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Coal’s Assault on Human Health

By Alan H Lockwood, Kristen Welker-Hood, Molly Rauch, and Barbara Gottlieb - Physicians for Social Responsibility, November 2009

Coal pollutants affect all major body organ systems and contribute to four of the five leading causes of mortality in the U.S.: heart disease, cancer, stroke, and chronic lower respiratory diseases. This conclusion emerges from our reassessment of the widely recognized health threats from coal. Each step of the coal lifecycle—mining, transportation, washing, combustion, and disposing of postcombustion wastes—impacts human health. Coal combustion in particular contributes to diseases affecting large portions of the U.S. population, including asthma, lung cancer, heart disease, and stroke, compounding the major public health challenges of our time. It interferes with lung development, increases the risk of heart attacks, and compromises intellectual capacity.

Oxidative stress and inflammation are indicated as possible mechanisms in the exacerbation and development of many of the diseases under review. In addition, the report addresses another, less widely recognized health threat from coal: the contribution of coal combustion to global warming, and the current and predicted health effects of global warming.

Read the report (PDF).

Making the Transition: Helping Workers and Communities Retool for the Clean Energy Economy

By Elena Foshay, et. al. - Apollo Alliance and Cornell Global Labor Institute, August 11, 2020

We stand at a critical moment in American history. We face a choice: do we continue with business as usual, ignoring the climate implications of current energy, environmental, and economic policy? Or do we move forward with a new set of priorities aimed at promoting climate stability, energy security, and economic prosperity?

Earth First! Means Social War: Becoming an Anti-Capitalist Ecological Social Force

By Liam Sionnach - Earth First! Journal, April 3, 2009 [PDF Available]

Glossary of Terms

affect:

1. A material influence or alteration that produces empowerment. 2. To act upon (as a person or a person’s mind or feelings) so as to provoke a response; influence. Affective struggle changes those struggling, as well as the world around them.

effect:

The power to produce external results. Her protest had no effect.

desire:

A productive force; the information that circulates through bodies and produces action. We don’t have desires, we are produced through and as vessels of desire.

social war:

The narrative of “class struggle” developed beyond class to include the complexities and multiplicities of all social relations. Social war is conflict within all hierarchical social relations.

This is another contribution to the ongoing discussion about evolving EF! — perhaps beginning again, from a different angle.

Towards a Just and Sustainable Solar Energy Industry

Towards a Just and Sustainable Solar Energy Industry - A Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition White Paper, January 14, 2009.

Every hour, enough solar energy reaches the Earth to meet human energy needs for an entire year. Solar photovoltaic (PV) technology is widely seen as a “win-win” solution that can harness this “free energy” to address global warming, reduce U.S. dependence on energy imports, create “green jobs,” and help revitalize the U.S. economy.

Solar energy will play an essential role in meeting these challenges, but as the solar PV sector expands, little attention is being paid to the potential environmental and health costs of that rapid expansion. The most widely used solar PV panels are based on materials and processes from the microelectronics industry and have the potential to create a huge new wave of electronic waste (e-waste) at the end of their useful lives, which is estimated to be 20 to 25 years. New solar PV technologies are increasing cell efficiency and lowering costs, but many of these use extremely toxic materials or materials with unknown health and environmental risks (including new nanomaterials and processes).

With the solar PV sector still emerging, we have a limited window of opportunity to ensure that this extremely important industry is truly “clean and green,” from its supply chains through product manufacturing, use, and end-of-life disposal. The solar industry has taken a leadership role in addressing the world’s pressing energy and environmental challenges and will serve as a model for how other innovative “green” industries address the lifecycle impacts of their products.

In this white paper, the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition (SVTC) provides an overview of the health and safety issues faced by the solar PV industry, including the toxic materials used in manufacturing and the potential end-of-life disposal hazards of solar PV products. The report also lays out recommendations to immediately address these problems to build a safe, sustainable, and just solar energy industry. These recommendations include:

  • Reduce and eventually eliminate the use of toxic materials and develop environmentally sustainable practices.
  • Ensure that solar PV manufacturers are responsible for the lifecycle impacts of their products through Extended
    Producer Responsibility (EPR).
  • Ensure proper testing of new and emerging materials and processes based on a precautionary approach.
  • Expand recycling technology and design products for easy recycling.
  • Promote high-quality “green jobs” that protect worker health and safety and provide a living wage throughout the
    global PV industry, including supply chains and end-of-life recycling.
  • Protect community health and safety throughout the global PV industry, including supply chains and recycling.

