Archive for category: Ecology
The danger doesn’t only come from the symptoms of a virus: it comes from our distorted relationship with the natural world.
Join us for the second installment in Cosmonaut’s critically acclaimed ecology series to discuss Jason Moore’s “Capitalism in the Web of Life”. Niko, Matthew and Remi discuss how this work merges concepts from Marxist ecology and world-systems analysis to reveal how capitalism organizes nature as a whole oikeios, and how this sets limits to capitalist accumulation once “the Four Cheaps” (energy, food, work and raw materials) become scarce and capitalism is forced to shift to new regimes of accumulation. The team talks about how Moore’s concepts of oikeios and capitalism-in-nature extends the dialectical relationship of organism and environment, and how this can be applied for a socialist project, as well as addressing the critiques of Moore’s work from other ecosocialist schools.
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Many of the affected areas are also seeing a coronavirus surge and some experts are anxious heat could increase infections
More than 20 locations across the US were expected to either break or tie previous high temperature records on Sunday as the south of the country bakes in a heatwave.
The National Weather Service had numerous excessive heat warnings in place across a 2,000 mile swath stretching from southern California through to Mobile Bay in Alabama. Potentially record-breaking temperatures are expected in southern California, Arizona, New Mexico and west Texas.
To govern is to forsee, to quote Simone de Beauvoir. It is an adage that others have uses and is entirely correct: like in agriculture, what’s important in government is not rhetoric but being ready for what’s to come. The coronavirus was national news for weeks before a single politician in California has a public plan. The President pushed it aside as a marginal event, not forseeing death, a potential recession, etc. Who is thinking about the fact that we are almost in wildfire season, which will also impact lives, economy, etc, as we wait on a coronavirus vaccine scheduled for a year.
Let’s not forget that what is native to California is an ecosystem that burns naturally.
Let’s not forget that what is native to California is an ecosystem that burns naturally. Unlike for the natives, such as the Tongva, who controlled this burning, contemporary California society is not only afraid of it and in its way. Fires cost billions of dollars in damage, and cause a diminishing of confidence in California as being land for one’s wellbeing. In other words, fire this year would be interpreted as an apocalypse by this population and would certainly mean massive hysteria.
The chances for devastating fire are high. In ancient Chinese mythology, it was, and still is, understood that Changxi, god, has twelve daughters and each of them is a month of the year. For reasons tied to climate change, how we build, what we build, and government that does not actually know how to urbanize a biome or ecosystem without causing devastation, some of these daughters might as well be devastators for the mean time. Tie this into the fact that the coronavirus is going to cost us a lot of money and then so will the fire: you get the picture.
There is still solidarity, friendship, conversation, and action; all of which can help us in our fight to stay healthy, sane, and committed to justly settling California. Tagore, the Bengali poet, says it best with “you must make this loss good to me, my love”. This isn’t the last pandemic and the wildfires are coming: we must assemble and redefine government’s priorities through our assembly. Only then will we be willing to forsee devastation, and not profit.
This interview was first published in The Guardian on March 22, 2018
Fifty years after the publication of his controversial book The Population Bomb, biologist Paul Ehrlich warns overpopulation and overconsumption are driving us over the edge
A shattering collapse of civilisation is a “near certainty” in the next few decades due to humanity’s continuing destruction of the natural world that sustains all life on Earth, according to biologist Prof Paul Ehrlich.
In May, it will be 50 years since the eminent biologist published his most famous and controversial book, The Population Bomb. But Ehrlich remains as outspoken as ever.
Prof Paul Ehrlich of Stanford University. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo
The world’s optimum population is less than two billion people – 5.6 billion fewer than on the planet today, he argues, and there is an increasing toxification of the entire planet by synthetic chemicals that may be more dangerous to people and wildlife than climate change.
Ehrlich also says an unprecedented redistribution of wealth is needed to end the over-consumption of resources, but “the rich who now run the global system – that hold the annual ‘world destroyer’ meetings in Davos – are unlikely to let it happen”.
The Population Bomb, written with his wife Anne Ehrlich in 1968, predicted “hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death” in the 1970s – a fate that was avoided by the green revolution in intensive agriculture.
Many details and timings of events were wrong, Paul Ehrlich acknowledges today, but he says the book was correct overall.
“Population growth, along with over-consumption per capita, is driving civilisation over the edge: billions of people are now hungry or micronutrient malnourished, and climate disruption is killing people.”
Make modern contraception and back-up abortion available to all and give women full equal rights, pay and opportunities
Ehrlich has been at Stanford University since 1959 and is also president of the Millennium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere, which works “to reduce the threat of a shattering collapse of civilisation”.
“It is a near certainty in the next few decades, and the risk is increasing continually as long as perpetual growth of the human enterprise remains the goal of economic and political systems,” he says. “As I’ve said many times, ‘perpetual growth is the creed of the cancer cell’.”
