What's Left 2016-03-27 Volume 51
New data alarms climate scientists; Massive Black Lives Matter rally in Toronto highlights struggle; Sanders campaign gives hope to political progress regardless of outcome; Black Americans prohibited from employment in legal marijuana industry; Varoufakis is back and it's going to be great; Corbyn hates privatized education, teachers love Corbyn.
New data alarms climate scientists: Climate change’s worst consequences only decades away
James Hansen, the founder of modern climate change research, and his colleagues have released a new study on the impacts of climate change. This research shows that, at current levels of internationally agreed CO2 emissions, we only have a few decades left before sea levels rise multiple metres and sink coastal cities. Previous research had concluded it would take much longer.
The paper pulls together the latest research from across the sector and states that scientists have underestimated the pace of climate change. New studies and updated models (based on more robust information) show that we are moving much faster to catastrophe than thought.
This comes alongside the revelation that the fracking industry is having a larger impact on the climate than burning coal. Enough reports have now been published that make it clear the methane being released by “cleaner burning” hydraulic fractured natural gas is actually worse than the old coal-burning power plants.
Natural gas is an industry claiming to release less CO2 than coal when burned. The problem is that the main component of natural gas is methane which turns out to be 84 times worse than CO2 as it contributes to the greenhouse effect. Methane is responsible for 25 per cent of ongoing, human-caused climate change. It is not the burning of natural gas that is causing this, it is that the infrastructure carrying natural gas is extremely old and leaks happen at almost ever pipe connection. Fracking also allows a lot of methane to escape from fractured shale which never ends up in a pipeline in the first place.
While the economic impacts of fracturing have driven economic growth in some more economically depressed areas of the US, they have also pushed the price of oil down to unprecedented levels, impacting the global economy and encouraging people to consume even more oil.
On the broader economic front, oil companies have been going into heavy debt. This means that there is a lot of money being bet on future oil infrastructure projects to produce profits to keep these companies afloat. Capitalists that have their investments in these projects will put a lot of money into lobbying to stop any policy that would limit future extraction. Capitalism continues to put profit ahead of the health of the planet and those living on it.
The only way to deal with the climate change issue fast enough is for states to intervene in the energy markets. But, that can only happen if people out-mobilize industry lobbyists and force the government to clamp down on these dangerous initiatives and instead invest in alternatives to fossil fuels.
• Global Warming’s Terrifying New Chemistry
• The scientist who first warned of climate change says it’s much worse than we thought
• Trade Unions for Energy Democracy Methane Reports
Massive Black Lives Matter rally in Toronto highlights struggle
Black Lives Matter Toronto Coalition held a massive and active rally in down town Toronto this weekend to celebrate the 150th hour holding a tent city at the Toronto Police headquarters. Saturday’s rally was a brilliant show of black activism, art and resistance and College street was shut down for several hours as a result. The occupation continues this week and the coalition has released a list of demands to the province and the city governments, including the release of police officer names who killed Andrew Loku.
• Demands from Black Lives Matter -Toronto Coalition
• Black Lives Matter Toronto Twitter News
Sanders campaign gives hope to political progress regardless of outcome
With Sanders winning big in Alaska, Washington State, and Hawaii Saturday, the door hasn’t completely closed on his presidential bid. However, it’s important not to become too focused on whether he wins the nomination or not, because the impact Sanders has on the Democratic primaries and general political discourse is already a win for politics in the US, Canada, and many other countries. Sanders has demonstrated that socialist issues can be talked about proudly and rallied upon by the public. Other democratic socialist leaders should take note and follow the path being cleared by the Sanders campaign.
• What Bernie Sanders has accomplished
Black Americans prohibited from employment in legal marijuana industry
Although both white and black individuals are just as likely to be caught in possession of marijuana, black folks are significantly more likely to be charged and incarcerated. As in many other cases, the racism inherent to many police forces comes into play. However, with marijuana being legalized for both medical and recreational purposes in many jurisdictions, this racism continues to have devastating consequences. Legal marijuana growers, distributors, and sellers obviously require experienced staff, but in pretty much every jurisdiction where marijuana has been legalized, those with criminal records for marijuana possession are prohibited from being employed in the industry. As such, the legalized industry is shockingly white. Any new marijuana laws introduced in Canada should recognize this latent racism for what it is, and ensure that previous experience with marijuana isn’t a barrier for anyone. In fact, any of the uncaught or non-charged white people working in the industry would tell you it’s an asset.
• How black people are being shut out of America’s weed boom
• Nixon official: real reason for the drug war was to criminalize black people and hippies
Varoufakis is back and it’s going to be great
Both Quartz and the Financial Times have highlighted DiEM25, the new pan-European project launched by Yanis Varoufakis of Greece. The self-proclaimed “Erratic Marxist” has outlined a plan for the establishment of an ideologically grounded left-wing movement aimed at reforming the European Union. The fact that the world of finance has paid such close attention to this movement shows how dangerous they they think it could be to their interests.
• Lunch With FT: Yanis Varoufakis
• Yanis Varoufakis on his plan to save the EU—with Julian Assange and Slavoj Žižek
Corbyn hates privatized education, teachers love Corbyn
For the first time in over a decade, a labour leader received a warm welcome from the UK’s teachers union. Jeremy Corbyn received standing ovations from the National Union of Teachers this past week as he rejected Tony Blair’s policies of privatization. Instead, Corbyn favours a progressive public option where teachers and students are at the centre of the education program.
• Corbyn: Tories “asset-stripping” education system