Environment

Queensland, Victorian flood disasters: a socialist viewpoint

The devastating floods across Queensland and Victoria have killed dozens of people, displaced thousands and wreaked billions of dollars in damage to infrastructure and industry, leaving scores of shattered towns and cities. With the forecast for more cyclones and wet season rain fronts over the remainder of summer, the first steps of disaster recovery are taking place alongside debate and discussion on the worst floods in Queensland and Victoria since white invasion. Why did the floods happen? Will they happen again?

Growing opposition to coal seam gas mining

Gasland, an explosive documentary exposing the dangers of coal seam gas mining in the United States, has shocked audiences as it toured film festivals and country towns facing the same “hit-and-run” industry in Australia. Packing such a punch with its first-hand account of family farmers and rural residents suffering diseases and disorders linked to the chemicals used in gas mining, the documentary is a harbinger of a potential new front for the green movement here: farmers fighting coal and gas mining.

Coal Inc: The carve-up of Queensland

More than 40 climate change activists on September 26 occupied the Newcastle Coal Terminal — the world’s largest coal export facility — in protest over the failure of state and federal governments to halt Australia’s contribution to the climate change crisis. Organised by Rising Tide, the protesters demanded an immediate moratorium on the expansion of the coal industry.

Publicity alone is not a climate movement

At the Byron Bay Writers Festival in August, a popular ideologue of the environment movement, Ian Lowe, told a packed-out marquee, to a round of applause “and someone is shovelling coal into the steamer to get us there faster ...”: “The only responsible thing for citizens to do is organise a mutiny”.

Climate change and citizens' assemblies

The current federal election campaign is proceeding and will proceed until August 21 without the issue of climate change being seriously discussed. Neither the Labor Party nor the Liberal-National Coalition wants a serious discussion of the issue. Julia Gillard announced a “new” policy of doing nothing, except for a Rudd-style talk-fest to be called a “Citizens’ Assembly”. The Coalition are trying to buy environmental credentials with a “green army” while turning a blind eye to the greenhouse gasses spewing forth into the skies from Australian industry.

'Small Australia' is implicitly racist

Racism is at the forefront of the 2010 Australian election. Both Labor and Coalition politicians use some of their most passionate language to convey the false idea that the few thousand Afghan and other Asian asylum seekers who have arrived by boat are responsible for a host of problems caused by their own decisions to prioritise corporate profits before social needs, such as their encouragement of suburban sprawl and lack of funding of public transport and public health services.

From the Belly of the Beast: BP Gulf oil gusher's damage toll continues to mount

Two months after the April 20 explosion on a BP-leased Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico triggered the greatest environment disaster from a single incident in US history, the oil keeps gushing. Along the shoreline encompassing the US Gulf states, oil creeps up further and further from the gusher itself. The fertile seafood beds and fishing grounds along the Louisiana coast have been destroyed, along with the livelihoods of tens of thousands.

Population control: environmentalism or racism?

Australia’s population, currently 22.4 million, is predicted to rise to 35.9 million by 2050, according to the Australian Treasury Department’s Intergenerational Report 2010, released by federal treasurer Wayne Swan on February 1. On April 3, then-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd appointed Tony Burke as Australia’s first population minister to “help guide the development of policies to meet Australia’s future population needs”. The predicted population growth and the appointment of Burke as population minister elicited commentary from across the political spectrum on the desirability of such growth and the supposed effects it will have.

From the Belly of the Beast: Obama's Katrina: Worst environmental disaster in US history

May 25 — The Obama administration, British Petroleum and the corporate media have worked overtime to minimise information and outright lie about the catastrophic impact of the explosion on BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20. The truth has been coming out in dribbles, when it cannot be denied any longer, or when independent scientists publicise it.

Bolivia climate change conference: 'The future of humanity is in danger'

[The following is an abridged version of the declaration issued by the April 20-22 World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, held on April 22 in Cochabamba, Bolivia. The conference, convened by the government of Bolivian President Evo Morales, was attended by at least 15,000 people, including official delegates from 47 countries.]