…bu gezegende permakültürcüler diğer gruplardan daha önemli işler yapıyor.
Yukarıdaki deyimi Kanadalı biyolojist David Suzuki ekolojik krizin yoğunlaştığı ve küresel iklim krizinin net olarak yaşandığı 20. yüzyılın sonlarında söyledi. Permakültürün doğayla uyumlu insan yerleşimleri tasarımı olduğunu biliyordu. Permakültürle insanın kendini doğanın efendisi değil, bir parçası olarak görmesinin mümkün olduğunun da farkındaydı.
Bazı gelecek tahmincileri ‘permakültür küresel iklim değişimine çözüm üretebilir’ diyor. Permakültürün babalarından David Holmgreen de bunlardan biridir. Holmgreen permakültürün, küresel iklim değişimine ilişkin öngörülerde yenilenebilir enerjilerin yanı sıra enerji yoğun olmayan sistem tasarımlarına dayanarak umut veren bir gelecek vadettiğini vurguluyor. Bu yazıyla bu durumun nasıl mümkün olabileceğini göstermeye çalışacağım. Öncelikle permakültürün ne olduğuna, sonra nasıl işlediğine ve gelecek öngörülerinde permakültürün yerine dikkat çekip, sonuç bölümünde de permakültürün küresel iklim krizine nasıl merhem olabileceğine (yerine göre kendi gözlem ve deneyimlerimden örnek vererek) dikkat çekeceğim.
Permakültür nedir ve nasıl doğdu?
Permakültür insan yerleşimiyle ilgili barınak ve enerji kullanımından toplumu yeniden kurmaya kadar bütünlükçü ekolojik tasarım yöntemidir. Permakültürün babası Avustralyalı Bill Mollison’un Bir Tasarımcının El Kitabı (1) nda değindigi şu nokta önemlidir:
… Bir permakültür sisteminde yapılacak iş en aza indirgenir. Atıklar kaynak haline getirilir. Sonuç olarak üretimde zenginlik ve aynı zamanda doğanın yeniden restore edilmesi sağlanır.
Permakültür kıtlık senaryolarına karşı bolluk, bir başka deyişle kendine yeterlilik yaratmayı amaçlar. Böylelikle kapitalizme ve endüstriyelizme karşı duruşu söz konusudur. Avustralya’da 7 yıl yaşamış biri olarak permakültürün neden dünyanın yeraltı suyu anlamında en kurak kıtasında doğduğunu anlayabiliyorum. Orada yaşadığım sürece uranyum madenciliğinden, asırlık ormanların yok edilmesine kadar bir dizi ekolojik etkinliğe katkı verdim. Bugün Avustralya’nın özellikle Mebourne, Sydney ve Brisbane gibi büyük kentlerinde mahalle bazında permablitz yani permakültür halk hareketi gelişiyorsa, bu aynı zamanda küresel iklim değişimi sonucu ülkenin karşılaştığı kuraklık ve susuzluk nedeniyledir. Kuraklık diğer ülkelerde yok mu diyeceksiniz. Ama Avustralya’nın yeraltı yapısı olarak dünyanın en kuru kıtası olduğunu unutmayalım.
Avustralya bugün permakültürü yasalarına geçirererek ülke politikasında permakültüre doğrudan yer vermeye çalışıyor. Permakültür üniversitelerin bazılarında yüksek lisans ve doktora eğitimi durumdadır. Umarım bir gün bu çabalar Avustralya ekolojisine olduğu kadar ekonomi ve politiğine de damgasını vuracak duruma gelir.
Avustralya’nın toprakları (Türkiye dahil dünyanın birçok yerinde olduğu gibi) hassasiyet bekliyor. Çok değil, 12 yıl önce o ülkeye göç ettiğim dönemde oğlumun bebekken Victorıa eyaleti ile New Sout Wales arasındaki büyük Murray Nehri kıyısında çektiğim fotografının yeri bugün adeta hayalet bir tablo oluşturuyor. Hayvancılık ve tarımda kullanılan kimyasallar o koca nehri kurutmuş durumdadır. O yanlış uygulamalar sonucu ülkenin bir kısmının hem toprağı tuzlandı, hem de bazı nehir ve dereleri kurudu. Bunun yanında dünyanın sekizinci harikası olarak bilinen Queensland kıyısındaki Great Barrier Reef mercanlarının renk ve canlılığı kaybolmuş, adeta bir kül tabakasıyla kaplanmış durumda. Hatta toprağı tuzlanan iç bölgelerde bazı evlerin duvarları yıkılıyor. Bunun yanında Avustralya’nın ekonomisinin madenciliğe dayandığını da anımsamak gerekir. Madencilik en fazla yeraltı suyu kullanan endüstridir.
Permakültürün kökü yerli/eski kültürlerde
Mollison permakültürün kökünün eski kültürlere ve yerli (aborijin) kültürüne dayandığını vurgular. Hatta permakültür sembolü; aborijinlerin bir düş zamanı (dream time) öyküsündeki yılanın çevrelediği doğayı ve onun yer ve gökle bağlantısını yansıtır. Mollison’un Japon doğal tarım felsefecisi ve çiftçisi Masanobu Fukuoka’dan da esinlendiği dikkat çeker. Fukuoka 96 yıllık yaşamının yaklaşık son 45/50 yılını endüstriyel tarımın yıkıcılığına karşı doğal tarım yöntemlerini geliştirip dünyayla paylaşmaya adadı. Fukuoka’nın deneyimlerini Ekin Sapı Devrimi kitabında toplayıp dünyada ilk kez yayınlanmasını sağlayan Amerikalı Larry Korn’la son yıllarda ortak çalışma fırsatım oldu. Kendisinden Fukuoka’yla ilgili öyküleri her seferinde başka bir tad alarak dinledim. Korn Fukuoka’nın öğrencisi olarak Japonya’nın güneyindeki ile çifliğinde geçirdiği zamanı ve Fukuoka ile ilgili kitaplara yansımayan izlenimlerini şöyle anlatır:
‘Sensei uzun saçlarım ve sakalıma rağmen beni sıcak karşıladı. Daha önce hiçbir yerde görmediğim (taneleri iri iri olan) pirinç tarlasına şaşkınlıkla yaklaştığımı görünce şöyle dedi: ‘Bu pirinç böyle muhteşem büyüdü. Çünkü bu tarla 25 yıldır hiç sürülmedi’ ” (2).
Doğaldır ki endüstriyel tarımın göz kamaştırdığı dönemde Fukuoka’nın yıllarca doğal tarım bilgi ve deneyimlerini derlediği kitabı uzun süre yayıncı bulamamış. Kimyasallar olamdan, toprağı belleyip sürmeden ona canlılık verilebileceğine kimse inanmamış. Oysa doğal tarım yöntemi bugün permakültür literatürüne girmiş durumdadır. Toprağa her yıl organik madde ilave ederek ona daha fazla can katılabileceği deneyimlerle kanıtlanmıştır.
Korn ayrıca Fukuoka’yı ilk kez Amerikaya davet ettiğinde Los Angeles’daki parklarda ve yol kenarlarında gördüğü her yeni bitkiyi nasıl heyecanla incelediğini paylaşır. Gezisi sonunda ABD’de en çok neyi ilginç bulduğunu sorar. Fukuoka’nın şu bu bitkileri demesini bekler. Fukuoka ise, “Los Angeles’taki insanların yağmuru nasıl uygunsuz buldukları” diye yanıt verir. “İnsanın bu denli doğadan kopmuş olmasına üzüldüm” der Fukuoka… Bu noktada Avustralya’daki aborijin arkadaşlarımın açık havadaki bir toplantı sırasında yağmur başlamışsa hiç istiflerini bozmadan konuya konsantre oldukları aklıma geliyor. Her bir damlanın kendilerini kutsadıklarını düşünürlerdi. Elbette sel felaketi altında yağmur altında kalmayı kastetmiyorum.
Permakültür Mollison tarafından 1970 lerde ‘kalıcı tarım’ (permanent agriculture) olarak geliştirildi. Daha sonraki yıllarda köktenci bir hareket olarak dünyaya yayılmaya devam etti ve ediyor. Örneğin, Afrikalıların bugün okullarda uyguladığı su kullanımını en aza indirgeyen Anahtar Deliği şeklinde bahçeler (Key Hole Gardens), Azteklerin ‘sihirli tenceresi’, Fransız ve Almanların kompost yığınından elde ettikleri enerjiyle sıcak su, Anadolu’nun saman evi ya da Hindistan’ın biyodinamik yöntemlerine ilişkin bilgi ve deneyim birikimi yüzyıllar öncesine dayanıyor. Ve bunlar şimdi permakültürde kullandığımız ekolojik teknik ve yöntemlerden bazılarını oluşturur.
Permakültür etik ve ilkeleri
Mollison’un permakültürü etik temellere dayanır. Endüstriyelist bir dünyada etik gittikçe unutulmuş ve hatta tozlu rafları boylamış durumdayken böylesi bir yaklaşım yararlıdır. Kapitalist toplum doğada kaynak olarak görmediği herşeyi yok eder. Çünkü doğası gereği sürekli büyüme üzerine kurulmuştur. Oysa her canlının doğup büyümeye ulaştıktan sonra durduğu bir nokta vardır. Küresel iklim krizini de tüketime dayalı bu doğrusal büyüme yarattı.
Permakültürün üç temel etik ilkesi ise Yeryüzünü Koru, İnsanları Koru ve üçüncüsü de Ürettiğinin Fazlasını Paylaş’tır. Buna dördüncü bir etik ilke ekleyenler vardır ki; o da nüfusa ve tüketime sınır getirmeye dairdir. Bence sorun tüketime yönelik politikalarla insanın kendini doğanın bir parçası olarak görmekten uzaklaştırılmış olmasındadır. Kendini doğanın bir parçası olarak gören insan zaten kendi türünü de sınırsızca büyütmeyecektir. Yoksa bu ne Çin’de olduğu gibi hükümet politikasıyla, ne de başka bir zorlamayla olur. Tek çocuk politikasıyla erkek egemen toplumda kız çocuklarının kürtaj çöplüklerini boylaması, ya da diri diri gömülmesi insanlığın utancı değil midir? Bunun yanında ekolojistler arasında dahi üçüncü dünya nüfusunu yeryüzünde bir ‘ur’ olarak görenler vardır.
Bir başka örnek de Güney Doğu Asya’dan: Küresel iklim değişimi nedeniyle zamanla ülkenin %70′inin sular altında kalacağı öngörülen Bangaldeş’te son yıllarda kadınları kısırlaştırma politikası izlenmesi söz konusudur. Bu durum; yerlilerin sayıca artmasını istemeyen beyaz adamın kontrol politikasını anımsatıyor. İklim politikası olarak karbon ticaretini yürürlüğe koymak isteyen kapitalist mantık Bangaldeş’in ya da Pasifik’teki adaların sular altında kalmaya başlamasının asıl sorumlusu değil midir?
Yerli dilinde Aotearo denilen Yeni Zelanda’da İnnermost Gardens adlı sığınmacı ve yeni göçmenler için bir permakültür projesi geliştirdiğim(iz) dönemde oranın yerlilerinden öğrendiğim bir şey oldu: Doğadan bir şey almadan önce yerine ne koyacağını düşün! Demek istediğimi bu tümce çok güzel özetliyor. Permakültürle insanlara doğanın bir parçası olduğunu anımsatmaya ve doğanın her acısının bizim de acımız olduğunu anlatmaya çalışmalıyız. Asıl sorun doğaya yabancılaşmış ve onu kullanıp atılacak ya da atık depolanacak bir nesne olarak gören hiyerarşik toplumsal sistemlerdedir! Dolayısıyla permakültürü insanın doğayla bozulmuş ilişkisini ve onun etkisini gidermeye yönelik olarak düşündüğümden yerine göre ‘ekolojik restorasyon’ demeyi tercih ediyorum.
Permakültürle ekolojik tasarımlarımızda, enerji ve su kullanımından arazi kullanımına kadar her elementin birden fazla işleviolması ve her elementin ise birbiriyle entegrasyonu en önemli noktalardandır. Bir sistemin çıktısı diğer bir sistemin girdisi olmalıdır ki, atık üretilmesin.
