Monday, October 15, 2007

Green Blogging

Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day

Today is Green Blogging Day. And so in celebration I am linking to my critique of the myth of sustainable capitalism, which is what the dialectical dance of environmentalism and its opposite is all about.

I will be posting some more today on nature and the environment with that little bug up in the left hand corner, which links to the bloggers publishing today.

The right wing attack on Rachel Carson this past summer is a good example of this dialectic. Carson wrote the earliest popular work on ecology and the environment; The Silent Spring. 2007 is the 100th anniversary of her birth. The result of her work led to much needed public education about the dangers of chemicals; especially pesticides. Her work would inspire the ultimate capitalist reformer; Ralph Nader.

The dance of the dialectic is that both those who promote environmentalism and those who oppose environmentalism are both trying to protect capitalism as it is. One group is promoting sustainable capitalism, by restricting and ameliorating its worst aspects, while the other groups opposes any restrictions that would impeded capitalisms unbridled expansion.

Why Brown is the New Green

Brownfield sites are the gaps in urban areas where factories once stood. They cover a significant, if scattered, amount of land in the old industrial areas of East and South East London, stretching far into Essex and Kent along the Thames estuary. Bordered by housing estates and industrial parks, these sites have in some cases been neglected and unused since as far back as the Second World War.

To the disinterested eye they are spare ground, home to nothing but weeds, rubble, burnt-out cars and dumped appliances, and an obvious place to build new homes in a region where housing is so scarce essential workers cannot afford to buy a home.

This policy has long been seen as an environmentally sound way of dealing with the housing crisis. Green belts, areas of countryside surrounding the UK's major cities, were created in the 1950s to stop the spread of urban sprawl, and the government is reluctant to build on them. Filling in the gaps left by defunct industry in urban areas seems like the obvious answer to the problem.

However, naturalists have increasingly noted that brownfield sites not only provide a haven for wildlife, but are amongst the most important ecological sites in England. Furthermore, hard against built-up areas and open for public access, these sites are a valuable resource for England's majority urban population.

In the green belt around London industrial crop farming has created a monoculture more barren for wildlife than the city itself. Made up largely of private land closed to the public, and saturated in pesticides, these EU-subsidised farms cover a disproportionate area of a crowded region.

This was dialectical contradiction was best shown this summer with the Live Earth Concert organized by Al Gore and his capitalist friends.

Out came the forces of the ultimate in consumer capitalist culture; the rock bands last weekend to save the earth.

After saving the starving in Bangladesh, then Ethiopia, and ultimately the African Continent, now the fearless Rock and Roll Inc. (tm) (c) types are out to save the the earth from Climate Change.

Sorry but coming one week after the mud fest that was Glastonbury, the Concert for Princess Di's Trust Fund and the Canada Day concert in Ottawa, and on the same day as Oxfam Canada and End Global poverty were doing a cross Canada gig, well I must be getting jaded.

All I could garner was a ho hum and switched the channel to see the Canadian U20 team lose to the Congo in the FIFA World Cup.

I would take this whole Rock Concert To Save the World a lot more seriously if all that 'energy' output had been created by solar and wind power rather than using power generated by nuclear, coal, hydro, gas and diesel, as living examples of what could and can be done. I would have been a lot more impressed.

Forty years after the first DIY love ins and be ins I expect more than another attempt to recreate Woodstock for a good cause.

And considering how important this issue is in Canada the lack of a venue, or any critical comment from the MSM and pundits,about that over sight, shows how irrelevant Live Earth was.

Like Kyoto, carbon markets, biofuels, and Harpers 'Made in Canada' green plan, Live Earth was another dud.

In fact what is often overlooked by both sides is the fact that Harpers Made in Canada Green Plan is already in effect in Alberta.

Don Braid, Calgary Herald

Published: Friday, March 09, 2007

Well, some things you thought you'd never live to see. And one of them is an Alberta carbon tax, imposed by an Alberta government on Alberta energy companies, with the companies quietly nodding acceptance.

That's what the government introduced Thursday -- a surprisingly tough bill that will force companies to reduce their CO2 emissions per barrel by 12 per cent starting July 1, or pay $15 per tonne into a technology fund.

Call it a user fee. Or call it a technology incentive. Please go right ahead.

But what it is, actually, is a tax on carbon users and producers that will fall most heavily on oilsands companies and coal-fired electricity plants.

So it's a carbon tax, the very spectre that made Alberta shudder when the federal Liberals mentioned it.

But this carbon tax has an environmental goal. It will give companies a real incentive to lower emissions, while fostering technology that makes the job easier. And the money stays inside Alberta.

Companies can't escape by lowering production. What counts is emissions per unit, not total emissions. So the tax can be skimmed without bringing the industry to a halt.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper was on hand to announce his own green initiatives when the Alberta bill came out.

He professed not to know what was in it. That may be, but he's sure aware of the politics behind it.

The goal is to paint Harper and Alberta green
Environmentalism is not anti-capitalism it is just another market giving consumers choice.

