Protest the COP26

The COP26 represents the latest in a 25-year failure in the official approach to dealing with Climate Change. We are now in the midst of accelerating and self-promoting climate catastrophe.

Today you can look around the world and signal dozens of disasters that shouldn’t have happened. Extreme weather events, floods, fires and failed harvests leading to famine. Extreme changes to natural systems are also visible, dead-seas and increasing acidification, ice-melt at the poles and glacial melt on the mountains, record temperatures in inhabited areas stretching above 50 degrees celsius (C).

The COP26 Summit has been delayed by a year because of the COVID Pandemic. It will take place under the shadow of the 6th Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which the United General Secretary called “Code Red” for human societies. This is not opinion, it is peer-reviewed, double-and-triple-checked compilation of thousands of scientific papers detailing proven research from across 5 continents over periods of years and decades which, together, prove the terrible danger we face, as does most life on earth – the 6th Great Extinction.

At over 4,000 pages with appendices, I doubt many delegates to the COP26 Conference will bother to read the IPCC 6th Report, let alone digest the very real implications. But the whole world has access to the science, and the whole world will be watching them.

The UN Conference of Parties (COP) came out of the Earth Summit in 1992 held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The COP was supposed to discuss a collective response to the climate emergency. Those attending could be self-appointed and the process became dominated by the Non-Government Organisations, Corporations and politicians from the richest countries of the global North, quashing the voice of the less developed or powerful nations of the Global South. 

The COP process has been a complete failure, and in fact made the situation by creating an illusion of action whilst emissions increase. Even when the so-called “Paris Agreement” offered a legally binding international treaty on climate change, adopted by 196 Parties at COP21 in Paris, on 12 December 2015 and entered into force on 4 November 2016, Governments di little or nothing. 

The Paris Agreement is much quoted in 2021, its stated goal is to limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels (1850). 

COP26 in November will become a major issue far wider than the trade unions and environment movements. Extreme events are becoming worse day-by-day, but also the richest countries that organise as the G7 see COP as a political issue through which they can push a set of ideological, political and economic agendas. 

UK Prime Minister Johnson will be hosting COP26, calling for a Summit of deeds not words, but actually pushing his flagship neoliberal offensive as recovery from COVID through new industry and maximising profits of major corporations.

Is COP26 the “last chance”? That was said for each COP in the last decade, with agreements leading to little or nothing. There have been key moments – Kyoto COP3 in 1997 as an agreement that became a battle ground; Copenhagen 2009 which was destroyed by Presdident Obama’s protectionism of the USA’s global interests; and the COP21 Paris 2015 had large demos which were heavily repressed by the French State…I was there.

All Agreements were based-upon the argument that free-market Capitalism can solve the threats from Climate Change. For example, Carbon trading will allow corporations to cap their emissions and lead to overall decline.

But COP has never been a meeting of informed scientists and politicians. 38,000 delegates to COP21 were either delegates of individual governments or lobbyists from “interested parties” including fuel companies, industrialists, and NGOs, all seeking to bargain there interests. A battle ground for economic and political interests, dominated by the most powerful interests.

The US were able to produce a large number of delegates driving forward their agendas, influencing through economic aid and outfits threats. For example, US delegates to the 2017 COP in Durban offered South Africa funding in return for collaboration. In Poland in COP24 was sponsored by the Polish coal company, and COP22 the main sponsors were the Spanish coal and gas corporations.

COP is also a battle-ground for internal national politics and between sections of their ruling classes. It may see complicated but in the end the tussles, in-fighting, self-interest and corporate greed produce compromises that achieve less than nothing. On current proposals to COP26, not current actions, global emissions will reduce by just 1% by 2030 and we will reach average temperature rise of 4C by 2080. More than half the world’s population will be forced from their sea-edge towns and cities (including London and New York) and the more internal areas will be uninhabitable.

It’s not all hopeless. The Paris Agreement in 2015 limited emissions to a target 1.5C, because the smaller countries formed a large alliance based-upon links with the huge protests outside and globally. Where there are hundreds of thousands of people demanding radical change, they do influence the debates inside Conference. That’s why there is so much concern that so many smaller countries may not be able to attend COP26 due to either the extreme costs or the pandemic threat of travel to Glasgow. Our protests are vital to ensure their voice.

