The environment

Study guide: Fossil Capital by Andreas Malm

See a review here, a previous one here, a recording of a talk on the book here: and get the book here. Download a version of this study guide as a PDF here. Possible study schedule A suggested 9 week study schedule: Chapter 1: Setting the scene, the fossil economy (read chapter 2 if you like, or come back to that later with chapter 12) Chapters 3 and 4: Energy types and prime movers; proto-fossil economy; the industrial revolution and the first structural crisis Chapters 5 and 6: the advantages of water, and of reservoirs and aqueducts; some peculiarities of the capitalist mode of production...

How class struggle shaped fossil fuel

The devastating and sometimes fatal Texas power outages of February 2021 show “how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal for the United States of America,” so spewed Texan governor Greg Abbot: “It just shows that fossil fuel is necessary.” As eye-popping as this shameless lying may be, Abbot only acts as the personified caricature of the irrationality we see systemically with international capitalism. The urgent necessity to halt climate change is universally accepted by scientists. It is the greatest danger facing humanity. Leading bourgeois economists, champions of capitalism, are urging...

Workers, trade unions and climate politics

Calvin Lawson - an RMT rep in Newcastle, part of the RMT Environmental Action Group, and co-lead on trade union strategy for Labour for a Green New Deal - spoke to Solidarity. Our trade union group within Labour for a Green New Deal is working with local groups to establish union link officers who can connect with trades councils, union branches and so on to support workers’ struggles but also take up environmental questions. We’ve organised some roadshows to encourage discussion and engagement, for instance in the North East where I’m based and working with Unison in the Manchester area. That...

More green space

Exceptional times, like those that we are living through, often highlight the shortcomings in our society. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed many, from the chronic underfunding of our health service to the inability to care for the most vulnerable amongst us. We have also seen the shutting down of green spaces, particularly in cities, on the grounds that people should simply stay home. This is straightforwardly a class issue. Those with higher incomes are far more likely to live in houses with access to gardens, whilst those on lower incomes are more likely to live in flats with no gardens or...

"The Silvertown Tunnel will be a disaster"

Victoria Rance, a spokesperson for the Stop the Silvertown Tunnel campaign, spoke to Solidarity. If it goes ahead the Silvertown Tunnel [a road tunnel under the Thames between Silvertown and the Greenwich Peninsula, supported by London's Labour mayor Sadiq Khan] will be a disaster for people in East London and for the fight against climate change. It’s being justified as a way of easing congestion. The Blackwall Tunnel always has jams, and there’s not many river crossings in the East of London. But what they’re doing is making a crossing right next to the Blackwall Tunnel – it’s the same...

Coal-mine backtrack

Cumbria’s Labour county council has announced that it will reconsider the development of a new deep coal mine. A spokesperson for the council said this was due to the official Climate Change Committee’s advice in December 2020 with regards to the UK’s sixth carbon budget. It does not take a rocket scientist to work out that digging coal to burn, whether for electricity or steel-making, is not a good way to reduce carbon emissions. Whilst the current trend might look like it is going against new coal, the inconsistency and lack of alternative economic opportunity undermines any climate ambition...

Capital is the culprit

“Things are harder for our generation than they were for our parents. But in one respect we are luckier than our parents. We have begun to learn and are rapidly learning to fight — and to fight not as individuals, as the best of our parents fought... but for our slogans, the slogans of our class. We are fighting better than our parents did. Our children will fight better than we do, and they will be victorious.” Lenin, The Working Class and Neo-Malthusianism (1913) This article takes up from the review of David Attenborough: A Life on This Planet in Solidarity 580. Fossil fuel — mostly coal —...

Blaming all of humanity

David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet, the critically acclaimed late 2020 documentary, is a powerful watch. Awe-inspiring natural beauty, captured on film, is interwoven with his signature emotive narration, plus a personal touch from this infamous presenter. It’s no surprise that this environmental call-to-arms caused ripples. This “witness statement” tracks a lifetime studying nature: and its continual destruction and decline. Humans increasingly dominate and destroy the natural world, consuming more and more of the earth which supports us. The great disaster he focusses on is...

The fight on climate adaptation

Fish returning to ponds not spotted in in decades, birdsong becoming more audible, goats invading Welsh towns, and pterodactyl spotted flying above the river Tyne. Such were the reports of the ecological bounce back in the first UK lockdown of 2020. Indeed, the most featured climate paper of the year in mainstream and social media was on reduced global CO2 emissions, globally, due to lockdowns. Nonetheless, emissions were still vast, and built on years and decades of ever-accelerating greenhouse gas emissions, to deliver the joint-highest global surface temperatures on record — alongside 2016...

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...

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