North America's biggest solar farm set for Ontario

Homeowners look to go off electrical grid- Environmental self-sufficiency driving market

Green process makes brown coal the new black

One of the problems with the environmental lobby that gives its opponents on the right ammunition to use against them is their uses of prohibition as the basis of regulation. For instance the issue of public health. Rather than deal with the toxic emissions that result from capitalist production they ban smoking in public.

Another example of this dialectical dance is Green NGO campaigns against GMO's and the Seal Hunt.

What do Genetically Modified Organisms, genetically modified grains, soya and corn have in common with the seal hunt?

Why the likelihood of them being banned in Canada is zero, nada, zip, not bloody likely.

The same Green NGO's lobby Europe and other countries to ban seal pelts and GMO's.

Except the fact is that both the anti-seal hunt and the anti-GMO campaigns impact on producers, fishers in the case of seals and farmers in the case of GMO's. The majority of canola crops in Canada are GMO.

The reality is that the call for bans on the seal hunt or GMO crops are counterproductive, they harm producers not the State or multinational corporations.

Ban GMO food crops

US Humane Society Asks Americans to Boycott Canadian Seafood on Eve of Seal Hunt

Don't hold your breath for Quebec to act on GMO labelling

The Supreme Capitalist Court in Canada ruled on GMO crops versus farmers rights in the Schmeiser case. It was a significant attack on property rights versus patent rights/intellectual property rights. Something that not only upsets farmers, and anti-GMO activists but should also upset any right thinking libertarian.

Regarding the question of patent rights and the farmer's right to use seed taken from his fields, Monsanto said that because they hold a patent on the gene, and on canola cells containing the gene, they have a legal right to control its use, including the replanting of seed collected from plants with the gene which grew accidentally in someone else's field. Schmeiser insisted his right to save and replant seed from plants that have accidentally grown on his field overrides Monsanto's legal patent rights.

Canadian law does not mention any such "farmer's rights"; the court held that the farmer's right to save and replant seeds are simply the rights of a property owner over his or her property to use it as he or she wishes, and hence the right to use the seeds are subject to the same legal restrictions on use rights that apply in any case of ownership of property, including restrictions arising from patents in particular. That is to say, patent rights take priority of the right of the owner of physical property to use his property, and the entire point of a patent is to limit what the owner of physical property may do with that property, by forbidding him or her from using it to duplicate, produce or use a patented invention without permission of the patent owner. Overriding the rights of the physical property owner for the protection of the intellectual property owner is the explicit purpose of the Patent Act. As property rights are not constitutional rights they do not override statutes such as the Patent Act.

In the U.S. on the other hand they have had some success with challenging Monsanto.

Monsanto, its seed distributors and growers stand to lose up to $250 million if the alfalfa, which was designed to survive the company's Roundup herbicide, is taken off the market for the two years it takes to complete the study, the company said in court papers filed late on Friday.

Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer halted the sale of the modified alfalfa at the request of farmers, environmentalists and consumer advocates who say that it could harm the U.S. economy and the environment.

The judge voided the U.S. Department of Agriculture's 2005 approval of Roundup Ready Alfalfa, finding the agency had not conducted a full environmental impact statement. Breyer banned seed sales and gave farmers until March 30 to plant seeds they had already purchased.

Alfalfa, a fodder crop pollinated by bees and wind, is among the most widely grown crops in the United States, along with corn, soybeans and wheat.

The Center for Food Safety, which is among the groups that sought the injunction, said Breyer's order marks the first time a federal court has overturned a USDA approval of a biotech seed and halted planting.

The Center and other plaintiffs have argued that the biotech alfalfa could create super weeds resistant to herbicides, cause farmers to lose export business and contaminate natural and organic alfalfa.

They also alleged that Monsanto could try to force farmers whose crops were contaminated with Roundup Ready Alfalfa to pay for the company's patented gene technology whether they wanted it or not.

But unfortunately many of these campaigns are another form of capitalism, that of fund raising for Green NGO's.

Like Greenpeace's recent anti-Tar Sands campaign, they have no possibility of realistically closing the tar sands but they gain funding for their endeavours. Nor does the campaign effectively challenge capitalism, it merely appears to workers and citizens as being an outrageous publicity campaign. And one that limits its educational value by being deliberately provocative.
In doing so it discredits any alternatives to capitalism or discussion of them it makes any such alternative appear unrealistic.

Finally one only has to look at the Canadian Green Party to see that environmentalism is not anti-capitalism. Their recent increase in popular support in the Ontario election showed that it came from disgruntled Progressive Conservatives. In fact Green politics have been embraced by conservatives and the extreme right.

For a truly sustainable environment one must oppose capitalism and offer an alternative; self managed socialist democracy.

The Ecology of Work

Environmentalism can't succeed until it confronts the destructive nature of modern work—and supplants it

by Curtis White

For instance, as a matter of conscience we should be willing to say that the so-called greening of corporate America is not as much about the desire to protect nature as it is about the desire to protect capitalism itself. Environmentalists are, on the whole, educated and successful people, many of whom have prospered within corporate capitalism. They’re not against it. They simply seek to establish a balance between the needs of the economy (as they blandly put it) and the needs of the natural world. For both capitalism and environmentalism, there is a hard division between land set aside for nature and land devoted to production.


Junque Journalism

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