Sınır etkisi (edge effect) dediğimizde de kullanılacak alanı azamiye çıkarılırken farklı tür ve ekosistemi çeşitlenmesini de amaçlarız. Bu durum komşuyla olan maddi iletişimi de doğrudan ilgilendirir. Örneğin, bahçemizi çit ya da duvarla soğuk bir şekilde ayırmak yerine ortaklaşmayı artıran çok yıllı yenebilir bitkilerden oluşan böğürtlen, asma, vb. dikine büyüyebilen bitkilerden bir alan yaratabiliriz. Böylece hem bütünlüğü oluşan geniş yeşil alanımız olur, hem de komşumuzla ortak paylaşımımızı artırabiliriz. Anadolu’nun bazı yerlerinde iki tarla arasını ‘an’ olarak isimlendirirler. Oralarda en ilginç otlar biter. Bu da kanıtlıyor ki sınırlarda yaratıcılık vardır. Bir başka örnek insan yerleşimlerinden verelim. Örneğin, gerek İstanbul, İzmir gibi tarihsel olarak etniklerin yaşadığı mahalleler olsun, gerekse Batı ülkelerinde, hakim kültürün dışındaki etnik toplulukların alanlarında hem farklı tatlar hem de farklı renkler ve hatta mimari biçimleri göze çarpar.
Dünyanın başka yerlerinde olduğu gibi ABD’nin Oregon ve Washington eyaletlerinde post-karbon kentleri yaratma yolunda bir dizi önlem alınıyor. Bunlardan biri herkesin kompost yapması ya da bahçe ve mutfağından çıkan organik atıkları belediyenin topladığı günlerde hazır etmesidir. Bunun yanında kaldırım ve kavşaklara yenebilir bitkilerden bahçeler oluşturmak ve bahçede yetiştirilen sebze ve meyvelerin fazlasını satmak ya da değiştirmek ve hatta kentte 2 keçi, 4 tavuk ve arı kovanı bulundurmak yasallaşmıştır. Bu yolla hem yiyecek güvenliği sağlanırken hem de karbon ayak izinin yerelliğe odaklanılarak azaltılması amaçlanmaktadır.
Mıntıka ve Sektör (Dilim) analizi
Tasarımlarımızda göz önüne alacağımız başka önemli bir nokta ise zon (mıntıka) ve sektör (dilim) analizidir. Zonları işlevsel kriterlere göre tasarlayabilmemize rağmen sektörleri ekolojik olarak bir arada uyum içinde yaşayacak şekilde düzenleme yaparız. Çünkü sektörler arazi ya da proje ile gelen özelliklerdir. Bizim insiyatif alanımız dışındadır. Onları değiştiremeyiz ancak gözleyip veri toplayarak tasarımımızı ona göre yapabiliriz. Örneğin, bir hastane tasarlarken pasif ve aktif enerji kullanımına dikkat etmek için ğüneşin mevsimlere göre proje alanını nasıl selamladığı, hakim rüzgarların nereden estiği, eğer kaçınılmazsa yakınında olan fabrika bacasından gelebilecek kirliliğe karşı nasıl önlem alabileceğimizi dikkate almalıyız.
Zonlara gelince; arazimizin büyüklüğünü mümkünse beş bölgeye ayılarak en sık kullandığımız alandan en seyrek kullanacağımız alana kadar ve her bölgeye gereksinime göre işlev, hatta birkaç işlev yükleyebiliriz. Böylelikle şifalı otlar bahçesi (örneğin) hastane mutfağının en yakınında (Zon 1’de) yer alırken, yaban hayatına yer ayırdığımız vahşi yaşam koridoru ise hastanenin en uzağındaki (Zon 5’de) yer almalıdır. Böylece hastalar o kimsenin rahatsız etmeyeceği yerde meditasyon yapabilsinler. Ara yerdeki 3. Zonda tavukların ya da kazların meyva ağaçları altında gezinmeleri hatta keçilerin ziyaretçi çocuklarıyla iletişim kudrukları bir alan olabilir. Böylece tavuklar/kazlar serbestçe gezindikleri yerleri doğal olarak gübrelerken topraktaki salyangoz vb. ‘zararlıları’ yem olarak kullanacaktır. Doğayla bütünleşmiş yaşam emek yoğun olmakla birlikte eğer başından itibaren akılcı bir sistem tasarlarsak sonraki yapılacak işi aza indirgemiş oluruz.
Gelecek öngörülerinde permakültür
Endüstriyel yaşamda herşeyin en üst noktaya geldiği dikkate alınırsa enerji yoğun olmayan yaşam kurmamamız gerektiği kaçınılmazdır. Enerji kullanımı açısından önümüzdeki yüzyıl ve ötesi için baktığımızda dört senaryo göze çarpar (5). Bunlardan birincisi yukarıda bahsettiğimiz kapitalizmin devasa enerji kaynakları yaratarak sürekli büyümeye devam etmesidir. Bu durumda öteki gezegenlerde yeni istila alanları aramamız gerekiryor. İkinci senaryo ise teknolojik stabiliteye dayanıyor. Eğer nüfus artışını durdurursak kaynak tüketimi de kendiliğinden azalacaktır. Bu senaryoya göre kimin ne kadar tükettiği dikkate alınmamış oluyor. Sanki bir Amerikalı ile Bangladeşli ya da bir Anadolu köylüsü ile Sabancı’nın yarattığı karbon ayak izi eşitmiş gibi…Üçüncü senaryo ise enerji kullanımını azaltmaya ve toplumu endüstri öncesi yaşam koşullarına çekmeye yöneliktir. Aynı zamanda gerek ekonomik gerekse ekolojik krizlerle nüfusun bir kısmının kendiliğinden zaten yok olacağı varsayılır. Küçük ekoköy dizilerinden oluşan binlerce nüfuslu bir topluluk eger tepeden inme yönetiliyorsa ve kendileri yönetime katılamıyorsa onlar adına başkaları karar verirken demokrasi ne kadar işleyecektir? Dördüncü senaryo ise çöküştür. Bir başka deyişle gelinen noktada uyğarlığın zaten çökmeye başladığıdır… Bu durumda vahşi yaşama dönmekten başka çare yoktur.
Permakültür ise bize yalnızca çöküşle var oluş arasında ümit vadetmekle kalmaz. Aynı zamanda yaratıcı yöntemlerle toplumu yeniden şekillendirmeyi ve evrimine yardımcı olmayı amaçlar. Bunu yaparken de merkezi olmayan insani boyutta yeşil teknonolojiler önerir. Kısacası teknik stabilite ile yeşil teknolojiler arasında yaratıcılığın kullanıldığı bir alanı temsil eder. Sürdürülebilir yaşam tasarımları için eğer kendi kendini yöneten ve besleyen sosyal ve maddi sistemler kurarsak bunu sağlamak mümkündür.
Toplumsal permakültürle küresel iklim değişiminin yaralarını nasıl sarabiliriz?
Bugün geldiğimiz noktada yaşamın her alanında ekolojik restorasyon gereklidir. Öyleyse öncelikle insanın doğayla bozulmuş ilişkisini onarmaya odaklanmalıyız. Bir Toplumsal Ekolojist olarak toplumsal odaklı bir permakültürü benimsiyorum. Seller yükselirken bir adaya ya da dağ başına çekilip kuracağımız ‘permakültür cenneti’nde huzur bulmamız mümkün olmadığına göre…
Permakültürün kökü eskiye dayanmakla birlikte insanlığın bugüne kadarki pratik bilgi ve deneyim birikimi de önemlidir. Permakültürde uygun teknolojiler olarak tanımladığımız merkezileşmiş olmayan teknolojilerle kendimize yeten ve komşu köy ve kasaba ya da kentle dayanışan yaşamlar oluşturabiliriz. Bu noktada kuracağımız sistemin boyutu önemli olmakla birlikte nasıl yönetildiği daha da önem taşımaktadır. Örneğin, yenilenebilir enerji olarak yöreye uygunsa rüzgar tribününe evet. Ama eğer bir kasabanın tüm enerjisi tek bir rüzgar enerjisi firması tarafından kontrol altına alınmışsa bu da merkezileşme demektir. Ayrıca tasarımımıza göre bir sistemin çökmesi durumunda öteki sistem devreye girmelidir ki; bu şekilde sistemimiz dirençli olsun. Bu da permakültürün tek bir kaynağa bağlı kalmaksızın çeşitlilikten direnç doğar ilkesidir.
Araştırmalara göre endüstriyel hayvancılık ve tarımın iklim değişimindeki payı en az beşte birdir. Türkiye’nin de gittikçe artan erozyon ve kuraklıkla yüzyüze olduğu hesaba katılırsa hem var olan uygulamaları değiştirmeyi hem de her damla suyun koruması ve yeniden kullanıma geçirilmesi gerekir. Bu uygulamalar yağmur suyu hasadından, suyun yeraltında ve yer üstünde tutulması ve gri su dediğimiz mutfak ve banyo sularının yeniden kullanılmasını içerir. Buna ek olarak; kent yaşamında su kullanım oranının tuvaletlerde %26 civarında olduğu dikkate alınırsa, bir apartman dairesinde dahi kullanabileceğimiz ve hiç kokusu olmayan kompost tuvaletleri düşünmeye başlamanın zamanıdır sanıyorum.
Bugün küresel iklim krizinin toplumsal, sosyal ve ekonomik boyutlara kadar yaşamımızın her alanını etkilediği açıktır. Oysa kapitalist sistem doğadaki her şeye kaynak olarak baktığı sürece artan kuraklıkta ne dereleri ne de yerin altını rahat bırakacaktır. Türkiye’de derereler ve nehirler üzerine kurulacak iki bini geçen küçük hidro elektrik santral (HES ler) ve yüzlerce maden ruhsatı gelecegimizin su kriziyle karşı karşıya olduğunu gösteriyor. Elbette bunlara karşı duruşu sürdürmeliyiz. Permakültür uygulamalarıyla da bireysel olarak sürdürülebilir bir yaşam tasarlamanın ötesinde toplumsal değişimi amaçlarsak gerçek anlamda farklılık yaratmaya katkıda bulunabiliriz. Yoksa kapitalizm de yeşil teknolojiler kendini yeşillendirme çabasında…
Permakültür projelerinde ölçek önemli değildir. Bir dönümlük arazimizi planlayabileceğimiz gibi onlarca dönümlük ekoçiftlik veya ekoköy tasarlayabiliriz. 21. Yüzyılın başında Çin hükümeti permakültürcülere geleceğin eko kentlerini planlatmaya başladı. Günümüzün bir başka örneği de Afrika’dan: Zimbabve dahil bir dizi Afrika ülkesi kent ve kırdaki tarımı Afrikayı Planla (PlanAfrica ) kuruluşu altında permakültürcülere yaptırıyor ve bu ülke politikası haline gelmiş durumda. Türkiye’de belediyeler düzeyinde hareket edip çok geçmeden permakültür ve doğal tarım uygulamalarıyla kendine yeterliliğine adım atılmasını sağlamaya çalışmalıyız.
Yazının başlangıcında söz ettiğimiz David Suzuki’nin deyimi doğrudur. Permakültürcüler söz üretmekten ziyade iş üretmeye başka bir deyişle mümkün olanı göstermeye çalışırlar. Permakültür köktenci bir yaşam değişimi önerdiği için evrimci olduğu kadar devrimcidir. Hiçbir şey kendi başına var olmadığı gibi permakültür de ne eczacıdan alınıp sürülecek mucizevi bir merhem ne de spiritüel pratiklerle bir an kendimizi rahatlatacağımız ama sonra tekrar gerçekle yüzyüze geldiğimizde bunalıma gireceğimiz bir yöntemdir. Herkesin permakültürü kendine deyip en azından benimki tüm sistemi sorgulamaya yöneliktir. Elbette bu da birçok başka şeyden öğrenmeyi gerektiriyor. En önemlisi de neredeyse 15 yıllık permakültür tanışıklığı ve uygulamalarım bana permakültürün köklerinin Anadolu’daki bilge köylü yaşamında, Afrika’daki kadının anahtar deliği bahçesinde, Hindistan’daki çiftçinin biyodinamik tarımında ve Maorilerin toplumsal seramonilerinde olduğunu gösteriyor. O bilgelikleri bugünün gerçekliğiyle sentezleyebilirsek karbondioksit emisyonlarımızı 350ppm‘in dahi gerisine çekme kültürü geliştirebileceğimize inanıyorum.
[Yazı Üç Ekoloji Dergisi için yazıldı]
1. Bill Mollison, Permaculture : A Designer’s Manual /Bir Tasarımcının El Kitabı.
2. Larry Korn, Fukuoka’nın kitabı ‘One Straw Revolution’ın (Ekin Sapı Devrimi, Kaos Yayınları) editörü .
Web sayfası: http://www.larrykorn.net
3. http://cityrepair.org/ Ekolojik mimar Mark Lakeman kurucularından.
