In celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, Clearing the FOG brought back an interview from ten years ago with Cheri Honkala of the Poor People's Economic and Human Rights Campaign and Robert Pollin of the Political Economy Research Institute. The program is centered on Dr. King's speech before the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in August 1967, "Where Do We Go From Here?" The guests, along with co-host Kevin Zeese discuss the current economic challenges and efforts to bring transformation at the local and national levels. That conversation is relevant today as we continue to face multiple crises, including climate chaos, the pandemic and a global war. King's warning that it is the system that must be changed reminds us of the important task at hand.
Green New Deal
The following commentary was written by Marxist economist, politician and former Finance Minister of Greece Yanis Varoufakis. He follows the first part of the debate “Ecological Catastrophe, Collapse, Democracy and Socialism” between the renowned American intellectual Noam Chomsky, the Chilean exponent of the new ideology of Collapsist Marxism Miguel Fuentes and climate scientist Guy McPherson. One of the main characteristics of Varoufakis’ comment (who describes himself as a “Libertarian Marxist”) is offering a balanced review of some of the main ideas expressed earlier in this debate. The latter from the perspective of the implications of current geopolitical events such as the Russo-Ukrainian war and what Vafourakis has defined as the beginning of a new Cold War. Varoufakis’ commentary thus constitutes both a necessary update and an informed closure of the first part of this ongoing discussion.
Somerville, MA is an inner suburb of Boston and the most densely populated city in New England with 81,000 residents. It was long an industrial center inhabited by repeated waves of immigrants, but it has increasingly become a bedroom community for Boston and Cambridge. Somerville is currently being transformed by the extension of the Boston Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) subway system’s Green Line throughout the city, bringing transit access to 80% of Somerville residents. Over five million square feet of new development is in the works. Somerville’s long-term mayor supported development but not union labor for either city employees or for construction, much of which, to the dismay of building trades unions, was done non-union.
In the United States, the public and politicians are moving in opposite directions on climate change. Grassroots environmental activism is spreading on the local state, regional and national levels, while Congress generally continues with a “business-as-usual” approach, rejecting the foremost way to avoid the worst consequences of global warming: the Green New Deal. While the Green New Deal remains aspirational in the U.S., it has been adopted by the European Union, and scores of countries around the world have committed to pursuing its goals. Among the many organizations in the U.S. fighting for environmental sustainability and a just transition toward clean, renewable energy is Native Movement, an organization dedicated to building people power for transformative change and imagining a world without fossil fuels.
In 2015, countries participating in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change rallied around preventing the rise in average global temperatures beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius. With an average rise of 1.5–2.0 degrees, scientists predict 70–90% loss of coral reefs globally, an explosion of natural disaster–related deaths, and displacement of up to 1.2 billion people by 2050. We already stand at an increase in average global temperatures of 1.2 degrees Celsius since the Industrial Revolution and, according to the World Meteorological Organization, there is now a 40% chance that the world will see average global temperatures increase to 1.5 degrees in the next five years. As the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded last year, the world missed its opportunity to prevent many of these devastating impacts and can only hope to prevent the “most harrowing” possibilities — but we need to take decisive action, and we need to do it now.
The Green New Deal proposal is one of the only effective, broadly recognized pathways to tackle the climate crisis and address its social and economic consequences. It is technologically possible and economically sustainable. Yet although the Green New Deal project is already under way in some shape or form in various states, it has yet to be scaled up to the national level. In fact, climate policy as a whole has been stalled in Congress, and the Biden administration has so far engaged more in symbolic gestures than in living policy processes. With time quickly running out to prevent a greenhouse apocalypse, activists need to reorganize and unite efforts to build massive public support and political will for climate action.
Dover, DE - A coalition of progressives and environmental groups are challenging lawmakers to sign on to a set of green New Year’s resolutions to kick off the 2022 session. Says participant Phillip Bannowsky, “this is a way to separate the committed from the compromised.” The activists claim in their text that confronting the climate crisis “has been impeded by the short-sighted interests of powerful economic players.” Specifically, they call for a Green Amendment to the Delaware Constitution and support current legislation in the pipeline, including HB 259, requiring an emergency alert system to inform citizens when disasters like Croda’s November 25, 2018, toxic leak erupted, which injured workers at their Atlas Point plant as well as neighbors and motorists on the Delaware Memorial Bridge.