The key focus is that currently the global emissions continue to rise. Naomi Klein’s book, “This Changes Everything” says if at the start of the COP process, all countries had agreed to reduce their emissions by 2% a year the crisis would be now have been averted. Instead, the politics of delay, rivalry, and off-setting has has won horrific pollution levels and models of climate collapse in the near future. 

The IPCC 6th Report most certainly identifies that it will be impossible to halt climate heating to below a 2C average global increase over pre-industrial levels (1850) even if the 8% global reductions in global heating emissions happen every year from now. And there’s no evidence that the COP26 will agree to anything like those levels of reductions.

2C average means some areas experience periods of 0.5C increase whilst others – the Tropics and in-between, experience 4-5C. Afghanistan, for example, is predicted to be 5C hotter by the end of the Century. The 2C could be brought-down again by the century’s end, but at the expense of possibly more than a billion lives lost, and mass forced migration. 

There is a recognition that these COP agreements don’t work, but the large countries don’t want legally-binding requirements forcing governments to act. The UN fails to enforce agreements in any case, just look at the way their declarations for Palestine or against nuclear weapons are completely ignored.

Nevertheless, we must recognise that international agreement does matter. COP26 offers an opportunity to raise the issues and demand better solutions. Especially our calls for just transition of industrial production (including industrial agriculture) away from reliance of carbon-fuels and plastics, and 1-4 Million Green Jobs Now!  The call for Global Climate Justice is also identifies radical but plausible solutions. Even if the Corporate bosses and their tame politicians won’t listen or budge, our voices and protests will win greater public consciousness and increase the calls for system change.

In the trades unions, Unite, the UCU, NEU and PCS unions are already members of the COP26 Coalition, and we need to build anti-racist organisations, Palestine Solidarity, Kashmiri and Bangladeshi, etc. The organised working class has a key and leading role to play.

The demand for reparations for the Global South is an essential ingredient of our campaigning. The wealth of the global North has been created by the exploitation of the South and the overwhelming majority of the global heating emissions that are destroying whole swathes of the poorer regions of the world. We are going to experience a dramatic reduction in living standards and we should prepare ourselves for that rather than cling to the delusion that the western, middle-class lifestyle can be made sustainable. But, for the Global South, the catastrophe will be far worse. 

There is a solution – a vision of the world where we organise the economy in the interests of the Ecology and the interests of the People. We recognise the power of ordinary people to change the world, and the power of workers as the producers at the point of production. These reforms must challenge the structures of fossil fuel capitalism, by taking on its exploitation and racism – and the fossil fuel interests at its heart. 

We cannot plan for an ambitious, long-term program of energy conversion without challenging the power of the big oil companies or the nuclear industry, or without confronting the private lobbies of weapons manufacturers or the communications industry, which are more and more closely aligned into the transnational military-industrial-complex.

Politically, the Corporate class know they’re in the spotlight, and are funding a huge publicity and propaganda exercise to pretend that fossil-fuels can solve the climate emergency. 

Just look into the greenwash of carbon-capture-and-storage, biofuels, carbon-trading, nuclear energy, blue-hydrogen and climate-engeneering and you quickly find they’re either unproven, in their infancy, comparatively expensive compared existing wind, wave and solar technologies, or too distant as projects that could possibly stop the catastrophe. 

There is more than one “Green New Deal”, and many are promoted by the fossil-companies who want to preserve their profits first and foremost, whatever the cost to the Earth. 

It’s equally important to note that the climate and environment movement is not intrinsically left-wing, socialist or autonomist. It is not necessarily on the side of workers. The working class has to ensure it has a strong voice inside the climate demands, and argues for collective organisation and mutual support. 

There are far-right forces at work: a climate nationalism that argues for militarised borders against climate refugees; a return-to-the-land idealism that blames people not the methods of production for the crisis, and condemns technology. A Malthusian hatred of humanity that looks forward to seeing billions dead through the heat, the starvation and the floods, watching billions die on the news channels because humans are bad. And then there are the xenophobic imperialists who argue for invasion and climate colonialism in order to import resources and food from across the globe and leave “the indigenous” their local famines. White supremacy is being stoked-up for a reason.

The final, although not far away result of the right-wing agenda will be global war. War for Water, war for food, war against the desperate refugees, and potentially a range of civil wars. Such modelling of “possible scenarios” is well advanced in the military Capitals of the powerful nations. Society is carefully being militarised, and democracy – in structure and notion – debased.

