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System Change not Climate Change (SCnCC)

Key to the Leap: Leave the oil in the soil

By Ian Angus and John Riddell - Climate and Capitalism, November 6, 2016

In the Autumn 2016 issue of Canadian Dimension magazine George Martell argues that “the Leap Manifesto offers a genuine opportunity to move beyond social democracy — to directly face up to capitalism — if we are prepared to take the Manifesto’s demands seriously.”

Martell’s thoughtful essay is followed by responses from activists representing a variety of viewpoints, including the following contribution by John Riddell and Ian Angus.

Ian Angus is editor of Climate & Capitalism and an activist with Sustainable North Grenville. John Riddell, a historian of the socialist movement, is active in Toronto East End Against Line 9

George Martell correctly notes that the Leap Manifesto’s impact on the New Democratic Party has opened new possibilities for the Left. Its “direct opposition to the oppressive logic of global capitalism,” offers us a “genuine opportunity to move beyond social democracy.”

But to seize this opening, the Left must resolve a timescale problem that Martell does not address. His movement-building program is long-term, but the world climate crisis demands immediate action. We believe that the Leap Manifesto can bridge that gap.

Our Poisonous Economic System Needs A Grassroots Intervention

By Taj James - The Leap, November 2, 2016

Last month, nearly two hundred nations signed on to a legally-binding global climate deal seeking to phase out the greenhouse gases known as HFCs. And this Friday, the non-binding Paris Agreement will officially enter into force for seventy-six nations, which have made voluntary pledges to keep global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius and if possible, below 1.5°C.

These agreements are important, but they are not enough to save us. That is because admitting a problem is only the first step. To move forward, we must also properly diagnose and get to the root of the problem.

Right now, the problem that the Earth and the people on it are facing is a potentially terminal case of fossil fuel poisoning. We have a very short time window to stop the injection of the poison into our collective body and repair the harm done over previous decades. If we do not seize this moment, the future for humanity will be relatively short and extremely painful.

While national governments are finally admitting there is a problem, they have failed to diagnose the disease accurately. As a result, they are proposing solutions that will be fatal for the patient.

Their approach is like going to tobacco companies and asking them to handle the problem of lung cancer by coming up with a new tobacco product to cure it.

Our governments are opting for false solutions: they are looking to oil companies and market-based approaches to fix a problem that oil companies and market-based approaches created. They seem to believe that banks and the fossil fuel industry are the only players powerful enough and smart enough to address this crisis.

Thankfully, people all over the world are rising up to release their governments from the grip of corporations and demand that politicians serve the future of the people and the planet. Most importantly, communities are not waiting for national governments to act. They know what the real solutions are, and they are coming together to implement them in their towns, cities, and states. We’ve seen grassroots movements stop the Keystone pipeline and bring international pressure to bear on the Dakota Access pipeline, end fracking in New York State, and put Hawaii and other states on the path to 100% clean energy.

The fight for democracy, peace, and climate justice is accelerating. It is time to join the chorus of voices insisting that national governments do their part.

We have the power to divest from climate chaos and reinvest in local democracy and flourishing. We can build the next regenerative economy and repair the harm of the current system by restoring wealth back to the communities and countries that produced it. Such efforts include The Reinvest Network, which is moving money into a democratically-governed cooperative that invests in projects owned and operated by frontline communities, in order to build economic democracy rooted in ecological integrity; the Black Land and Liberation Initiative, a trans-local, Black-led land reclamation and reparations leadership network; and support for internally displaced climate refugees that recognizes present and historical structures of racial injustice. Projects such as these are crucial for eliminating the inequality on which our extractive economy thrives.

This is not a climate movement—it’s a movement for the future of humanity.

It will take all of us to accelerate the solutions already in our hands.

Not Just Transition, But Transformation: the Paris Climate Agreement

By Sean Sweeney - The Murphy Institute, November 7, 2016

The Paris Climate Agreement came into effect November 4th, 2016. More than 90 countries have ratified the deal, which is enough to turn it into international law.

