Archive for Climate Change
Naomi Klein on ideological impediments to addressing climate change and how to move forward
From Common Dreams staff
In an interview with Solutions, author and activist Naomi Klein discusses how market-based solutions are not going to meet the needs required to address climate change and how ideologies have hampered both the left and right in climate action. She also states that the Occupy movement has been “a game-changer.” There is a way forward, Klein says, and it involves “changing the mix in a mixed economy.”
Throwing Out the Free Market Playbook:
An Interview with Naomi Klein
Perhaps one of the most well-known voices for the Left, Canadian Naomi Klein is an activist and author of several nonfiction works critical of consumerism and corporate activity, including the best sellers No Logo (2000) and Shock Doctrine (2007).
In your cover story for the Nation last year, you say that modern environmentalism successfully advances many of the causes dear to the political Left, including redistribution of wealth, higher and more progressive taxes, and greater government intervention and regulation. Please explain.
The piece came out of my interest and my shock at the fact that belief in climate change in the United States has plummeted. If you really drill into the polling data, what you see is that the drop in belief in climate change is really concentrated on the right of the political spectrum. It’s been an extraordinary and unusual shift in belief in a short time. In 2007, 71 percent of Americans believed in climate change and in 2009 only 51 percent believed—and now we’re at 41 percent. So I started researching the denial movement and going to conferences and reading the books, and what’s clear is that, on the right, climate change is seen as a threat to the Right’s worldview, and to the neoliberal economic worldview. It’s seen as a Marxist plot. They accuse climate scientists of being watermelons—green on the outside and red on the inside.
It seems exaggerated, but your piece was about how the Right is in fact correct.
I don’t think climate change necessitates a social revolution. This idea is coming from the right-wing think tanks and not scientific organizations. They’re ideological organizations. Their core reason for being is to defend what they call free-market ideology. They feel that any government intervention leads us to serfdom and brings about a socialist world, so that’s what they have to fight off: a socialist world. Increase the power of the private sector and decrease the public sphere is their ideology.
You can set up carbon markets, consumer markets, and just pretend, but if you want to get serious about climate change, really serious, in line with the science, and you want to meet targets like 80 percent emissions cuts by midcentury in the developed world, then you need to be intervening strongly in the economy, and you can’t do it all with carbon markets and offsetting. You have to really seriously regulate corporations and invest in the public sector. And we need to build public transport systems and light rail and affordable housing along transit lines to lower emissions. The market is not going to step up to this challenge. We must do more: rebuild levees and bridges and the public sphere, because we saw in Katrina what happens when weak infrastructure clashes with heavy weather—it’s catastrophe. These climate deniers aren’t crazy—their worldview is under threat. If you take climate change seriously, you do have to throw out the free-market playbook.
What is the political philosophy that underscores those who accept climate change versus those who deny it?
The Yale cultural cognition project has looked at cultural worldview and climate change, and what’s clear is that ideology is the main factor in whether we believe in climate change. If you have an egalitarian and communitarian worldview, and you tend toward a belief system of pooling resources and helping the less advantaged, then you believe in climate change. And the stronger your belief system tends toward a hierarchical or individual worldview, the greater the chances are that you deny climate change and the stronger your denial will be. The reason is clear: it’s because people protect their worldviews. We all do this. We develop intellectual antibodies. Climate change confirms what people on the left already believe. But the Left must take this confirmation responsibly. It means that if you are on the left of the spectrum, you need to guard against exaggeration and your own tendency to unquestioningly accept the data because it confirms your worldview.
Members of the Left have been resistant to acknowledging that this worldview is behind their support of climate action, while the Right confronts it head on. Why this hesitancy among liberals?
There are a few factors at work. Climate change is not a big issue for the Left. The big left issues in the United States are inequality, the banks, corporate malfeasance, unemployment, foreclosures. I don’t think climate change has ever been a broad-based issue for the Left. Part of this is the legacy of siloing off issues, which is part of the NGO era of activism. Climate change has been claimed by the big green groups and they’re to the left. But they’re also foundation funded. A lot of them have gone down the road of partnerships with corporations, which has made them less critical. The discourse around climate change has also become extremely technical and specialized. A lot of people don’t feel qualified and feel like they don’t have to talk about it. They’re so locked into a logic of market-based solutions—that the big green groups got behind cap and trade, carbon markets, and consumer responses instead of structural ones—so they’re not going to talk about how free trade has sent emissions soaring or about crumbling public infrastructure or the ideology that would rationalize major new investments in infrastructure. Others can fight those battles, they say. During good economic times, that may have seemed viable; but as soon as you have an economic crisis, the environment gets thrown under the bus, and there is a failure to make the connection between the economy and the climate crisis—both have roots in putting profits before people.