4. Michael Doliner, Oil and War. http://www.swans.com/library/art13/mdolin21.html.
5.Gelecek Senaryoları- http://www.futurescenarios.org/content/view/16/31/
Bu başarısızlık elbette meseleye nereden, hangi zaviyeden bakıldığıyla ilgili bir yargı. Neticede egemenler bu son yirmi yıl içerisinde atmosferin metalaştırılması ve iklim krizine piyasa mekanizmalarını devreye sokarak yanıt verme hususunda epey mesafe kat ettiler, oldukça “başarılı” oldular. Egemenler ekolojik krizi doğanın metalaştırılmasını katmerleştirmek için bir fırsat olarak değerlendirmekteler. Bu anlamda Cancun, iklim kapitalizmi açısından yeni bir “ileri adım” olarak, bir yıl önce Kopenhag zirvesinde ciddi yara alan yeşil kapitalizmi yeniden parlatmak olarak değerlendirilebilir elbet.
Cancun’da, iklim değişiminin kontrolden çıkmasına yol açacak eşiğin geçilmesini engellemek için zorunlu olan, sera gazı emisyonlarının 2015 yılında zirveye ulaştıktan sonra 2050 yılına kadar yüzde 80-90 oranında azaltılmasına ilişkin zorunlu ve bağlayıcı bir indirime dair neredeyse hiçbir şey söylenmedi. Üstelik anlaşma metninde zikredilen “gönüllü taahhütler” yerine getirilse dahi gezegeni, ani iklim değişimini engellemek için sınır olarak gösterilen yeryüzü ortalama sıcaklığında 1 – 2 derecelik bir artıştan çok daha ötelere 3 ile 5 derecelik bir artışa götürmeye aday. Anlaşma metni iklim krizinin önüne geçmede temel paradigmanın piyasa mekanizmaları olduğunu kuvvetle onaylıyor bir kez daha. Ormanların metalaştırılmasına son noktayı koyacak REDD, karbon ticareti, yoksul güneye mali yardımlar gibi mekanizmaların tümü egemen sınıfın krizi yönetmede piyasayı en büyük araç olarak gördüğünü gösteriyor.
İklim krizinden en çok etkilenecek güneyin yoksul halklarının emisyon indirimlerine gitmelerini sağlayacak ve iklim değişimine “adapte” olmalarını sağlayacak kuzeyin mali yardımı konusunda ise bol nutuktan başka bir şey işitilmedi. Üstelik böylesi devasa bir hedef için önerilen cılız kaynaklar, ABD’nin Füze Kalkanı projesi için öngördüğü mali kaynaktan bile daha az. Egemenlerin öncelikleri hususunda daha açık bir örneğe ihtiyaç var mı? Yine iklim değişiminden en olumsuz etkilenecek ülkelere (okyanustaki küçük ada devletleri) yapılacak mali yardımın, bunların başta ABD olmak üzere kuzeyin zengin ülkelerinin iklim ajandasına uyum sağlamalarını sağlayacak bir rüşvet olarak değerlendirmek de mümkün. Neticede bu ülke elitleri, içerisinde ekolojik ve toplumsal sicili malum Dünya Bankası’nın da yer aldığı mali yardım mekanizması sayesinde bir önceki Taraflar Konferansı’ndaki eleştirilerinden geri adım atıyorlar. Öte yandan, daha kısa bir süre önce Meksika Körfezi’nde dünyanın en büyük ekolojik felaketine imza atan BP, Rusya ile Kuzey Buz Denizi’nde fosil yakıtlar arama konusunda anlaştı. Büyük fosil yakıt şirketleri büyük ölçüde halkla ilişkiler işlevi üstlenen yenilenebilir enerji konusundaki yatırımlarını kriz sonrası iyice kısarak gezegenin son fosil yakıt kırıntılarına el koymak için her yola başvuruyor.
Daha fazla söze hacet yok. Egemen küresel siyasi ve ekonomik yapının ekolojik krizi önlemek bir yana etkilerini sınırlama noktasında dahi iflas ettiği aşikar. Sadece iklim krizi düşünüldüğünde dahi küresel egemenlerin çok değerli yirmi yılı çaldıklarını söylemek mümkün ve krizin kontrol edilemez boyutlara varmasını engelleyecek zaman aralığı oldukça daralmış durumda. Böylesine bir bilançoya rağmen Cancun’da Birleşmiş Milletler sürecinin bir şekilde devam etmiş olmasını, alınan cılız kararları dahi bir “ilerleme”, “doğru yönde atılmış bir adım” olarak görenler içinse söylenebilecek çok az şey var. Cancun’da alınan kararlara tek başına karşı çıkan Bolivya’nın BM elçisi Pablo Solon’un da vurguladığı gibi, “yanlış zaferler, yanlış anlaşmalar gezegeni kurtarmayacak”. Bugün iklim krizi karşısında hiçbir şey yapmamaktan daha kötü olan bir şey varsa o da bir şeyler yapıyormuş gibi görünmektir. Cancun’daki süreçte başta ABD olmak üzere zengin kuzey ülke temsilcilerinin aldıkları tavır da budur ve iklim adaleti hareketinin birincil görevi yeryüzündeki yaşam üzerine oynanan bu oyunun gerçek karakterini ifşa etmektir.
İklim krizi gelecek kuşakları ilgilendiren, “çocuklarımızın”, “torunlarımızın” maruz kalacakları bazı olumsuzluklar yaratacak bir olgu değil. Geride bıraktığımız yıl iklim krizinin etkilerinin daha şimdiden dünya ölçeğinde yüz milyonlarca insanın hayatını doğrudan tehdit eden bir mahiyete kavuştuğunun açık göstergeleriyle doluydu. Rusya’daki orman yangınları ve Pakistan’daki muazzam felaketin yaraları daha sarılmamışken Brezilya, Avustralya ve Sri Lanka’dan sel haberleri geldi. Bir yandan küresel sermayenin kâr hırsı öte yandan iklimin giderek istikrasızlaşmasının kıskacı altında dünya gıda fiyatları yeniden rekor seviyelere ulaşıyor ve yeryüzündeki milyarlarca insan için gıda ve suya ulaşma giderek daha zor hale geliyor. İklimin istikrarsızlaşmasının bedelini daha şimdiden küresel güneyin yoksul halkları ödemeye başladılar ve içine girdiğimiz yılın bu açıdan daha farklı olacağını söylemek mümkün değil.
Türkiye’de ise AKP iktidarı krizi aşmanın yolunu emek ve doğanın üzerindeki sermaye baskısını yoğunlaştırmakta buluyor. Önümüzdeki günlerde Meclis’te tartışılmaya başlanacak Tabiatı ve Biyolojik Çeşitliliği Koruma kanun tasarısı doğal ve kültürel ortak varlıkların tamamını sermayenin sömürüsüne açık hale getiriyor. Tasarıda kullanılan “üstün kamu yararı” ve “stratejik kullanım” gibi ifadelerle doğal alanların korunması siyasi iktidar ve sermayenin insafına bırakılıyor. AKP’nin sermaye birikim stratejisi çerçevesinde doğa ve emeğin sömürüsünü katmerlendiren nükleer, HES, termik santral girişimleri karşısında oluşan muhalefet hareketleri giderek seslerini daha gür duyurmaya başlıyor ve Türkiye’de emek ve doğanın sömürüsüne karşı kitlesel ve militan bir direniş cephesinin potansiyellerini açığa çıkarıyorlar. Bu noktada bu yerel hareket ve mücadelelerin birbirleriyle etkileşime geçmeleri, dayanışmaları ve taleplerini ortaklaştırmaları önem kazanıyor. Tekil muhalefet odaklarının, doğa ve emeğin topyekûn sömürüsüne karşı daha bütünsel ve küresel bir algı oluşturmaları, hareketlerin sürekliliğini sağlayacak ve söz ve eylem kapasitelerini de arttıracaktır. Bu bağlamda Gerze’de termik santrallere karşı oluşan muhalefetin önayak olmasıyla birçok başka hareketin katılımıyla gerçekleştirilen İklim Adaleti Buluşması, devamının getirilmesi gereken önemli bir örnek oluşturuyor.
Bugün çok daha yüksek sesle haykırmak gerekiyor: Sermaye kendi yarattığı krizi çözemez. Olsa olsa kendi yarattığı krizlerin maliyetini aşağıdakilere çıkartır. Müesses nizam ekolojik krizin çözümü konusunda bugüne kadar gösterdiği performansla siyasal ve ahlaki meşruiyetini yitirmiştir. Sermayenin krizi ve ekolojik kriz karşısında çözümü egemenlerden beklemek beyhudedir. İçinde bulunduğumuz kapitalist uygarlığın krizinden ancak yeryüzünün tüm iklim kurbanlarının ve ezilenlerinin mücadelesiyle çıkabileceğimizi durmaksızın savunmak gerekiyor. Doğasına ve emeğine sahip çıkan kitle mücadelelerinin boy vermesine katkı sağlamak önümüzdeki dönemin en yakıcı görevini oluşturuyor. Dünya ölçeğinde sadece felaket haberleri yok elbette. Geçtiğimiz haftalarda Cezayir ve Tunus’ta gerçekleşen yeni yılın ilk ayaklanmalarında kitleler sömürü ve baskıya sonsuza dek katlanmayacaklarını bir kez daha gösterdiler. Tunus’ta diktatörlüğü deviren halk hareketi geleceğin umudunun bir işareti.
“Gerçekçi” olmak adına iklim krizinin önlenmesi, ekosistemlerin onarılması için krizi bizzat yaratanlardan gelecek başarısızlığı defalarca kanıtlanmış sözde çözüm kırıntılarına bel bağlamak, “sonuç alıcı” olmak adına projeciliğe, lobiciliğe savrulmak kadar (olumsuz anlamda) “ütopik” bir tutum yok bugün. Egemenlerden ekolojik kriz karşısında aktif tutum almalarını beklemek, hükümetleri ya da sermaye çevrelerini iklim kurbanları lehine harekete geçmeye teşvik etmek ham hayalden ibaret. Dolayısıyla bugün ekolojik kriz karşısında bütünsel, “sistemik” çözümler aramak, bu çözümleri pratikte sınamanın yollarını bulmak ve bu yolda aşağıdakilerin gücünü seferber etmekten başka yol yok. “Gerçekçi ol, imkânsızı iste” sloganı hiç bugünkü kadar “gerçekçi” olmamıştı.
(Bu yazı Ekoloji Kolektifi’nin yayını Kolektif dergisinin 8. sayısında neşredilmiştir.)
The powerful coalition that wants to engineer the world’s climate
Businessmen, scientists and right-wing thinktanks are joining forces to promote ‘geo-engineering’ ideas to cool the planet’s climate
by Clive Hamilton
guardian.co.uk, Monday 13 September 2010
Read the article here:
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Excerpts and my comments:
Or dark-coloured forests could be converted into light-coloured grasslands that reflect more sunlight.
Cut down forests to save the environment — they’re really saying this? They’ll do anything to avoid slowing down their profit-machine global economy.
Economically it is an extremely attractive substitute because its cost is estimated to be ‘trivial’ compared to those of cutting carbon pollution.
They deny global warming until it’s too late, then suddenly it’s an emergency only they can solve by insane means.
A year ago an article about this came out in the NYT with the tone of “geoengineering is an interesting crazy idea that no one believes will ever happen.” As soon as they did that, it was clear what the direction of it would be. They always float out new outrageous things as “crazy ideas that they would never do” to get the public used to it, to prepare us for later shoving it down our throats.
We need to stop these people.
This is a draft leaflet I wrote and am proposing for a group of South Florida activists. Even though it’s not final, I’ll share it here.
* * *
OUR PLANET, OUR PEOPLE ARE NOT EXPENDABLE!
WE REFUSE TO SACRIFICE LIFE FOR CORPORATE PROFITS!
The Gulf of Mexico has been destroyed. Immeasurable, irreparable damage has been done to wildlife, the health of the ocean, and people’s livelihoods. We have been cursed for years to come. It can not, as BP promises, be “made right.” In fact, even after this utter catastrophe, crimes against the planet and its inhabitants continue without pause.
We are told that the government is supposed to guarantee the rights of the people. But when a big corporation decides our rights are not in their interests, then POOF! They vanish into thin air. In a clear violation of our rights to free speech and a free press, government agencies have assisted BP’s lies and cover-up by restricting media access, threatening journalists with felony charges and $40,000 fines. Uniformed police officers in Louisiana have harassed photographers at public beaches. BP has threatened workers with firing if they talk to anyone about anything.
We are also told that the government’s purpose is to protect the country and us. But instead the government helps big corporations plunder the country and trash our lives. The Minerals Management Service allowed BP to cut corners and violate safety regulations, leading finally to the fatal decision to save a few hundred thousand dollars by not installing a backup valve.
When BP ignored an order by the Environmental Protection Agency to stop using the dispersant Corexit 9500 (a poisonous compound banned in Europe), the EPA did absolutely nothing. Millions of gallons are still being dumped into the Gulf, even as it has been shown to evaporate and fall as toxic rain, and is damaging plants far inland.
