Category Archives: International

Having more, or living better?

This human community is in danger due to climate change which is related to the accumulation of riches by countries and social groups…. We have to change the belief that to have more is to live better”.
Evo Morales Ayma, President of Bolivia, 22 December, 2012

To see what this means in Manchester, see our reports, Living Well and In Place of Growth:  http://steadystatemanchester.net/our-reports/

Morales image

Evo Morales speaking on climate and accumulation at the celebration of the December solstice.

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Two videos

Two recent video interviews with the author of A Green Deal for the  Manchester-Mersey Bioregion:-
1) 1970s and now (ecological crisis and eco-action)

2) Steady State and “decoupling”

Bolivia on the Green Economy

Spot on Solón!
from the SPEECH BY AMBASSADOR PABLO SOLÓN, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF THE PLURINATIONAL STATE OF BOLIVIA TO THE
UNITED NATIONS, ON THE OCCASION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
INTERACTIVE DIALOGUE ON HARMONY WITH NATURE
New York, April 20th, 2011

“…
For the Green Economy, capitalism’s mistake is not having fully incorporated nature as part of capital. That is why its central proposal is to create “environmentally friendly” business and green jobs and in that way limit environmental degradation by bringing the laws of capitalism to bear on nature.

In other words, the transfusion of the rules of market will save nature. This requirement of the Green Economy is absolutely wrong

…”

Read the whole statement.

Also see Bolivia’s input to the UN Rio+20 document (in English -after the first page)  (in Spanish – I’m looking for a translation) president Evo Morales comments and  Bolivia’s reservations re the final Rio+20 statement.

Traditional coca production in La Yungas, Bolivia: “coca sí, coacina no!”.

The right sort of market – agrobiodiversity in La Paz

Earth at tipping point – official

Yesterday the UNEP again warned that the earth is at tipping point.    The report reiterates what we already know, that several planetary boundaries have been crossed and others are at the point of being crossed.  That means disaster of course.  It is good to have this reminder from a highly respected body, but will the governments it addresses take any notice (other than the few like Tuvalu and Bolivia that have taken the question of ecological justice seriously)?

See: Morning Star short article.   UNEP pess release and link to the report. Background on Rockstrom’s concept of planetary boundaries: Wikipedia  Nature. Ecology and Society Rockstrom video and transcript.

Click to see diagram to illustrate where we are in terms of current limits.

See this Oxfam paper that combines Planetary Boundaries with foundations for adequate human development – really useful framework.

Worst ever carbon emissions mean 2C target almost out of reach

Today’s Guardian has this exclusive story based on unpublished estimates from the International Energy Agency.
This is profoundly depressing – not only is there systemic failure to ‘scale up’ sustainable practice, but the policies of government are woefully inadequate to the scale of the problem.  Indeed this is not altogether surprising – the governments at Cancun committed the world to a suicidal 4C rise in temperature.
I have recently made some rough comparisons of proposals from various sources at http://tinyurl.com/3j3apwz .  Few of them have any emphasis on reduction of energy use and with the exception of Zero Carbon Britain’s excellent work, there is no recognition of the need to exceed international targets here because of our historical and outsourced emissions.
But what is sadly missing from all this is any coherent praxis: how do we get this stuff more squarely on government and party agendas? How do we rapidly build a social movement underpinned by a vision of a better way of living with the strength and capacity to secure real change?  How do we do this in solidarity with people in the global south who are already experiencing the worst of the climate emergency (see the Bolivian government’s work on this)?

John Bellamy Foster Interviewed by Solidair/Solidaire, “The Ecology of Socialism”

John Bellamy Foster Interviewed by Solidair/Solidaire, “The Ecology of Socialism”.

Excellent and clear piece that explains that:

” In capitalism you have an economic crisis whenever there isn’t economic growth or it slows down significantly (more specifically when the growth of profits and accumulation turns negative or stagnates).  It is a grow-or-die system.  Whenever there is an economic crisis it poses, like I said, “a disaster for working people,” since they are ultimately forced to bear the cost.  We are experiencing that right now in a very big way.  But it is also true that the ecological footprint of humanity is now too big, and we are crossing all sorts of physical boundaries of the system.  This too is a reality, and one that will only worsen with continued exponential growth.

“How do we deal with this double economic-ecological contradiction, which is built into capitalism?  I think the answer should be obvious: we need to struggle against the system itself.  People need jobs and security, as well as all the basic requirements of life.  They also need opportunities for human development.  But this cannot be accomplished any more by doing everything possible to expand the total level of production endlessly, with the promise (almost invariably not kept) that significant crumbs will fall to those below.  Instead we have to focus on essential needs, on equality, and on human development.”

The Replacement Economy – new pamphlet published

We are living in an ecological emergency and an economic crisis. This pamphlet brings together three contributions to what will have to become an ambitious but alternative strategy for real change in the way we all live. The three essays printed here start from the recognition that endless economic growth is not possible. Getting Started on the Economy also points to the incoherence of competition in the global economy as a national or regional economic strategy, sets out some alternative principles for building the replacement economy and suggests priorities for activists to help bring them about.  Sustainability, Utopian and Scientific offers a constructive critique of what has become mainstream green economic thinking. Concepts for Bioregional Development is an attempt to synthesise a new integrated vocabulary for the new economics of social and ecological justice.  It should be read in conjunction with our first pamphlet:  A Green Deal for Manchester-Mersey Bioregion.

Buy a printed version of The Replacement Economy
Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

Buy a printed version of A Green Deal for Manchester-Mersey Bioregion
Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

“If one day there is no fuel left in this crazy, changing world, we should have our food close by”

Raul Castro reports on progress since his call in July 2007 for Cuba to produce more of the food it uses:

“If one day there is no fuel left in this crazy, changing world, we should have our food close by, to be able to bring it in a cart with horses, an ox, or pushing it ourselves (Applause).”