Unions all over the world are trying to anticipate the agreement’s likely impacts and navigate its provisions to advance the interests of working people. Towards that end, a cross section of international labor will be in Marrakech from November 7th-19th calling for a “just transition strategy,” and to press for more ambitious targets and adequate climate financing for the global South.

The elephant in the room is capitalism. Maybe.

By Chris Smaje - Small Farm Future, October 5, 2016

I’d been hoping to pay another visit to the Peasant’s Republic of Wessex, but red tape has been holding me up at the border so it’ll have to wait probably for another couple of weeks. Instead, I thought I’d offer a few top-of-the-head thoughts on Felicity Lawrence’s recent article about agricultural pesticide use in The Guardian – or, more specifically, on some of the under-the-line responses it prompted.

Whenever someone writes an online article about virtually any aspect of the environmental challenges facing humanity, you can pretty much guarantee that underneath it somebody is going to write a comment that closely approximates to this: “The real issue here is human over-population. It’s the elephant in the room that trendy green thinkers don’t want to talk about.” In distant second place you’ll usually find a similar comment about meat eating. And, even less commonly, one about the flying or other carbon-intensive sins of said trendy green thinkers.

These comments doubtless emanate respectively from the childless, the vegan, and the foot-powered, and represent the pharisaical human tendency to elevate whatever behaviours we engage in that we feel are especially praiseworthy to a kind of touchstone status by which we can judge others less virtuous than ourselves. Hovering in the background of such thought is the ever present charge of hypocrisy, as in this recent tweet aimed at George Monbiot’s opposition to fossil fuel extraction: “Hey @GeorgeMonbiot – You PERSONALLY give up all items made or sustained by fossil fuels first, then we’ll talk.”

David Fleming nails this way of thinking especially well when he writes,

“Though my lifestyle may be regrettable, that does not mean that my arguments are wrong; on the contrary, it could mean that I am acutely aware of values that are better than the ones I achieve myself. If I lived an impeccable life, I could be lost in admiration for myself as an ethical ideal; failings may keep me modest and raise my sights”1

But, more importantly, all the obsessive finger-pointing about individual behaviours neglects the systemic logic which provides their ground. This was Marx’s insight in his critique of the utopian socialists – capitalism isn’t an especially nasty system because capitalists are especially nasty people. Therefore, building some nice factories with pleasant managers won’t solve the problem. The problem is that individual people ultimately have little choice but to respond to the behavioural drivers dictated by the logic of the (capitalist) system – and these drivers, investing a million innocent little decisions, have nasty consequences.

That brings me to my main point: when it comes to pesticide use in farming – actually, when it comes to a lot of things – if we want to talk about ‘the elephant in the room’, it isn’t human population. It’s capitalism.

Welcome to The Anthropocene, are Environmentalists Equipped to Respond?

By Roger Annis - CounterPunch, September 14, 2016

Capitalism has run so amok, producing so much waste and life-destroying pollution, that scientists now say that Earth has entered an entirely new epoch: The Anthropocene

On September 5 in Cape Town, South Africa, members of the ‘Working Group on the Anthropocene’ presented findings of their research to the annual International Geological Congress. A research paper by the group of 35 scientists, commissioned by the Congress, was published in January of this year, concluding that a new, “functionally and stratigraphically distinct” unit of geologic time has begun.

Scientists term the new epoch ‘The Anthropocene’, meaning that human activity has become the dominant influence on climate and the environment. Earth’s biosphere has been so thoroughly altered by human activity that changes are now permanently inscribed in the rock and fossil record, just as earlier events such as asteroid impacts and the evolution of multi-celled life forms left their records.