BP and its employees have given more than $3.5 million to federal candidates during the past 20 years, with the biggest portion going to Obama. It also spent $15.9 million on lobbying last year alone, for the purpose of controlling energy policy.
What does all this tell us?
The government repeatedly sells us out to corporate interests. It sells out our rights, our health, our safety, our livelihoods, our lives, and the natural world. The government is merely a tool to facilitate the conversion of life into profit.
The BP spill is not an accident. It is an inevitable consequence of a global economic system that values profit over life. The BP spill is not unique. Oil companies have ruined large areas of the Niger Delta, Ecuador and other parts of the world, and they will continue to do so until they are stopped.
The ruthless pursuit of profit has caused 98% of old growth forests to be cut down. 99% of the prairies are gone. 80% of rivers worldwide no longer support life. 94% of the large fish in the oceans are gone. 120 species per day becomes extinct. Now the Gulf of Mexico has been ruined. Clearly, a global economic system based on perpetual growth is unsustainable. Yet those who run this system do not stop, will not stop.
At what point will we stop accepting this?
We can not stand by while big corporations like BP, with the assistance of the US government, destroy our lives and our planet. We should have stopped them a long time ago. Now we must stop them before they do even more damage, before they kill everything. We depend upon the natural world — we must now urgently come to its defense.
If we really believed what scientists are telling us about global warming, the fire engines of every fire department would sound their sirens and race to the nearest factory to extinguish its furnaces. Every high school student would run to the thermostat of every classroom, turn it off, and tear it out of the wall, then hit the parking lot to slash tires. Every responsible suburban parent would don safety gloves and walk around the block pulling the electrical meters out of the utility boxes behind houses and condominiums. Every gas station attendant would press the emergency button to shut off the pumps, cut the hoses, and glue the locks on the doors; every coal and petroleum corporation would immediately set about burying their unused product where it came from—using only the muscles of their own arms, of course.
But we’re too out of touch to grasp what’s happening, let alone put a stop to it.
Those who learn about the destruction of the environment from books or the internet can’t hope to rescue anything. The decimation of the natural world has been going on around us for centuries now; it takes a particularly bourgeois brand of blindness to drive by felled trees, spewing smokestacks, and acres of asphalt every day without noticing that anything is happening until it shows up in the newspaper. People for whom reality is composed of news articles, rather than the world they see and hear and smell, are bound to destroy everything they touch. That alienation is the root of the problem; the devastation of the environment simply follows from it.
When profit margins are more real than living things, when weather patterns are more real than refugees fleeing hurricanes, when emissions cap agreements are more real than new developments in our own neighborhoods, the world has already been signed over for destruction. The climate crisis isn’t an event that might happen, looming into view ahead; it is the familiar setting of our daily lives. Deforestation isn’t just taking place in national forests or foreign jungles; it is as real at every strip mall in Ohio as it is in the heart of the Amazon. The buffalo used to roam right here. Our disconnection from the land is catastrophic whether or not the sea level is rising, whether or not the desertification and famine sweeping other continents have reached us yet.
As usual, the people who brought this crisis upon us are eager to explain that they are the best qualified to remedy it. But there’s no reason to believe that their motives or methods have changed. The results are in that smoking causes cancer, but they’re still trying to sell us low-tar cigarettes.
Forget about nuclear power, solar power, clean coal, and wind turbines. Forget about carbon trading, biofuels, recycling programs, organic superfoods. Forget about new legislation, along with every other inefficient, insufficient response involving ballots, petitions, or some other proxy. Our only hope is to fight with our own hands, to take a stand on the ground beneath our feet—rediscovering in the process what it means to be a part of the world, not separate from it. Every tree they try to cut down, we can stop them. Every poison they try to release into the atmosphere, we can block them. Every new “sustainable” technology they introduce, we can unmask them.
They aren’t going to stop destroying the planet until we make it too costly for them to continue. The sooner we do, the better.
Appendix: A Field Guide to False Solutions
from the makers of global warming—“sustainable” energy!
The Corporate Solution
Where others see hardship and tragedy, entrepreneurs see an opportunity for financial gain. Putting the “green” in greenhouse gases and the “eco” in economy, they greet the apocalypse with outstretched wallets. Are natural disasters wrecking communities? That’s great—sell the survivors disaster relief and put up luxury condominiums where they used to live. Are food supplies contaminated with toxins? Slap “organic” on some of them and jack up the price—presto, what was once taken for granted in every vegetable is suddenly a selling point! Is consumer culture devouring the planet? Time for a line of environmentally friendly products, cashing in on guilt and good intentions to move more units.
So long as being “sustainable” is a privilege reserved for the rich, the crisis can only intensify. All the better for those banking on it.
The Conservative Solution
Many conservatives deny that our society is causing global warming; of course, some still don’t believe in evolution, either. But what they themselves believe is immaterial; they’re more concerned with the question of what it is profitable for others to believe. For example, when the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its 2007 report, an ExxonMobil-funded think tank linked to the Bush administration offered $10,000+ to any scientist who would dispute its findings.
That is to say—some people consider it a better investment to bribe experts to deny that anything is happening than to take any steps to avert catastrophe. Better that the apocalypse snatches us unawares so long as they can maintain their profits one more year. Sooner the end of life on earth than the possibility of life beyond capitalism!
The Liberal Solution
Certain do-gooders would like to claim credit for bringing global warming to the attention of the public, even though radicals have been clamoring about it for decades. But politicians like Al Gore are not trying to save the environment so much as to rescue the causes of its destruction. They are pressing for government and corporate recognition of the crisis because ecological collapse could destabilize capitalism if it catches them off guard. Small wonder corporate initiatives and incentives figure so prominently in the solutions they propose.
Like their conservative colleagues, liberals would sooner risk extinction than consider abandoning industrial capitalism. They’re simply too invested in it to do otherwise—witness the Gore family’s long-running relationship with Occidental Petroleum. In this light, their bid to seize the reins of the environmentalist movement looks suspiciously like a calculated effort to prevent a more realistic response to the crisis.
The Malthusian Solution
Some people attribute the crisis to overpopulation—but how many shantytown dwellers and subsistence farmers do you have to add up to equal the ecological impact of a single high-powered executive?
The Socialist Solution
For centuries, socialists have promised to grant everyone access to middle class standards of living. Now it turns out that the biosphere can’t support even a small minority pursuing that lifestyle; one might expect socialists to adjust their notion of utopia accordingly. Instead they’ve simply updated it to match the latest in bourgeois fashions: today every worker deserves to eat organic produce and live in a “green” condominium. But these products only came to be as a marketing ploy to differentiate high-end merchandise from proletarian standard fare. If you’re going to think big enough to imagine a society without class differences, you might as well aim for a future in which we share the wealth of a vibrant natural world rather than chopping it up into inert commodities.
The Communist Solution
In practice, Marxism, Leninism, and Maoism served as a convenient means to swiftly jerk “underdeveloped” nations into the industrial age, utilizing state intervention to “modernize” peoples who still retained a connection to the land before eventually dropping them unceremoniously at the margin of the free market. Today, party communists have gotten no further than blithe assurances that new management would take care of everything. Sing along to the tune of “Solidarity Forever”:
If the workers owned the factories, climate change would not exist
All the smoke from all the smokestacks would be changed to harmless mist . . .
The Individual Solution
An individual or community can live a completely “sustainable” lifestyle without doing anything to hinder the corporations and governments responsible for the vast majority of environmental devastation. Keeping one’s hands clean—“setting an example” that no statesman or tycoon will emulate—is meaningless while others lay the planet to waste. To set a better example, stop them.
The Radical Solution
Too many radicals respond to the crisis with despair or even a kind of wrongheaded anticipation. There’s no reason to believe the exhaustion of the planets petroleum supply will put an end to patriarchy or white supremacy. Likewise, it’s all too likely that hierarchy can make it through ecological collapse intact, so long as there are people left to dominate and obey.
We’ll get out of the apocalypse what we put into it: we can’t expect it to produce a more liberated society unless we put the foundations in place now. Forget about individualistic survival schemes that cast you as the Last Person on Earth—Hurricane Katrina showed that when the storm hits, the most important thing is to be part of a community that can defend itself. The coming upheavals may indeed offer a chance for fundamental social change, but we have to come up with a compelling vision and the guts to implement it.
PART I: How Capitalism has created an Ecological, Energy, and Economic Crisis
The post-WWII boom was based on cheap oil. But oil is nonrenewable, polluting, and causes global warming. It was “cheap” because the capitalists did not pay to prepare for the day when it would be harder to access oil. We have reached that day, which is one aspect of the worldwide crisis of the return to the epoch of capitalist decay.
As I write this, the United States is suffering its worst ecological disaster since the Dust Bowl. Petroleum oil is gushing out of the ocean floor at BP’s drill site in the Gulf of Mexico. For it to be gotten under control may still take months, if it can be done at all. In any case, cleaning up the ecological and economic destruction in the region will take decades; some of the effects are irreparable.
There could be no greater illustration that the worldwide crises in ecology, in energy, and in the economy are not separate problems. They are aspects of one and the same crisis of industrial capitalism in its epoch of decay.
The Capitalist Economy Depends on Cheap Oil
Originally capitalism took off in the Industrial Revolution by using coal. Without coal,there might not have been any industrial capitalism. And coal burning was the beginning of the greenhouse effect.
Competitive (non-monopoly) capitalism reached its height in the 19th century. By the 20th century it was facing fundamental crises and limits to growth. (This was due to the growth of semi-monopolies throughout the economy interacting with the tendency of the average rate of profit to fall.) This was expressed through World War I, the Great Depression, defeated European and Asian revolutions, the rise of totalitarian fascism and Stalinism, and then World War II.
Economists of all schools expected WWII to be followed by, at most, a brief boom and then a return to depressive conditions. Instead there occurred the “post-war boom,” a “Golden Age” of capitalism—at least for the industrialized, imperialist, nations. It lasted from about 1950 to 1970. There were various reasons for this, including the reorganization of world imperialism, now centered in the U.S.; the history of working class defeats; and the expansion of “peacetime” military spending (the “Permanent Arms Economy” or the “military-industrial complex”).
But one major source of the boom after World War II was turning to the widespread use of cheap oil. Liquid petroleum oil is easier to transport and use than is coal, and, for a time, easier to get at. It became the basis for almost all forms of transportation, by land, sea, and air. It powers our machines in every area. Based on cheap oil, a whole new way of life developed after WWII: the suburbs. Today about half the U.S. population lives in suburbs. Cheap oil became the basis for the enormous automobile industry which in turn was the basis for the steel industry, while suburbization directly underlay the construction industry. The highly productive agricultural “industry” (i.e. farming) was dependent not only on oil-using tractors, etc., and trucks, but also on petroleum-based artificial fertilizers and artificial pesticides. And petroleum is used to make plastics. Plastic, chemicals, and artificial fibers are used in every aspect of our housing, clothing, and medical care.
In short, our entire way of life, our whole society, our food, clothing, and shelter, has been built on cheap oil. If petroleum became expensive and/or scarce, then all industry, the economy, and society would have to be reorganized. This is what we are now facing.
The Problems of Being Dependent on Cheap Oil
There are difficulties in being so completely dependent on petroleum oil. The first is that it is limited. Oil is a “nonrenewable resource.” Sooner or later we will run out of it. More significantly, sooner or later we pass the point of “peak oil.” This is the point where half the amount of oil in the ground has been used up. This point has been passed in the continental U.S. and we may be around it on a world scale. Meanwhile there has been an increase in the demand for oil as the world’s population increases and as oppressed nations (the “Third World”) attempt to industrialize.
That does not mean that there is no more oil. There is plenty still left. But it becomes harder to get at that oil. Once all that was necessary was to stick a pipe into the ground at the right place and oil would gush out. Now we have to set up huge floating rigs way out in the ocean and drill a mile down below the sea surface and then a mile or more below the sea floor. This was what was done at BP’s site in the Gulf of Mexico.
The second set of problems with dependence on oil is that it is polluting. Humans, other animals, and plants did not evolve to function in a world with oil and plastics in the environment. Burning it puts particles in the air. It poisons us, creates asthma and cancers. Plastics are “nonbiodegradable”; once “thrown away,” plastic materials last forever. Pesticide residue is poisonous to people and other animals. And right now we see the effects of releasing vast amounts of oil into the oceans—or rather we are just beginning to see the disasterous consequences.
Disasters are rationalized as “accidents,” such as the BP or the Exxon Valdez events or the Bhopal fire which spewed pesticides over a large area of heavily populated India. But human activities are never perfect and never will be perfect. No matter how many safety mechanisms are built into the processes, accidents will happen. (This is also true of attempts to make “safe” nuclear power as an alternative to burning fossil fuels. There is no safe nuclear power. Accidents will happen.)