You write in your article, “After years of recycling, carbon offsetting, and light-bulb changing, it is obvious that individual action will never be an adequate response to the climate crisis.” How do we get the collective action necessary? Is the Occupy movement a step in the right direction?
The Occupy movement has been a game changer, and it has opened up space for us to put more radical solutions on the table. I think the political discourse in the United States is centered around what we tell ourselves the American public can handle. The experience of seeing these groups of young people put radical ideas on the table, and seeing the country get excited by it, has been a wake up call for a lot of people who feel they support those solutions—and for those who have said, “That’s all we can do.” It has challenged the sense of what is possible. I know a lot of environmentalists have been really excited by that. I’m on the board of 350.org, and they’ll be doing more and more work on the structural barriers to climate action. The issue is why? Why do we keep losing? Who is in our way? We’re talking about challenging corporate personhood and financing of elections—and this is huge for environmental groups to be moving out of their boxes. I think all of the green organizations who take corporate money are terrified about this. For them, Occupy Wall Street has been a game changer.
What comes after communism and capitalism? What’s your vision of the way forward?
It’s largely about changing the mix in a mixed economy. Maybe one day we’ll have a perfect “ism” that’s post-communism and -capitalism. But if we look at the countries that have done the most to seriously meet the climate challenge, they’re social democracies like Scandinavia and the Netherlands. They’re countries with a strong social sphere. They’re mixed economies. Markets are a big part, but not the only part, of their economies. Can we meet our climate targets in a system that requires exponential growth to continue? Furthermore, where is the imperative of growth coming from? What part of our economy is demanding growth year after year?
If you’re a locally based business, you don’t need continual growth year after year. What requires that growth is the particular brand of corporate capitalism—shareholders who aren’t involved in the business itself. That part of our economy has to shrink, and that’s terrifying people who are deeply invested in it. We have a mixed economy, but it’s one in which large corporations are controlled by outside investors, and we won’t change that mix until that influence is reduced.
Is that possible?
It is if we look at certain choke points like corporate personhood and financing, and it makes sense for us to zero in on aspects of our system that give corporations massive influence. Another is media concentration. If you had publicly financed elections, you’d have to require public networks to give airtime to candidates. So the fact that networks charge so much is why presidential elections cost more than a billion dollars, which means you have to go to the 1 percent to finance the elections. These issues are all linked with the idea that corporations have the same free-speech rights as people, so there would also be more restrictions on corporate speech.
Entrepreneur and writer Peter Barnes has argued that what’s missing is adequate incorporation of the “commons sector” in the economy—public goods like natural and social capital. “Capitalism 3.0” he calls it, which we’d achieve not by privatizing these goods but by creating new institutions such as public-asset trusts. What’s your opinion of this approach?
I definitely think it’s clear that the road we’ve been on—turning to the private sector to run our essential services—has proven disastrous. In many cases, the reason why it was so easy to make arguments in favor of privatization was because public institutions were so cut off and unresponsive and the public didn’t feel a sense of ownership. The idea that a private corporation has valued you as a customer was a persuasive argument. Now it turns out both models have failed. So this idea that there is a third way—neither private nor state-run public—is out there.
Published on Wednesday, February 29, 2012 by Common Dreams
UNITED NATIONS, March 27, 2012, 2012 (IPS) – World leaders may face an unexpected challenge come June, when a major global summit on sustainable development will be held in Brazil. Unlike during previous summits, these leaders might have trouble making promises they are unable to keep.
“We are really tired of declarations,” Antonio Herman Benjamin, judge of the Supreme Court of Brazil, told an international gathering of legal experts here Monday. Despite some progress made since the 1992 Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, most governments have failed to fulfil their obligations.