It is the combination of high population and high consumption by the rich that is destroying the natural world, he says. Research published by Ehrlich and colleagues in 2017 concluded that this is driving a sixth mass extinction of biodiversity, upon which civilisation depends for clean air, water and food.
The solutions are tough, he says. “To start, make modern contraception and back-up abortion available to all and give women full equal rights, pay and opportunities with men.
“I hope that would lead to a low enough total fertility rate that the needed shrinkage of population would follow. [But] it will take a very long time to humanely reduce total population to a size that is sustainable.”
It will take a very long time to humanely reduce total population to a size that is sustainable
He estimates an optimum global population size at roughly 1.5 to two billion, “But the longer humanity pursues business as usual, the smaller the sustainable society is likely to prove to be. We’re continuously harvesting the low-hanging fruit, for example by driving fisheries stocks to extinction.”
Ehrlich is also concerned about chemical pollution, which has already reached the most remote corners of the globe. “The evidence we have is that toxics reduce the intelligence of children, and members of the first heavily influenced generation are now adults.”
He treats this risk with characteristic dark humour: “The first empirical evidence we are dumbing down Homo sapiens were the Republican debates in the US 2016 presidential elections – and the resultant kakistocracy. On the other hand, toxification may solve the population problem, since sperm counts are plunging.”
Reflecting five decades after the publication of The Population Bomb (which he wanted to be titled Population, Resources, and Environment), he says: “No scientist would hold exactly the same views after a half century of further experience, but Anne and I are still proud of our book.” It helped start a worldwide debate on the impact of rising population that continues today, he says.
The book’s strength, Ehrlich says, is that it was short, direct and basically correct. “Its weaknesses were not enough on overconsumption and equity issues. It needed more on women’s rights, and explicit countering of racism – which I’ve spent much of my career and activism trying to counter.
“Too many rich people in the world is a major threat to the human future, and cultural and genetic diversity are great human resources.”
Accusations that the book lent support to racist attitudes to population control still hurt today, Ehrlich says. “Having been a co-inventor of the sit-in to desegregate restaurants in Lawrence, Kansas in the 1950s and having published books and articles on the biological ridiculousness of racism, those accusations continue to annoy me.”
But, he says: “You can’t let the possibility that ignorant people will interpret your ideas as racist keep you from discussing critical issues honestly.”
More of Paul and Anne Ehrlich’s reflections on their book are published in The Population Bomb Revisited.
Damian Carrington interviewed Paul Ehrlich to reflect on the 50 years that have passed since the publication of The Population Bomb, and what, if anything has changed in regards to the chances of a shattering collapse of civilization.
The post Paul Ehrlich: ‘Collapse of civilization is a near certainty within decades’ appeared first on MAHB.
The Cosmonaut team inaugurates the ecology series by discussing John Bellamy Foster’s seminal book Marx’s Ecology on its twentieth anniversary. Join Niko, Ian, Matthew, and Remi as they discuss the context of this work, and how it started a rediscovery of Marx’s ecological politics. They discuss how ecology informed Marx’s understanding of the world since his doctoral thesis, the relationship between Marx, Darwin, and Malthus and the concept of metabolic rift.
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Eco-fascism, mostly associated with the ‘green wing’ in historical National Socialism and neo-Malthusian authoritarians of the 1960s/70s, is an iridescent concept that signifies the preoccupation of extreme-right actors with environmentalist concerns. As such, it is also a highly loaded term, used both academically and as a slur. The term has recently attracted particular attention due to manifestos linked to radical-right terrorist attacks in Christchurch and El Paso. Indeed, the Christchurch shooter appears to identify himself as an ‘Ethno-nationalist Eco-fascist’, calling for “Ethnic autonomy for all peoples with a focus on the preservation of nature, and the natural order”.
However, eco-fascism is in fact a fringe phenomenon which has had a lasting political impact neither on mainstream politics nor on the politics of the radical right. Given this, it seems that eco-fascism should not dominate our understanding of the wider radical right’s relationship with nature. Indeed, this relationship is multifaceted due to the array of radical-right actors who engage in it, from anti-liberal actors to outright anti-democratic ones. While the former might simply celebrate ‘the beauty’ of national landscapes and the symbolic tie between land and people as well as the land’s economic significance for ‘the people’, eco-fascists undoubtedly belong to the latter. Accordingly, they also claim that race and racial survival are intrinsically linked to this Volk’s natural environment and its despoliation. Specific arguments resulting from such a stance include, for example, warnings against overpopulation and opposition to immigration from poorer countries with (on average) lower environmental footprints. Illustratively, the Christchurch manifesto claims: “Europeans are one of the groups that are not overpopulating the world. The invaders are the ones over populating the world. Kill the invaders, kill the overpopulation and by doing so save the environment.”
