The environment

Why banned pesticide is being used

Twenty-twenty: an epidemic proliferated across Europe, wreaking devastation, hitting the South of England badly, and continuing into 2021. The government is legislating emergency measures. No, I’m not referring to CoV-SARS-2. I’m talking about Beet Yellows Virus. On 8 January, the government authorised use of thiamethoxam for tackling BYV. Thiamethoxam was banned in 2018 across the EU, with UK support, as part of wider restrictions on the neonicotinoid family of pesticides. There is no relevant change in the evidence for restricting those pesticides. The virus infects and kills sugar beet, the...

Official report calls for 50% less meat and dairy

“Veganuary” in 2020 was unprecedented in size and publicity. 2021’s veganuary is predicted to break the record once again, reaching even bigger heights as individuals worldwide experiment with being vegan for a month. This comes the month following the “Sixth Carbon Budget” by the UK’s official Climate Change Committee (CCC)’s. The report is politically and economically conservative, and as a result ecologically conservative, aiming for net zero carbon dioxide equivalent emissions by 2050. Its most ambitious “scenario only reaches Net Zero in 2042, with a reduction of 87% by 2035”. This stands...

Four climate futures

Climate Leviathan: A Political Theory of Our Planetary Future by Geoff Mann and Joel Wainwright is an interesting read, with much to criticise, but some interesting and important questions raised.

Pandemics and the drives of capital

With SARS-Cov-2 after H5N1 (or avian influenza), SARS, MERS, swine flu, Ebola, and Zika, we are living in an age of pandemics. A widening circuit of agricultural production, consumption and exchange is pushing deeper into forests and back out into cities. Host species that historically would have been confined to deep forests are now transported to peri-urban regions with high concentrations of human bodies. Traversing a globally integrated air traffic network, pathogens previously not on the global stage are being brought to it. The context of Ebola and other diseases emerging in and from...

Overdoing doom saps activism

The first 20 years of this millennium, 2000-2019, has seen a sharp increase in major recorded natural disasters, a report by a UN agency on 12 October has found. 7,348 recorded events killed 1.23 million people, affected 4.2 billion (many multiple times), and caused roughly US$2.97 trillion of global economic losses. In the 20 years previous, 4,212 recorded natural disasters killed roughly 1.19 million people, affected 3.25 billion, and caused approximately US$1.63 trillion loss. “ While better recording and reporting may partly explain some of the increase in events, much of it is due to a...

Offshore energy and “just transition”

The environmental campaign groups Platform, Friends of the Earth Scotland, and Greenpeace have jointly published a report surveying oil and gas workers’ views about their working conditions, and the future of their industry in the context of the coronavirus pandemic and the climate crisis.

Making streets good for walking and bikes

Over 200 emergency low-traffic neighbourhood (LTN) schemes have been proposed or implemented across the country since May, when the government introduced new guidance and small amounts of funding to "promote active travel". These are proposed in at least 54 boroughs, particularly in large cities, with the majority in London. The schemes introduce car barriers, preventing cars from using streets as "rat runs" as a way of bypassing main road traffic, and so reducing net traffic. That makes the back streets more pleasant for walking, cycling, for mobility and electric scooters, and the like...

Global capital and pandemics

Audio and video introduction, plus an article/transcript, from a meeting of the same name. Dr Camila Bassi delivered this talk at the AWL online meeting on 30 August 2020. The outbreak of SARS Coronovirus 2 or COVID-19 proceeds an escalation of recent epidemics and proto-pandemics: notably, H5N1 or Avian influenza, SARS, MERS, Swine flu, Ebola, and Zika. Camila tells the story of HIV/AIDS and SARS to explore the nexus between capitalist political economy, nature, and emergent infectious diseases; concluding that, without radical change to how we organise and run our world, our future will be locked into this deadly trajectory. For a transcript of the talk and the full set of references, see Camila's blog.

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...

Travel after lockdown

In the lockdown, cycling and walking have increased, but public transport traffic has fallen more than car traffic. Socialists have long advocated the expansion of public transport, and partly to reduce car use. But at present car traffic is recovering towards pre-lockdown levels much faster than public transport, and that looks likely to continue. That pattern could continue for some time. People don’t want to use public transport because it brings a greater risk of infection than travelling alone in a car. Permanent working-from-home cannot be the answer, even where possible. Apart from...

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