Exploring alternative views of environmental issues

Recently read A Redder Shade of Green – intersections of science and socialism by Ian Angus

I am interested in alternative views of environmental issues and movements

Extracts:

P50 – 2″Rapid climate change has been the rule not the exception”

“Today, however as a direct result of fossil fuel combustion, the concentration of atmospheric CO2 is over 440 parts per million and growing fast.”

He has looked at international research which show how environmentally destructive trends greatly accelerated by World War 2 and the industry backlash in denying these trends. 

He challenges the “all humans are to blame” as scientists have also repeatedly challenged this narrative. He cites how cfcs were not reduced by putting a price on them or ‘cap and trade’ but by a mandatory phasing out and ultimately an outright ban.

He challenges assumptions around overpopulation and points out a number of environmental destructions by Shell, Chevron and US military which wouldn’t have been stopped by population decrease or universal access to birth control. 

He challenges rhetoric around use of mathematical equations and models 

P112 “nature isn’t a thing you can count so how can you put it in an equation?”

He points out the challenges with nature reserves, local natural extinctions, agriculture and biodiversity e.g. “it is not the existence of agriculture but the type of agriculture that determines whether biodiversity is preserved”

He reviews the overuse of plastic and the chemicals transmitted and reacting both in the water and within fish that we eat.

He challenges ‘environmental catastrophism’ and the idea that being informed is not the same as viewing the world apocalyptically. He points out the need for specific goals and where international agreements which need to but are not currently challenging capitalist economies e.g. emission reduction rather than fossil fuel reduction.

P173 “pouring crap into the environment is a fundamental feature of capitalism and it isn’t going to stop as long as capitalism survives”

Thoughts:

I learnt a lot from this book and agree with quite a lot of it. It may be a misinterpretation on my part but he suggests that building a global movement working with environmentally, socially just movements rather than industry and government. I agree and disagree for the following

1. My understanding of development movements whether via governments, ngos, philanthropists essentially tells people in less developed countries – we have developed our countries but we’ve messed up including environmentally in your countries or bordering countries. 

So you can’t have exactly what we have because we don’t have enough resources and can’t figure out or find a way to agree to let you have what we have as well (more in this in another post). 

2. Based on my limited understanding of Russia with its complex climatic environments and relationships with bordering nations (but could be Middle East too) would be 

Western societies telling Russia that they a) need to give up one of the key inputs into their national economic health b) need to allow Western government friends,  ngos or industries to come in and decide which of their assets are going to be useful for Western environmental solutions and not offer anything in assistance or compensation (not to oligarchs btw). I can’t see solutions without liaision with the government and it doesn’t have to be a revolution.

There is also still not widespread real time collaboration by examining Russian or Chinese scientific, literary, political and historical thought in the languages used in those countries – we are just not there yet with translation and cultural understanding and maybe never will be, but that’s not a reason not to try to build bridges.

3. Challenging the ideas that capitalism has its own answers to its own failures is well handled in the book. This is similar with the growth of technological hype, entrepreneurial hype in other areas such as health which still posit solutions with the thinking and physical infrastructure rooted in their own political beliefs about solving problems, crises and catastrophes.

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