It is against this background that eco-fascism still warrants attention. This means that by studying eco-fascists it is possible to understand particularities associated with radical-right articulations on the natural environment. In order to grasp this contemporary, 21st century eco-fascism, this brief article looks at one of the most notorious eco-fascist actors, the recently defunct Greenline Front (GLF).
Figure 1: The life rune and the Black Sun, two symbols regularly used by Greenline Front
Eco-fascist ideas and practices
GLF is an international network which originated in Eastern Europe, with chapters in a variety of countries such as Argentina, Belarus, Chile, Germany, Italy, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Spain and Switzerland. Operating as a loose network, GLF is held together by a shared ideological programme as well as a common ‘branding’.
The latter is visible in their appropriation of the life rune and/or the Black Sun as their logotypes, logotypes through which GLF’s chapters have been recognizable at marches and other offline activities, as well as in their online communication. In addition, such branding points straight to the group’s ideological core which is concisely visible on their international webpage.
The webpage offers not only several posts conveying an (eco-)fascist message, but also a mission statement which serves as an exemplary formulation of the eco-fascist doctrine. According to it, GLF is a nationalist movement rejecting anthropocentrism and monotheism. By asserting the importance of Blood and Soil (‘Earth’s being not just a lifeless piece of stone, but the Mother of every creature alive, mother of humanity’), GLF accentuates the naturalistic-organicistic imaginary of beings rooted in the nation’s soil. This includes asserting the importance of intergenerational continuity and a bond with nature, a bond which should not be overstretched as a condemnation of overpopulation, as the group’s 10-points manifesto makes clear. Building on these sentiments, GLF presents itself as the ‘ecological alternative’ to profit-seeking individualism and materialism, and also incorporates animal ethics through veganism and calls for animal liberation. Furthermore, the content posted on GLF page outlets makes references to Pentti Linkola, the recently deceased Finnish eco-fascist deep ecologist; the American National Socialist author William Pierce; Hitler’s Priestess; Savitri Devi; and to notable Nazis such as Walther Darré or Alwin Seifert, who is referred to as the ‘First German Environmentalist’. As a matter of fact, the German racial policies of the 1930s are described as ‘the attempt to resurface the Weltanschauung of the ancient Germanic people’. Consequently, GLF rejects democracy (the ‘religion of death’) and embraces violence as an indispensable part of the struggle for restoring an imagined equilibrium in and with nature.
And yet, GLF has not only proclaimed the need to restore such an imagined equilibrium but also that its variants frequently report relevant activism, what Zbyněk Tarant calls ‘eco-actions’. For example, GLF’s variants have repeatedly reported on clean-ups as well as suggested to build a bird feeder and to raise oak trees – thus putting an emphasis on direct action and hands-on experience well-established in radical-right activism. These illustrative examples are taken from the German variant which , also illustrates shifting levels of (public) activism: for instance, its vk.com channel, opened in 2016 but has been left untouched since 2017. The variant has recently returned to Twitter and made available a webpage – although both are seemingly deserted again. Indeed, GLF’s eco-fascist ‘unique selling point’ and raison d’être might not be enough to stabilize such groupuscules in the medium – and long-run – as is also visible in one of their Polish interviewee’s words: “Greenline Front died of ‘natural causes’, people didn’t do anything.”
The short-lived case of GLF may be emblematic of eco-fascist and radical-right cells, sentenced to atomized and disjointed activism and operating remotely from most radical-right organizations. However, the case of GLF raises at least two issues worth considering about the relationship between the radical right and ecologism. First, although many radical-right actors have taken a contrarian position when it comes to anthropogenic climate change, the current relevance of environmental issues has let some of these actors to show increasing interest in the environment. While this is not necessarily congruent with eco-fascism, elements such as purity of the national land and rootedness of an essentialised collective may also be found in more subtle forms of radical-right ideology. Thus, studying ‘proper’ eco-fascism might sharpen our awareness of related, though different, articulations of nature protection across the radical-right spectrum. Second, even though GLF did not permeate into mainstream environmental networks and might not even attract significant support within the radical right, its grassroots activism keeps alive a fascist tradition of ecological thought and practice. Moreover, this ecological moment points to the importance of critically examining environmentalist framing. That is, GLF and eco-fascism at large question our understanding of environmentalism and ecologism as framing done by mainstream and left-wing environmentalists too might unconsciously reproduce potentially troubling notions of eco-organicism and an imagined equilibrium in and with nature, resulting in exclusionary politics.
Dr Bernhard Forchtner is a Senior Fellow at CARR and Associate Professor of Media and Communication, University of Leicester. See his profile here.
Mr Balsa Lubarda is a Doctoral Fellow at CARR and a Doctoral candidate in Department of Environmental Sciences and Policy, Central European University. See his profile here.
©Bernhard Forchtner and Balsa Lubarda . Views expressed on this website are individual contributors and do not necessarily reflect that of the Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right (CARR). We are pleased to share previously unpublished materials with the community under creative commons license 4.0 (Attribution-NoDerivatives).
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