Disaster in Zimbabwe: Cyclone Idai, Climate Change, and Capitalism's Assault on the Global South | Mafa Kwanisai Mafa

Commentary | April 20th, 2019

About a month ago Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique were devastated by a tropical cyclone which has been described as one of the worst disasters ever to strike the southern hemisphere. Approximately 2.6 million people were affected in the three countries. Cyclone Idai hit the Mozambican port city of Beira with winds up to 170km/ph., it then proceeded into inland Zimbabwe and Malawi, flattening buildings and took more than 1000 people and others unaccounted for across the countries. Torrential rainfall washed away road networks in Zimbabwe. The United Nations called it possibly the worst ever weather-related disaster to hit the southern hemisphere. Western capitalists are largely at blame for climatic changes that cause natural and environmental disasters. Poverty, which is a result of the diabolic and pernicious economic sanctions, as well as a natural byproduct of global capitalism, has resulted in poor and weak structures which do not withstand the heavy winds and storms.

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Decade of the Animals: Eco-Horror and the Cinematic Lessons of the 1970s | Sean Posey

Analysis | February 13th, 2019

When Michael Myers donned the Captain Kirk mask in the 1978 classic Halloween (yes, that's a mask of William Shatner) he helped change horror movies forever. For most of the next decade and beyond, the horror subgenre of the slasher film dominated drive-ins, multiplexes and video store shelves. But before Halloween surged at the box office, another now almost forgotten horror genre made waves by combining the environmental anxieties of the era with giant, murderous rabbits, vengeful dogs and bloodthirsty frogs, among other angry critters. The "Nature Strikes Back!" films of the 1970s ran the gamut from schlock masterpieces and haunting classics to the downright unwatchable. However, these films are also part of a time capsule - giving us a glimpse into an era when a building environmental crisis seemed to provoke real soul searching. What were we doing to animals and the natural world? What might they in turn do to us?

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Renewable Energy under Capitalism: Why It Won't Happen | Thomas Sullivan

Analysis | February 13th, 2019

Renewable energy is usually agreed to be the way forward. Nuclear, solar, wind, tidal, geothermal; all can revolutionize the way we generate power and prevent the dangerous warming our planet is experiencing. However, we haven't adopted these sources of energy in any systematic, widespread way. To examine why, this paper will explore a Marxist interpretation of why such technologies would not be adopted. In his third volume concerning Capital, Karl Marx discussed what will cause the end of Capitalism. He theorized that over time, the profitability of a capitalistic economy would fall. Eventually, the system would become untenable and collapse into a new system (Marx, n.d., pp. 153-164). To understand the mechanism of this demise, we will need to explore the basic foundation of Marxism.

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On Consumerism, Capitalism, and Ecosocialism | Sebastian Livingston

Analysis | March 29th, 2018

This piece is intended to be an introduction to an ecosocialist approach to production and consumption. What we have today is a hegemonic obsession with mass production that is catastrophic to the evolutionary processes which allow the biosphere to uphold life as we know it. Capitalist modes of production based upon endless economic expansion and mass consumption disrupt the equilibrium of ecosystems by reshaping the metabolism of nature which regulates earth systems. Within this article I will discuss some issues that I see as problematic in achieving an ecological society and address possible solutions. This is not intended to provide a critique of consumers, my aim is to develop an assault on the hegemonic creation of consumer culture and its devastating impact in maintaining the status quo. This is not an outline for revolution, it is merely my attempt to put forth issues as I see them and contribute to the discussion about the construction of consumer culture as a barrier to achieving social transformation.

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A Marxist Perspective on Sustainability: Brief Reflections on Ecological Sustainability and Social Inequality | Raju J. Das

Analysis | February 22nd, 2018

To live and to satisfy our needs, we must enter into a metabolic relation with nature, as Marx says in chapter 7 of Capital Vol 1.[3] That is, on the basis of manual and mental labour, we must interact with nature from which we get raw materials and energy and in which we dump waste products. Nature, especially transformed nature, is a part of the means of production. Seeing society as a temporal process, in Chapter 23 of Capital Vol 1 Marx referred to "simple reproduction" saying: "every social process of production is at the same time a process of reproduction", and "No society can go on producing, in other words, no society can reproduce, unless it constantly reconverts a part of its products into means of production.

