Green Left Weekly: The case for ecosocialism

Socialism through climate

Following on from the earlier post concerning post-normal science, this article in Green Left Weekly (whose articles appear in my regular news feeds every Sunday evening) caught my eye for the same reason: the whole climate change movement isn’t about the climate at all. It is a means to a socialist end, this time even more clearly annunciated. Even the title of the publication gives it away! The article begins with the usual alarmist statements about the climate system:

The rapid melting of the Arctic sea-ice is one of the most alarming examples of the looming climate change catastrophe. But where most see disaster, some of the world’s richest corporations see a business opportunity.

The rate of Arctic ice melt in recent years has surprised and worried experts. It is not just the fragile Arctic ecosystem that is under threat. As the ice retreats due to global warming, less sunlight is reflected back into space by the white surface.

This means the whole planet has likely already begun to warm faster, as more heat is absorbed by the darker ocean. This, in turn, could help trigger other climate tipping points — such as the release of millions of tonnes of methane gas trapped in Siberia’s frozen soils — and make runaway climate change a reality.

In 2007, NASA glaciologist Jay Zwally delivered a blunt warning: “The Arctic is often cited as the canary in the coal mine for climate warming. Now as a sign of climate warming, the canary has died. It is time to start getting out of the coal mines.”

Unfortunately, little of this has any merit, since there is no evidence of any such climate tipping points existing. Temperatures have been warmer in the past, and yet climate has never spiralled out of control. That we are still here after 4.5 billion years is evidence enough of that. Next, the cause of the strife is identified, and you guessed it – capitalism:

In 1950, the German-American economist William Kapp came up with an apt description of the capitalist system: “Capitalism must be regarded as an economy of unpaid costs.”

He described the reality of an economic system that creates immense waste and pollution but makes nature (and the sections of human society that did not reap the profits) bear the “disposal” costs.

For centuries, capitalism has treated the air, rivers and oceans as a global sewer. The long-term damage to natural ecosystems are never reflected in any corporate bottom-line. And as capitalism has developed into a global system, the environmental havoc it creates has been globalised too.

As public concern about the climate crisis rises, pro-capitalist economists and politicians are under pressure to find answers. But the business-as-usual solutions they offer generally rely on extending the market to more aspects of nature.

But what about green capitalism? No good:

US sociologists Brett Clark and Richard York have argued that the short-term need of capitalist markets to constantly expand is at odds with the long-term cycles of regeneration required by the natural world.

They said in the November 2008 Monthly Review: “The pursuit of profit is the immediate pulse of capitalism, as it reproduces itself on an ever-larger scale. A capitalist economic system cannot function under conditions that require accounting for the reproduction of nature, which may include time scales of a hundred years or more, not to mention maintaining the particular, integrated natural cycles that help sustain living conditions.”

In a talk at Green Left Weekly’s 2009 World at a Crossroads conference in Sydney, Canadian ecosocialist Ian Angus said green capitalism is a contradiction in terms.

“Capitalism combines an irresistible drive to grow, with an irresistible drive to create waste and pollution”, he said. “If nothing stops it, capitalism will expand both those processes infinitely. But the Earth is not infinite. The atmosphere and oceans and the forests are very large, but ultimately they are finite, limited resources — and capitalism is now pressing against those limits.”

And finally, the promise of a socialist utopia:

The ecosocialist vision of change is grounded in a vision of grassroots democracy and full equality for all people in the world. Unlike capitalism, the purpose of the economy would be to make sure everyone had enough. Under capitalism, much of the world’s population is condemned to extreme material hardship, while others are constantly urged to consume more.

A central goal of ecosocialists is to fight for a society that allows every human being to develop to their full potential — free of racism, war, poverty and discrimination. This goal of genuine human development, which applies to current and future generations, is unachievable unless society can be transformed to exist in harmony with nature’s limits.

This point was made forcefully by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez at December’s UN climate summit in Copenhagen. “A spectre is haunting the streets of Copenhagen, and walks silently through this room”, he said.