Finally, there is the effect of “global warming,” climate change. More than just pollution, this throws the whole worldwide climate out of balance. It is melting polar ice and ice caps on mountains. It is raising the level of the sea and will drown islands and sea coasts and the peoples who live there. It will spread deserts and cause famines. It short, it will be a civilization-wide disaster.
Another difficulty is that oil, like many other natural resources, is not evenly distributed around the world. A few places have a lot and most places have none. This has played into imperialism, wars, and corrupt dictatorships. For example, right now the U.S. is fighting in Iraq (which has the world’s second largest oil deposits) and Afghanistan (which has pipelines for natural gas go through it).
What I have said about oil is also true about other fossil fuels, namely coal and natural gas. They are also nonrenewable, limited, resources. Getting at them causes destruction of the ecological environment (e.g. mountaintop removal for coal or fractioning natural gas-bearing ground). They also have negative effects on humans and the ecoljogy, including contributing to global warming.
The use of oil and other fossil fuels has been essential to the last period of capitalist prosperity and now threatens disaster both ecologically and economically. But there are other ways in which industrial capitalism has plundered the natural world, looting its resources without paying for rebuilding them. Other minerals have been torn from the ground and released into the human environment where they do not fit our biology, such as mercury. Whole animal species are being exterminated in a continuing process, while jungles and forests (the “earth’s lungs”) are being cut down. Diseases spread through the mass use of airplane travel.
Much of this has happened as side effects of the expansion of big farms and ranches, mines and dams, and sprawling human cities and suburbs. Ruthlessly and thoughtlessly, industrial capitalism slashes the threads of the web of life in which humanity lives.
The Bill Comes Due
Imagine the capitalist management of an industrial factory. As they produce commodities, their machines and buildings (what Marx refers to as “fixed constant capital”) wear out a little. They take account of this by adding a cost to the price of the commodities. Over time they accumulate a fund so that, when the machines and buildings are worn out, they can buy new machines and structures.
But suppose they do not do that? Suppose they do not set aside a fund to rebuild the worn-out machinery but instead count that money as part of their profits (Marx’s “surplus value”). Perhaps, under pressure from their workers, they use some of that money to increase the workers’s wages (Marx’s “variable capital”). This makes their profits look larger than they really are and it permits the capitalists to buy off the workers without losing any profits. But someday the machinery does wear out and the capitalists do not have money to replace it. Factory production will stagnate. Workers will be laid off. The high profits and the workers’ high standard of living will suddenly appear to have been fraudulent.
This is the situation of the world bourgeoisie as a whole in relation to the environment. The capitalists had seemed to be making huge profits and been able to buy off much of the working class (at least white workers in the imperialist countries). They had been looting the environment, ripping out natural resources which they had not created, counting as proft what nature appeared to be giving for “free” (a version of what Marx called “primitive accumulation”). They thought they were getting something for nothing, or at least for very little.
What the capitalist class should have been doing was to prepare for the day when energy and other resources would run out, or more accurately, would become rarer and much more expensive to access. It should have begun a transition from fossil fuels (and nuclear power) to renewable energy. It should have been cleaning up pollution and countering greenhouse effects. It should have fought desertification in Africa and elsewhere. It should have worked to balance population growth with economic growth by liberating women worldwide. It should have maintained the world’s jungles and forests and prevented overfishing in the oceans. It should have planned cities and towns so they did not destroy the countryside or need so much energy for transportation. And so on.
Nor is this only a matter of the environment and of energy. The capitalist class has failed to maintain the infrastructure and social services needed for advanced industrial nations such as the U.S.A. It should have been replacing water main pipes, train systems, dams, city housing, roads and highways, bridges, and schools. But it has not.
The capitalist class has not done what it should have to maintain its system and prepare for necessary changes. Of course, if it had done this, the post-WWII prosperity might have been less prosperous. There might have been more class struggle by the workers against the capitalists.
Now the bill has come due. The machinery is worn out and needs replacement, but the bourgeoisie does not have the price—not without cutting into profits (which is unthinkable for them) or cutting way down on the workers’ pay and standard of living (which is definitely thinkable but which might cause working class unrest).
So the ecological crisis is an energy crisis and an economic crisis, and is also a political crisis.
There will be a great deal of suffering for many people in the coming years. There will be great social upheavals and mass struggles, the end of the conventional political consensus and the rise of the far-right and the far-left, including varieties of revolutionary anarchists and socialists. This has already begun to happen.
In PART II, I will discuss why the capitalist class cannot solve the ecological/energy/economic crisis and what program should be advocated by revolutionary anarchists.
Written for http://www.Anarkismo.net
PART II: A Revolutionary Anarchist Program
The world crisis is economic, ecological, and energy-based. Liberals want the state to regulate business and have a “new New Deal” to rebuild the economy and ecology. It won’t work. Revolutionary anarchists want a new, ecological, economy which is democratically planned, produces for need not for profit, and is a decentralized federalism.
The glaciers of the Himalayas, it is reported, have been shrinking in every direction. On the roof of the world, glaciers have lost over 300 vertical feet, due to global warming and pollution, both caused by human reliance on fossil fuels. In turn, the shrinkage of the glaciers inceases the amount of sunlight which is not reflected but is absorbed by the earth and therefore increases global warming. According to the June issue of Science magazine, in the Indus and Brahmaputra river basins, the potential loss of annual glacial melt is “threatening the food security of an estimated 60 million people” (quoted in NY Times, 7/18/10, p. 10WK). This is what industrial capitalism is doing to our world.
“If the science is correct,…within the next twenty to thirty years…there is the danger that a tipping point will be reached, setting in motion irreversible warming trends….The earth will become unrecognizable and all life on it will be threatened” (Herod, 2010; p. 23).
The Liberal Program
Conservatives argue that a major overhaul of business’s relation to the environment would be extremely costly and would effect our whole way of life. Therefore they conclude essentially that nothing should be done. Alternately, liberals believe that the democratically-elected government–the state—could use legal regulations to force oil companies, such as BP, and other industries to act ecologically responsible, to develop a balanced, non-growth, economy. Doesn’t the government represent the whole society?
More sophisticated radicals (social democrats) note that it would be in the self-interest of the whole capitalist class to create a more stable, sustaining, relationship to nature, as opposed to permitting ecological catastrophes, such as global warming. After all, the capitalists have to live on this planet too. While individual capitalists might have a short-sighted desire to make profits at the expense of the environment, it is the job of the state to be the “executive committee” of the whole class and act in its collective interest.
The U.S. capitalist state did set aside a number of national parks, banned DDT (after Rachel Carson’s popular expose’), cut back acid rain, closed the hole in the ozone layer (as Ilan pointed out in a comment to Part I) by banning CFCs, and improved the health of major rivers (such as the Hudson, under pressure from Pete Seeger and others), set aside a “superfund” to bury industrial pollutants (after the Love Canal protests), and so on. All of these were done only through fights and have been maintained only through on-going struggles (as in the constant battles to maintain the parks). But they were done. Why can’t the capitalist state, ask liberals and social democratic reformists, similarly reorganize the economy and technology to be ecologically balanced? That is the liberal (and reformist) perspective.
However, what is necessary is not fixing this or that anti-ecological industry but the entire capitalist economy and its productive technology, in every aspect of its interaction with the natural environment. It is a total crisis. Unfortunately, the conservatives are right: change will be very expensive and disruptive. To the extent that there is a specific industry involved, it is the fossil fuel industry. As I argued in Part I, this industry underlays every aspect of society: our transportation, our heating, our production, our food (artificial fertilizers and pesticides), our clothing (artificial fibers), and everything we use plastics for. Naturally, Big Oil and Big Coal are wealthy and powerful, taking in hundreds of billions of dollars in profits annually. They buy up politicians and judges by the carload. They own local and national governments. It was one thing to ban marginal products such as CFCs or DDT. It would be quite another to abolish oil, coal, and natural gas, no matter how gradually.
The oil industry is not really in the business of producing oil (let alone of providing jobs for workers). It is in the business of making money (in Marxist terms, it is interested in exchange value, not use value). If the oceans are destroyed but BP walks away with a ton of money, it is satisfied. That is all that BP’s management cares about or could care about. The capitalists’ need for money is unlimited. Each business must expand or die. Capital must accumulate. If BP does not earn ever larger profits (producing ever more surplus value), then it will be overtaken by competing oil corporations, which would gobble it up.
Liberals (as supporters of capitalism) do not understand this. Unlike the conservatives, they want to do something about global warming, pollution, etc. but their program is shallow and unrealistic. To liberals, this is the perfect time to start building an energy-efficient, non-carbon based, and ecologically balanced society. Facing the Great Recession and, at best, a jobless recovery, there was a need, they said, for government stimulation of the economy. When Obama got elected, programs for a “new New Deal” were proposed by many liberals and social democrats (even the Marxist David Harvey). This would require big, job-creating, public works, including energy-saving and ecologically useful projects. They proposed to build new wind farms, “smart” electrical grids, stations for electric cars, improved national parks, retrofitted insulation in city and suburban housing, urban electric trolley systems, high-speed trains between cities, etc.
Overall, these were perfectly good ideas. As we know, nothing of the kind was done. Continuing the policies of the Bush administration, Congress and the pro-business officials brought in by Obama gave out gobs of money, which may have saved the system from falling into a second Great Depression—for now. (Keynesian economists outside of the administration, such as Paul Krugman, thought that it was not nearly enough to produce an upturn in jobs or for long term prosperity.) The money went to banks and big business. There were no strings attached to what the banks did with the money (they did not have to actually loan it to anyone). Very little was done directly to provide jobs or to improve energy and the ecological environment. President Obama’s energy-ecological initiatives have been anemic (and the U.S. senate has just abandoned all efforts to pass a climate change and energy bill). Shortly before the Gulf oil explosion, Obama came out for expanded offshore oil drilling and reviving nuclear power.
For reasons of class, there will be no “new New Deal.” The capitalist state will not spend vast sums of money to produce useful goods and services, neither directly nor by contracting for it. To produce such goods and services would put it in competition with existing corporations. It would conflict with powerful vested interests. It would mean taking money from the rich to spend on the working class. Ideologically, it would be an open admission that the market cannot provide for the people and that some sort of public economy (that is, socialism) could work better. Right now, the main discussion among government officials in the US and Europe is not how to expand production through more spending but how to cut back on public services which help workers and the poor.
In fact, during the (old) New Deal, the government never spent enough to get out of the Depression. It took the spending—and the destruction–of World War II to end the Great Depression and create relative prosperity (from 1946 to 1970). This is generally accepted by bourgeois economists. The capitalists do not mind spending on armaments; it is the one thing never discussed when they talk about making cuts to decrease public spending. Like other state expenditures, they “stimulate” the economy and provide jobs. They take wealth from the whole economy and concentrate it in the hands of a few big, subsidized, firms. However, unlike other possible state spending, armaments do not compete with private industry. They do not provide useful goods to workers and the poor. They increase the power of the state at home and abroad.
The US military budget today is 600 to 700 billion dollars a year! The problem with war spending, on armaments and other aspects (aside from its leading to imperialist wars!), is that it is pure waste. Spending on weaponry does not re-enter the economy as does productive investment. Building tractors leads to increased food production. Building bulldozers leads to new housing. But building tanks either leads to destroying things in wars or, at best, to storing tanks unused. This is even more true of nuclear missiles, which must never be used. The economic effect is like the government paying capitalists to hire workers to dig very big holes in the ground and then to fill them up again. There is a lot of busyness, capitalists and workers get money to spend, wheels turn, but nothing is actually added to the real economy. This may give a short-term shot in the arm to a sagging economy. But in the long term such unproductive consumption can only increase the basic trend toward economic stagnation of the epoch of capitalist decay.
The Revolutionary Socialist-Anarchist Program
Anarchists should support the various reform demands for a transition to renewable energy and ecological harmony as expressed in programs for useful public works–such as tree planting, retrofitting houses, and so on. Anarchists are against calling on big government to do things for people but can support programs which are self-managed by their workers and local communities. With this caveat, we should make demands on the state, which, after all, claims to serve the whole community and which does have a lot of money. If such reforms are carried out, even a little bit, that is all to the good. If not, then we can use this to expose the state for serving the rich and not workers. The point is not, as some imagine, to demand that the government do things which we know it won’t do. The point is to make demands for what is necessary to prevent ecological (and other) catastrophe, regardless of whether capitalism can do it or not.
But at all times we need to explain that only a revolutionary program can consistently and thoroughly solve the complex ecological-and-energy crisis. Global warming, pollution, the unraveling of the ecological web, and the vastly increasing costs of fossil fuels are a total crisis. Since the bourgeoisie cannot deal with it, they should be expropriated—their businesses taken from them and run by the workers.