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Marxism and Nature: The Metabolic Rift | Rebecca Heyer

Analysis | January 19th, 2018

Karl Marx spent much of his life considering the relationship between the human race and the world they live in. He excelled in the study of philosophy, history and the natural sciences. Marx's world view was grounded in philosophy, particularly that of the ancient Greeks. The subject of his PhD thesis was a comparison of philosophy of two of the classic Greek scholars, Epicurus and Democritus. Both of them were materialists, in contrast to Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle who were idealists. Idealism had dominated western thought for centuries and provided a foundation for much of Christian theology. The Enlightenment marked a revival of the materialist school.

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Ushering in the Closing Chapter of the Human Species | Kenn Orphan

Commentary | December 7th, 2016

The epic assaults being carried out against the vulnerable around the world at this very moment will determine the fate of our species and the living earth itself. To the powerful this statement is hyperbole at its extreme, but to those of us on the other side there is no condemnation that is too exaggerated when it comes to the destruction of communities and of the biosphere itself. The attacks are taking place along ancient rivers in the American Dakotas, in the life drenched rain forests of Ecuador, in historic olive groves in Palestine, in the melting tundra of the Arctic circle, in the sun baked Niger Delta, and in the war torn or misery laden shanty's of Aleppo, Kolkata, Jakarta, Nairobi and beyond. These may seem like separate instances to some, but they are a part of a global struggle and the outcome will in all likelihood determine our collective future and that of millions of other species that we share this planet with.

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Decolonizing Permaculture: Exploring the Intersection of Permaculture and Decolonization | Jesse Watson

Analysis | February 26th, 2016

In this article we will seek to answer the following questions: of What is decolonization? Why should permaculture designers care? What is my experience with this topic? We will attempt to make a clear critique of settler colonialism here in industrialized North America, and demonstrate how we can simultaneously be both victims and perpetuators of settler colonialism. As a bridge to the challenge of bringing a decolonization framework into permaculture practice and pedagogy, I would like to start by mapping those same questions onto permaculture itself.

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Fighting like an Animal: A Wildist Self-Critique of "Elements of Resistance" | Jeriah Bowser

Book Review | January 11th, 2016

A few years ago I wrote a book, entitled, "Elements of Resistance: Violence, Nonviolence, and the State" (EoR). In it, I presented a spectrum of resistance which explored the impacts of colonization on individuals and on social movements. The more colonized, I argued, the more prone to engage in either ineffective pacifism or reactive violence. As we slowly decolonize ourselves through engaging in a variety of practices, our resistance becomes more effective until we reach the final stage of Total Liberation. I offered many critiques of pacifism as well as violence, and closely analyzed the struggles of Gandhi, Mandela, and King Jr. while noting the role that violent resistance played in the nonviolent struggle.

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Into the Wild, Part Two: Rewilding Self | Jeriah Bowser

Analysis | December 7th, 2015

Onboard the great ship of civilization, I and a few other passengers have come to the conclusion that the voyage is headed for destruction and the ship is sinking. We the dissenting passengers have decided to abandon the ship altogether, plunging into the great Sea to cast our lot with all things wild. We have committed ourselves to a relationship with wildness and are attempting to find spaces of healing and connection within this culture of radical disconnection. For those of us who have reached this point, we have discovered that it helps to establish relationships with others who are also pursuing this path, as our culture lacks any mythology, ritual, language, or elders to guide us on our path toward wildness.

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Reclaiming Water Politics: California's Drought and the Eclipse of the Public | Caleb Scoville

Analysis | December 7th, 2015

California's present drought reveals an eclipse of the public that calls for a renewal of Dewey's concern about the anti-political tendencies of modern industrial society. The dominant ways of making sense of California's water crisis center on the interests of individual actors. As such they do little to catalyze a productive public discourse about the status of water in California. This is in great part because they cannot provide a critique of the underlying image of nature and its relation to society that is inscribed in the material and institutional structures that condition the collective existence of Californians today.

