against the diseases of oblivion.

Yet it's a mistake to think that critical genetic pools exist only in the gaudy show of the coral reefs, or the cacophony of the rainforest. Although a hallmark of the desert is the sparseness of its garden, the orderly progression of plants and the understated camouflage of its animals, this is only an illusion. Turn the desert inside out and upside down and you'll discover its true nature. Escaping drought and heat, life goes underground in a tangled overexuberance of roots and burrows reminiscent of a rainforest canopy, competing for moisture, not light. Animal trails criss-cross this subterranean realm in private burrows engineered, inhabited, stolen, shared and fought over by ants, beetles, wasps, cicadas, tarantulas, spiders, lizards, snakes, mice, squirrels, rats, foxes, tortoises, badgers and coyotes.

To survive the heat and drought, desert life pioneers ingenious solutions. Coyotes dig and maintain wells in arroyos, probing deep for water. White-winged doves use their bodies as canteens, drinking enough when the opportunity arises to increase their bodyweight by more than 15 per cent. Black-tailed jack rabbits tolerate internal temperatures of 111F. Western box turtles store water in their oversized bladders and urinate on themselves to stay cool. Mesquite grows taproots more than 160ft deep in search of moisture.

These life-forms and their life strategies compose what we might think of as the "body" of the desert, with some species the lungs and others the liver, the blood, the skin. The trend in scientific investigation in recent decades has been toward understanding the interconnectedness of the bodily components, i.e. the effect one species has on the others. The loss of even one species irrevocably changes the desert (or the tundra, rainforest, prairie, coastal estuary, coral reef, and so on) as we know it, just as the loss of each human being changes his or her family forever.

Nowhere is this better proven than in a 12-year study conducted in the Chihuahuan desert by James H Brown and Edward Heske of the University of New Mexico. When a kangaroo-rat guild composed of three closely related species was removed, shrublands quickly converted to grasslands, which supported fewer annual plants, which in turn supported fewer birds. Even humble players mediate stability. So when you and I hear of this year's extinction of the Yangtze river dolphin, and think, "how sad", we're not calculating the deepest cost: that extinctions lead to co-extinctions because most living things on Earth support a few symbionts, while keystone species influence and support myriad plants and animals. Army ants, for example, are known to support 100 known species, from beetles to birds. A European study finds steep declines in honeybee diversity in the past 25 years but also significant attendant declines in plants that depend on bees for pollination - a job estimated to be worth £50bn worldwide. Meanwhile, beekeepers in 24 American states report that perhaps 70 per cent of their colonies have recently died off, threatening £7bn in US agriculture. And bees are only a small part of the pollinator crisis.

One of the most alarming developments is the rapid decline not just of species but of higher taxa, such as the class Amphibia, the 300-million-year-old group of frogs, salamanders, newts and toads hardy enough to have preceded and then outlived most dinosaurs. Biologists first noticed die-offs two decades ago, and, since then, have watched as seemingly robust amphibian species vanished in as little as six months. The causes cover the spectrum of human environmental assaults, including rising ultraviolet radiation from a thinning ozone layer, increases in pollutants and pesticides, habitat loss from agriculture and urbanisation, invasions of exotic species, the wildlife trade, light pollution, and fungal diseases. Sometimes stressors merge to form an unwholesome synergy; an African frog brought to the West in the 1950s for use in human pregnancy tests likely introduced a fungus deadly to native frogs. Meanwhile, a recent analysis in Nature estimated that, in the past 20 years, at least 70 species of South American frogs had gone extinct as a result of climate change.

In a 2004 analysis published in Science, Lian Pin Koh and his colleagues predict that an initially modest co-extinction rate will climb alarmingly as host extinctions rise in the near future. Graphed out, the forecast mirrors the rising curve of an infectious disease, with the human species acting all the parts: the pathogen, the vector, the Typhoid Mary who refuses culpability, and, ultimately, one of up to 100 million victims.

