Stories about Less of What We Don't Need.
"If we want to have any hope of averting catastrophe, we’re going to have to do something about our addiction to growth."
Earlier this summer, a paper published in the journal Nature captured headlines with a rather bleak forecast. Our chances of keeping global warming below the 2C danger threshold are very, very small: only about 5%. The reason, according to the paper’s authors, is that the cuts we’re making to greenhouse gas emissions are being cancelled out by economic growth.
The top 10 percent of the wealthiest people in China emit less carbon per person than people on the bottom half of the US wealth distribution — again, inequality between countries — but it also shows that the top 10 percent wealthiest in the US emit more than five times as much CO2 per person as those on the lower half of the income scale.
“El agua vale mas que oro,” or in English “Water is worth more than gold,” a young boy chants along with members of his community in Las Piñitas, Dominican Republic. He was born and raised here, neighboring the largest foreign direct investment project the country has ever seen – the Pueblo Viejo gold mine.
Pueblo Viejo, owned by Canadian companies Barrick Gold Corporation (60 percent) and Goldcorp Inc. (40 percent), two mining companies with notoriously abysmal human rights records, began commercial production in 2012. Since then, community members of Las Piñitas, Las Lagunas, El Naranjo, and La Cerca have expressed great concern regarding environmental devastation, which they believe has directly impacted their health and livelihoods.
The Labour Party in the UK, which has a good chance of taking political power at the next election, has been involved in a process of policy development which involves taking up ideas from the commons movement and is focused around the revival of and protection of commons.
In one week I have now been to three public events commemorating the Charter of the Forest of 1217 – a companion volume to the famous Magna Carta. Whereas the Magna Carta was about political and civil rights, the Charter of the Forest was about economic rights and, most sigificantly, it pre-supposed a commons based economy. At the three events that I attended the main speakers were Peter Linebaugh and Guy Standing who explained the historical significance of the Charter and of the enclosures over many centuries, and started the process of discussion about what a Charter for the Commons in the UK would and could mean today.
After three years of debate, in 2008, the State of Uruguay decided to start diversifying the energy matrix by increasing the share of renewable energy sources, especially wind and solar. Although this process has been introduced as a paradigm for the region, the plan implemented for the development of “clean energy,” far from reverting the inequitable tariff model where those with lower incomes pay more, it actually deepened it. In addition, it favored the private companies’ advancement in the electricity sector. The State is committed to buying all the energy generated by private companies at a higher price than that of other sources.
Nine months have passed since Indigenous human rights defender Sebastian Alonso Juan was shot and killed at a peaceful protest in Guatemala’s Ixquisis region, and communities are still waiting for justice.
Though Washington has been mired in gridlock over the past few years, work sharing is one policy that has enjoyed the support of Democrats and Republicans alike. And with good cause. Estimates suggest that work sharing has saved over more than half a million jobs since the Great Recession and is still a good policy to keep people in their jobs instead of getting laid off.
Work sharing, also known as short-time compensation, is a policy that lets employers adjust to slowdowns in business demand by reducing hours for workers rather than laying them off. This is accomplished by allowing workers to put in fewer hours while having much of the difference offset by unemployment insurance.
It is late in the rainy season, and two community water defenders and I stand at the edge of the Río Bolo in coastal Retalhuleu. Above us tower the remains of a concrete bridge where people from the community of El Rosario used to cross this once tremendous river. Today, the water flows barely two feet deep. Campesinos easily cross the river on foot as we talk, the water barely reaching their knees while the watermark of the former river sits a good ten feet above their heads.
The potential and limits to renewable energy are hotly debated, and far from settled. Many people take it for granted that it can meet all our energy needs, and numerous impressive agencies and technical reports say this. However until the last few years when simulations based on detailed weather data have become available nearly all pronouncements have been little more than speculation and most have simply selected bits of evidence to confirm preferred beliefs. I have examined about ten of these and have published various analyses showing how unsatisfactory they are.