The Anthropocene succeeds The Holocene, an epoch of approximately 12,000 years which was marked by relative climate stability. During the Holocene, average global temperatures varied by no more than one degree Celsius. Here are two articles reporting on what the scientists have reported:

* The Anthropocene epoch: Scientists declare dawn of human-influenced age, by Damian Carrington, The Guardian, August 29, 2016

“… The current epoch, the Holocene, is the 12,000 years of stable climate since the last ice age during which all human civilisation developed. But the striking acceleration since the mid-20th century of carbon dioxide emissions and sea level rise, the global mass extinction of species, and the transformation of land by deforestation and development mark the end of that slice of geological time, the experts argue. The Earth is so profoundly changed that the Holocene must give way to the Anthropocene.”

* Expert panel: The Anthropocene epoch has definitely begun, by Ian Angus, in Climate and Capitalism, Aug 29, 2016

“… changes to the Earth System that characterize the potential Anthropocene Epoch include marked acceleration to rates of erosion and sedimentation, large-scale chemical perturbations to the cycles of carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus and other elements, the inception of significant change to global climate and sea level, and biotic changes such as unprecedented levels of species invasions across the Earth. Many of these changes are geologically long-lasting, and some are effectively irreversible.”

A 12-minute interview with author Ian Angus on the findings and recommendations of the Working Group on the Anthropocene was broadcast on The Real News Network on September 4; watch or read it here.

Theses on Saving the Planet

By Richard Smith - New Politics, Summer 2016

I don’t need to tell you we face an existential threat. Scientists tell us we face a “climate emergency.” Last year was the hottest year ever recorded, beating 2014, which beat 2012. We break new records every year. The fourteen hottest years ever recorded have been recorded since 2000. January and February temperatures were torrid. Global temperatures hit new all-time highs in February; the northern hemisphere breached the 2 degrees-Celsius-above-normal mark for the first time in recorded history. Svalbard, Norway, averaged 10 degrees Celsius above normal. Parts of the Arctic were more than 16 degrees Celsius warmer—basically no winter. There were record-setting low measures of maximum Arctic sea ice this “winter.” In the United States, the winter was record-warm from coast to coast, breaking all-time temperature records for February. The same in Asia. In the tropics, record warmth is massively bleaching the Great Barrier Reef.  

Keep in mind that it took from the dawn of the industrial age until last October for temperatures to climb 1.0 degree Celsius, and we’ve come an extra 0.4 degrees further in just the last five months. What’s driving this? More and more, people are coming to understand that the problem is not the climate. It’s our economic system.  

In her latest book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, Naomi Klein tersely sums up our plight: “Our economic system and our planetary system are now at war.” Climate scientists tell us that “our only hope of keeping warming below … 2 degrees Celsius is for wealthy countries to cut their emissions by somewhere in the neighborhood of 8–10 percent a year.” “The ‘free’ market simply cannot accomplish this task,” Klein writes, “What the climate needs to avoid collapse is a contraction in humanity’s use of resources; what our economic model demands to avoid collapse is unfettered growth.” 

So far, unfettered growth is winning. Instead of suppressing fossil fuel production, oil companies are pumping oil and gas from the ends of the earth. President Obama opened the Atlantic seaboard to drilling after he opened the Arctic and after he promoted his “All of the Above,” also known as “Drill Baby Drill,” plan to pump and drill and frack the country and beyond and bragged that he’s laid more pipelines than any president in history. 

Instead of minimizing fossil fuel consumption, consumers seem bent on maximizing consumption. The glut of oil production has only encouraged people to drive more and buy gas-hog SUVs and huge trucks that get worse gas mileage than the Cadillac land yachts of the 1950s. We’re burning up more fuel flying everywhere and installing air conditioners to beat the heat.