Read the report (PDF)

The Ecological Challenge: Three Revolutions are Necessary

By Alternative Libertaire - 2006 [PDF File Available]

With a planetary ecological crisis on hand, it can no longer be denied that socialism will be incompatible with mass production and mass consumption. Indeed, even without returning to Malthusian catastrophe theories, we are forced to admit that the planet’s resources are not inexhaustible. These resources could provide for humanity’s needs, but only if they are used in a reasonable and rational way, i.e., in a manner directly opposed to capitalist logic, which in itself is a source of imbalance.

For decades, anti-capitalists have rightly raised the question of the “redistribution of wealth” between the Global North and Global South. This idea has commonly been imagined to mean an end to the pillage of the Third World by the advanced industrialized powers, so that the people of the Global South are able to attain an equivalent level of development. This demand, put simply, means that the South should catch up to the North’s “standard of living.”

But this old view is clumsy and over-simplified, since certain countries are already fully in the process of “taking their share” of the cake that is Planet Earth, and this is accelerating the destruction of the great ecological balances. The arrival of China and India as industrial, political and military powers obliges revolutionaries to rethink, from top to bottom, issues surrounding the model of development itself.

With a planetary ecological crisis on hand, it can no longer be denied that socialism will be incompatible with mass production and mass consumption. Indeed, even without returning to Malthusian catastrophe theories, we are forced to admit that the planet’s resources are not inexhaustible. These resources could provide for humanity’s needs, but only if they are used in a reasonable and rational way, i.e., in a manner directly opposed to capitalist logic, which in itself is a source of imbalance.

Your Nuclear Workplace: Know Your Risks, Know Your Rights

By staff - Nuclear Information and Resource Service, April 2006

A handy guide for workers in nuclear power plants, including information about PPE, and the (high) risks of employment in such facilities.

Read the report (PDF).

The Environment

By the Workers' Solidarity Federation - January 1, 2005 [PDF File Available]

1. General Introduction

1. The Earth is facing an environmental crisis on a scale unprecedented in human history. This environmental crisis is already responsible for high levels of human suffering. If the crisis continues to develop at its current rate, the ultimate result wil be the extinction of human life on the planet.

2. We call for action to end the environmental crisis because of the threat it poses to humankind, and because we recognize that nature and the environment have value in their own terms. Although we hold human life above all other life on the planet, we do not think that humans have the right destroy animals, plants and eco-systems that do not threaten its survival.

3. The main environmental problems include:

3.1. Air pollution: destroys the ozone layer that filters out dangerous rays from the sun; creates a general increase in planetary temperatures (the greenhouse effect) that will severely disrupt weather patterns; turns rain water into acid that destroys plant and animal life; causes respiratory and other diseases amongst humans.

3.2. Solid waste: the sea and the land environments are poisoned by the dumping of dangerous industrial wastes (such as mercury and nuclear waste); the use of materials that nature cannot break down in packaging and in other products, particularly disposable products, have turned many parts of the world into large rubbish dumps as well as wasting resources; poisons and injures people.

3.3. Soil erosion: this takes place in both the First and the Third World, and is the result of factors such the (mis-)use of chemical fertilizers, dangerous pesticides etc, as well as inappropriate land use, land overuse, and the felling of trees. For these reasons, soil is eroded at a rate faster than that at which it is being produced; contributes to rural poverty [1].

3.4. Extinction: plants and animals are being made extinct at a faster rate than any time since the dinosaurs died out, 60 million years ago; results in the loss of many species, and undermines the ecosphere on which all life depends.

Radical Ecology and Class Struggle: A Re-Consideration

By Jeff Shantz (Toronto-NEFAC) - ca December 2002 [PDF File Available]

Introduction

In recent years a variety of social movement and environmental commentators have devoted a great deal of energy to efforts which argue the demise of class struggle as a viable force for social change (See Eckersley, 1990; Bowles and Gintis, 1987; Bookchin, 1993; 1997). These writers argue that analyses of class struggle are unable to account for the plurality of expressions which hierarchy, domination and oppression take in advanced capitalist or what they prefer to call "postindustrial" societies (See Bookchin, 1980; 1986). They charge that class analyses render a one-dimensional portrayal of social relations. The result of this has been a broad practical and theoretical turn away from questions of class and especially class struggle.