Humanity needs, first, an economy which produces for use, not for profit. A nonprofit, nonmonetary, economy may make ecological mistakes, but it would have no drive to treat the natural world as a bottomless mine. A nonprofit economy would not have an endless need for quantitative growth (and therefore for ever more energy). It would expand qualitatively, by producing only what is needed—and only as much energy as is needed for such production.
Second, we need a planned, coordinated, economy, managed democratically, from the bottom-up. Instead of having many enterprises, each out for its own wealth, there needs to be an overall direction of the whole of human production and consumption in our interaction with the natural world. But this must be radically democratic, as opposed to bureaucratic centralized planning, in order to prevent the rise of a state-capitalist system which would be just as destructive to the ecology.
Third, the cooperative, coordinated, economy must be a decentralized federalism. There is, of course, need for national, continental, and international planning. We will have to coordinate the exploration and transportation of natural resources and the necessary steps to clean up the world’s oceans, among other things.
But there also has to be an effort to increase decentralization. (Unlike the idea of a planned and nonprofit economy, it is at this point that anarchism conflicts with the traditional Marxist program.) Some of those who have thought most deeply about how to deal with this total crisis have focused on the need for a more decentralized society. (See Kunstler 2006; McKibben 2007.) There will have to be a whole lot less transportation and shipping of goods and people. We won’t be able to afford it anymore. There will need to be a lot more use of local energy sources, local natural resources, small-scale industry, and local recycling of waste (industrial and organic).
There will have to be an end to the suburbs, the moribund, mega-urban, “cities” (such as the one stretching from Boston to Washington, D.C.), and factory farms. (However steps toward this vision could be immediately implemented in present-day cities, e.g., rooftop community gardens.) There will need to be more towns and small cities (sometimes bound together in regional networks of towns and cities), and a large number of organic farms (run by families or by communes). This would not prevent regional, continental, and world-wide activities where necessary. The Internet may still be possible (if it can function without the presentday levels of pollution) for sharing information and coordinating activities throughout the world.
Such a society of democratic planning, nonprofit production, and a decentralized federalism is consistent with the goals of anarchism, from Peter Kropotkin to Paul Goodman and Murray Bookchin. It goes back to the vision of the “utopian socialists” such as Fourier and Owen for cooperative communes with an integrated agri-industrial way of life.
This is a vision, not a fully-developed blueprint. No doubt a great deal of experimentation would have to be tried out in different places by different people. Not every region will come to the same conclusions (of what should be the urban/rural balance, for example). But the society we live in is racing toward death and disaster. The capitalist ruling classes of the major powers, and their politicians (liberal, social democratic, and conservative) have no clue as to the depth of the total crisis. They have no idea how to deal with it, except to try more of the same. It is time that someone else takes over and runs society. This someone else can only be the international working class and its allies among the oppressed. The crisis, economic-ecological-energy, may shake up the workers and oppressed enough to start them moving in a revolutionary new direction.
Herod, James (2010). “Capitalists, global warming, & the climate justice movement.” Anarcho-Syndicalist Review (Summer) # 54; pp. 23—28.
Kunstler, James H. (2006). The Long Emergency; Surviving the End of Oil, Climate Change, and Other Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century. NY: Grove Press.
McKibben, Bill (2007). Deep Economy; The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future. NY: Times Books/Henry Holt.
Written for www.Anarkismo.net
Read Part I: How Capitalism has created an Ecological, Energy, and Economic Crisis
With their 1994 battle cry, “Ya basta!” (“Enough already!”) Mexico’s Zapatista uprising became the spearhead of two convergent movements: Mexico’s movement for indigenous rights and the international movement against corporate globalization.
Skip to 2010: the movements for indigenous rights and against corporate globalization have converged again, this time globally, in the climate justice movement. Following the widely acknowledged failure of the climate negotiations in Copenhagen last December, the greatest manifestation of these converging movements took place this past April at the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Cochabamba, Bolivia.
While political forces have conspired to make the Zapatistas largely invisible both inside Mexico and internationally, their challenge has always been to propose a paradigm of development that is both just and self-sustaining. It seems fair, then, to see if Zapatismo can shed any light on the muddle of politics around the climate crisis. Can the poetic riddles of Zapatista spokesperson Subcomandante Marcos serve as signposts on the rough road toward just climate solutions?
One No and Many Yeses
Soon after the Zapatistas appeared to the world in 1994 as an armed insurgency, they put down their weapons and revealed that alongside their “One NO” — the rejection of imposed authority, whether by the Mexican government or by the global institutions that govern trade, investment, development and security policy — they stood for “Many Yeses.” Yes, for the Zapatistas, signified the careful, conscious, and painstaking development of alternative forms of governance and resource use: multilingual schools, community clinics, seed banks, sustainable agriculture, accessible and affordable water and basic sanitation, and, above all, organized experiments in direct democracy.
When 30,000 members of civil society from 140 countries, including 56 government delegations, gathered in Cochabamba in April, they asserted clearly and forcefully that the climate crisis, with its attendant impacts of drought, flood, crop loss, increased disease burden, displacement, and widespread instability, has one essential root cause. In the words of the People’s Agreement forged in Cochabamba, “The corporations and governments of the so-called ‘developed’ countries, in complicity with a segment of the scientific community, have led us to discuss climate change as a problem limited to the rise in temperature without questioning the cause, which is the capitalist system.”
Whatever climate solutions we consider, the Southern social movements say, they must be rooted in the acceptance of social and ecological limits to growth. Recognition of such limits is what the Zapatistas would call “the No.”
The many “yeses,” meanwhile, come in the form of the best demands of the climate justice movement: strengthening local economies, practicing ecological agriculture and rights-based governance; drastically reducing consumption and waste by Northern countries and Southern elites in order to improve quality of life for the billions of marginalized and exploited; protecting forests, biodiversity, culture, and those among us who are most vulnerable; investing in and attending to women, youth, and those who’ve earned the right to be called “elders.” The many yeses, for climate justice, are the manifold paths toward mitigation and adaptation, equity and justice. The “yeses” are embodied in a notion that has recently gained currency in development circles: grassroots resilience.
Justice with Dignity
Implicit in the surging forth of the indigenous people is their demand to be approached with the respect due to all human subjects. As Subcomandante Marcos wrote over a decade ago, “The powerful with all their money don’t understand our struggle. The power of money and pride cannot understand, because there is a word which does not walk in the understanding of the great sages who sell their intelligence to the rich and the powerful. This word is dignity.”
Dignity, it turns out, is central to the climate negotiations. “Development,” with its implicit assumption that the health of a society is best measured by its level of consumption, comes, precisely, at the cost of human dignity. Southern climate campaigners make clear that the North, burdened by overconsumption to the point of obesity, needs to reduce consumption, while much of the South, in the face of perennial scarcity, needs to increase it. Sara Larrain, director of an NGO called Chile Sustentable, writes, “The objective of human dignity surpasses the objective of overcoming poverty, and refers to the negotiation of environmental space and social equity between the North and South.”
The “Line of Dignity” that Larrain formulated, in concert with groups from Brazil, Uruguay and Chile, is essentially a proposal to replace the poverty line — an austere and denigrating economic metric based on only the most fundamental human survival needs — with a measure that takes into account cultural, political, and environmental rights. “The Line of Dignity,” Larrain writes, “is a convergence point that fosters lowering the consumption of those above, and raising that of those below. This permits the assurance to the population of the levels of access to environmental space necessary for subsistence and dignity.”
The Line of Dignity proposes that equity between North and South can only be reached when the Northern notion of environmental sustainability (preservation of resources for planetary needs and future generations) is matched with the Southern demand for social sustainability (equity, and full social, environmental, political and cultural rights). Thus, in order to raise the standard of living of the billions who currently live below the line of dignity, a certain measure of environmental space (carbon sinks, fisheries, and open grazing land, for example) must be surrendered by the North. The wealthy must reduce their use of resources. They must commit to degrowth.
Rather than manage the climate catastrophe, as the neoliberal establishment is attempting to do, the climate justice movement chooses to use the crisis as an opportunity — perhaps the last opportunity — to construct dignity.
Everything for Everyone, Nothing for Us
Probably the most commonly asked question of people just arriving at a deep concern for the ecological crisis is, “What can I, as an individual, do to make things better?” The simple answer, which I learned from living among Zapatista villagers, is nothing. Because we have to stop acting as individuals if we are to survive; the Earth won’t be affected by our individual actions, only our collective impact.
The Zapatistas’ slogan, “Para todos todo, para nosotros nada” (“Everything for Everyone, Nothing for Us”) rang true in the mid-1990s and still rings true today. But this slogan has a certain mystery. The demand “nothing for us” runs so counter to anything any of us — the resource-hungry individuals of the so-called First World — would ever think of demanding. As the saying goes, no one ever rioted for austerity. Yet, without feeling cheated, we need to build our capacity to live by another old saying: Enough is better than a feast.
The proposals of Bolivia’s President Evo Morales for a Climate Debt Tribunal and a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth put equity and ecology (as opposed to, say, technical fixes or market-based solutions) at the center of climate negotiations. Such proposals are, at bottom, radical expressions of an ethic that demands everything for everyone, nothing for us. Such proposals also require a radical rethinking of what “development” means. Inspired by the Andean notion of “el buen vivir” — living well, as opposed to living better — the emerging climate justice movement posits that, this close to the brink of ecological collapse, development and progress should be understood not in terms of accumulation, but in terms of sharing.
A World in Which Many Worlds Fit
The Mexican establishment perceives the Zapatista project as a threat to the very integrity of the nation-state. This threat lies in the Zapatistas’ demand for the formal recognition, within state boundaries, of diverse ethnic, cultural, linguistic, and religious groups. In the Andean region, and in Bolivia in particular, this is called (in its cultural dimension) pluriculturality, or (in its political dimension), plurinationality — a nation in which fit many nations. The notion of pluriculturality differs significantly from the U.S. concept of “multiculturalism,” for it goes beyond multicultural education to include respect for collective claims to territory and for collective rights.
The world is in the middle of the greatest mass extinction since the twilight of the dinosaurs. Half of all species on Earth are expected to vanish within 100 years. The major ecosystems (including the Amazon), the world’s freshwater systems, and the coral reefs are all approaching a “tipping point” from which they may never recover. As such, scientists and social movements tend to agree: Diversity as a basis for decision-making is at the heart of both ecological and cultural survival. The Zapatista push for “A World in Which Many Worlds Fit,” much more than a call for mere “tolerance,” is a clear recognition that what science has recently come to call “biocultural diversity” is a bottom line.
Rather than seeking to divide resources to serve an atomized multitude, the climate justice movement envisions multiplying resources to serve the common good. For peasants and indigenous peoples, by and large, this means merging age-old traditions and systems of ownership and authority with the modern practices that complement, foster, and enhance them. In other words, a just transition to a post-carbon world requires precisely the kinds of strategies that have sustained land-based peoples for millennia, accompanied by the best sustainable technologies current science has to offer: organic subsistence agriculture plus fair trade; seed sovereignty ensured by genetic testing of seed stocks; locally produced electricity via wind, solar, and biogas; collective (public) transportation powered by waste oil; zero waste practices and small-scale, clean production; and local water stewardship enhanced by low-cost water treatment. To respond to a crisis with diverse, local manifestations in a way that achieves a world in which many worlds fit demands diverse, local, people-powered solutions.
The Earth Is for They Who Work It
The Zapatistas’ struggle has been, above all else, for territory. They want the simple right to work the land that they consider historically to be theirs. In this, their struggle has many parallels throughout the indigenous world.
While fighting for the Earth, the Zapatistas have never identified themselves, even incidentally, as “environmentalists.” Nor do they talk much, in their voluminous decade-and-a-half of communiqués, about “ecology” or “conservation.” And yet, as poet Gary Snyder once said, “The best thing you can do for the environment is to stay home.” As indigenous peasant farmers struggling for territorial autonomy, the Zapatistas’ struggle is precisely to “stay home.”
One of the controversial topics in the UN climate negotiations, hotly contested in Cochabamba and denounced outright by many segments of the climate justice movement, is the program called Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD). REDD seeks to reward governments, companies, or forest owners in the South for keeping their forests standing, to act as carbon sinks, instead of cutting them down. Liberal NGOs tend to support the essentially corporate REDD program because it provides a mechanism for protecting forests. But this mechanism also provides polluting industries with the right to continue polluting. In addition, REDD’s version of “forest protection” may well be one of the largest land grabs in history.
Tom Goldtooth, director of the U.S.-based Indigenous Environmental Network, calls REDD “a corruption of the sacred.” Forests, especially for those who live in them, are not mere carbon sinks. “Lungs of the Earth” or not, they are forests first. The Earth, as Emiliano Zapata urged, is for its true stewards. Yes, urges the climate justice movement, keep forests standing — and pay to do so if necessary. But rather than putting distant economic interests in charge of forests in order to save them, as REDD proposes, why not encourage the kind of valuation that land-based peoples have always practiced? We should reduce the pressures on forests by keeping out those who don’t directly steward them — that is, most of us.