Instead of imposing binding limits on emissions, governments have kicked the can down the road for 22 consecutive years. At Paris in December, they didn’t even try. Instead they promoted hallucinatory fantasies of huge “negative emissions” to be had by some high-tech “carbon capture and storage”—again, always “someday” in the future, never today; no such technology presently exists in any practicable form nor is ever likely to. The U.S. government has abandoned subsidizing carbon capture. Carbon capture is not a technology. Carbon capture is a propaganda tool to let consumers rationalize obscene, unsustainable overconsumption: Not to worry, we’ll fix it tomorrow. But tomorrow never comes. Year after year, decade after decade, climate summits collapse in disarray because no country will sacrifice jobs and growth today to save their children tomorrow. 

And not just fossil fuels, we’re devouring everything—minerals, lumber, fresh water, fish stolen from the mouths of sharks and whales; we’re saving nothing for the future, reserving nothing for other species, which instead we’re just driving to the wall.  

Instead of inventing ways to minimize resource consumption, our smartest companies like Apple and Google work only to invent “needs” we don’t really need: drones, robots, iPhones 5-6-7, 3D printers, hoverboards, the “Internet of Things,” self-driving cars, biometric T-shirts, electric planes—the endless quest for “the next big thing,” but really just new ways to devour more resources and convert them into “product.” Instead of making products to be as durable and long-lasting as possible to conserve resources, our top companies pay their brilliant engineers, designers, and marketers to devise ways to make them wear out faster, to become obsolete, disposable, replaced in ever-faster cycles. 

Our capitalist economy is geared completely wrong. All the incentives are wrong. As an American retail analyst famously wrote way back in 1955:  

Our enormously productive economy demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfactions, our ego satisfactions, in consumption. … We need things consumed, burned up, worn out, replaced, and discarded at an ever increasing pace.1

And so it is. For three hundred years, the engine of capitalist economic development revolutionized technology, and science improved our lives in countless ways. But now this out-of-control engine is consuming us to death, driving us off the cliff and into the abyss.  

What to do? Mainstream economists have had two approaches. Economists such as Herman Daly, Tim Jackson, and Serge Latouche have advocated “degrowth.” The idea is that capitalism can be slowed down, made to run at a “steady state” or even to “degrow.” I have argued elsewhere that these theorists just don’t understand capitalism. Capitalist “degrowth” just means recession, if not depression. Imagine Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon Mobil, telling his investors, “Sorry, but to save the planet, we cannot grow profits next year, and in fact, we have to cut production (and thus profits) by 8–10 percent next year and every year thereafter, for the next three-and-a-half decades, by which time we will be basically out of business.” How long would it take your retirement fund to dump that stock? 

The other approach is “green capitalism.” The idea here is that growth can go on forever but be rendered benign for the environment. Economists who advocate green capitalism call for carbon taxes, solar power, LED lightbulbs. We are no doubt better off for some of these policies and technologies. But green capitalism can’t save us. Here and there the planet’s needs and the corporations’ needs do coincide—but they do not align systematically. To save the planet, corporations would have to subordinate growth and profits to saving the humans—but they can’t do this. They’re not responsible to us. They’re responsible to shareholders. Shareholders can’t subordinate growth to saving the planet and still compete in the world market—especially against China. What difference does it make if Germany gets 30 percent of electricity from renewables when what it produces with that electricity, its biggest export industry, is global warmers: gasoline-powered cars and gratuitously filthy diesels to boot? What difference if Apple powers all its servers in California with solar power when what it produces in China (and with coal power) is just completely disposable iPhones and iPads? Americans alone junk 100 million cell phones a year—mostly perfectly workable but “so last year.” The environmental cost of producing millions and billions of cellphones, computers, Gameboys, and all the other “devices” is just staggeringly unsustainable. IPhones are expensive. The cost of that new iPhone 6 is your children.  

What about cap-and-trade policies? No capitalist economy, no government, will accept cap-and-trade. Why? Because it would impose a “cap.” A cap is a finite limit on greenhouse gas emissions like CO2. But every government understands that a cap on emissions means a cap on growth. That’s why no industrialized country has been willing to accept a cap. As George Bush senior put it back in 1992, “The American way of life is not up for negotiation.” And if the Americans won’t cut emissions, why should the Chinese?