In my view, both orthodox Marxist constructions of class struggle and the arguments raised against that conceptualization have been constrained by conceptually narrow visions of class struggle. Commentators have either taken class to mean an undifferentiated monolith (Bookchin, 1986; 1987) which acts, or more often fails to act, as the instrumental agent in history or else as a fiction generated to obscure hopelessly divided and antagonistic relations within the working class (Laclau and Mouffe, 1985; Bourdieu, 1987). What is generally missing from these otherwise disparate accounts is a dynamic understanding of people as workers and workers as activists.

Indeed one might argue that much of the difficulty arises from arguments over the sociologically constructed working class (e.g. the Marxist "totality" which treats workers in a deterministic manner) rather than the working class in its variety of daily negotiated manifestations. While it is worthwhile to criticize the economistic construction of the working class as constituted by orthodox Marxism, the outcome of such critiques should not be a rejection of the central importance of class and the revolutionary implications of class struggle.

Environmental Impacts of Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) Building Materials

Joe Thornton, Ph.D. - Healthy Building Network, 2002

In the last 40 years, polyvinyl chloride plastic (PVC) has become a majorbuilding material. Global vinyl production now totals over 30 milliontons per year, the majority of which is directed to building applications,furnishings, and electronics. The manufacture, use, and disposal of PVC poses substantial and uniqueenvironmental and human health hazards. Across the world, govern-ments, companies, and scientific organizations have recognized the haz-ards of PVC.

In virtually all European nations, certain uses of PVC havebeen eliminated for environmental reasons, and several countries haveambitious programs to reduce PVC use overall. Scores of communitieshave PVC avoidance policies, and dozens of green buildings have beenbuilt with little or no PVC. Firms in a variety of industries haveannounced measures to reduce PVC consumption and are using or pro-ducing alternative materials in a variety of product sectors, includingbuilding materials. This paper discusses the hazards of the PVC lifecyclethat have led to this large scale movement away from PVC products.

Read the report (English PDF). (Link Only)

Introducing Anarcho Syndicalism

By William Meyers - III Publishing, 2001

Anarchism is the theory and practice of individuals living without the interference of human authorities: without being bossed around by a church, government, military, or even a business boss. Syndicalism is the theory and practice of people working together as a union, most typically a labor union (syndicate is the French word for labor union). What does anarchosyndicalism mean? Can these two seemingly opposite concepts, people acting without bosses and people acting as a group, be combined? Could it mean a group of people working to create anarchy, or individuals working to create a union of individuals? Or is it just a muddle, an attempt to mix oil and water, that goes against the nature of things?

Of course words mean what people want them to mean. Anarcho-syndicalism, in the 19th century, came to mean both a method of people organizing themselves and a type of society they hoped to create. The society they desired was anarchist. In an anarchist society people voluntarily cooperate to work together for their own good and the community. Each individual remains free from coercion by bosses. The way they hoped to get to this society was through gaining workers’ control of production, of industry, agriculture, and trade. The way they could gain control of production was by organizing anarchist labor unions.

Anarchist labor unions have only a shell of resemblance to the type of labor unions that existed in the 19th and 20th centuries in the United States. In an anarchist labor union decisions are made democratically. There are few paid union officials and they are paid ordinary wages. There is no top-down hierarchy that orders around local affiliates. The union may appoint a committee to negotiate with an employer or to do other tasks, but the committee is of volunteers who have no permanent power or position in the union. The union is not usually organized according to craft, so that the workers at a given business belong to a variety of unions. Rather, all the workers at a workplace belong to the same union. Finally, the goals are different. Anarchist labor unions believe that capitalists should not run society, should not even run businesses. The businesses should be owned, controlled, and managed by the workers themselves. The practice of wage slavery should be abolished. Anarcho-syndicalism is about more than just how labor unions should function: it is about how society is organized and our relationship with nature.

Read the text (PDF).

Pages

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