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Memo to Jacobin: Ecomodernism is not ecosocialism

By Ian Angus - Climate and Capitalism, September 25, 2017

This summer, the left-wing magazine Jacobin published a special issue on climate change. The lead article declares that “climate change … has to be at the center of how we mobilize and organize going forward. From now on, every issue is a climate issue.”

That’s excellent news: a magazine that calls itself “a leading voice of the American left, offering socialist perspectives on politics, economics, and culture,” ought to be a leader in the fight against capitalism’s deadly assault on the earth’s life-support systems.

Unfortunately, if the special issue is any indication, Jacobin is heading in the wrong direction. Although the term eco-socialism appears from time to time (always with a hyphen, which may indicate some uneasiness with the combination) there is nothing in this issue resembling an ecosocialist analysis or program. There’s not a word about stopping coal or tar sands mining, and no mention of shutting down the world’s biggest polluter, the US military. Instead we are offered paeans to technology in articles that advocate nuclear power, geoengineering, new power grids, electric cars and the like.

But despite their technophilia, the authors display little understanding of the technologies they support. Take, for example, the piece by Christian Parenti. He has written elsewhere that the U S government can resolve the climate crisis without system change by supporting clean technologies, so “realistic climate politics are reformist politics.” This article says much the same, that “state action and the public sector” can solve climate change by implementing carbon capture and sequestration (CCS). He tells us that removing CO2 from the atmosphere is “fairly simple,” because it has been done in submarines for years, and because Icelandic scientists recently developed a safe method of injecting CO2 into underground basalt, where it becomes a limestone-like solid within two years.

That sounds impressive, but is it credible?

Capital Blight: a Green-Syndicalist Responds to David Walters "Socialist" Defense of Nuclear Energy, Part 2

By x344543 - June 3, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Since I published a response to David Walters rather dubiously reasoned editorial A socialist defends nuclear energy over six months ago, I have been engaged with him in a back-and-forth debate with him, primarily on our respective Facebook pages over the issue. Two other socialists (not of the syndicalist orientation), Michael Freidman and Chris Williams also challenged David Walters on the his claims that nuclear power is "safe". I do not know if Freidman or Williams has experienced a similar debate with him.

In a nutshell, comrade Walters takes exception to my rebuttal of his initial arguments, perhaps in particular, because I speculated then that his arguments were informed principally by (capitalist) nuclear power industry propaganda. He also disagrees vehemently with my belief that human civilization can supply even a significant majority of its energy needs (let alone 100%) with renewable energy technologies.

In the intervening period he has tried very persistently to defend his original arguments as being independently thought out and my own as being influenced by propaganda of another source, that being the renewable energy industry and (what David apparently dismisses as their puppets) the big green NGOs.

After six months of this, I can confidently state that I remain steadfastly committed to my initial position, and--if anything--I am even more convinced that I am right and David is wrong, and it doesn't take much to prove it.

The reason I'm so certain is because David bases his arguments on the following fallacies, inaccuracies, and untruths:

  • (1) Renewable Energy--specifically wind and solar-electric--are not reliable or dispatchable and must be backed up by another more stable source;
  • (2) Baseload reliability and instant dispatchability are currently existing hallmarks of conventional power sources which will be lost if the world naively switches to renewable sources;
  • (3) Energiewende is immensely unpopular in Germany, in spite of the claims made to the contrary by renewable energy advocates;
  • (4) The German "Energiewende" is a "failure", because the nuclear plants that have been shuttered are being replaced by coal plants;
  • (5) Germany is producing more CO2 because of Energiewende;
  • (6) France, a heavy producer of nuclear energy, is exporting electricity to Germany, because the latter has shuttered its nuclear plants;
  • (7) Other nations are not only wisely avoiding "Energiewende", they're sticking with nuclear power;
  • (8) Nuclear power is far cheaper than renewable energy technologies;
  • (9) The real push for renewable energy comes from natural gas interests;

In the course of this back-and-forth debate I believe that I have provided ample evidence that not only is David Walters mistaken in his defense of nuclear power, his rejection of nuclear power's critics, and his dismissiveness towards renewable energy, he is so desperate to defend nuclear power, he will grasp at any claim that seems to defend his own position. However, when analyzed in greater context and taken as a whole, his entire premise has a half-life of less than that of Nobelium and rapidly decays within a few minutes

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