“This spectre is capitalism — almost nobody wants to mention it … Capitalism, the model of destructive development, is killing people, and threatens to put an end to the human species. They are saying in the streets: If the climate were a bank, it would have been saved already.”

That the article quotes Hugo Chavez tells you all you need to know. But I think it is important for sceptics on the other side of the climate debate to understand where the true aim of “climate action” really lies. As the scientific consensus crumbles, the extremist environmental minority (as represented by publications such as Green Left Weekly) will see their dream of global socialism disappear, but they won’t let it go without a fight. So expect more alarmism and more hysteria (and worse) as they desperately cling to the sinking ship.

Read it here.

Climate change: global socialism and global governance

Climate change science

Thanks to Peter “Batts” Garrett and his insulation fiasco, climate change has taken a back seat in the media (despite the fact that “tackling climate change” is the reason behind the incompetent insulation programme in the first place). But a piece by James Delingpole in the UK Telegraph pointed me to a devastating article, on the blog Buy the Truth, about “Post-normal Science” which I find chimes exactly with my feelings on the climate change debate. Climate science is the perfect example of this new theory of Post-normal Science. But first, a few definitions:

Normal science

[Normal] Science is a logic inductive process leading to theory formulation, while all the way put through critical tests that have been deductively derived from the theory; Popper’s critical rationalist concept of science is an objective progression toward the truth…The term normal science refers to the routine work of scientists within a paradigm; slowly accumulating knowledge in accord with established theoretical assumptions…The paradigm is enlarged and frontiers of knowledge and techniques pushed forward.

The exercise of scholarly activities is defined by the dominance of the Mertonian CUDOS norms of science. They include:

(C)ommunalism – the common ownership of scientific discoveries, according to which scientists give up intellectual property rights in exchange for recognition and esteem;

(U)niversalism – according to which claims to truth are evaluated in terms of universal or value-free criteria;

(D)isinterestedness – according to which scientists are rewarded for acting in ways that appear to be selfless;

(O)rganized (S)kepticism – all ideas must be tested and are subject to structured community scrutiny.

Post-normal science

A new concept of science was introduced by Funtowicz and Ravetz during the 1990s…The concept of post-normal science goes beyond the traditional assumptions that science is both certain and value-free…The exercise of scholarly activities is defined by the dominance of goal orientation where scientific goals are controlled by political or societal actors…Scientists’ integrity lies not in disinterestedness but in their behaviour as stakeholders. Normal science made the world believe that scientists should and could provide certain, objective factual information…The guiding principle of normal science – the goal of achievement of factual knowledge – must be modified to fit the post-normal principle…For this purpose, post-normal scientists should be capable of establishing extended peer communities and allow for ‘extended facts’ from non-scientific experts…In post-normal science, the maintenance and enhancement of quality, rather than the establishment of factual knowledge, is the key task of scientists… Involved social actors must agree on the definition of perceptions, narratives, interpretation of models, data and indicators…scientists have to contribute to society by learning as quickly as possible about different perceptions…instead of seeking deep ultimate knowledge. (source: Eva Kunseler, Towards a new paradigm of Science in scientific policy advising)

So in essence, post-normal science is just another term for post-modern science: there are no absolute truths, value systems are always imposed on results, in other words a relativistic system of scientific investigation. Now any proper scientist would be horrified at this concept (as any proper science teacher would be horrified at the proposed new Australian National Curriculum in science, steeped as it is in marxist theory, cultural relativism and outcomes – where aboriginal dreamtime stories are as “relevant” as Newton or Einstein and the periodic table isn’t taught until Year 10, but don’t get me started on that…). Read what Mike Hulme, climate scientist at the University of East Anglia (of Climategate fame) has to say:

Philosophers and practitioners of science have identified this particular mode of scientific activity as one that occurs…where values are embedded in the way science is done and spoken.

It has been labelled “post-normal” science. Climate change seems to fall in this category. Disputes in post-normal science focus…on the process of science – who gets funded, who evaluates quality, who has the ear of policy…The IPCC is a classic example of a post-normal scientific activity.