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Into the Wild, Part One: Towards a Post-Civilized Critique of Civilization | Jeriah Bowser

Analysis | November 24th, 2015

The solution, of course, is to simply set down the pliers and walk away. Yet here I sit, both hands firmly attached to my computer keyboard and my books, my eyes transfixed on the symbolic mediums in front of me, my thoughts and words twisting this way and that, as I am somehow convinced that I will be able to manipulate my words and ideas in a creative enough way that will finally satisfy my quest and allow me to walk away. I am not alone in my endeavors - to my left and right are walls of books and essays written by men and women with fancy letters after their name which allude to the many years of plier wrestling that have come before me.

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Abandoning the Ship of Fools: Postmodernist and Wildist Responses to Civilization | Jeriah Bowser

Analysis | October 22nd, 2015

Once upon a time there was a people who lived with the Sea; living in connection, intimacy, and harmony with their aquatic environment for a very long time. Then one day a dangerous and powerful man had a bold idea. He thought that if he could build a Ship to sail over the Sea, he might find a better world to live in, a Paradise. He had a hard time convincing others that this Paradise was something to pursue, however, so in order to accomplish this he had to enslave lots of other sea-people to make the voyage possible. The sea-people, under threat of violence and death, built a large ship out of dead plant and animal people, stocked the ship with supplies, and took their place at the oars of the slave-galley. This great Ship then sailed away from the sea-people's ancestral homeland and headed into the great unknown. After a long time at sea, the slaves forgot they were slaves.

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What the Climate Movement Can Learn From 'Black Lives Matter' | Lorenzo Raymond

Analysis | September 4th, 2015

As the Shell Oil ship Fennica sailed out of Portland on July 31 to begin its drilling mission in the Arctic, many of those watching on the shore wept. One crestfallen witness explained that although Greenpeace protesters had delayed the ship for over a day, that was "a drop in the bucket" compared with what was needed to discourage the drilling. The veteran activist wrote that the delusional "sense of self-congratulations, as if a victory had been won," which many environmentalists held, only compounded his sorrow; this culture of denial had been fostered by Greenpeace and other mainstream activist groups, whose view of their campaigns, regardless of outcome, invariably amounted to an attitude of "rah rah us, and lacked serious analysis of tactics or ends." Lest anyone think this was overly pessimistic, when Fennica reached its destination, Shell was not only unfazed by the protest, they were bold enough to ask the Department of Interior for rights to drill even deeper in the Arctic than previously requested.

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Towards a Critical Public Pedagogy of Predatory Anthropocene | Michael B. MacDonald

Analysis | August 19th, 2015

In 2015, a group of scientists published "The trajectory of the Anthropocene: The Great Acceleration." They showed that rising consumption and increasing rates of impact on Earth Systems began after the Second World War. It was the expansion of economic activity charged by increasing resource use that created new technologies that expanded rates of consumption. This was a celebrated new socio-economic phase called the Great Acceleration that was supposed to lead to full employment and a bright future for all. It was also the beginning of a next phase of world capitalism accelerated by increasing urbanization. By 2008 humanity officially entered a new urban phase where 50% of the earth's population lives in urban spaces. More cities will be built in the next thirty years than in all previous human history. Earth System scientists have shown that all of these changes are having unprecedented impacts on the Earth. Human life is changing the Earth, they call it anthropocene.

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Weeds in the Holy Garden: A Wildist Review of the Laudato Si' | Jeriah Bowser

Commentary | July 30th, 2015

When Pope Francis published his second encyclical letter in May earlier this year, it was almost immediately regarded as one of the most controversial encyclicals in the history of the Catholic church. Previous encyclicals have touched on social issues such as war, birth control, racism, and poverty, but this latest letter is a radical departure from any of its precedents. In this 180-page message to the Catholics of the world (some 1.2 billion humans), Pope Francis attempts to take on what he perceives as the greatest problems of our time: climate change, mass extinction, modernism, neoliberalism, capitalism, technology, scientism, globalization, consumerism, individualism, and anthropocentrism.

