March against Trump – and for the Planet

Photo: Greenpeace USA

There are many reasons for supporting the anti-Trump protests this week, writes Alan Thornett. It has become increasingly clear that Trump can do immeasurable damage not only to politics across the planet but to its life support systems.

During Blair’s premiership, when he was moving rapidly to the right, he was accused of doing this in order to win right-wing and middle England votes. His reply was: no, it is worse that than that, ‘I really believe in all this’.

It’s the same with Trump. The debate as to whether the reactionary, alt-right, racist, white supremacist, misogynist, and nationalist agenda on which he fought the election was just designed to drum up votes from the red-necks or whether it would be the basis of his presidency is also over. In fact the reality has been worse that his campaign presaged. He didn’t mention, for example, dragging the children of migrants from the arms of their parents and putting them in cages in his election campaign.

Trump frightening

Most frightening of all are his actions in term of the long term future of the planet itself—its future as a viable life support system. He has withdrawn the USA –the world’s second largest producer of greenhouse gas – from the Paris agreement, which could prove to be the crucial tipping point which spins the whole climate system out of control. He has also ended all federal expenditure on both climate research and climate monitoring that will impact on the global preparation to defend the planet.

He has halted all federal funding for alternative energy and is vigorously promoting fossil energy including reopening coal mines and expanding all forms of fossil fuel production, including fracking and tar-sands.

In its 2019 budget plan, the Trump White House has cut the USAID (United States Agency for International Development) spending on environmental initiatives to roughly two hundred million dollars, a reduction of seventy per cent from typical Obama-era spending.

Such cuts include US funding to the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre which studies climate change to develop strategies to minimise its impact in a highly vulnerable region. It is prey not only to extreme weather events but to the effects of climate change; rising sea levels, coral-reef bleaching, droughts and their effects on agriculture, and the infrastructure on which the Caribbean’s forty-four million people depend.

The poorest countries in the world, including those in the Caribbean, emit about one-fifth of global carbon emissions, yet they are the most susceptible to the effects of climate change. But when over 4000 people died in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria and its aftermath Trump said that it was ‘not a real catastrophe‘.And in Africa, the Trump has moved to eliminate all funding for climate-related or environmental projects, including reforestation, across the continent, including Senegal, Ethiopia, Mozambique and Indonesia—one of the biggest carbon emitters in the world.

It is true that Obama’s ecological policies were weak and inadequate. But we are now at a new level of danger – both in terms of how close we are to tipping points and how bad Trump’s agenda is. If he is not stopped, we could end up looking back and saying that he was the final straw that pushed the planet over the ecological edge.

Resistance

It is also true that there is strong resistance to Trump’s ecological agenda in the USA. His withdrawal from Paris is unpopular and even big business is reluctant to reinvest in fossil fuel which they recognise as historically outdated. It is also true that there is strong resistance to Trump’s ecological agenda at the level of the individual states, in California for example.

But none of this can be relied on. Trumpism has to be broken. There is no guarantee that he would not win a second term and if he did it would be even more environmentally destructive than the first.

There will be many protests in different parts of Britain to greet Trump when he arrives. The Campaign against Climate Change is organising a climate bloc on the London demonstration on Friday, which RedGreenLabour supporters are urged to join.

 

Israel’s environmental colonialism and eco-apartheid

The construction of Israel’s mammoth apartheid wall has separated Palestinian farmers from their fields and destroyed Palestinians’ legally owned fertile agricultural land

Since the idea of Zionism first gripped the minds of a few intellectuals and the limbs of many agrarian pioneers in the early 20th century, the state of Israel has presented its settlement of the land of Palestine, and its uprooting of the Palestinian people, as a rejuvenation of the earth wrote Ben Lorber, in a piece published in Links in 2012.. By “greenwashing” the occupation, Israel hides its apartheid behind an environmentalist mirage, and distracts public attention not only from its brutal oppression of the Palestinian people, but from its large-scale degradation of the earth upon which these tragedies unfold.