Within a capitalist world order, climate change is actually a convenient phenomenon to come along.

The largest academic conference that has yet been devoted to the subject of climate change finished yesterday [March 12, 2009] in Copenhagen…I attended the Conference, chaired a session…[The] statement drafted by the conference’s Scientific Writing Team…contained…a set of messages drafted largely before the conference started by the organizing committee…interpreting it for a political audience…And the conference chair herself, Professor Katherine Richardson, has described the messages as politically-motivated. All well and good.

The danger of a “normal” reading of science is that it assumes science can first find truth, then speak truth to power, and that truth-based policy will then follow…exchanges often reduce to ones about scientific truth rather than about values, perspectives and political preferences.

…‘self-evidently’ dangerous climate change will not emerge from a normal scientific process of truth-seeking…scientists – and politicians – must trade truth for influence. What matters about climate change is not whether we can predict the future with some desired level of certainty and accuracy.

Climate change is telling the story of an idea and how that idea is changing the way in which our societies think, feel, interpret and act. And therefore climate change is extending itself well beyond simply the description of change in physical properties in our world…

The function of climate change I suggest, is not as a lower-case environmental phenomenon to be solved…It really is not about stopping climate chaos. Instead, we need to see how we can use the idea of climate change – the matrix of ecological functions, power relationships, cultural discourses and materials flows that climate change reveals – to rethink how we take forward our political, social, economic and personal projects over the decades to come.

There is something about this idea that makes it very powerful for lots of different interest groups to latch on to, whether for political reasons, for commercial interests, social interests in the case of NGOs, and a whole lot of new social movements looking for counter culture trends.

Climate change has moved from being a predominantly physical phenomenon to being a social one…It is circulating anxiously in the worlds of domestic politics and international diplomacy, and with mobilising force in business, law, academia, development, welfare, religion, ethics, art and celebrity.

Climate change also teaches us to rethink what we really want for ourselves…mythical ways of thinking about climate change reflect back to us truths about the human condition…

The idea of climate change should be seen as an intellectual resource around which our collective and personal identifies and projects can form and take shape. We need to ask not what we can do for climate change, but to ask what climate change can do for us…Because the idea of climate change is so plastic, it can be deployed across many of our human projects and can serve many of our psychological, ethical, and spiritual needs.

…climate change has become an idea that now travels well beyond its origins in the natural sciences…climate change takes on new meanings and serves new purposes…climate change has become “the mother of all issues”, the key narrative within which all environmental politics – from global to local – is now framed…Rather than asking “how do we solve climate change?” we need to turn the question around and ask: “how does the idea of climate change alter the way we arrive at and achieve our personal aspirations…?”

We need to reveal the creative psychological, spiritual and ethical work that climate change can do and is doing for us…we open up a way of resituating culture and the human spirit…As a resource of the imagination, the idea of climate change can be deployed around our geographical, social and virtual worlds in creative ways…it can inspire new artistic creations in visual, written and dramatised media. The idea of climate change can provoke new ethical and theological thinking about our relationship with the future….We will continue to create and tell new stories about climate change and mobilise these stories in support of our projects. Whereas a modernist reading of climate may once have regarded it as merely a physical condition for human action, we must now come to terms with climate change operating simultaneously as an overlying, but more fluid, imaginative condition of human existence. (various sources – see original article, including a Guardian article here)

The American Thinker’s review of Mike Hulme’s book, Why We Disagree About Climate Change, from where many of the quotes above are taken, sums it up nicely:

More than a few people will be tempted to buy this book based on the promise, implicit in its title, that it offers an examination of the ideas and motives of both sides in the global warming debate. But that is not what this book is about. Rather, it is the musings of a British socialist about how to use the global warming issue as a means of persuading “the masses” to give up their economic liberties. The fact that the author, Mike Hulme, is a scientist who helped write the influential reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and many other influential government agencies makes this book more disturbing than informative.

…socialists like Hulme can frame the global warming issue in such as way as to achieve seemingly unrelated goals such as sustainable development, income redistribution, population control, social justice, and many other items on the liberal/socialist wish-list.