But such a dystopian and totalitarian future can only happen if the mass of the people are won to such ideology, embrace nationalism and racism or are pacified and disempowered from protesting for people before profit. The collective power of the working classes of the world, united to defend our lives and our futures, is far greater than the power of Corporate executives.

Coalescing the Three C’s

I’ve been asked why I have a blog page when I write so rarely. It’s a good question. First and foremost I’m busy, secondly I’m not a very confident writer, and thirdly, I write to be able to clarify my own thoughts, nothing more.

So why publish personal thoughts? Usually, I only publish thoughts that have arisen from discussions with others who are interested in my take on conditions in this turbulent and complex period of human history. It aids further debate.

I’ve spent the past four months supporting the building of a time-limited coalition to protest at the policies of the G7 group of Capitalist countries. President Biden and other “elected representatives” met in Carbis Bay, Cornwall last week, close to where I live. What else could I do but organise?

The G7, plus invited guest Prime Ministers, we’re continuing the imperialist “Great Reset” carve-up of markets and natural resources on a global scale. The Greenwash “NET” messages for continuing to seek profit from climate catastrophe were highly advertised.

Less publicised was the extension of the Western imperialist alliance against China and Russia, with the launch of the US/UK fleet headed by the new Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier towards the South China Seas. Then, the further of lowering standards of Corporate accountability with a perverse dictat for taxation that will actually cut State income from the profits of exploitation. And behind closed doors, the limiting of Aid, including COVID-vaccines, to the Global South, ensuring continuing death and social dislocation directly against the scientific evidence from the World Health Organisation.

I can only rage against these smiling political figureheads as anti-human scum.

We did what we could. Amidst the sudden and infected invasion by 6,500 additional police and military, armed and extremely dangerous into the holiday resorts of sunny Cornwall, we marched upon gated media centres and sought to get as close to the militarised conference centre as possible.

The question of why elected politicians had to have £70 million of security to protect their three-day jamboree hung in the air. Cornwall has seen a four-fold increase in family poverty over the past 15 months, food banks being extended from the local churches to schools, struggling to meet the ever-growing demand in this, one of the poorest regions of Europe.

How can anyone be anything other than incandescent with rage against both the organisation of the G7 and their decisions. This is the elite acting on behalf of the elite, leading humanity into deeper barbarism and all-but inevitable climate collapse.

Talking with justice-seeking representatives from Tigray, Kashmir and Palestine I acquainted myself emotionally with the personal horrors of orchestrated genocide, sponsored communal violence and proxy wars all perpetrated by the continued imperialist quest for power over land and markets at the expense of humanity and Nature.

We are already living in a condition of barbarism, deepening and accelerating.

On our side, the protests were way too small, hampered by the three-C’s of COVID-restrictions and realistic fears, Cornwall’s comparative inaccessibility, and the post-Corbyn pessimism and pacification of trade unions and the Left across the UK and Europe. But at least we were there.

Against all the odds, we built and held together the most improbable Coalition of anarchists, autonomists (nope, they’re not the same), Trotskyists, Corbynistas (yes, they’re still around), Liberals and Stalinists. Bottom-up and Top-down socialists, reformers and State-smashers, individualists and communalists. As a political project it was unique, even if extremely small and vulnerable.

You see, the future of humanity depends upon grassroots activism drawing together sufficient numbers of social activists into the size of critical mass commensurate to the sheer scale of the challenge facing us. Ecological collapse, global heating, climate change, economic crisis, Pandemic and forced mass migration are not predictions f one possible future, they are all with us.

Fighting for a future for humanity has never been more urgent or all-encompassing. We have to find a way of acknowledging each other’s political points of difference, making spaces for disagreement and at times fierce argument about the specificities, yet essentially linking arms in direct action against common enemy – the global Capitalist class.

To be honest, our “Resist G7 Coalition” held together by purposefully not discussing politics, just organising for protest actions. And that led to a lack of cogency, a failure to clearly elucidate our purpose and focus, and continuous underlying distrust that failed to inspire and garner wider forces. But we did produce and broadcast some level of protest that otherwise would not have happened.

It was a brave experiment, and all those who participated proved their bravery. Hopefully we can learn the lessons and do it better next time. But there is one element that remains under-and-ill-considered. The “environmental movement” separated themselves out and largely acted from inside their specific organisations, linking together not at all. This is a terrible mistake.

