His mouth is frozen in anguish, an infinite scream. His eyes bulge upward, overcome by horror, hands clutching his head. I cannot look away. His face is too forlorn, his backdrop too wretched. I inch toward the banner, dated 2005, which spans the full gallery wall. With my phone’s translation app, I make out some Indonesian text: “Iapa yang peduli dengan kejadian damai dan perang” — “who cares about the events of peace and war.” Surrounding these words are a contented crowd of children swinging from trees, farmers working fields, and musicians serenading their community. As I make my way across the drawing, people’s eyes deaden and hands rise to shield their faces. Behind them hangs a poster of George W. Bush with the words “remember weapons of mass destruction” and a string of skulls. Military tanks roll alongside UN vehicles. Bodies litter the ground.
Continuing the wave of progressive wins in 2021, Latin America saw two new critical electoral victories: Gustavo Petro in Colombia and Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in Brazil. When President Biden’s June Summit of the Americas excluded Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela, several Latin American leaders declined to attend, while others used the opportunity to push the United States to respect the sovereignty of the countries in the region.
Even as the floodwaters have receded, the people of Pakistan are still trying to grapple with the death and devastation the floods have left in their wake. The floods that swept across the country between June and September have killed more than 1,700 people, injured more than 12,800, and displaced millions as of November 18. The scale of the destruction in Pakistan was still making itself apparent as the world headed to the United Nations climate conference COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, in November. Pakistan was one of two countries invited to co-chair the summit. It also served as chair of the Group of 77 (G77) and China for 2022, playing a critical role in ensuring that the establishment of a loss and damage fund was finally on the summit’s agenda, after decades of resistance by the Global North.
The UK farming sector is in the middle of an existential crisis. As a consequence of leaving the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy, the Conservative government has had to draft a new agricultural support scheme to either match or replace the direct payments received by UK farmers from the EU. What will replace this scheme has been the subject of heated debate for years. Most probable is the Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS). ELMS would offer ‘public money for public good’, meaning that farmers would receive payments if they could prove their farm was engaging in beneficial environmental practice, such as rewilding a section of their land. The scheme has its detractors across the political spectrum, yet to-ELMS-or-not-to-ELMS is a sideshow for much of the British public.
As the annual UN climate conference, COP27, came to a close in late November, the talks produced a lot of lofty rhetoric but little concrete progress on the gravest threat facing humanity today. There was one very important positive development: After years of demands by poor countries in the Global South suffering the worst impacts of climate disasters, the COP27 agreement finally established a “loss and damage” fund for the wealthy countries most responsible for climate change to compensate poor countries for climate disasters. Much remains undecided, including the size of the fund, its governance structure and how much countries should contribute. And even if wealthy countries pledge contributions, there’s no guarantee they’ll keep their promises — they’ve already broken the promise made in 2009 of providing $100 billion a year in climate finance for the Global South.
Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt – As the UNFCCC 27th Conference of the Parties came to its conclusion with the adoption of the Sharm El-Sheikh Implementation Plan, climate-impacted peoples recognized critical progress while also decrying countries failing to confront the root causes of climate crisis at the scale required as the final decision maintained further openings for fossil fuels and false climate solutions that will devastate communities on the frontlines of extraction, climate crisis, and fossil-fueled violence. Members of the 60-member It Takes Roots delegation, which includes Climate Justice Alliance, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, Indigenous Environmental Network, Indigenous Climate Action, Just Transition Alliance and The Black Hive at Movement for Black Lives, came to COP27 demanding climate reparations from Global North Countries to pay the climate debt they owe to impacted communities, respect for human rights and Indigenous rights, and an end to fossil fuels and false climate solutions.
I want to conclude by referring to a meeting currently taking place there in Egypt, they call it the COP. This is COP number I don’t know what exactly, because since 1995 when they started doing these meetings there in Germany, because they were worried about global warming, about poisoning the planet, about the destruction of the planet. And they reach agreements, but they don’t fulfill any of them, and then they get back together and they make more agreements, and they don’t fulfill any of those either. Who does not comply? The countries that pollute the planet the most, the very ones that should comply with what the agreements mandate. Because countries like ours here in Central America and the Caribbean, which do not have high levels of pollution but are rather the victims of global warming, hence the hurricanes, the droughts, everything...
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said a “wave of debt crises” may be coming in the Global South, and “the global economy is headed for stormy waters,” as the world faces a “geopolitical realignment” that will be “permanent.” The US-dominated financial institution warned “the worst is yet to come,” as the depreciation of most currencies against the dollar and rising interest rates make it hard for both governments and companies to service their dollar-denominated debt. The director of the IMF’s research department, Pierre‑Olivier Gourinchas, made these comments in a press briefing on October 11. Countries comprising a third of the entire global economy are expected to contract in 2022 or 2023, he prognosticated. “In short, the worst is yet to come; and for many people, 2023 will feel like a recession,” he said.