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From Sugar to Monsanto: Today's Occupation of Hawaii by the Agrochemical Oligopoly | Andrea Brower

Analysis | July 8th, 2015

Hawai'i's year-round growing season is purportedly the main reason that the global agrochemical-seed industry has located itself in the islands. Monsanto, Dow, DuPont, Syngenta and BASF claim that they operate in Hawai'i solely because of its "natural resource competitive advantage," and that their "contributions … are at no cost to the State." It is certainly true that Hawai'i's climate is favorable for speeding up the cultivation of herbicide-resistant seeds and testing other agricultural technologies. But a lot more than sunshine makes Hawai'i's soils ideal to growing agrochemical industry products, and the social and political arrangements that facilitate the industry's occupation of the islands are neither "natural" nor without public costs.

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Dear Johnny Lake: A Land Ethic | Jeriah Bowser

Commentary | May 28th, 2015

How shall we relate to the biosphere? What is our relationship with the land? How should we treat that which is "other"? Should our relationship be one of domineering coercion or mutual connection? A reciprocal exchange or a division of power? Is the land sacred and priceless or a profane commodity? These questions are at the heart of the many conservation codes, land ethics, and environmental theories which make up the fields of science known as Ecology and Environmental Studies. There is no shortage of answers to these important questions, either, with people like Aldo Leopold, Gifford Pinchot, John Muir, Edward Abbey, Arne Naess, Rachel Carson, Vandana Shiva, and Henry Thoreau offering their ideas and experiences to us. Some of these ideas, those which most closely echo our cultural myths, have become reified and codified into environmental policy, and make up the basis for how our species relates to our biosphere.

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Organizing Against Climate Catastrophe | Paul Messersmith-Glavin

Analysis | April 22nd, 2015

The forces responsible for changing the climate and endangering the future of humanity have names. Names such as: Chevron and Exxon Mobil, Saudi Aramco and Petroleos de Venezuela. They are the predominant groups responsible for playing havoc with our collective future. In fact, two-thirds of historic carbon dioxide and methane emissions can be attributed to exactly ninety entities. They are based in forty-three countries and extract resources from every oil, natural gas, and coal rich region in the world. They process the fuels into products that are sold to consumers in every nation on the planet. Of the top 85 emitters, 54 are in industrialized countries and 31 are in developing nations. Knowing who and where they are demonstrates that an end to the problem is within our reach. In order to stop global climate change all we need to do is put pressure on these isolated entities, right?

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Get Big or Get Out: Complex Systems and Reciprocal Ecocide | Gary Gripp

Commentary | February 26th, 2015

For awhile now I have been saying that the complex systems which supposedly serve us actually serve themselves: they call the tune and we dance as directed. But I haven't offered a whole lot of examples of what I mean. Now I would like to remedy that by offering some examples of how systems may interlock with each other and lock us into their individual and collective agendas. I will jump in - not at the beginning, but in medias res - the world I was born into, in the middle of World War Two.

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The Terrifying True Story of the Garbage That Could Kill the Whole Human Race | Bucky McMahon

Analysis | January 15th, 2015

The ship plows on with groaning sails, with a heave and a shove, like a fat man shouldering through a crowd. The motion is surprisingly stop-and-go, without ever really stopping, or quite going. In the open cockpit we've just been holding on and talking about flotsam: things that find their way into the vastness of the seas, and float and float, and finally maybe wash ashore. Grimmest to be mentioned so far by my knowledgeable companion-trumping the foot in the boot-is the skeleton in the survival suit. Those are pearls that were his eyes! When we pause the conversation to climb up onto the pitching deck to launch the trawl, I'm keeping Mr. Bones in mind. The Sea Dragon, a 72-foot round-the-world racing sloop, is all taut lines and cleats to trip on, and a fall overboard after dark would be a possible death sentence. You'd be a mote, a speck in the black night and wild seas.

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From Rust Belt to Blue Belt: Water, Climate Change, and the Reordering of Urban America | Sean Posey

Analysis | December 20th, 2014

Taking a drive down State Route 224 through Northeast Ohio is in many ways akin to taking a trip back through time. At one point, before the interstate highway program, US 224 was an all-important route for truckers. Small towns and farms thrived along its edges. The construction of the expressway ultimately diverted much of the economic lifeblood of 224. And though much has been said about the subsequent decline of the small communities on the route, much less talked about is the disappearance of the farms. Vast stretches of fallow farmland are a common sight, not just around 224, but also around cities and towns of all varieties in Ohio Indiana, Pennsylvania, New York, and Michigan.