Whether it was the climate activists from CAFOD or the Extinction Rebellion artists, their protests were purposefully small, singular and symbolic. They showed no desire to raise the organised opposition towards the size of critical mass required for real change, or to link issues other than “environmental” together. Far from it.

This is no use at all. The climate crisis encompasses all issues. Or, from the other perspective, all issues include the need to address global heating emissions. Future planning of the global economy will determine global heating emissions. The international response to COVID exposes the fault lines of the international cooperation needed to prevent climate chaos. The continued and accelerating militarisation of borders and nation states discloses the primary impact of the industrial/military complex upon environmental destruction.

Extinction Rebellion has to extend itself as an anti-imperialist movement for Peace, a force against racism and oppression. The Christians in CAFOD and other activist church groups have to challenge Capitalism as a perverse anti-human system. The Greens and Corbynistas have to recognise the falsehood, fraud and powerlessness of our system of parliamentary democracy, dwarfed and made impotent by corporate power and political corruption.

And, ultimately and most crucially, the organised working class, through trade unionism and beyond, have to unite with this Movement of Movements and take power at the point of production.

There is only one solution, System Change. And that is, surely, what we can all coalesce around, debating and formulating the replacement along the way. At a global scale, it will take the united, organised action of hundreds of millions of human beings to produce the united force capable of stopping climate catastrophe.

And so I write this for my friend and neighbour who suggested it was a good thing that the G7 meets and brings together different nations in common cause. Wrong. The cause is their own aggrandisement and avarice. The solution is their overthrow, disbandment, and the construction in short-time of a new system based upon need not profit. For the many not the few. For the Ecology, not profit from plunder. And most of all, for the survival of humanity. Revolution!

Cannot Hold

Through the final reign

The dividing line:

Polarisation.

Amid contiguous storms,

Arid conflicts,

The drought of expectations.

The Centre cannot hold,

Gutters flooded,

Rotted beams,

Shattered ceilings, 

Stachybotrys chartarum.

Equilibrium tenses

Breathing deep

Fern-shaped patterning

Denying deep-lung

And, oh, the fatigue!

Paisley fractals

Betray chaos

As a future

Ne’re to emerge

And already here.

Through endless rain

The obvious sign:

Alienation.

Imposed inhuman norms,

War contradicts

Individualised emancipation.

The Centre cannot hold,

Children blooded

Toxic dreams

Frosted feelings

Phosphoric Idiom.

Sea Level rises

C Dioxide seep

Surf-caped drowning

Border cities rung-

Out, oh, the intrigue!

Torn-up track tales

Portray chaos

As a suture

Between our urge

And flying fear.

This is new terrain

The sharp incline:

Extermination.

As Nature transforms

Ice pole predicts 

The death of civilisation –

The Centre cannot hold!

Ideology muddied:

Despotic regime-

Forcing mos maiorum

Characterises

Dictatorship creep.

Yet revolt is happening

Powered by the Young

Marching, oh, in league,

Dodging projectiles,

A survival ethos

For a future,

Profit in purge,

Collectively clear.

Proletarian Thoughts

Recently, the social networks across Britain have been full to the brim with derogatory comments about the stupidity, ignorance and apathy of “the electorate”, a term focussed upon the working classes who voted Tory in last week’s elections. Indeed, the spokespeople for the Party of Labour appear to speak of the working class as if we’re an alien species, with many activists repeating this bile.

The emotional bile of these supposedly left-wing supporters of some semblance of socialism in the Labour Party has erupted in a splaying of projectile hatred against working class Tories.

Yet even the most part-time amateur psephologist would be quick to point-out that 70%-ish of the electorate didn’t vote at all, and that only a minority of those who did vote, voted for the Tory Party of the Boss Class.

Whilst much is made of the 52% vote for Tory MP in the one by-election, the focus of the bosses media and the walking dead of New Labour, the proportion Tory votes across the electorate is a minority. And yes, the Tories have a 70-seat majority in Parliament from the 2019 election yet more people voted against them and a third of the electorate didn’t vote at all.

Call this a democracy? No? Then why are you playing the game?

The unspoken and ill-addressed issue for those on “The Left” who choose to engage in the fraud and illusion of Parliamentary Democracy is that the majority of the population consider themselves less-than-enfranchised: “whoever you vote for the self-seeking capitalist supporters win, and they do-for-themselves and their like, not us”.