As a result, the court has launched a new initiative to promote role of law in advancing sustainable development. It is known as the World Congress on Justice, Governance and Law for Environmental Stability.
The Congress’s scores of members from around the world include senior judges, prosecutors, legal scholars, auditors and development experts. They plan to focus on the problems and obstacles that hinder the implementation of multilateral environmental agreements.
Organisers said the World Congress intends to lead to the formulation and presentation of key guiding principles for strengthening the role of environmental law in achieving sustainability through the outcomes of this year’s United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, commonly referred to as Rio+20, and beyond.
Among the measures that are likely to be discussed are the roles of courts and evolving environmental jurisprudence.
Reflecting on the slow progress on meeting sustainable development goals, Benjamin explained that in many cases, environmental policies are formulated in a way that lacks requirements for guidance on implementation.
“Laws do not mean anything when they are not effectively implemented,” he said. “We need to close the gap between legal scholarship, parliaments and judges, because what is written can be ignored.”
Despite the numerous agreements that have been negotiated since the 1972 Stockholm Conference on the human environment and the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio, experts noted that “only limited” progress has made towards achieving sustainable development goals.
Only a few multilateral agreements, such as the Montreal Protocol on the Protection of the Ozone Layer, which has precipitated a 98 percent drop in the consumption of ozone depleting substances, have produced meaningful results.
“The Montreal Protocol is a prime example of what can be achieved when countries work together effectively on agreed legal frameworks,” said Amina Mohamed, deputy executive director of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
The Congress, according to Mohamed, would focus on the actions needed from legal practitioners to overcome challenges and promote the transition to a low-carbon, efficient and socially inclusive green economy founded on the rule of law.
In recent days, discussions at the United Nations about what needs to be done at the Rio Conference have indicated that many civil society groups and development activists remain as frustrated and disappointed with governments’ roles as they were before.
An ever-worsening crisis
“I think the Rio+20 process risks being undermined by vested interests and powerful governments,” said Michael Dorsey, professor of global environmental policy at Dartmouth College, who has attended scores of international meetings on development and environment since the 1992 Earth Summit.
The ecological crisis – from resource depletion to pollution, loss of biodiversity and an unfolding climate crisis – has worsened since 1992. Marginalisation and exclusion are on the rise as well, he told IPS, although some countries have made progress in the social dimension.
In major agreements such as the Rio conventions, sustainable development is considered to require fundamental shifts in three areas: climate change, biodiversity and land degradation, he added. “The Rio+20 institutional framework needs to facilitate the interface and integration of the three pillars.”
As the host of Rio+20, the Brazilian government, along with members of the country’s judiciary and auditing community, is supporting the Congress’s initiative.
This year, the Congress will convene from June 1 to June 3, on the eve of Rio+20. The outcome document from the Congress will be presented at the summit.
The event will be co-hosted by the Association of Magistrates of the state of Rio de Janeiro. Its partners include the Organisation of American States, South Pacific Regional Environment Programme, Interpol, World Bank, and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
SDPI Monday Seminar on
Climate Change Adaptation through Promotion of
Alternate and Energy Efficient Technologies in Pakistan
Date: Monday 2nd May, 2011
Time: 3:00 – 5:00 pm
Venue: SDPI Seminar Hall, 38, Embassy Road, G-6/3, Islamabad
Climate change is a global phenomenon and a challenging reality for thinkers, planners, policymakers and professionals alike. It is a phenomenon that is likely to impact almost every sector of Pakistan’s economy. Today it stands not only as a major environmental issue but also as a multi-dimensional developmental issue.
Climate change resulting from an increasing concentration of Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere due to the use of fossil fuels and other human activities has become a major worldwide concern. It is particularly so for Pakistan because climate change could pose a direct threat to its water security, food security and energy security. The country’s vulnerability to such adverse impacts is likely to increase considerably in the coming decades as the average global temperature, which increased by 0.6 °C over the past century, is projected to increase further by 1.1 to 6.4 °C by the end of the current century. Pakistan contributes only about 0.38% of the total global GHG emissions. On per capita basis, Pakistan with 1.9 tonnes per capita GHG emissions stands at a level which corresponds to about one-third of the world average, one-fifth of the average for Western Europe and one tenth of the per capita emissions in the U.S., putting it at 135th place in the world ranking of countries on the basis of their per capita GHG emissions.