Determined to “make the desert bloom”, an international organisation — the Jewish National Fund-Keren Kayemet LeYisrael (JNF-KKL, or JNF) planted forests, recreational parks and nature reserves to cover over the ruins of Palestinian villages, as refugees were scattered far from, or worse, a few hilltops away from, the land upon which they and their ancestors had based their lives and livelihoods.

Today, as Israel portrays itself as a “green democracy”’, an eco-friendly pioneer in agricultural techniques such as drip irrigation, dairy farming, desert ecology, water management and solar energy, Israeli factories drain toxic waste and industrial pollutants down from occupied West Bank hilltops into Palestinian villages, and over-pumping of groundwater aquifers denies Palestinians access to vital water sources in a context of increasing water scarcity and pollution. Continue reading “Israel’s environmental colonialism and eco-apartheid”

So Trashy! A Review of EU Waste Management and Inequality Modeling

Landfill in Poland

The policy of the European Union (EU) in the field of environmental protection and natural resources has, since the 1980s, continued to grow in importance, writes Ana Tomicic. But some topics are of particular concern to European citizens. This is the case, in particular, with the production of waste, which is increasingly alarming, with the EU generating some 2 billion tons of waste every year.

More than 40 million tons of this waste are classified as “hazardous waste.” Nearly 60% of the waste produced consists of mineral waste and soil, most often from construction and demolition as well as mining activities. Approximately 30% is produced by manufacturing, trade, energy, services and agriculture, meaning that waste production generally increases at rates comparable to those of growth.

About 10% is “municipal waste” – in other words, waste generated mainly by households and to a lesser extent by small businesses and public institutions such as schools and hospitals.
Continue reading “So Trashy! A Review of EU Waste Management and Inequality Modeling”

Nigeria’s conflict is a result of environmental devastation across West Africa

Nigeria is experiencing a major conflict between nomadic herdsmen and indigenous farmers. In 2016, the conflict led to the death of 2,500 people, displaced 62,000 others and led to loss of US$13.7 billion in revenue, writes In January 2018 alone, the conflict claimed the lives of 168 people.

The herdsmen are predominantly Fulanis, a primarily Muslim people scattered throughout many parts of West Africa. The farmers, meanwhile, are mostly Christian. Therefore, when violence erupts between the two groups, with symbolic results like churches being burnt down, it is unsurprising that the dominant narrative in Nigeria and abroad is that this is a conflict motivated by religion and ethnicity.

What’s missing is the environmental perspective. Nigeria spans more than 1,000km from a lush and tropical south to the fringes of the Sahara Desert in the north. And, in Nigeria, the Sahara is moving southward at a rate of 600 metres a year. At the same time, Lake Chad in the country’s far north-east has largely dried up. Fulani herdsmen who once relied on the lake have thus moved further south in search of pasture and water for their livestock. The further south you move, the more the population becomes Christian, hence when resource conflicts emerge they appear religious. Continue reading “Nigeria’s conflict is a result of environmental devastation across West Africa”

An Anti-Forest Policy: Rhetoric or Sleight of Hand?

Sacred grove in Bastar Chhattisgarh Phto: Madhu

If the Indian government really meant what it said by “building on our rich cultural heritage” and “participatory”, would it not seriously review why the Forest Rights Act (FRA} and Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act 1996 (PESA}, meant to give adivasis (indigenous people in South East Asia RGL} the self-governing space they need, are not implemented?

Forests have been the cultural and livelihood lifeline for hundreds of millions of people in India, not to mention home for thousands of species of plants and animals, write Madhu Ramnath and Ashish Kothari. They have an exalted place in virtually every spiritual and religious tradition, in their civilisational history, mythology and folklore, scientific traditions, and even in its politics. So when any government announces a new National Forest Policy, there should be widespread dialogue around the most important question: will it safeguard the most crucial values of India’s forests? From an examination of the draft policy put out by the government on 14th March 2018, the answer is a resounding no. Continue reading “An Anti-Forest Policy: Rhetoric or Sleight of Hand?”