My experience of a lot of the social democratic left is of higher-educated, largely middle-class, absurdly self-opinionated (rather than fact-based and enquiring) moral-highground self-promoters seeking a place in the current scheme-of-things – plaudits and formal recognition – rather than any real change to the System that is Capitalism.

Occasionally as now, I’m moved by their own arrogance to turn the tables on them. They exhibit all the emotional intelligence of a peasant, seeking to defend their tiny allotment of political life against all challenges. The opposite way of seeing and emotional interpretation of reality stems from the proletarian recognition of strength through the collective, the power for change being based at the point of production. The reformists are forced by position to deny this, promoting instead pessimism and passivity.

As a life-long socialist, the day I lose my faith in the working classes of the world is the day I give-up on life itself. I was born and raised working-class, and maybe that makes a difference. As an under-educated and angry teenager living by my wits I instinctively understood and sought-out collective identity and power rather than the self-promotion and status that I had been assured since birth was beyond my level of entitlement. Being part of Us versus Them was, and remains, not some over-intellectualised ideological position but a question of survival.

My faith in the working class is not an intellectual blind spot for me. Nor is it a metaphysical question of faith over fact.

Everyone is quick to point out the iniquities of the 1% versus the 99%, that’s easy and obvious. Billionaires exist and flaunt their power. Most of us can point to Bezos exploiting the Amazon workforce and the Pandemic, or Gates’ false green washing over NET-Zero. But follow that trail and you quickly end-up recognising the courtiers of the Ruling Class – including those who wish for reforms that maintain their current class position and entitlements – include many activists restraining themselves in spite of any acknowledgement of the science of climate catastrophe.

Contemporary courtiers, every bit as sycophantic as those sucking-up to Henry the Eighth or the Russian Tsars, include the elected politicians of all tiers of government, alongside the small-and-medium-sized business owners, each and all sharing secret aspirations of becoming multi-millionaire partners of the corporate Transnationals. Entitled and positioned supporters of Capitalism, furthering the System, not challenging it.

Social Democrats, including many socialists and Greens, court the courtiers. The idea being that winning the confidence and votes of the middle-classes will build a sufficient vote to get them into Parliament and then do justice for-and-on-behalf-of the masses. Maybe they could even file-off the sharpest edges off Capitalism itself. In all this, their fundamental misunderstanding of how Capitalism works together with a complete lack of faith in the working class is as palpable as it is hypocritical.

Indeed the all-but full-on disparaging damnation of working people on less-than sufficiency-incomes – the bottom 70% of society – in today’s stream of holier-than-thou text outrage at the election outcomes is nothing short of anti-working class.

To those I shout, until there is democracy in the workplace – those who produce having a collective say over how and what we produce, for what good purpose we work and at what life-affirming payment rate we are valued – we cannot say we live in any real semblance of democracy.

Stop playing your silly games! It’s perfectly reasonable to not take part in a sham election where what you actually need, not to mention what you’d actually like, is never on offer. And the pragmatism associated with a vote for the devil-you-know rather than the devil-you-don’t know is, at the very least, recognisable across time.

When life requires all your energy just to get through, pay the bills, raise your kids and get sufficient food and sleep to keep going, the falsehood of a cross on a piece of paper is not worthy of much effort.

I have faith in the working masses because human history offers an unchallengeable pattern of revolts by the producers over those who seek to rule them.

The constant heartbeat of history proves the point. Periods of stasis followed by the severe jolt of a fresh pumping of life blood through the body of society. “The history of all hitherto existing societies is the history of class struggle”, wrote Marx and Engels as the very starting point of the Communist manifesto.

Any analysis of the actions of the world’s ruling classes today suggests they’ve read that phrase and understand it’s truth very well indeed. Those born and raised to rule in our rotten class societies are taught such history from an early age – the despotism of Kings and Queens as a blueprint for how to keep the masses in their place.

Of the 12,000 years of large-scale static societies, the struggle for rights, life and liberty has been a constant. Yet only in the last 300 or so years have we experienced any real semblance of democracy – the rule of the people, slaves as well as citizens – and then as a pale shadow, a mere flickering of the light that would shine in a society of full human suffrage, equality and self-determination.