In denouncing REDD and other carbon offset schemes, climate justice activists argue that the market can’t resolve a crisis of its own making. The Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, released in Britain in 2006, described climate change as “the biggest market failure in history.” Yet, at the same time, carbon markets became the only solution advocated by governments and the corporations and NGOs close to them. When the European carbon market failed, with the price of a ton of carbon dropping dramatically below the range at which renewables can compete with fossil fuels), there was barely a whisper. The Obama administration continued to push for cap-and-trade, the UNFCCC continued to press for REDD and other offsets, and the atmosphere continued to be for those who wanted to pay to pollute it.
Walk by Asking Questions
In many of his communiqués, Subcomandante Marcos uses stories of the old gods, those who were there before the world was the world, to show how the struggle to reinvent society is linked to the moment of creation. One lesson these stories return to time and again is that those who created the world did so by “walking while asking questions.” It is a powerful poetry.
Yet, in the midst of growing climate crisis, we barely have time to ask the questions. Can the massive numbers of landless, small landholders, fisherfolk and indigenous peoples be given incentives — and support — to stay on their land rather than migrate to overcrowded and overheated cities? Can we reasonably stop the burning of coal, oil, crops, and waste, and still live well? Is another development possible? These questions don’t have easy answers. But in asking them as we walk, quickly, we may — we must — find the answers emerging.
In The Value of Nothing, Raj Patel cites “walking by asking questions” as a fundamental principle of democracy. “The mistakes that get made along the way are part of the process,” he nevertheless acknowledges. In challenging a broken system, it’s essential to enter uncharted territory. Actually engaging the most affected people in the process of fixing the climate disaster is part of this territory. And yes, mistakes will be made.
But in order to prevent mistakes from becoming disasters, interventions must be made at a human scale. It was mistakes — big ones — that got us here. Oil companies like BP, for instance, drilled far beyond their capacity to prevent or clean up accidents. More spectacular failures are in the pipeline, such as geo-engineering. When BP Vice President David Eyton announced in 2008 that BP was getting onboard with geo-engineering, he said, “We cannot ignore the scale of the challenge.” Unfortunately, we also cannot afford the scale of the disaster to follow. If anything goes wrong (and it will), it will go wrong, like the BP experiment in deepwater drilling, in a big way.
As we walk by asking questions, we should repeat the following mantra: big questions, small mistakes.
As profound as any of their other poetic slogans, the Zapatistas’ initial battle cry of “Enough already!” defines the urgency with which we must approach the climate crisis. This year will likely mark the hottest summer on record. The hurricane season is predicted to be more catastrophic than ever. The BP spill is now recognized as the worst environmental disaster of all time. And the latest predictions from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show that the Arctic could be free of summer ice in 30 years. Governments play politics as usual, and corporations eye huge profits from carbon markets. But scientists and activists agree: We can’t alter the physical limits of climate devastation with market fixes.
In 1994, the Zapatistas clearly told the world that we had exhausted all other options. In the teeth of climate catastrophe, every living thing on the planet is now backed against the same wall. Change takes time, argues every prudent voice. But after centuries of toxic industry, decades of climate change denial, and years of playing politics as if there were winners and losers, time has run out. In a drawn-out competition against the climate crisis, there can be only losers. As Bolivia’s ambassador to the UN, Pablo Solón, said recently at the U.S. Social Forum in Detroit, “We are only going to have one chance in this century to fight climate change. And that time is now.” In these words can be heard the echo of the Zapatistas: Ya Basta!
Jeff Conant, “What the Zapatistas Can Teach us About the Climate Crisis” (Washington, DC: Foreign Policy In Focus, August 3, 2010)
Jeff Conant’s book A Poetics of Resistance: The Revolutionary Public Relations of the Zapatista Insurgency (AK Press) was released this month. He is an independent journalist, educator, and lead author of A Community Guide to Environmental Health (Hesperian, 2008), a grassroots educational manual currently being translated into 20 languages. He is a contributor to Foreign Policy In Focus.
10 Indicators of a Human Fingerprint on Climate Change
The NOAA State of the Climate 2009 report is an excellent summary of the many lines of evidence that global warming is happening. Acknowledging the fact that the planet is warming leads to the all important question – what’s causing global warming? To answer this, here is a summary of the empirical evidence that answer this question. Many different observations find a distinct human fingerprint on climate change:
To get a closer look, click on the pic above to get a high-rez 1024×768 version (you’re all welcome to use this graphic in your Powerpoint presentations). Or to dig even deeper, here’s more info on each indicator (including links to the original data or peer-reviewed research):
- Humans are currently emitting around 30 billion tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere every year (CDIAC). Of course, it could be coincidence that CO2 levels are rising so sharply at the same time so let’s look at more evidence that we’re responsible for the rise in CO2 levels.
- When we measure the type of carbon accumulating in the atmosphere, we observe more of the type of carbon that comes from fossil fuels (Manning 2006).
- This is corroborated by measurements of oxygen in the atmosphere. Oxygen levels are falling in line with the amount of carbon dioxide rising, just as you’d expect from fossil fuel burning which takes oxygen out of the air to create carbon dioxide (Manning 2006).
- Further independent evidence that humans are raising CO2 levels comes from measurements of carbon found in coral records going back several centuries. These find a recent sharp rise in the type of carbon that comes from fossil fuels (Pelejero 2005).
- So we know humans are raising CO2 levels. What’s the effect? Satellites measure less heat escaping out to space, at the particular wavelengths that CO2 absorbs heat, thus finding “direct experimental evidence for a significant increase in the Earth’s greenhouse effect”. (Harries 2001, Griggs 2004, Chen 2007).
- If less heat is escaping to space, where is it going? Back to the Earth’s surface. Surface measurements confirm this, observing more downward infrared radiation (Philipona 2004,Wang 2009). A closer look at the downward radiation finds more heat returning at CO2 wavelengths, leading to the conclusion that “this experimental data should effectively end the argument by skeptics that no experimental evidence exists for the connection between greenhouse gas increases in the atmosphere and global warming.” (Evans 2006).
- If an increased greenhouse effect is causing global warming, we should see certain patterns in the warming. For example, the planet should warm faster at night than during the day. This is indeed being observed (Braganza 2004, Alexander 2006).
- Another distinctive pattern of greenhouse warming is cooling in the upper atmosphere, otherwise known as the stratosphere. This is exactly what’s happening (Jones 2003).
- With the lower atmosphere (the troposphere) warming and the upper atmosphere (the stratophere) cooling, another consequence is the boundary between the troposphere and stratophere, otherwise known as the tropopause, should rise as a consequence of greenhouse warming. This has been observed (Santer 2003).
- An even higher layer of the atmosphere, the ionosphere, is expected to cool and contract in response to greenhouse warming. This has been observed by satellites (Laštovi?ka 2006).
Science isn’t a house of cards, ready to topple if you remove one line of evidence. Instead, it’s like a jigsaw puzzle. As the body of evidence builds, we get a clearer picture of what’s driving our climate. We now have many lines of evidence all pointing to a single, consistent answer – the main driver of global warming is rising carbon dioxide levels from our fossil fuel burning.
Skeptic Arguments and What the Science Says
Here is a summary of skeptic arguments, sorted by recent popularity vs what science says. Note that the one line responses are just a starting point – click the response for a more detailed response. You can also view them sorted by taxonomy, in a print-friendly version, or with fixed numbers you can use for permanent references.
||What the Science Says
||“It’s the sun”
||The sun’s output has barely changed since 1970 and is irrelevant to recent global warming.
||“Climate’s changed before”
||Climate reacts to whatever forces it to change at the time; humans are now the dominant forcing.
||“There is no consensus”
||97% of climate experts agree humans are causing global warming.
||The last decade 2000-2009 was the hottest on record.
||“Models are unreliable”
||Models successfully reproduce temperatures since 1900 globally, by land, in the air and the ocean.
||“Temp record is unreliable”
||The warming trend is the same in rural and urban areas, measured by thermometers and satellites.
||“It hasn’t warmed since 1998”
||2005 was the hottest year globally, and 2009 the second hottest.
||“Ice age predicted in the 70s”
||The vast majority of climate papers in the 1970s predicted warming.
||“We’re heading into an ice age”
||Worry about global warming impacts in the next 100 years, not an ice age in over 10,000 years.
||“Antarctica is gaining ice”
||Satellites measure Antarctica losing land ice at an accelerating rate.
||“CO2 lags temperature”
||Recent CO2 increase has caused recent warming without any time lag.
||“It’s not bad”
||Negative impacts of global warming on agriculture, health & environment far outweigh any positives.
||“Al Gore got it wrong”
||Al Gore book is quite accurate, and far more accurate than contrarian books.
||“1934 – hottest year on record”
||1934 was one of the hottest years in the US, not globally.
||“It’s freaking cold!”
||A local cold day has nothing to do with the long-term trend of increasing global temperatures.
||“It’s cosmic rays”
||Cosmic rays show no trend over the last 30 years & have had little impact on recent global warming.
||“Hurricanes aren’t linked to global warming”
||There is increasing evidence that hurricanes are getting stronger due to global warming.
||“Hockey stick is broken”
||Recent studies agree that recent global temperatures are unprecedented in the last 1000 years.
||“Mars is warming”
||Mars is not warming globally.
||“Arctic icemelt is a natural cycle”
||Thick arctic sea ice is undergoing a rapid retreat.
||“It’s Urban Heat Island effect”
||Urban and rural regions show the same warming trend.
||“It’s a 1500 year cycle”
||Ancient natural cycles are irrelevant for attributing recent global warming to humans.
||“Sea level rise is exaggerated”
||A variety of different measurements find steadily rising sea levels over the past century.
||“Water vapor is the most powerful greenhouse gas”
||Rising CO2 increases atmospheric water vapor, which makes global warming much worse.
||“‘Climategate’ CRU emails suggest conspiracy”
||Several investigations have cleared scientists of any wrongdoing in the media-hyped email incident.
||“Greenland was green”
||Other parts of the earth got colder when Greenland got warmer.
||“Other planets are warming”
||Mars and Jupiter are not warming, and anyway the sun has recently been cooling slightly.
||“Human CO2 is a tiny % of CO2 emissions”
||The natural cycle adds and removes CO2 to keep a balance; humans add extra CO2 without removing any.
||“Oceans are cooling”
||The most recent ocean measurements show consistent warming.
||“Climate sensitivity is low”
||Net positive feedback is confirmed by many different lines of evidence.
||“CO2 effect is weak”
||The strong CO2 effect has been observed by many different measurements.
||“It cooled mid-century”
||Mid-century cooling involved aerosols and is irrelevant for recent global warming.
||“Glaciers are growing”
||Most glaciers are retreating, posing a serious problem for millions who rely on glaciers for water.
||“We’re coming out of the Little Ice Age”
||The sun was warming up then, but the sun hasn’t been warming since 1970.
||“There’s no empirical evidence”
||There are multiple lines of direct observations that humans are causing global warming.
||“IPCC is alarmist”
||The IPCC summarizes the recent research by leading scientific experts.
||“Extreme weather isn’t caused by global warming”
||Extreme weather events are being made more frequent and worse by global warming.
||“It warmed before 1940 when CO2 was low”
||Early 20th century warming is due to several causes, including rising CO2.
||“Satellites show no warming in the troposphere”
||The most recent satellite data show that the earth as a whole is warming.
||“Polar bear numbers are increasing”
||Polar bears are in danger of extinction as well as many other species.
||“Mt. Kilimanjaro’s ice loss is due to land use”
||Most glaciers are in rapid retreat worldwide, notwithstanding a few complicated cases.
||“CO2 is not a pollutant”
||Excess CO2 emissions will lead to hotter conditions that will stress and even kill crops.
||“Greenland is gaining ice”
||Greenland on the whole is losing ice, as confirmed by satellite measurement.
||“There’s no correlation between CO2 and temperature”
||There is long-term correlation between CO2 and global temperature; other effects are short-term.
||“CO2 was higher in the past”
||When CO2 was higher in the past, the sun was cooler.
||“Scientists can’t even predict weather”
||Weather and climate are different; climate predictions do not need weather detail.
||“There’s no tropospheric hot spot”
||We see a clear “short-term hot spot” – there’s various evidence for a “long-term hot spot”.
||“Animals and plants can adapt to global warming”
||Global warming will cause mass extinctions of species that cannot adapt on short time scales.
||“Medieval Warm Period was warmer”
||Globally averaged temperature now is higher than global temperature in medieval times.
