The environment

Nationalise water to stop sewage dumping

Water companies in the England and Wales have been found to be illegally dumping raw sewage directly into Britain’s waterways and seas at staggering rates. An investigation from the Environment Agency (EA) found that in 2020 alone water companies had discharged sewage into rivers more than 400,000 times, for a total of more than three million hours. Companies are legally allowed to discharge raw sewage this way but only in exceptional situations where it would otherwise threaten to overwhelm the sewer system, such as after prolonged periods of rain. Then discharging allows fluid to move...

Developing carbon drawdown via algae

Franziska Elmer is a marine biologist working on a project to boost the growth of algae in the oceans as a carbon draw-down technique. She spoke to Stuart Jordan from Solidarity. We are working on a research and development project that investigates how the macroalgae Sargassum fluitans and natans can be grown in parts of the ocean that have very little nutrients in the surface water. A few hundred metres below the surface there is very nutrient-rich water that is currently not used by any organisms as there is no light for photosynthesis. By bringing this water up through artificial upwelling...

1888: Río Tinto and Spain’s first climate strike

In 1888 thousands of miners and farmers, along with their families, marched through the streets of Ríotinto, in the province of Huelva, and stood against the most powerful company in Spain. Led by anarchist trade unionists, this was Spain’s first climate strike and the beginning of a nascent environmental movement, demanding better pay, conditions, and, crucially, an end to open air copper refining (calcination). The valley of the Río Tinto river in southern Spain has been used for ore mining for approximately 5000 years. Sections of the river flow bright red and orange due to the presence of...

Kino Eye: Life out of balance

After the events at COP26 in Glasgow, we are due a film about the environment (and not before time!). Often, environmental or green films feature an individual fighting against a larger organisation (a corporation or a government) something in the manner of Dr. Thomas Stockman in Ibsen’s drama Enemy of the People. One popular example from Hollywood is Erin Brokovich (2000). Koyanaasqatsi (1982) is very different. Directed by Godfrey Reggio, with music by Philip Glass, it is a poetic depiction, a collage, of often breathtaking images taken from all four corners of the world, highlighting the...

On 6 November

From 6 November, comrades in Birmingham, Bristol, Sheffield, York, and Liverpool report climate turnouts relatively large for local protests. Others were smaller, but almost every city had something. The mood was generally leftish and receptive. The most common union banners were from the school workers’ union NEU (and UCU in London), but branch contingents were often small and of older members. Fair numbers of left-wing students, but organised uni contingents few or small. A relatively visible Labour Party presence in some places, more Green Party elsewhere. Not so much XR. London’s protest...

Cycling is safer than driving

Michael Elms’ article “Couriers’ strike threat forces u-turn” (Solidarity 611) is inspiring and informative. But one section of it misses the point and is bad in its implication. Michael writes: “Moreover, where Scoober has taken over delivery operations, drivers have been obliged to switch from cars to electric bicycles. That means harder work, more danger from crime and more risk of death by road collision.” Contrary to widely held beliefs, cycling is safer than driving. People who commute to work by bike instead of driving have substantially lower risks of death, and longer life expectancy...

Debate on nuclear power: two letters

The front page of Solidarity 610 calls for an economic shift to power-generation from renewables and nuclear, with transport, heating, etc. taking power from the electric grid rather than from fossil fuels. Why nuclear? With nuclear power, the dynamics of capitalism impose a technology which burdens the next 10,000 years with highly volatile waste products in the interest of short-term profits. Whilst nuclear technology might be a rational energy source for a future society of associated producers, we should be absolutely clear that the bourgeoisie views nuclear technology in a way...

"Geoengineering", carbon drawdown - readings

.ytcontainer { position: relative; width: 100%; height: 0; padding-bottom: 56.25%; } .ytvideo { position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; } What should we, as socialist environmentalists, say about proposals for "geoengineering" (or "climate intervention"). The most common proposals are for a variety of methods for carbon sequestration ("drawdown", or "negative emissions"), to remove CO2 from the carbon cycle and air; and "solar radiation management", seeking to reflect more of the sun's rays back into space, such as by spraying vast quantities of sulphur into the high...

"Metabolism", "metabolic rift", and Marx - debate

See the following articles from a debate about the implications, usefulness, and meanings of "metabolism" and "metabolic rift" in Marxist ecology, and wider questions about Marx's ecological writing, and climate politics today. This debate was sparked by a reading group Workers' Liberty ran on Kohei Saito’s book, Karl Marx’s Ecosocialism: Capital, Nature, and the Unfinished Critique of Political Economy (2017). See: A review of Marx's Ecosocialism by Paul Hampton, 2019 Study guide for the reading group, 2021 So far, in the debate, are the following articles: Marx, the environment, and...

The coral atoll and the iPhone

See other articles in this debate here. At every step we are reminded that we by no means rule over nature like a conqueror over a foreign power like someone standing outside of nature – but that we, n flesh blood and brain, belong to nature and exist within its midst, and that all the mastery of nature consists in the fact that we have the advantage over all other creatures of being able to learn its laws and apply them correctly.” - Engels, The Part Played by Labour in the Transition from Ape to Man I think Matt Cooper takes a too narrow definition of “metabolism” as a rather dull process of...

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