Today, we wage-slaves have no voice, and the self-anointed “citizens” above them don’t care to look at the truth of what it would take to ensure actual universal suffrage. System Change. Revolution.

Indeed, in today’s deepening and accelerating plunge into climate catastrophe, revolution is the only solution.

There have been short sparks that show such potential flame is possible. The most obvious is the short period after the overthrow of the Tzar and his Court in the Russian Revolution, 1917, before it was corralled and, in today’s terms, kettled by 14 invading armies and a counter-revolutionary civil war funded by the international Capitalist Class.

But human history is peppered with such revolts, happening with a constancy somewhere on earth at all times.

This is the real story of today. Right now 250 million small-holding farmers in India are defying the total might of the Indian State machine. Prime Minister Modi operating on behalf of the world’s richest billionaires is facing the largest collective strike in human history, despite his murderous and torturing Police force.

The indigenous Peoples of Canada have stopped, through self-sacrifice and sheer collective power, not one but two gas and oil pipelines. The working class organised into trade unions have come to their call and stood alongside, shutting transport hubs and blocking commerce to a point where today’s Caesars and Pharoes in the earth-destroying carbon industries have had to retreat.

Every continent has its news stories of collective challenge to the exploitation, oppression and repression of its rulers. Even in the UK we have large protests for the Climate – Thunberg’s Fridays for Future and our own Extinction Rebellion; against racism – Black Lives Matter; and against additional police powers intending to further clamp down on the working class – Kill the Bill!.

Yet the social democrats are out-on-the-streets applauding their own efforts to canvass for Labour candidates who have shown in word and action that they will do nothing for the poor, nothing to challenge institutional racism, nothing to put the climate emergency into action, nothing to force through the sexist glass ceiling or challenge all aspects of male-dominance.

And then, when these charlatans lose their seats, those proclaiming themselves as socialists blame the working class for not voting “Labour”. It’s beyond parody.

There is a proletarian consciousness. It does not contain the individualism of the middle classes. We are less judgemental because we see the frailty of others in ourselves. We understand each other’s contradictions between action and intent, all born out of getting-through-the-day, laughing-off our shared rough edges and intermittent bad behaviours. We don’t tolerate high-minded proselytisers promising pie-in-the-sky. We are, above all, forgiving of each other because we share the harshness of insufficiency.

Yes, we are distorted by property-relations that deepen our alienation from Nature, each other and ourselves. But we struggle every day to find solace, to join together in fun and laughter, to shrug off the assaults and find our way through. We are interdependent in our communities and workplaces. We have to rely on our workmates. We don’t suffer fools gladly or put-up with being lied to. And when the baton is wielded too harshly, whether at school, on the streets or in the workplace, we fight back. Together. As a global human base behaviour.

Real socialism does not and cannot come through Parliament. It comes through struggle. Put your limited energy where it counts. Stop putting false hope and faith in representation from above. Build collective fightback from below and the political organisation to organise, agitate and initiate. Time is short.

Resist G7 for Global Justice

The G7 is a meeting of the world’s most powerful political leaders, scheduled for 11th-13th June 2021 in the UK.