It is troubling to read a prominent scientist who has so clearly lost sight of his cardinal duty — to be skeptical of all theories and always open to new data. It is particularly troubling when this same scientist endorses lying by others to advance his personal political agenda.

Read this book if you want insight into the mind of a scientist who has surrendered all moral authority to speak truthfully about global warming. Avoid it if you are looking for a book that explains why we disagree about climate change.

And as the article concludes:

From what Hulme has admitted, the climate change debate is not about truth and physical reality, but a way of making it the “mother of all issues” in order to achieve socialist and Marxist aims, including de-capitalizing the West, and bringing about global governance by an elite. Hulme is delighted to be in the vanguard, and it is paying him handsomely. Critical to this is capture of the scientific institutions. Hulme says, we are all actors “in the unfolding story…alongside the personal gods of the heavens”. Climate change is a new lying narrative serving an agenda as old as the hills.

You will recall Lord Monckton speaking about how climate change is a tool to achieve global governance and socialist/marxist aims, and how the warm-bloggers scoffed and ridiculed such a suggestion? Well, there you have it – Hulme has let the cat out of the bag.

Read the article in its entirety here.

IPCC to be "independently reviewed"

How independent will it be?

Hmm. We’ll see. Let me guess, it will be an “independent” review stacked with climate alarmists (much like the IPCC itself, in fact) who will say the IPCC has done a fantastic job and if only filthy deniers would stop asking awkward questions and picking holes in our flawless data we could all get on with shutting down our developed economies and sending everyone back to the Dark Ages:

The world’s top climate science panel, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), is set for review by an independent board of scientists, a UN climate spokesman said.

The IPCC has been under fire since it was discovered one of its 2007 reports incorrectly predicted Himalayan glaciers could vanish by 2035. The figure should have been 2350. [And what about the other errors? And Climategate? And Pachauri’s conflicts of interest? The ABC conveniently forgets all those, of course – Ed]

Despite a resurgence of climate change scepticism [we’ve been here all along, it’s just that the media had all made up their minds and weren’t listening – Ed] because of the mistake, the UN says the IPCC’s fundamental claim that humans are causing dangerous climate change remains.

UN Environment Program (UNEP) spokesman Nick Nuttall, attending a conference in Bali, told reporters the panel would form part of a broader review of the IPCC to be announced next week.

“It will be [made up of] senior scientific figures – I can’t name who they are right now,” he said. [Can’t wait. Let me see: Mann, Hansen, Jones, Santer, Trenberth, Karoly, Pitman, Brook, Steffen, Flannery etc etc – Ed]

“It should do a review of the IPCC and produce a report by August, and there is a plenary of the IPCC in South Korea in October.

“The report will go there for adoption.”

He says member states are insisting on a fully independent panel, appointed from scientists outside of the IPCC.

The proof of the pudding and all that. I am yet to be convinced this won’t be just another whitewash.

Read it here.

Garrett demoted, but not sacked

Kevin Rudd has barely acknowledged his environment minister’s total and utter incompetence by stripping him of responsibility for energy efficiency. But he still has a job, despite 4 deaths, numerous house fires and potentially thousands more homes with live roofs that will all need to be inspected.

The dubious pleasure of administering “energy efficiency” goes to Wongbot Version 3.5 – oh joy. Insert a fresh memory card. And the hospital pass, namely clearing up Garrett’s insulation cock-up, goes to Gullible Mug-in-Chief, Greg Combet (couldn’t have happened to a nicer bloke). Good luck with that, pal.

Read it here.

Dennis Shanahan thinks it makes Rudd’s position worse. Oh dear. How sad. Never mind.

Abbott: ‘Rudd can’t even sack a minister properly!’

Nuclear power essential for energy security

The way ahead for Australia

Nuclear power is on the agenda from both sides of politics today, as Opposition leader Tony Abbott and Victorian Labor’s former state energy minister, Theo Theophanous, highlight its importance in Australia’s future energy policy.