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On Human Drivers of Environmental Change: A Theoretical Consideration | David Fields

Theory | December 20th, 2014

Within the social sciences there is a growing consensus that human social processes, in a dialectical complex interrelationship with the environment, are the primary drivers of destructive ecological change. A broadly shared framework of idiosyncratic ideas and understandings has been formulated to assess the degree to which the genus, and the species, of spatial practices in the capitalist world-system has ensued prodigious modifications of the global ecosystem. Palpable cognitive perceptions, along with a priori assumptions, of the causes and outcomes concerning the bio-synthetical facets of social organization have been articulated-amplifying intelligible explanations and empirical testing of what perceived biophysical characteristics contribute to environmental transformations.

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The Map Out... | Kenn Orphan

Commentary | December 11th, 2014

One of the most harrowing challenges of modern American life is navigating through the massive desert of our mindless, materialistic consumerism. It is within this landscape that a soul can become lost and drenched in despair. From the endless stream of vacant eyed wraiths that glide down catwalks, to the pervasive advertising that never ceases to demean the values of empathy and compassion and hollow out any meaning associated with human connection, to the entertainment industry which revels in the depths of cruelty it can sink to, the onslaught on the psyche is both constant and merciless.

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Conversing with Rattlesnakes: An Introduction to Deep Ecology | Jeriah Bowser

Commentary | December 3rd, 2014

My first experience with the theory of Deep Ecology happened many years before I ever knew about the philosophy or any of its particulars. I had just begun working for a wilderness therapy outfit deep in the blood-red, sandstone heart of Southern Utah, and part of the training for the job required me to read the book "The Anatomy of Peace" by the Arbinger Institute in preparation for a several-day seminar based on the concepts of the book. The book, a staple in the mental health industry, presented a very simple thesis: there are two distinct ways that we see other people, as objects or as people. When we see others as objects, as either a tool to get something we want or as an obstacle in the way of something we want, we essentially dehumanize them and make them "other."

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Twenty-First Century American Reality: Confronting Ecocide and Forging a New Destiny | Mark Weiser

Commentary | October 31st, 2014

What is reality? Reality is the absolute truth no matter what that may be. Because everything is connected and related to everything else directly or indirectly, reality is complex. Everything we know is all part of the universe itself, encompassing a space so vast that words are inadequate to describe it in human terms. We know life on earth exists as a result of the symbiotic relationship(s) between plants and animals which are dependent on sun light; and the warming of earth and atmosphere, which cause clouds to form and rain to fall. The significance of plant and animal life being interdependent with life sustaining atmosphere and climate cannot be overemphasized - neither life, nor the life sustaining atmosphere, can exist without each other. The universe, the sun, and the delicate symbiotic interdependence of life on earth are all glorious things of natural wonder and intricate beauty in themselves - and all are completely necessary for man to survive. It should be no mystery why primitive man, loving life, revered and worshipped the sun as it warmed the earth, allowing rivers to run and life to flow.

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Contradictions of Reason under Capitalism: Scientific Dogma, Modernity, and the Domination of Man over Nature | Zack Ford

Analysis | September 26th, 2014

Despite opposition by environmental groups, the port of Long Beach, California, with the support of the Long Beach City Council, will continue exporting petroleum coke - or "petcoke" - at approximately 1.7 million tons annually. On the same day, the city council voted against conducting the typical environmental impact study. For obvious reasons, members of the Sierra Club, Communities for a better environment, and Earthjustice opposed this decision. Roughly 900 miles north, in Oregon, the Department of State Lands rejected the exportation of petcoke, illustrating the Long Beach Council's preference for industrial profits over the health of its residents and environment.

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Class Struggles, Climate Change, and the Origins of Modern Agriculture | The 'Out of the Woods' Collective

History | August 27th, 2014

A diverse range of agricultural practices and social relations proliferated between the Neolithic origins of farming and the early modern period which began some 500 years ago. But in order to explore the future of food production under climate change, it is this transition to modern agriculture which is of most interest. This question is intimately bound up with the origins of capitalism. Here, climate change and class relations combined, and through a series of food crises led to the transformation of world agriculture through enclosures and colonialism.

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