Environment

How the 'NAFTA flu' exploded

By Al Giordano

US and Mexican authorities claim that neither knew about the “swine flu” outbreak until April 24. But after hundreds of residents of a town in Veracruz, Mexico, came down with its symptoms, the story had already hit the Mexican national press by April 5. The daily La Jornada reported: “Clouds of flies emanate from the rusty lagoons where the Carroll Ranches business tosses the fecal wastes of its pig farms, and the open-air contamination is already generating an epidemic of respiratory infections in the town of La Gloria, in the Perote Valley, according to town administrator Bertha Crisostomo Lopez.”

Cuba's energy revolution - combating global warming

By Marce Cameron

Compact fluorescent light globes are as bright as incandescent globes but consume 75-80% less energy and last 5-10 years. If every one of 110 million US households replaced just one 60-watt incandescent globe with a compact fluorescent, the energy saved would be enough to power a US city of 1.5 million people — equivalent to taking 1.3 million cars off the road or switching off two coal-fired power plants.

Cuba: Viva la Revolucion Energetica

By Laurie Guevara-Stone

What nation is the most sustainable in the world? If you guessed Sweden or Denmark, you would be wrong. Instead, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has declared Cuba as the only country on the planet that is approaching sustainable development. Key to this designation is the island’s “energy revolution”, an energy conservation effort launched only two years ago.

Emissions trading: How should socialists respond?

By Shua Garfield

The draft legislation for the government’s planned greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions trading scheme (ETS), released on March 10, contained no real answers to the problem. It followed the course of the December 15 white paper: protection of corporate profits, shifting responsibility for reducing pollution onto the “hidden hand of the market” and targets for pollution reduction so low that, if emulated by other industrialised countries, would guarantee global disaster.

Climate change: False solutions and government inaction

By Shua Garfield

2008 was the 9th warmest year since measurements began in 1880, according to data published by NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies on January 13. At 0.44oC warmer than the 1951-1980 average, it was also warmer than any year on record prior to 1998. The 10 warmest years on record have now all occurred since 1997. According to the World Health Organisation, the effects of this warming — increased frequency of storms, floods, droughts and associated crop failures, as well as spread of tropical diseases to areas that did not previously have a tropical climate — are already killing an average of 150,000 people per year.

Atmosphere in crisis — make the rich countries pay!

By Shua Garfield

The World Energy Outlook 2008, released by the International Energy Agency (IEA) on November 12, makes an alarming prediction: Without new government policies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and assuming current rates of growth in energy demand continue, global GHG emissions could rise 45% by 2030. The atmospheric GHG concentrations that would result from these emissions would be high enough to cause average global temperatures to eventually rise 6oC above pre-industrial levels. According to Australian government climate change adviser Ross Garnaut, a temperature rise of this magnitude would result in the extinction of 48-100% of all plant and animal species.

Why carbon trading will increase carbon pollution

By Shua Garfield

The rate of growth in global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions — 3% between 2006 and 2007 — has exceeded the “worst-case scenario” predictions of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the September 26 Los Angeles Times reported. According to Corinne Le Quere, professor of environmental sciences at the University of East Anglia and the British Antarctic Survey, these emissions levels put the world on track for a global average temperature rise of up to 6.1°C over the next century. According to Australian government climate change adviser Ross Garnaut, a rise of this magnitude and speed would result in the extinction of 48-100% of all plant and animal species.

First World rulers fiddle while Arctic melts

By Shua Garfield

As the Sun disappeared below the horizon of the North Pole on September 22 — ending the Northern hemisphere’s summer — it left behind the second-lowest minimum level of Arctic summer ice cover since satellite records began 29 years ago. At 4.52 million square kilometres (on September 12), the ice cover area was 2.24 million sq km lower than the 1979-2000 long-term average summer minimum.

AWU joins big business push for nuclear power

By Andrew Martin

The enthusiasm for nuclear power in sections of the ALP that was nurtured during the government of the previous prime minister, John Howard, has not been dampened. If anything, the election of the federal ALP government has led to renewed pressure from powerful pro-nuclear advocates, including within the ALP itself, most notably some officials of the Australian Workers Union (AWU).

Global warming crisis: Labor proposes cash handouts to worst polluters

By Shua Garfield

“We cannot continue to pour carbon pollution into the atmosphere as if there is no cost … Climate change threatens our food production, agriculture, and water supplies.” With this dire warning, the minister for climate change and water, Senator Penny Wong, released the federal government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme green paper on July 16. However, the proposals outlined in the paper are not a recipe for serious action to avoid the climate change disasters that Wong warns of. Instead, the paper is largely a plan to hand out money to the worst polluters.