||“Ocean acidification isn’t serious”
||Past history shows that when CO2 rises quickly, there was mass extinctions of coral reefs.
||“Neptune is warming”
||And the sun is cooling.
||“It’s Pacific Decadal Oscillation”
||The PDO shows no trend, and therefore the PDO is not responsible for the trend of global warming.
||“Jupiter is warming”
||Jupiter is not warming, and anyway the sun is cooling.
||“2009-2010 winter saw record cold spells”
||A cold day in Chicago in winter has nothing to do with the trend of global warming.
||“CO2 effect is saturated”
||Direct measurements find that rising CO2 is trapping more heat.
||“Greenland ice sheet won’t collapse”
||When Greenland was 3 to 5 degrees C warmer than today, a large portion of the Ice Sheet melted.
||“2nd law of thermodynamics contradicts greenhouse theory”
||The 2nd law of thermodynamics is consistent with the greenhouse effect which is directly observed.
||“Arctic sea ice is back to normal”
||Thick arctic sea ice is in rapid retreat.
||“Volcanoes emit more CO2 than humans”
||Humans emit 100 times more CO2 than volcanoes.
||“Pluto is warming”
||And the sun has been recently cooling.
||“It’s the ocean”
||The oceans are warming and moreover are becoming more acidic, threatening the food chain.
||“CO2 measurements are suspect”
||CO2 levels are measured by hundreds of stations across the globe, all reporting the same trend.
||“It’s El Niño”
||El Nino has no trend and so is not responsible for the trend of global warming.
||Aerosols have been masking global warming, which would be worse otherwise.
||“Solar Cycle Length proves its the sun”
||The sun has not warmed since 1970 and so cannot be driving global warming.
||“Less than half of published scientists endorse global warming”
||Around 97% of climate experts agree that humans are causing global warming.
||“Dropped stations introduce warming bias”
||If the dropped stations had been kept, the temperature would actually be slightly higher.
||“CO2 has a short residence time”
||Excess CO2 from human emissions has a long residence time of over 100 years
||“It’s not happening”
||Recent global warming is occurring and is due to humans.
||“500 scientists refute the consensus”
||Around 97% of climate experts agree that humans are causing global warming.
||“It’s microsite influences”
||Microsite influences on temperature changes are minimal; good and bad sites show the same trend.
||“It’s a climate regime shift”
||There is no evidence that climate has chaotic “regimes” on a long-term basis.
||“IPCC were wrong about Himalayan glaciers”
||Glaciers are in rapid retreat worldwide, despite 1 error in 1 paragraph in a 1000 page IPCC report.
||“Humans are too insignificant to affect global climate”
||Humans are small but powerful, and human CO2 emissions are causing global warming.
||“Greenhouse effect has been falsified”
||The greenhouse effect is standard physics and confirmed by observations.
||“Mike’s Nature trick to ‘hide the decline'”
||Michael Mann was quoted out of context, and nothing was hidden.
||“It’s land use”
||Land use plays a minor role in climate change, although carbon sequestration may help to mitigate.
||“The science isn’t settled”
||That human CO2 is causing global warming is known with high certainty & confirmed by observations.
||“Sea level rise predictions are exaggerated”
||Sea level rise is now increasing faster than predicted due to unexpectedly rapid ice melting.
||Methane plays a minor role in global warming but could get much worse if permafrost starts to melt.
||“Naomi Oreskes’ study on consensus was flawed”
||Benny Peiser, the Oreskes critic, retracted his criticism.
||“CO2 is coming from the ocean”
||The ocean is absorbing massive amounts of CO2, and is becoming more acidic as a result.
||“Ice isn’t melting”
||Ice is melting at an accelerating rate at both poles and in glaciers all over the world.
||“CO2 is not increasing”
||CO2 is increasing rapidly, and is reaching levels not seen on the earth for millions of years.
||“Phil Jones says no global warming since 1995”
||Phil Jones was misquoted.
||“Hansen’s 1988 prediction was wrong”
||Jim Hansen had several possible scenarios; his mid-level scenario B was right.
||“IPCC overestimate temperature rise”
||Monckton used the IPCC equation in an inappropriate manner.
||“It’s not us”
||Multiple sets of independent observations find a human fingerprint on climate change.
||“Lindzen and Choi find low climate sensitivity”
||Lindzen and Choi’s paper is viewed as unacceptably flawed by other climatologists.
||“Record snowfall disproves global warming”
||Warming leads to increased evaporation and precipitation, which falls as increased snow in winter.
||Albedo change in the Arctic, due to receding ice, is increasing global warming.
||“Springs aren’t advancing”
||Hundreds of flowers across the UK are flowering earlier now than any time in 250 years.
||“Over 31,000 scientists signed the OISM Petition Project”
||The ‘OISM petition’ was signed by only a few climatologists.
||“The sun is getting hotter”
||The sun has just had the deepest solar minimum in 100 years.
||“Solar cycles cause global warming”
||Over recent decades, the sun has been slightly cooling & is irrelevant to recent global warming.
||“IPCC were wrong about Amazon rainforests”
||The IPCC statement on Amazon rainforests was correct, and was incorrectly reported in some media.
||“It’s waste heat”
||Greenhouse warming is adding 100 times more heat to the climate than waste heat.
||“Water levels correlate with sunspots”
||This detail is irrelevant to the observation of global warming caused by humans.
||“CO2 is not the only driver of climate”
||CO2 is the main driver of climate change.
||“The IPCC consensus is phoney”
||Ironically, it’s those who are mispresenting Hulme’s paper that are the ones being misleading.
||“Trenberth can’t account for the lack of warming”
||Trenberth is talking about the details of energy flow, not whether global warming is happening.
||“Climate is chaotic and cannot be predicted”
||Weather is chaotic but climate is driven by Earth’s energy imbalance, which is more predictable.
||“Mauna Loa is a volcano”
||The global trend is calculated from hundreds of CO2 measuring stations and confirmed by satellites.
||“CO2 emissions do not correlate with CO2 concentration”
||That humans are causing the rise in atmospheric CO2 is confirmed by multiple isotopic analyses.
||“Breathing contributes to CO2 buildup”
||By breathing out, we are simply returning to the air the same CO2 that was there to begin with.
||“Tree-rings diverge from temperature after 1960”
||This is a detail that is complex, local, and irrelevant to the observed global warming trend.
||“A drop in volcanic activity caused warming”
||Volcanoes have had no warming effect in recent global warming – if anything, a cooling effect.
||“Water vapor in the stratosphere stopped global warming”
||This possibility just means that future global warming could be even worse.
||“Scientists retracted claim that sea levels are rising”
||The Siddall 2009 paper was retracted because its predicted sea level rise was too low.
||“Southern sea ice is increasing”
||Antarctic sea ice has grown in recent decades despite the Southern Ocean warming at the same time.
||“Antarctica is too cold to lose ice”
||Glaciers are sliding faster into the ocean because ice shelves are thinning due to warming oceans.
||Ozone has only a small effect.
||“Global temperatures dropped sharply in 2007”
||But global temperatures rose sharply in 2009, to the second hottest level.
||CFCs contribute at a small level.
||“CO2 was higher in the late Ordovician”
||The sun was much cooler during the Ordovician.
||“Melting ice isn’t warming the Arctic”
||Melting ice leads to more sunlight being absorbed by water, thus heating the Arctic.
||“Warming causes CO2 rise”
||Recent warming is due to rising CO2.
||“It’s satellite microwave transmissions”
||Satellite transmissions are extremely small and irrelevant.
||“It’s global brightening”
||This is a complex aerosol effect with unclear temperature significance.
||“Greenland has only lost a tiny fraction of its ice mass”
||Greenland’s ice loss is accelerating & will add metres of sea level rise in upcoming centuries.
||“Satellite error inflated Great Lakes temperatures”
||Temperature errors in the Great Lakes region are not used in any global temperature records.
||“We didn’t have global warming during the Industrial Revolution”
||CO2 emissions were much smaller 100 years ago.
||“Royal Society embraces skepticism”
||The Royal Society still strongly state that human activity is the dominant cause of global warming.
||“Positive feedback means runaway warming”
||Positive feedback won’t lead to runaway warming; diminishing returns on feedback cycles limit the amplification.
Many thanks to Dr. Jan Dash, Director of the UU-UNO’s Climate Portal for writing many of the one line responses in ‘What the Science Says’, with some edits by John Cook.
1. The current world economic crisis marks the end of the neoliberal phase of capitalism. ‘Business as usual’ (financialisation, deregulation, privatisation…) is thus no longer an option: new spaces of accumulation and types of political regulation will need to be found by governments and corporations to keep capitalism going
2. Alongside the economic and political as well as energy crises, there is another crisis rocking the world: the biocrisis, the result of a suicidal mismatch between the ecological life support system that guarantees our collective human survival and capital’s need for constant growth
3. This biocrisis is an immense danger to our collective survival, but like all crises it also presents us, social movements, with a historic opportunity: to really go for capitalism’s exposed jugular, its need for unceasing, destructive, insane growth
4. Of the proposals that have emerged from global elites, the only one that promises to address all these crises is the ‘Green New Deal’. This is not the cuddly green capitalism 1.0 of organic agriculture and D.I.Y. windmills, but a proposal for a new ’green’ phase of capitalism that seeks to generate profits from the piecemeal ecological modernisation of certain key areas of production (cars, energy, etc.)
5. Green capitalism 2.0 cannot solve the biocrisis (climate change and other ecological problems such as the dangerous reduction of biodiversity), but rather tries to profit from it. It therefore does not fundamentally alter the collision course on which any market-driven economy sets humanity with the biosphere.
6. This isn’t the 1930s. Then, under the pressure of powerful social movements, the old ‘New Deal’ redistributed power and wealth downwards. The ‘New New’ and ‘Green New Deal’ discussed by Obama, green parties all around the world, and even some multinationals is more about welfare for corporations than for people
7. Green Capitalism won’t challenge the power of those who actually produce most greenhouse gases: the energy companies, airlines and carmakers, industrial agriculture, but will simply shower them with more money to help maintain their profit rates by making small ecological changes that will be too little, too late
8. Because globally, working people have lost their power to bargain and demand rights and decent wages, in a green capitalist setup, wages will probably stagnate or even decline to offset the rising costs of ‘ecological modernisation’
9. The `green capitalist state’ will be an authoritarian one. Justified by the threat of ecological crisis it will ‘manage’ the social unrest that will necessarily grow from the impoverishment that lies in the wake of rising cost of living (food, energy, etc.) and falling wages
10. In green capitalism, the poor will have to be excluded from consumption, pushed to the margins, while the wealthy will get to ‘offset’ their continued environmentally destructive behaviour, shopping and saving the planet at the same time
11. An authoritarian state, massive class inequalities, welfare given to corporations: from the point of view of social and ecological emancipation, green capitalism will be a disaster that we can never recover from. Today, we have a chance to get beyond the suicidal madness of constant growth. Tomorrow, by the time we’ve all gotten used to the new green regime, that chance may be gone
12. In green capitalism, there is a danger that established, mainstream environmental groups will come to play the role that trade unions played in the Fordist era: acting as safety valves to make sure that demands for social change, that our collective rage remain within the boundaries set by the needs of capital and governments
13. Albert Einstein defined ‘insanity’ as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” In the past decade, in spite of Kyoto, not only has the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere increased — so, too, has the rate of increase. Do we simply want more of the same? Wouldn’t that be insane?
14. International climate agreements promote false solutions that are often more about energy security than climate change. Far from solving the crisis, emissions trading, CMD, joint implementation, offsets and so on, all provide a political shield for the continued production of greenhouse gases with impunity
15. For many communities in the global South, these false solutions (agrofuels, ‘green deserts’, CDM-projects) are by now often a greater threat than climate change itself
16. Real solutions to the climate crisis won’t be dreamt up by governments or corporations. They can only emerge from below, from globally networked social movements for climate justice
17. Such solutions include: no to free trade, no to privatisation, no to flexible mechanisms. Yes to food sovereignty, yes to degrowth, yes to radical democracy and to leaving the resources in the ground
18. As an emerging global climate justice movement, we must fight two enemies: on one hand climate change and the fossilistic capitalism that causes it, and on the other, an emergent green capitalism that won’t stop it, but will limit our ability to do so
19. Of course, climate change and free trade aren’t the same thing, but: the Copenhagen-protocol will be a central regulatory instance of green capitalism just as the WTO was central to neoliberal capitalism. So how to relate to it? The Danish group KlimaX argues: A good deal is better than no deal — but no deal is way better than a bad one
20. The chance that governments will come up with a `good deal’ in Copenhagen is slim to none. Our aim must therefore be to demand agreement on real solutions. Failing that: to forget Kyoto, and shut down Copenhagen! (whatever the tactic)