RETURNING TO THE LAND, MAKING IT PRODUCE MORE

from:

Moving onto another subject, of the few that I plan to touch on this morning, on July 26, 2007 in Camagüey, I referred to the pressing need for us to return to the land, to make it produce more. At that time, almost half the arable area was idle or under-exploited. We called at the time for generalizing – with the greatest speed possible and without improvisations – every experience of outstanding producers in the state and campesino sector, and to stimulate their hard work, as well as to definitively resolve the state’s damaging failure to make payments in that sector.

The handover of land in usufruct is progressing satisfactorily, although shortcomings persist, in some municipalities more than in others. Of the 110,000-plus applications made, close to 82,000 have been approved to date, covering 690,000 hectares; in other words, 39 percent of idle land.

I believe that it is little. It is not a question now of rushing to distribute it without control; it is doing so more efficiently, it is doing it in an organized way, and it is a task of top strategic priority. One of the speakers who preceded me referred to the fact that it is a matter of national security to produce the products used in this country and on which we spend hundreds and thousands of millions of dollars — and I am not exaggerating — transporting them from other countries.

The land is there, here are the Cuban people, let us see if we work or not, if we produce or not, if we keep our word or not! It is not a question of shouting ‘Homeland or Death!’ ‘Down with imperialism!’ ‘The blockade is hurting us!’ while the land is there, waiting for our sweat. Despite the increasingly greater heat, we have no choice but to make it produce. I think we agree (Exclamations of “Yes!” and applause)

Flying, mostly by helicopter, all over the country, I sometimes order the pilot to take a detour and fly over any town, city, etc. I can assure you that in the majority, there is an abundance of land, and good quality land, right outside our backyards, which is not being cultivated; and that is where a plan is being made to advance, with intensive crops, irrigating wherever possible, where there is water and the resources to do so. If one day there is no fuel left in this crazy, changing world, we should have our food close by, to be able to bring it in a cart with horses, an ox, or pushing it ourselves (Applause).

Of the land distributed, close to half has been declared free of marabú and other undesirable plants, and almost 225,000 hectares have been planted — that is, one-third.

We cannot be satisfied as long as a single hectare of land exists without being usefully employed, and while a person willing to make it produce is waiting for an answer.

Land that is no good for producing food should be used for planting trees, which are, moreover, a great resource. And the person who is talking to you has experimented for many years, especially in recent years, with planting small forests, and I have had the pleasure and satisfaction of watching them grow, and according to the type of tree, sometimes, within five years, I have formed a small forest with several hundred different types (of trees); but every time we talk about this subject, officials from the Ministry of Agriculture appear — the current one, and all the previous ministers of agriculture — with an endless list of millions of pesos or foreign currency requested for the task assigned, and if a little plastic bag doesn’t appear, the planting can’t be done. I don’t know what the hell our grandparents planted with (Laughter and applause), but there they all are, and we are eating the mangos that they planted (Applause).

We are not educating children to love trees, and that they should plant some— where there is land, of course — over the course of their years in elementary and high school. Some of the youth leaders are hearing me here; but planting trees can be done by young people of the third age, like me; in other words, it is not just a task for the young (Applause).

There are encouraging results for the milk distribution process, which has grown by more than 100 million liters annually in the last two years, given that from 272 million in 2006, it went up to 403 million in 2008, and this year everything seems to indicate that the increase will be higher. I spoke about this in 2007 in Camagüey, on a day like today.

I have very briefly addressed two aspects of the decisive issue of food production, which holds great importance in replacing imports, as I was saying to you, and in reducing the country’s hard-currency expenditure.

July 2009

Source:  http://www.granma.cu/ingles/2009/julio/mar28/31Rauldiscurso.html

Not just climate and peak energy – but biodiversity as a limiting factor – for us

Yes what they are saying is basically that biodiversity is decreasing catastrophically – guess which species is in for a population crash.

“Humanity has fabricated the illusion that somehow we can get by without biodiversity or that it is somehow peripheral to our contemporary world: the truth is we need it more than ever on a planet of six billion heading to over nine billion people by 2050.”

“The Outlook warns that massive further loss of biodiversity is becoming increasingly likely, and with it, a severe reduction of many essential services to human societies as several “tipping points” are approached, in which ecosystems shift to alternative, less productive states from which it may be difficult or impossible to recover.”

“Potential tipping points analyzed for GBO-3 include:

The dieback of large areas of the Amazon forest, due to the interactions of climate change, deforestation and fires, with consequences for the global climate, regional rainfall and widespread species extinctions.”

Read all about it – if you dare, at

http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=624&ArticleID=6558&l=en&t=long

Consumer culture and the crisis

Report from the Worldwatch Institute reported by the Guardian:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/jan/12/climate-change-greed-environment-threat

The average American (sic they mean UnitedStatesian) consumes more than his or her weight in products each day, fuelling a global culture of excess that is emerging as the biggest threat to the planet, according to a report published today. In its annual report, Worldwatch Institute says the cult of consumption and greed could wipe out any gains from government action on climate change or a shift to a clean energy economy.

No surprises here but useful to have this one to cite.   As we have argued (and see also John Bellamy Foster) this is the central problem – but it isn’t a matter of greed or even a cult of consumption – it is a matter of a capitalist system that requires endless production-consumption in the intersts of the treadmill of capital accumulation.  This is what has to stop – anything else is merely cosmetic because it does’t put out the fire beneath the planet.