Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- George Monbiot writes that the fossil fuel companies most responsible for endangering our living environment are also polluting our politics:
...What counts, in seeking to prevent runaway global heating, is not the good things we start to do, but the bad things we cease to do. Shutting down fossil infrastructure requires government intervention.

But in many nations, governments intervene not to protect humanity from the existential threat of fossil fuels, but to protect the fossil fuel industry from the existential threat of public protest. In the US, legislators in 18 states have put forward bills criminalising protests against pipelines, seeking to crush democratic dissent on behalf of the oil industry. In June, Donald Trump’s administration proposed federal legislation that would jail people for up to 20 years for disrupting pipeline construction.

Global Witness reports that, in several nations, led by the Philippines, governments have incited the murder of environmental protesters. The process begins with rhetoric, demonising civil protest as extremism and terrorism, then shifts to legislation, criminalising attempts to protect the living planet. Criminalisation then helps legitimise physical assaults and murder. A similar demonisation has begun in Britain, with the publication by a dark money-funded lobby group, Policy Exchange, of a report smearing Extinction Rebellion. Like all such publications, it was given a series of major platforms by the BBC, which preserved its customary absence of curiosity about who funded it.
What we see here looks like the denouement of the Pollution Paradox. Because the dirtiest industries attract the least public support, they have the greatest incentive to spend money on politics, to get the results they want and we don’t. They fund political parties, lobby groups and thinktanks, fake grassroots organisations and dark ads on social media. As a result, politics comes to be dominated by the dirtiest industries.

We are told to fear the “extremists” who protest against ecocide and challenge dirty industry and the dirty governments it buys. But the extremists we should fear are those who hold office.
- Meanwhile, Michael Harris discusses the connections between Stephen Harper, the International Democratic Union, and right-wing vote suppression tactics in Canada and around the world.

- Noah Smith writes about the importance of equalizing the distribution of power as well as income and wealth, particularly by strengthening the voice of workers in economic decision-making.

- PressProgress highlights the Libs' plans to push the privatization of water services if communities want any federal support for essential infrastructure. 

- Finally, Nora Loreto calls out the myth of the "lone wolf" shooter by pointing out the structural factors which promote violence and hatred.


  1. Paris, 2015. Our freshly minted prime minister and his enviro-min strolled onto the floor to announce that "Canada's back." The delegates decided that the "do not exceed" target should be cut from 2 degrees Celsius to just 1.5C to great applause and self-approval. Few bothered to hear Hans Joachim Schellnhuber's warning that a 1.5C world could only be achieved by the "induced implosion" of the global fossil fuel industry. Schellnhuber, then head of the Postdam Institute and climate advisor to Angela Merkel and Pope Francis, knew that the heads of state and their delegates were howling at the moon if they thought their goal could be achieved without euthanizing the fossil fuel giants.

    2019. Not one fossil fuel has been banned, not even the dirtiest - thermal coal and bitumen. To the contrary, first the International Energy Agency, then OPEC and, more recently, academics from the University of Calgary have predicted at least three boom decades ahead for fossil fuel producers. Trudeau is building his pipeline, a 60-year investment. We know we have barely a decade in which to cut global GHG emissions by 50 per cent and another 20 years after to completely decarbonize. The IEA, OPEC and others, looking at that same 30 year time period, foresee a 40 per cent increase in fossil energy consumption. The warnings about catastrophic, runaway global warming are ignored. Rather than ramping down production we're heading in the other direction by leaps and bounds.

    And the band played on.