"Rewilding" is bigger, broader, and bolder than humans have thought before. Many conservation biologists believe it's our best hope for arresting the sixth great extinction. Wilson calls it "mainstream conservation writ large for future generations". This is because more of what we've done until now - protecting pretty landscapes, attempts at sustainable development, community-based conservation and ecosystem management - will not preserve biodiversity through the critical next century. By then, half of all species will be lost, by Wilson's calculation.

To save Earth's living membrane, we must put its shattered pieces back together. Only "megapreserves" modelled on a deep scientific understanding of continent-wide ecosystem needs hold that promise. "What I have been preparing to say is this," wrote Thoreau more than 150 years ago. "In wildness is the preservation of the world." This, science finally understands.

The Wildlands Project, the conservation group spearheading the drive to rewild North America - by reconnecting remaining wildernesses (parks, refuges, national forests, and local land trust holdings) through corridors - calls for reconnecting wild North America in four broad "megalinkages": along the Rocky Mountain spine of the continent from Alaska to Mexico; across the arctic/boreal from Alaska to Labrador; along the Atlantic via the Appalachians; and along the Pacific via the Sierra Nevada into the Baja peninsula. Within each megalinkage, core protected areas would be connected by mosaics of public and private lands providing safe passage for wildlife to travel freely. Broad, vegetated overpasses would link wilderness areas split by roads. Private landowners would be enticed to either donate land or adopt policies of good stewardship along critical pathways.

It's a radical vision, one the Wildlands Project expects will take 100 years or more to complete, and one that has won the project a special enmity from those who view environmentalists with suspicion. Yet the core brainchild of the Wildlands Project - that true conservation must happen on an ecosystem-wide scale - is now widely accepted. Many conservation organisations are already collaborating on the project, including international players such as Naturalia in Mexico, US national heavyweights like Defenders of Wildlife, and regional experts from the Southern Rockies Ecosystem Project to the Grand Canyon Wildlands Council. Kim Vacariu, the South-west director of the US's Wildlands Project, reports that ranchers are coming round, one town meeting at a time, and that there is interest, if not yet support, from the insurance industry and others who "face the reality of car-wildlife collisions daily".

At its heart, rewilding is based on living with the monster under the bed, since the big, scary animals that frightened us in childhood, and still do, are the fierce guardians of biodiversity. Without wolves, wolverines, grizzlies, black bears, mountain lions and jaguars, wild populations shift toward the herbivores, who proceed to eat plants into extinction, taking birds, bees, reptiles, amphibians and rodents with them. A tenet of ecology states that the world is green because carnivores eat herbivores. Yet the big carnivores continue to die out because we fear and hunt them and because they need more room than we preserve and connect. Male wolverines, for instance, can possess home ranges of 600 sq m. Translated, Greater London would have room for only one.

The first campaign out of the Wildlands Project's starting gate is the "spine of the continent", along the mountains from Alaska to Mexico, today fractured by roads, logging, oil and gas development, grazing, ski resorts, motorised back-country recreation and sprawl.

The spine already contains dozens of core wildlands, including wilderness areas, national parks, national monuments, wildlife refuges, and private holdings. On the map, these scattered fragments look like debris falls from meteorite strikes. Some are already partially buffered by surrounding protected areas such as national forests. But all need interconnecting linkages across public and private lands - farms, ranches, suburbia - to facilitate the travels of big carnivores and the net of biodiversity that they tow behind them.

The Wildlands Project has also identified the five most critically endangered wildlife linkages along the spine, each associated with a keystone species. Grizzlies already pinched at Crowsnest Pass on Highway Three, between Alberta and British Columbia, will be entirely cut off from the bigger gene pool to the north if a larger road is built. Greater sage grouse, Canada lynx, black bears and jaguars face their own lethal obstacles further south.

But by far the most endangered wildlife-linkage is the borderland between the US and Mexico. The Sky Islands straddle this boundary, and some of North America's most threatened wildlife - jaguars, bison, Sonoran pronghorn, Mexican wolves - cross, or need to cross, here in the course of their life's travels. Unfortunately for wildlife, Mexican workers cross here too. Men, women, and children, running at night, one-gallon water jugs in hand.