The Green New Deal is a visionary program to protect the earth’s climate while creating good jobs, reducing injustice, and eliminating poverty. Its core principle is to use the necessity for climate protection as a basis for realizing full employment and social justice. The Green New Deal first emerged as a proposal for national legislation, and the struggle to embody it in national legislation is ongoing. But there has also emerged a little-noticed wave of initiatives from community groups, unions, city and state governments, tribes, and other non-federal institutions designed to contribute to the climate protection and social justice goals of the Green New Deal. We will call these the Green New Deal from Below (GNDfB).
With U.N. climate conference (COP26) set for next month in Glasgow, the estimated 70,000 or more people who took part in the march offered a dramatic show of force for the nation's climate movement. Zanna Vanrenterghem of Greenpeace Belgium told The Brussels Times on Sunday that her government's climate pledges so far "are not ambitious enough," but that words are no longer enough. "It is one thing to talk about climate," she said, "and another to take concrete action.” Ahead of the march, Vanrenterghem said the message from the Klimaatcoalitie (Climate Coalition), which she co-chairs and that organized the march, was a simple one: "We demand ambitious, solidarity-based and coherent measures. We need a Belgian Green New Deal and we propose more than 100 concrete solutions to make it happen.”
The median person in the US consumes 44 million calories per day. The human body requires intake of 2 thousand calories per day. Exo-somatic consumption of energy – for non-metabolic purposes, such as transport or appliances – of the average citizen of the North is several hundred times larger than that of a poor citizen of the South. But even endosomatic consumption of energy – bodily calorie intake – is substantially less in the South. Hunger and undernourishment are still a reality for one-seventh of the planet’s human population. But working households in the North are not to blame for these differences; bio-ignorant capitalism is to blame. And these households are suffering its effects, too.
As the impacts of climate change and Covid-19 compound, politicians from around the world on Monday July 19th launched the new Global Alliance for a Green New Deal (GGND). Founded by Rep. Ilhan Omar of the United States, Dep. Joenia Wapichana of Brazil, and Manon Aubry of France among others, the Alliance aims to advance global momentum for collaborative and transformational social, economic and environmental policy.
The Green New Deal has become a popular slogan among progressive Democrats in recent years. But we need to be wary of the capitalist class co-opting the energy around climate change to maintain the imperialist global order they benefit from. To discuss this and more, Rania Khalek is joined by Max Ajl, a post doc at Wageningen University and a researcher with the Tunisian Observatory for Food Sovereignty and, relevant to this discussion, he is the author of the new book “A People’s Green New Deal” published by Pluto Press.
The southeastern United States sees more billion-dollar disasters than any other region in the country. The region also sees more different kinds of natural disasters than other parts of the country. In 2020, six billion-dollar hurricanes hit the Gulf Coast, tornado events caused 76 fatalities and torrential rainfall, up 30% since the 1950s, caused severe flooding. And climate change is making everything worse by turning up the dial of intensity on the region’s existing environmental and social vulnerabilities. If, for example, flooding was a problem historically, climate change will make it endemic. If environmental racism already puts stress on people of color, climate change will make the burden even heavier. According to a 2017 study published in the journal Science, some U.S. counties could lose as much as 20% of their annual GDP as a result of damage from unmitigated climate change.
In his new book, A People’s Green New Deal, Max Ajl presents a sweeping, often damning, appraisal of the Global North’s limited attempts to mitigate and adapt to global heating. Eco-nationalism, eco-modernism, green social democracy and democratic socialist iterations of the Green New Deal all come under scrutiny and all are found wanting. Each in their own way, Max argues, are too attached to what Ulrich Brand and Markus Wissen call “the imperial mode of living.” A way of life predicated on the subordination of the Global South to the needs, wants and desires of the Global North. And each, in their own way, denies the sheer scale of the social and economic crisis that confronts us. In response, Max turns to the struggles of the Global South.