As the UN climate change conference COP27 progresses in the Egyptian city of Sharm el-Sheikh, Wednesday, November 9, was observed as “Finance Day.” Climate financing for adaptation and mitigation, as well as funding for enduring Loss and Damage caused by adverse impacts of the climate crisis, have occupied center stage at this year’s summit. Loss and Damage funding is officially included on the agenda for the first time in COP history, albeit with important caveats and not without struggle. “This item and the outcomes thereof are without prejudice to the consideration of similar issues in the future,” reads a footnote to the agenda item. The outcomes do not involve liability or compensation, and include the Glasgow Dialogue on Loss and Damage – a three-year process established at COP26 after the US and the European Union (EU) blocked a stronger and much more urgent proposal by the G77 and China for a Loss and Damage (financial) Facility (LDFF) as part of the summit’s Financial Mechanism.
The European Union’s Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell is not particularly perceived by the EU’s political elite or mainstream media as a rightwing ideologue or warmonger. But seen through a different, non-western prism, it is hard not to mistake him for one. Borrell’s recent comments that “Europe is a garden” and that “the rest of the world is a jungle” were duly condemned as ‘racist’ by many politicians around the world, but mostly in the Global South. Borrell’s remarks, however, must also be viewed as an expression of superiority, not only of Borell personally, but of Europe’s ruling classes as a whole. Particularly interesting about the EU top diplomat’s words are these inaccurate depictions of Europe and its relationship with the rest of the world: “We have built a garden”, “everything works” and “the jungle could invade the garden”.
Chaos reigns in the United Kingdom, where the prime minister’s residence in London – 10 Downing Street – prepares for the entry of Rishi Sunak, one of the richest men in the country. Liz Truss remained in office for a mere 45 days, convulsed as her government was by a cycle of workers’ strikes and the mediocrity of her policies. In her mini budget, which doomed her government, Truss opted for a full-scale neoliberal assault on the British public with both tax cuts and unacknowledged cuts to social benefits. The policies startled the international financial class, whose political role emerged clearly as wealthy bondholders indicated their loss of faith in the UK by junking government bonds, thereby increasing the cost of government borrowing and raising the mortgage payments for homeowners.
The European Union’s top foreign-policy official, Josep Borrell, admitted that the new cold war that the West is waging on China and Russia is not a conflict of “democracies vs. authoritarians.” “On our side, there are a lot of authoritarian regimes,” the EU’s de facto foreign minister conceded. Borrell’s comments directly contradicted those of US President Joe Biden, who claimed in his first State of the Union address in March that the new cold war is a “battle between democracy and autocracies.” The top EU diplomat instead recognized that the new cold war is a struggle in which economic “systems are in rivalry,” and that most of the Global South “do not want to be forced to take sides in this geopolitical competition,” because “they feel that the global system does not deliver,” and “because they blame us.”
Rising sea levels and extreme flooding in Bangladesh are devastating lives and livelihoods. This year, floods in Bangladesh killed more than 100 people and, according to AFP, eroded at least 1,800 hectares (4,500 acres) of land according to estimates by Bangladesh’s Center for Environmental and Geographic Information Services (CEGIS). The homes of at least 10,000 people were also affected. Totally, as many as 7.2 million have been affected by the floods, as per the International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC) and Red Cross Societies, and nearly half a million had to flee their homes and take refuge elsewhere as water levels rose this summer. As per a report published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in February, climate change is also severely impacting the country’s food production. According to *New Age Bangladesh,* the report points with alarm to the “declining production” of basic food grains such as rice and wheat, by 12-17% and 12-61%, respectively, by “mid-century.”
Ray Nayler’s novel The Mountain in the Sea asks the kinds of questions about us, our future and our interaction with other living beings that are raised by many great works of science fiction. In his book the marine habitat of a hyperintelligent species of octopus, endowed with its own language and culture, is seized by a global tech corporation determined to harness this non-human intelligence for profit in new systems of artificial intelligence. This dystopian future world is one of total surveillance, vast polluted dead zones, climate breakdown, a pervasive alienation, frequent targeted assassinations by governments and corporations against those who resist bondage as well as the brutal enslavement of workers, especially those from the Global South.
African nations are preparing for the United Nations Climate Conference (COP27) scheduled to take place in the Egyptian resort area of Sharm-el-Sheikh from November 6-20. This gathering is taking place during a period of rising uncertainty due to burgeoning food deficits along with the crisis of accumulation and distribution related to agricultural products in general. Energy costs have skyrocketed due to several important factors including the Pentagon-NATO war in Ukraine; the failure of the United States government to curtail inflation through price controls utilizing higher taxation rates against corporations; and the continuing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic which disrupted production and supply chains internationally. The last quarter of 2022 will be marked by increased military spending and a further decline in investor confidence due to the overall downturn within stock markets around the world.