What about carbon taxes? Lots of governments pass carbon taxes, but they’re all too feeble to make any real difference. Scientists tell us that to keep global temperatures from rising beyond 2 degrees Celsius and prevent runaway global warming, the industrialized countries would have to suppress emissions by 6–10 percent per year, truly draconian levels, for the next 35 years to get emissions down to where they need to be by 2050. But cutting emissions by anything like that amount would mean industrial shutdowns across the board. So governments pass carbon taxes to placate environmentalists, but they pass taxes that are too feeble to force any real change. That’s why oil company executives at Shell, ExxonMobil, and so on all support carbon taxes. Carbon taxes are just an indulgence, just another cost of doing business, which they can also just pass along to their customers. Most importantly, it’s not a cap, so it won’t stop growth. These market approaches aren’t designed to cut fossil fuel consumption. They’re designed to delay or to avoid cutting fossil fuel consumption, to keep the engines of growth revving, to keep prioritizing growth and jobs over the environment.  

It’s not difficult to stop global warming. It’s completely obvious and simple. If we want to cut fossil fuel consumption we just have to enforce cuts in consumption, just ration oil and gas, like governments did during World War II, like when the U.S. government banned DDT, or when it banned ozone-depleting refrigerant chlorofluorocarbons.

The problem is that, given capitalism, cutting fossil fuel consumption would immediately bankrupt the largest companies in the world and plunge us into economic collapse, mass unemployment, and depression.  

Our whole economy is based on fossil fuel: mining, manufacturing, heating, transportation, petrochemicals, construction, industrial farming, tourism, you name it. Electricity and heat account for 25 percent of CO2 emissions; industry, 21 percent; transportation, 14 percent; agriculture, forestry, and deforestation, 24 percent.2 If we have to cut emissions by 90 percent, renewable energy is a start but only part of the picture. We need a completely different kind of economy, an economy geared to minimizing resource consumption, not maximizing it, an economy geared to sustainability and equity, not profit. 

The enemy is not the climate; it’s capitalism

By Michael Gasser - Santa Cruz Ecological Justice, August 22, 2016

In a new article in the New Republic, 350.org founder Bill McKibben, probably the world’s most influential climate activist, argues that World War III has begun and that the enemy is climate change.

He goes on to say that we are losing the war, that we should learn from the experience of World War II, that by retooling industry as we did then we can win the war. In making this case, he is largely adopting the position that has been promoted since 2014 by The Climate Mobilization (TCM). A few days after McKibben’s article appeared, TCM’s co-founder Ezra Silk published an extensive “Victory Plan”, which outlines the steps needed to “restore a safe and stable climate”, “reverse ecological overshoot”, and “halt the 6th mass extinction”.

Before going on to say what I think is wrong with McKibben’s and TCM’s position, I want to make it clear that there is much that is certainly right about it. Above all, they recognize the seriousness of the crisis, the fact that many people who are aware of climate change under-estimate the seriousness, and the need for drastic action to solve the crisis.

The problem is that what they are arguing for is not nearly drastic enough. This is because their “war” is against nature, and as such it ultimately relies on technological fixes, rather than challenges to the political and economic system. McKibben rests much of his case on the well-known work of Stanford University engineer Mark Z. Jacobson and his colleagues, who have argued that renewable technologies could replace those based on fossil fuels in the United States within decades. While Jacobson has his critics, his work is undeniably important. What his work shows — and he himself agrees — is that the main obstacles to solving the crisis are not technological but rather political and economic. The question is who controls the technology.