The problem for wildlife is not so much the intrusions of illegal Mexican workers but the 700-mile border fence proposed to keep them out. From an ecological perspective, it will sever the spine at the lumbar, paralysing the lower continent.

Here, in a nutshell, is all that's wrong with our treatment of nature. Amid all the moral, practical, and legal issues with the border fence, the biological catastrophe has barely been noted. It's as if extinction is not contagious and we won't catch it.

If, as some indigenous people believe, the jaguar was sent to the world to test the will and integrity of human beings, then surely we need to reassess. Border fences have terrible consequences. One between India and Pakistan forces starving bears and leopards, which can no longer traverse their feeding territories, to attack villagers.

The truth is that wilderness is more dangerous to us caged than free - and has far more value to us wild than consumed. Wilson suggests the time has come to rename the "environmentalist view" the "real-world view", and to replace the gross national product with the more comprehensive "genuine progress indicator", which estimates the true environmental costs of farming, fishing, grazing, mining, smelting, driving, flying, building, paving, computing, medicating and so on. Until then, it's like keeping a ledger recording income but not expenses. Like us, the Earth has a finite budget.

Reprinted with permission from Mother Jones magazine. © 2007, Foundation for National Progress. The Fragile Edge: Diving and Other Adventures in the South Pacific by Julia Whitty is published by Houghton Mifflin on 7 May

Disappearing World

More than 16,000 species of the world's mammals, birds, plants and other organisms are at present officially regarded as threatened with extinction to one degree or another, according to the Red List.

Maintained by the Swiss-based World Conservation Union (usually known by the initials IUCN), the Red List is one of the gloomiest books in the world, and is set to get even gloomier.

Since 1963 it has attempted to set out the conservation status of the planet's wildlife, in a series of categories which now range from Extinct (naturally), through Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerable and Near-Threatened, and finishing with Least Concern. The numbers in the "threatened" categories are steadily rising.

Taxonomists at the IUCN regularly attempt to update the list, but that is a massive job to undertake - there are about 5,000 mammal species in the world and about 10,000 birds, but more than 300,000 types of plant, and undoubtedly well over a million insect species, and perhaps many more. Some species, such as beetles living in the rainforest canopy, could become extinct before they are even known to science.

The last Red List update, released in May last year, looked at 40,168 species and considered 16,118 to be threatened - including 7,725 animals of all types (mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, insects etc) and 8,390 plants.

reproduced from: http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/animal-extinction--the-greatest-threat-to-mankind-397939.html

Escarabajo
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Joined: 30-03-08
Nov 17 2008 02:02

And please don't suggest that this has all been manufactured by the powers-that-be and that it isn't really happening....

cantdocartwheels's picture
cantdocartwheels
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Nov 18 2008 11:53
Quote:
. It's so MIDDLE CLASS to talk about problems ithe whole society. I couldn't give a shit about such problems. I'm too weak to do so.

Its not my fault you have developed an inability to dream of a better world is it. I work in a call centre, and a few weeks back we had a long drunken chat in the pub about how we'd want the world to be and suprisingly enough it didn't invole us all working in a coal mine mining ''clean coal'' with technology that doesnt exist yet until the coal runs out and we have no renewable energy infrastructure, thankfully our alcohol fuelled musings were somewhat brighter than that.

Also i don't see why me working apparently stops me from looking at problems all of society faces or from weighing up scientific and social issues, that sort of logic reminds me of trots telling me that the CNT and IWW were just the ame as ordinary business unions and that people only joined them becaue of bread and butter issues or some similar bollocks. In short i'm an anarchist and i work for a living and i think anarchism is all about the majority of people becoming politically active and making decisions that shape our whole society. This means that when it came to the choice of building another coal plant or building a windfarm or geothermal plant, people would i hope choose the latter.