For mitigating and reducing the GHG emissions from the energy sector Energy Security Action Plan 2005-2030 envisages large roles for hydropower, renewable energy technologies (in particular, windmills), nuclear power and alternate energy technologies in future energy supplies. A number of projects on energy efficiency improvement, energy conservation and use of decentralized renewable energy technologies being implemented by many institutions including Pakistan Council of Renewable Energy Technologies (PCRET).
The focus of this seminar is to create awareness about changing climate scenarios and provide recommendations for efficient use of alternate energy sources through adopting adaptation measures and promoting energy efficient technologies. Further the introduction of Energy Efficient Cooking Stoves (EECS) Technology would be highlighted in presentations and during the session. An energy efficient stove is a new technology that is replacing our traditional stoves. Traditional stoves are big threat to firewood consumption and forest degradation.
Mr Abdul Rasheed Khan, Senior Advisor, Ministry of Science and Technology, GoP
Dr Mahmood A. Khwaja, Senior Advisor, SDPI
Mr Zafar Iqbal Khokhar, Director General, Pakistan Council for Renewable Energy Technology PCRET
Mr Babar Khan, National Integrated and Development Association (NIDA) Pakistan, Besham
Mr Bakht Muhammad, Sahara Welfare Foundation (SWF), Malakand
Ms Javeriya Hasan, Research associate, SDPI
Ms Anusha Sherazi, Project Associate, SDPI
For further details please contact:
Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI)
House 38, Old Embassy Road, G-6/3, Islamabad-Pakistan
Tel: ++(92-51) 2270674-6, 2275642, 2278134
We, the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers
Ask you to join us:
MAY 18, 2010
CONSCIOUS PARTICIPATION IN HEALING OUR PLANETARY WATERS
OUR MOTHER EARTH NEEDS YOUR HELP!
Along with many peoples all around the globe, and many water prayers this spring, we are calling for a
MASSIVE GLOBAL EFFORT
Our main intention for this healing is to return the waters to their original pure crystalline blueprint, and to add to their abundance for the nourishment of ALL living things on the planet.
Pray in your local waterways, at the rivers or lakes or streams. Or pray with a bowl of water in the middle of the cities.
“We are Water Babies.
Do not to forget to say thank you every day for the water you drink,
the water you bathe in.
Without our Mother water we would not survive.”
Grandmother Agnes Baker Pilgrim, Takelma Siletz, Oregon
The specific ceremonies being conducted on May 18, 2010:
Grandmothers will be holding Water Prayers in the following places:
African Rainforest, Gabon – Grandmother Bernadette Rebienot
Great Lakes, USA - Grandmother Rita Blumenstein
Mountains of Oaxaca, Huautla de Jimenez – Grandmother Julieta Casimiro
Desert of the American Southwest – Grandmother Mona Polacca
France - Grandmother Flordemayo
Black Hills of North America – Beatrice and Rita Long Visitor Holy Dance
Plains of North America, Montana – Grandmother Margaret Behan
Hood River, Oregon – Agnes Baker Pilgrim
Nepalese Himalayas – Aama Bombo
Brazilian Amazon - Grandmothers Maria Alice Freire and Clara Shinobu Iura
Tibetan Ceremonies in Canada – Tsering Dolma Gyaltong
Mahia, Aotearoa, New Zealand – Ambassador Pauline Tangiora
At the same time, people will be praying at
Nine specific bodies of water around the planet using crystalline energy
· Lake Tahoe, California
· Lake Titicaca, Peru
· Lake MacKay Australia
· Lake Chad, Africa
· Lake Bikkal, Russia
· Lake Kissyk-Kul, Kyrgyzstan
· Lake Geneva, Switzerland
· Lake Superior, Minnesota
· Colorado River Complex (Healing and Purification Ceremonies for this vital USA waterway)
“Water reflects the human soul. If you say, ‘thank you’ to water, it will be reflected in the form of beautiful crystals overflowing with gratitude in return.”
Masuru Emoto, The Secret Life of Water
For more information:
Information provided by Dharini Abeyesekera