If this is so, then we must look for the enemy elsewhere. In what must be the best-known of all books written on the climate crisis and its causes, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, author Naomi Klein spells it out pretty clearly. The enemy (of the climate and hence of us) is capitalism. Although Klein does not go into much detail about what she actually means by “capitalism”, a number of ecosocialist writers have filled this gap. For an excellent overview, suitable for those who know little about the science of climate change and/or little about capitalism, see David Klein and Stephanie McMillan’s  Capitalism and Climate Change: the Science and Politics of Global Warming. A common theme in this work and others, especially Richard Smith’s Green Capitalism: the God that Failed and Daniel Tanuro’s Green Capitalism: Why It Can’t Work, is that capitalism, by its very nature, is completely incompatible with a just and sustainable future. If capitalism has a “solution” for the climate crisis, one can only imagine a dystopian world where elites survive in isolated islands of livability, protected from the masses of climate refugees on the outside.

No Coal in Oakland: a Report on the Campaign

By Margaret Rossoff - No Coal in Oakland, August 2016; image by Brooke Anderson

Many activists have expressed interest in an account of how the No Coal in Oakland campaign was organized.  This article is a response, but is not a history.  It is structured thematically rather than chronologically, and the many amazing activists and organizers are not identified by name.  Some of our initiatives came from organizations and some came from individual activists, but this account does not attempt to credit them, as every idea became a shared project.  Unlike just about every document during the campaign, this is not a collectively written piece.  It was significantly improved by careful readings by several people, for which I am very grateful, but I am responsible for all errors and omissions.  I expect—and hope–others will be writing their own accounts from a variety of perspectives.

I have included many links for documents referred to in this account.  For general background about the campaign, go to NoCoalinOakland.info.  A guide to acronyms is at the end of the article.

Margaret Rossoff
margaretmft@gmail.com

Strategy

No Coal in Oakland’s campaign was focused on persuading the members of the Oakland City Council to ban storage and handling of coal at a bulk export marine terminal to be built on City-owned land.  This would effectively prevent the transport of coal through Oakland and other cities along the rail lines as well as the shipment of coal overseas.

  • Our campaign to get the council members to vote for the ban had several components.  The primary ones were:
  • Direct lobbying with council members.
  • Outreach to Oakland residents, including particularly West Oakland residents and participants in community groups.  This was intended both to influence elected officials through popular opposition, and because we saw our campaign as part of building the larger movement for environmental justice and to contain climate disruption.
  • Insuring that evidence of the dangers of coal was adequately documented and presented to the council, including rebutting misleading claims by the developers.
  • Exploring other routes that might also lead to keeping coal out of Oakland.

This article focuses primarily on the first two aspects of our campaign. 

Bay Area IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus: Three Years and Going Strong

By x344543 - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, May 3, 2016; image by Jon Flanders.

The Bay Area IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus was cofounded in February 2013 by three members of the Bay Area IWW General Membership Branch. The group also helped launch the IWW EUC proper shortly after that.

The Bay Area IWW EUC quickly launched ecology.iww.org as well as the EUC social media presence on Facebook & Twitter.

Initially, the group joined in anti-Keystone X-L protests in the Spring of 2013, but also played a minor role in helping organize a labor contingent at the August 6, 2013 "Summer Heat" protest against Chevron in Richmond, CA (on the one year anniversary of the refinery fire which injured several union workers and sent 15,000 residents to the hospital seeking medical care).

Following that event, members of the Bay Area EUC helped launch the Richmond based Sunflower Alliance with several other local working class climate justice and frontline community activists. That group focuses primarily on climate & environmental justice campaigns in the Contra Costa County (northeast Bay Area) refinery corridor, which is one of the most industrial communities in all of California. That group--thanks in part to the presence of IWW members (but also do to the contributions of others) remains very class conscious and continually reaches out to the workers in the fossil fuel projects that it targets, with some degree of success.

Likewise, the Bay Area EUC also helped found and remains active in the Bay Area chapter of System Change not Climate Change (SCnCC). Thanks to open and friendly dialog, that group which is predominantly Eco-socialist is still inclusive of and welcoming to green-syndicalists and remains nonsectarian and inclusive. That group has organized several climate justice marches and rallies (with the help of others) which have included substantial rank & file Union member participation.