I don;t know who your aiming your rants about greenpeace at, no-one on here likes greenpeace, we all recognise they're a shit liberal ngo. We just have enough sense not to pretend that every ''green'' is some sort of knowing participant in a grand conspiracy to build nuclear power stations. We also know coal isn't realistically a long term solution to humanities energy needs, neither is nuclear power or gas. Also while i may not agree with ''escarbajos'' brand of ecology and while i think that certain people and groups use environmental problems to justify a fucked up malthusian appraoch to the world, i'm not going to pretend global warming isn;t a problem or that the environment is some sort of trivial side issue.

So again, do you honestly think that we'll still be burning coal and petroleum in 100 years?

lalala
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Joined: 14-09-08
Nov 18 2008 04:43

brown clouds bad -- how can we see in the shadow of these noxious plumes?
can't think, future too bleak...
http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/nov2008/2008-11-13-02.asp

oh yeah, and it kills birds, too
http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/nov2008/2008-11-17-02.asp

bbbbb
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Joined: 13-02-06
Nov 18 2008 11:56
cantdocartwheels wrote:
Quote:
. It's so MIDDLE CLASS to talk about problems ithe whole society. I couldn't give a shit about such problems. I'm too weak to do so.

Its not my fault you have developed an inability to dream of a better world is it.

You're not doing that. You're discussing energy policy, like you're told to do on the telly, and as the bosses have permitted you to do, as someone interested in social issues. Perhaps this gives you some respite from a humdrum life, or some feeling of escaping passive submission, like those confident middle-class talking heads who in their vile voices discuss this policy and that policy, and this and that objective, I don't know. But it doesn't contest the conditions of your life if you really do live such a life.

Note what my next few words were, after what you quoted: "So's my class". They were the most important.

cantdocartwheels wrote:
So again, do you honestly think that we'll still be burning coal and petroleum in 100 years?

Who's "we"? I've already said what I think of the sort of assumptions implicit in that sort of silly question, and where I think real possibilities of advancing proletarian struggle come from.

I'd advise you to think more about where you and other people are now, and where you and other people might be in 5-10 years time. Oh and about who does what to whom. Never mind whether "we" will be burning hydrocarbons in 2108. Get some grounding in the reality of class struggle now. I know it's a dismal reality. But that's the only place where historical critique comes from, not from getting up there on a podium talking about whatever this decade's official issues are, like a mediator, like an unpaid libertarian communist politician.

(Look how the misery of debt didn't get talked about in the spectacle until recent events on the stock markets, and how the 'libertarian communists' therefore ignored it, to see just what a bunch of 'followerists' and 'discussers of permissible issues' the idiot 'libertarian communists' are!)

If you want the basic point from Marxy: reflect on:

"a sphere which has a universal character by its universal suffering and claims no particular right because no particular wrong, but wrong generally, is perpetuated against it [...] which, in a word, is the complete loss of man and hence can win itself only through the complete re-winning of man."

I noticed you mentioned Debord as well as Marx on your libcom blurb, so in the former's updated version of the latter's words I just quoted:

"No quantitative amelioration of its impoverishment, no illusory participation in a hierarchized system, can provide a lasting cure for its dissatisfaction, because the proletariat cannot truly recognize itself in any particular wrong it has suffered, nor in the righting of any particular wrong. It cannot recognize itself even in the righting of many such wrongs, but only in the righting of the absolute wrong of being excluded from any real life".

Ask again: where will you and working class people you know about be in 5-10 years time? That's the context in which you should seek a handle on "energy policy" if you want one.

(What's a "careworker" by the way? A lot of people who call themselves that aren't working class at all, though admittedly some pour souls who haven't got the mental forcefulness to challenge boss-speak, are).

Though of course there are interesting questions such as if the bosses are planning to phase in electric cars in a big way (which is a very big 'if'), where would the energy come from...the answer to which would almost certainly be nuclear.

lalala
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Joined: 14-09-08
Nov 18 2008 13:55

maybe we can have cities full of workout gyms all hooked up to electricity generation systems like this guy
http://www.kptv.com/livegreen/17287774/detail.html