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Less of What We Don't Need
Stories about Less of What We Don't Need.
Fantasy and Fatality in the Facebook Era: A Lamentation for My Father
Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.
Seven weeks ago, my father died - abruptly, unexpectedly, and prematurely. I say that as a simple matter of fact because despite my utter heartbreak, no amount of euphemisms or platitudes will change the reality of the situation.
Marine Corps Sergeant Peggy Price was six months pregnant when she arrived at Camp Lejeune in the 1980s with her husband, a fellow Marine. Serving as a cryptologic linguist, she never imagined the most immediate threats she would face would come from being stationed in Jacksonville, North Carolina.
“When you’re [stationed] stateside and you’ve got your family living with you, you don’t expect that that actually could be more dangerous than some of these overseas assignments,” Price said.
As the nuke power industry slumps toward oblivion, two huge reactors are shutting in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.
The shutdowns are a body blow to atomic energy. The soaring costs of the decayed US reactor fleet have forced them to beg gerrymandered state legislatures for huge bailouts.
We cannot legislate and spend our way out of catastrophic global warming.
...nearly every renewable energy source depends upon non-renewable and frequently hard-to-access minerals: solar panels use indium, turbines use neodymium, batteries use lithium, and all require kilotons of steel, tin, silver, and copper. The renewable-energy supply chain is a complicated hopscotch around the periodic table and around the world. To make a high-capacity solar panel, one might need copper (atomic number 29) from Chile, indium (49) from Australia, gallium (31) from China, and selenium (34) from Germany. Many of the most efficient, direct-drive wind turbines require a couple pounds of the rare-earth metal neodymium, and there’s 140 pounds of lithium in each Tesla. Energy is never “clean,”
...the Green New Deal has to generate growth and reduce emissions. The problem is that growth and emissions are, by almost every measure, profoundly correlated.
Given current technology, there is no possibility to continue using more energy per person, more land per person, more more per person.
America’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, speaking at the prestigious Arctic Council biannual meeting in Finland, christened the Arctic meltdown: “A wonderful economic opportunity for international trade.” In a nutshell, here’s a critique of the Secretary’s advice: An ice-free Arctic reduces travel time for shipping lanes between Asia and the West by three weeks, which qualifies as one of the biggest transport revolutions since cargo planes first crossed the Atlantic in the early 20thcentury.
The mobilization against climate change continues to build, gaining new social layers beyond the initial circles of environmental activists and tending toward a systemic critique of capitalist productivism with its underlying competition for profit. Particularly significant is the fact that young people are joining the struggle. On March 15 more than a million people, a majority of them youth, went on strike for the climate around the world in response to the call by the Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg. The movement is very deep, although at present it is limited to the major countries of the Global North. It reshuffles cards, upsets agendas and puts all the actors — politicians, trade unions, associations, social movements — on notice to answer two fundamental questions:
- Why are you not doing everything possible to limit to the maximum the terrible catastrophe that is growing day by day, and to do so in compliance with democracy and social justice?
- How dare you leave such a mess to your children and grandchildren?
Scratch the surface of the current plans to decarbonise the economy and replace it with renewable energies and beneath it lays the same logic that has made the UK the 6th richest country in the world. Britain is planning to go green through a new phase of resource and wealth extraction of countries in the global south.
At the heart of our economic system fuelled by the City of London is a belief that the UK and other rich countries are entitled to a greater share of the world’s finite resources irrespective of who we impoverish in doing so, or the destruction we cause.
This green colonialism will be delivered by the very same entrenched economic interests, who have willingly sacrificed both people and the climate in the pursuit of profit. But this time, the mining giants and dirty energy companies will be waving the flag of climate emergency to justify the same deathly business model.
La Rinconada, which lies at over 5km above sea level, is the highest settlement in the world; a gold mining town, a concentration of misery, a community of about 50,000 inhabitants, many of whom have been poisoned by mercury. A place where countless women and children get regularly raped, where law and order collapsed quite some time ago, where young girls are sent to garbage dumps in order to ‘recycle’ terribly smelling waste, and where almost all the men work in beastly conditions, trying to save at least some money, but where most of them simply ruin their health, barely managing to stay alive.