In February 2015, the Bay Area EUC, along with the aforementioned groups, Communities for a Better Environment, Movement Generation, the California Nurses Association, and the local chapter of the Sierra Club organized community support for striking refinery workers at the Tesoro refinery in Avon, CA (near Martinez) in Contra Costa County. There was a substantial "green" solidarity presence on the picket lines due to these efforts.

While this was happening, Bay Area IWW EUC members, along with Railroad Workers United, 350, the Sunflower Alliance, and SCnCC helped organize three "Railroad Workers Safety Conferences" that included railroad workers, striking refinery workers, and climate justice activists dialoging on common issues. The conferences were held in Richmond, Olympia, and the Great Lakes region, and were very successful. The website railroadconference.org has the information. More conferences may follow.

Since the conclusion of the railroad conferences, members of the Bay Area EUC have been involved in the "No Coal in Oakland" campaign, which seeks to prevent coal from being exported from a new bulk exports terminal being developed in Oakland by anti-Occupy capitalist, Phil Tagami (that group doesn't oppose the terminal or export of other (non fossil fuel) commodities; just coal). That group has a very strong union member participation, and has managed to get 21 unions (including four ILWU locals, the SEIU port workers local, and Bay Area IWW) to oppose coal exports. These efforts led to the Alameda County AFL-CIO CLC passing a resolution against coal exports (in the face of Teamsters and Building Trades support for coal exports) and the subsequent creation of a "green caucus" of the CLC.

The Bay Area EUC has also participated in conferences organized by the group "Bay Localize" that seek to have unions and clean power advocates work together on Community Choice Aggregation campaigns that challenge the dominance of capitalist investor owned utilities (primarily PG&E).

Bay Area EUC members have also participated in campaigns to save Knowland Park (in the southeast Oakland hills) from creeping privatization); to prevent the eviction of a homeless encampment at the Albany Bulb on the east bay shore; and in the "Occupy the Farm" campaign in the Gill Tract of Albany (northwest of Berkeley).

With the support of Bay Area EUC members, Railroad Workers United passed a resolution on "Just Transition"; those same members are hoping to get the ILWU to pass a similar resolution.

Finally, our group has participated in or organized several showings of Darryl Cherney's film, "Who Bombed Judi Bari?"

Most of these groups, campaigns, and efforts have been well covered on ecology.iww.org.

Toward Democratic Eco-socialism as the Next World System

By Hans Baer - The Next System Project, April 28, 2016

This essay is guided by two imperatives: (1) how do we live in harmony with each other on a fragile planet of limited resources, which have become unevenly distributed; and (2) how do we live in harmony with nature, particularly as humanity lurches forward into an era of potentially catastrophic, anthropogenic climate change that to a large degree is a by-product of the capitalist world system. Social systems, whether they exist at the local, regional, or global levels, do not last forever. Capitalism, as a globalizing political economic system committed to profit making and continual economic growth, has created a treadmill of production and consumption that is heavily dependent upon fossil fuels and has resulted in greenhouse gas emissions that drive climate change.

While capitalism has produced numerous impressive technological innovations, some beneficial and others destructive, which are very unevenly distributed, it is a system fraught with numerous contradictions, including: growing social disparities within most nation-states, authoritarian and militarist practices, depletion of natural resources, environmental degradation, including global warming and associated climatic changes, species extinction, and population growth as a by-product of poverty. Even more so than in earlier stages of capitalism, transnational corporations and their associated bodies, such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Trade Organization, make or break governments and politicians around the world, although the extent to which this is true varies from country to country. Although capitalism has been around for about 500 years, it manifests so many contradictions that it has become increasingly clear that it must be replaced by a “next system” or an alternative world system—one oriented toward social parity and justice, democratic processes, and environmental sustainability, which includes a safe climate.

Read the report (PDF).

Pages

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