Climate change

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A letter to Andy Newman about gas

Comrade Andy Newman, Like you, I have many criticism’s of Extinction Rebellion’s Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill (see here). But in your LabourList polemic against the Bill, writing as technical director of the “Gas Users Organisation” (GUO) and as a GMB and Labour Party activist, you come down squarely on the wrong side of the crucial issues. You warn of “another culture war divide” over the twin needs of tackling climate change and “protecting well-paid, skilled jobs, and protecting the interests of families and households”. Your answer? Not radical socialist environmentalist policies...

"This attack on capitalism"

As I write on 7 September, Extinction Rebellion (XR) UK’s latest rebellion has just finished its first week, with a few days still to come. Every day, in many locations across the country, hundreds of protesters have turned out for often bold actions to urge action on the climate crises. XR has rightly denounced serious and increasing police repression. Hundreds have been arrested, including mass arrests following kettling. Protestors have been taking Covid-safety seriously, yet the police have threatened them, including those wearing face-masks, with fines using Coronavirus police powers...

XR returns to activity

Extinction Rebellion (XR) Bristol held protests and blockades from 29-31 August, and XR nationally begun a fortnight of disruption from 1 September in London, Cardiff and Manchester. They aim to get the “Climate and Ecological Emergency” (CEE) bill adopted as a “private members’ bill” and then passed as Parliament returns from 1 September. In Bristol, a protest at the airport reportedly saw almost 400 people, multiple bridges were blockaded, and XR organised many other actions, talks, and educational activities. Organisers have been taking Covid-safety seriously, while working hard to...

Over 230 million people under water

The Greenland ice sheet had an average net loss of over one million tons of ice each minute in 2019, so research published on 20 August showed. One million tons is one cubic kilometre of water; across the year a record loss of over 500 billion tons. That loss from 2019 could contribute well over 1mm of sea level rise globally, as well as diluting the Gulf Stream with fresh water. Antarctic ice loss is also progressing at an alarming rate. The cumulative impact is compounded by thermal expansion of the ocean’s water as the planet heats, and potentially accelerated by positive feedback...

Test? Only if you have a car

After developing a cough, my housemate self-isolated, and tried to get tested. When self-referring in Bristol you are offered an on-the day test only if you say you have a car or van to travel in. The testing centre is ten miles from the city centre. My housemate made up a car registration plate number, booked a test, drew the number on cardboard in marker pen, and cycled there. He was refused as not “in” his vehicle, so had to ask for the slower, less reliable, postal home-testing kit. The official reason for refusing is to reduce levels of infection to staff, but the policy makes people take...

Healthier and less polluting

A study led by Oxford University academics and published on 15 May has highlighted the successive gaps between most people’s diets and national or WHO [World Health Organisation] dietary guidelines; and between these guidelines and multiple international targets which governments have signed up to. Across the 85 countries considered, with national guidelines, if those guides or WHO ones were followed, then (the study reckons) “premature mortality” would fall by almost one sixth and food-related greenhouse gas emissions by almost a seventh. More ambitious “EAT-Lancet recommendations” would give...

Sea could rise 2 or 3 metres soon

New research has narrowed the predicted likely range of global warming for a given increase of CO2. Previously, a doubling of CO2 above pre-industrial levels would have been predicted to increase global surface temperatures by 1.5‐4.5°C, a measure of “climate sensitivity”. The new research, assessing available evidence, places climatic sensitivity within the middle or upper part of this range: 2.6‐4.1°C. With lower climate sensitivity increasingly unlikely, attempts to build hopes upon it are even more untenable. The need to radically reduce net carbon emissions, as well as to mitigate the...

Siberia signals global dangers

Siberia has seen record-breaking heatwaves so far this year, over 5ºC above average. The Arctic is warming considerably faster than the global average, and researchers found that this heatwave “would have been almost impossible without human-induced climate change”. Heatwaves on average kill tens — perhaps hundreds — of thousands of people around the world. They have been systematically under-reported in Africa, where the toll is likely higher than in Europe. Arctic heatwaves and warming are driving rapid disappearance of sea ice, extreme forest fires and thawing of permafrost. Permafrost is...

Video: Climate change and Covid-19

2020 will see — for the first time! — a significant reduction in global CO2 emissions. Opening speeches by two socialist environmentalist activists, in Workers' Liberty, from the "Climate change and coronavirus" meeting. The Coronavirus crisis has also seen workers and governments taking collective action that place social good above private profits. There have even been examples of workers developing plans to use their skills and the machinery at work to produce socially useful products. A return to "normality" means a return to a world where human activity is directed solely for the creation of private profit at the expense of humanity and our future. Prior to the lockdown we were heading blindly and at accelerating speed towards civilisational collapse. What are the prospects now for a workers' led just transition to a world that is run in the interests of people and planet?

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