Ian Angus

Below are five new books for the bookshelves of ecosocialists. They cover climate change, the Anthropocene, water and food — plus an inspiring account of the Russian Revolution by award-winning science fiction writer China Mieville.

“The world’s poorest countries, those with the lowest greenhouse gas emissions, will be the most severely affected by extreme temperatures brought on by global warming.”

Statements such as that appear in virtually every report and article on climate change. A feature of most such statements is use of the future tense: the poorest countries will be worse-hit than the rich ones.

A look at three important new books on the growing global environmental crisis and two that mark the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution.

Having come back from a much needed break with much time spent curled up with books, here are some notes on seven of interest to ecosocialists.

I particularly enjoyed two excellent accounts of the role of trees and other plants in Earth System. The Emerald Planet, by David Beerling, (Oxford University Press, 2007) covers the 500 million years since plants migrated from the oceans.

Ian Angus at global launch of ‘Facing the Anthropocene: Fossil Capitalism and the Crisis of the Earth System’. Sydney, May 13.
Protest by members of the Wer'suwet'en First Nation against tar sands oil pipelines. Ian Angus is a Canadian ecosocialist activist and author. The editor of Climateandcapitalism.com, Angus is also the co-author of Too Many People? Population, Immigration, and the Environmental Crisis with former Green Left Weekly editor Simon Butler (Haymarket, 2011).
Ian Angus is a Canadian ecosocialist activist and author. The editor of Climateandcapitalism.com, Angus is also the co-author of Too Many People? Population, Immigration, and the Environmental Crisis with former Green Left Weekly editor Simon Butler (Haymarket, 2011).
“Potentially the most widespread and globally synchronous anthropogenic signal is the fallout from nuclear weapons testing.” Repeatedly, over hundreds of thousands of years, glaciers expanded south and north from the polar regions, covering much of the Earth with ice sheets several kilometres deep.
Confronting Injustice: Social Activism in the Age of Individualism Umair Muhammad www.confrontinginjustice.com Too many supposedly radical books are written by academics for academics, apparently competing to see who can produce the most incomprehensible prose. My list of “books to be reviewed” contains literally dozens of overstuffed and overpriced volumes that only a handful of specialists will ever read, and with little relevance to the non-university world.
Remember all those articles that claimed global warming has stopped? Here’s proof that those were anti-scientific fantasies. On July 21, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that last month’s average global temperature was 16.2°C, which is 0.7°C higher than the 20th-century average. Heat records were broken on every continent apart from Antarctica. The rises were especially notable in New Zealand, northern South America, Greenland, central Africa and southern Asia.
By Light Alone By Adam Roberts 2011 www.adamroberts.com Progress under capitalism, Karl Marx wrote, resembles “that hideous, pagan idol, who would not drink the nectar but from the skulls of the slain”. Changes that ought to make life better often produce new social, economic and environmental disasters.
Deep Green Resistance: Strategy to Save the Planet Aric McBay, Lierre Keith & Derrick Jensen Seven Stories Press, 2011 In its March-April issue, Canadian Dimension magazine featured a very positive review of Deep Green Resistance. The reviewer said it “made me a better strategist,” and endorsed author Derrick Jenson’s assertion that “this book is about winning.”
The radical ecologist Murray Bookchin once compared populationism to a phoenix, the mythical bird that periodically burns up and is reborn from its own ashes. No matter how often the “too many people” argument is refuted, it always returns, making the same claim that people are breeding too much and consuming too much, devouring the Earth like a plague of locusts. The latest incarnation of the populationist phoenix is People and the Planet, a report published in April by the leading organisation of Britain’s scientific establishment, the 350-year-old Royal Society.
The Labour Party of Pakistan has reported that LPP member Baba Jan and other activists in Gilgit district jail were severely beaten and tortured by dozens of Rangers, Police and Frontier Constabulary in the early morning of April 28. In response, an international campaign is being organised for the release of Baba Jan and other activists jailed last year for campaigning for compensation for flood victims. After devastating floods swept the Atta Abad Lakes region of Pakistan last year, police opened fire on a demonstration of people demanding compensation. Two people were killed.
In article after article, book after book, scientists and environmentalists have exposed the devastating effects of constant economic expansion on the global environment. The drive to produce ever more “stuff” is filling our rivers with poison and our air with climate-changing gases. The oceans are dying, species are dying out at unprecedented rates, water is running short, and soil is eroding much faster than it can be replaced. But the growth machine pushes on.
Green Washed: Why We Can’t Buy Our Way to a Green Planet Kendra Pierre-Louis IG Publishing, 216 pages Radical German poet Hans Magnus Enzenberger once compared mainstream environmentalism to a Sunday sermon that terrifies parishioners with dire warnings of eternal damnation, but concludes weakly by promising salvation to any sinner who performs a simple act of penance. “The horror of the predicted catastrophe,” he wrote, “contrasts sharply with the mildness of the admonition with which we are allowed to escape.”

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