This comes after I nearly crashed my car listening to the deluded ramblings of NSW Greens MP John Kaye on ABC Sydney yesterday morning, who, like all enviro-moonbats, thinks we should tackle climate change by shutting down our coal fired power stations, which provide our essential baseload electricity, and instead rely on fart power and sunbeams [that’s wind and solar – Ed]. I actually sent in a scathing text along those lines to Deborah Cameron, although I didn’t get to hear whether it was read out – anybody hear it?

And of course, they cannot possibly advocate nuclear, because they are still stuck in the 1970’s “Nuclear Power – No Thanks” bumper-sticker mentality, despite the fact that if climate change is really the catastrophic problem that the Greens say it is, nuclear is the only viable option for electricity generation. If the Greens were ever in power, the lights would really go out in Australia.

So it is encouraging to hear these sentiments echoed on both sides of politics:

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says nuclear power is the “only realistic way” for Australia to cut its carbon emissions but he will not take the policy to the next election.

Speaking at the Menzies Research Centre in Canberra, the opposition leader said nuclear power was the only proven way of generating the base load power Australia needed without producing carbon pollution.

The opposition leader was responding to comments by former defence force chief Peter Cosgrove, who said nuclear power was the only practical alternative to carbon-based energy resources such as coal.

Mr Abbott said that if “the most urgent task confronting humanity is to reduce our carbon dioxide emissions” the “only realistic way to do that in ways which maintain living standards” was to move to nuclear energy.

However, he will not be taking it to the next election [why not? – Ed].

“That’s not the policy of the Liberal Party [It should be – Ed]. It will not be the policy of the Liberal Party between now and the next election.

“Nevertheless, it is a debate that this country should have.” (source)

And Labor is so dependent on the Greens that they cannot press the nuclear button (so to speak) for fear of losing preferences. However, at least one outgoing Labor energy minister has the guts to speak the truth, and the words are so similar to Abbott’s that you’d think they had worked it out together!

AUSTRALIA should debate going nuclear and Victoria should be prepared to host nuclear power stations, former state energy minister Theo Theophanous said yesterday.

In a dramatic final speech to Parliament, the retiring Labor heavyweight called on Kevin Rudd to lead a national debate on nuclear power.

Mr Theophanous said Australia could not afford to put all its eggs in the ”clean coal” basket because the ”Holy Grail” of storing carbon underground might never be viable.

”If the Prime Minister is true to his word that climate change is the moral challenge of our generation, then nuclear energy as a form of base-load power will probably have a role to play in addressing it,” he said.

”My prediction is that a mix of clean coal, renewable energy, energy conservation and nuclear power will all have a role to play in the future.” (source)

A very sensible conclusion, although he omits to acknowledge that coal (clean or otherwise) is the backbone of Australia’s energy supply. We will have to rely on it for many years to come, if we don’t want to return to the Dark Ages.

Daily Bayonet GW Hoax Weekly Roundup

Skewering the clueless

As always, a great read!

China says no to emissions cap

The best bit about the Herald’s headline is the last two words: “for now.” The most blindly optimistic words in journalism this year:

China’s top climate change negotiator says the world’s biggest carbon polluter has no intention of capping greenhouse gas emissions for the time being.

Su Wei, who led China’s negotiating team at the UN climate change talks in Copenhagen in December, said the country’s carbon emissions had to increase because the economy is still developing, the China Daily reported on Thursday.

China “could not and should not” set an upper limit on greenhouse gas emissions at the current stage, Su told a meeting on climate change policy in Beijing on Wednesday.

However, he said China was committed to making its economy more energy-efficient.

Beijing has pledged to reduce its carbon intensity – the measure of greenhouse-gas emissions per unit of gross domestic product – by 40 to 45 per cent by 2020 based on 2005 levels.

Su said that pledge would be a binding part of China’s next two five-year economic development plans.

His remarks came a day after President Hu Jintao told a high-level Communist Party meeting that China must “recognise the importance, urgency and difficulty of dealing with climate change”.

Looks like they are saying nice reassuring things to pull the wool over the UN’s eyes, but in fact carrying on exactly as before, business as usual.

Read it here.

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