These leaders govern the richest countries in the world in their own interests, and the G7 exists to keep it that way. These government ministers will sit behind military security to meet at a luxury hotel complex in one the most picturesque but poorest regions of Europe – Cornwall. Resetting the global economy after the Pandemic will be the key discussion throughout, with the Climate Emergency centre-fold and used to dominate the media with messages of new economic growth through questionable “Green Technologies”, promoted by billionaire Bill Gates and his ilk. Global capitalism – the neoliberal free-market domination of the transnational corporations for agrochemicals, industrial agriculture, biofuels, together with the so-called Negative Emissions Technology (NET) of Carbon-Capture-and-Storage, mini-nuclear power plants and carbon trading – is the default setting. The G7 wealthiest nations, hosted by UK Prime Minister Johnson, has invited India’s Prime Minister Modi, currently assaulting millions of small farmers to enforce corporate dominance of food markets, and Australia’s Morrison, the coal and uranium enthusiast. The headlines from the G7 will be a prelude to what can be expected from the COP26 deliberations in November, once again led by the UK. The Campaign against Climate Change is supporting the Resist G7 Coalition established soon after the venue was announced. Based in Cornwall, England, the Coalition has issued the call for action in every community, town and city with a day of action for Climate on Friday 11th June and an international manifestation of opposition to G7 neoliberalism on Saturday12th. Local protests will take place in Cornwall, with convergence centres and counter-conferences in Penzance and Falmouth. The continuing risk from COVID variants makes the long journey to Cornwall by coach unsafe, and any physical protests called by the Coalition will seek to ensure ensure social distancing and personal protection. The G7+ cannot pass unchallenged. Our planet is on fire. While world leaders dine in a restaurant where the most expensive wine costs £850 a bottle, the climate and ecological crisis rages on. Yet those world leaders won’t even mention climate justice. Countries in the Global South are already paying the highest price in the climate crisis despite being the least responsible for causing it. And these countries, facing climate devastation, won’t even get a seat at the G7 table. The Resist G7 Coalition of grassroots groups is supported by a range of established campaigns for direct action to challenge the political and economic status quo. The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and Stop the War Coalition nationally are leading the call for exposure of the warmongering still being waged between rival imperialisms represented at the G7 conference. We are clear that barbarous levels of global military expenditure should be converted into investment in the Just Transition to fossil-free energy production by 2030 and the reduction to zero-carbon emissions soon after that. Laying waste to millions of lives and the environment, the current global heating emissions from the global military industry dwarfs all others. The Campaign against Climate Change will be leading the exposure of the inherent racism of current policies towards the Climate Emergency, and demanding Global Justice. Prime Minister Morrison’s institutional racism against refugees in Australia have become a blueprint for Britain’s own border controls against inward migration by people of colour. The implications of Fortress UK, Fortress Europe and Fortress USA for the hundreds of millions of climate refugees predicted in the next 20 years are horrific and require immediate challenge from the entire Movement of Movements. Currently the G7 is busy reaching out to very select representatives of civic society in the UK and internationally to build a Court and a moat of tacit support for neoliberalism around the fortress of their Conference at Carbis Bay. The “G7 engagement groups” of business, charities, NGO’s and trade unions are invited to consult upon economic, environmental, health, trade and “labour” policies, technology, development and foreign policy issues. Supporters of the neoliberal doctrine, the economics of consumerism and privatisation will flock to join, and we must counter their cheers and flag-waving. As well as welcoming G7 leaders to Cornwall in June, the UK will host a number of meetings throughout the year between a variety of Government Ministers from the G7, both virtually and in different locations across the nations, “…ensuring many areas of the country experience the benefits of the UK’s G7 Presidency”. The likely outcomes of the G7+ Conference are already enshrined in the quest for economic growth and exploitation of global markets, raw materials and ordinary working people. We should ensure that no meeting or statement from the G7 goes without challenge. The Coalition is calling for protest wherever the G7 emerges. The Campaign against Climate Change will be taking these arguments to the UK and international trade union movement and climate movements in the coming weeks and months to build as strong and powerful a voice of exposure and opposition the G7 as possible. We recommend your organisation signs-up to the Resist G7 Coalition and takes action wherever and however you can in June. And then on, to COP26 in Glasgow in November! You can download the RG7 Statement of Intent and Code of Conduct here, along with a model motion for organisations to debate and ratify, with a request for sponsorship and donations to help fund accommodation, publicity and convergence. Support the RG7 social media call on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and TikTok. Or you can email at ResistG7@protonmail.com

Protect our lands and seas!

Mad Mars

Every few years, the planets get into a position where spacecraft launched from planet Earth can get to Mars with a minimum of time and energy. One such time was in 2020 and now, three robotic craft are arriving to probe Mars. Together they represent investment of billions of pounds and millions of hours of human graft and invention. They’re investing off-world whilst our world is burning. It’s mad.

I feel extremely guilty about being entirely enthralled by these probes. I grew up in the period of the moon landings. I sang along with Gil Scott-Heron’s “Whitey on the Moon” whilst being transfixed by the fuzzy monochrome videos of moonwalks. I shouted out on protests against the genocide of 3 million people through the Vietnam War, and at the same time wept at the immolation of Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee inside the command module of Apollo 1.

Space Men were my idols. Male supremacy was a given then and, outrageously, is still culturally endemic today despite generations of struggle for women’s rights and liberation. Through my childhood of the ‘50’s and ‘60’s it went largely unquestioned. Flash Gordon’s fizzing rocket displayed each Saturday morning Children’s Matinee at the local Odeon Cinema competed with serial cowboy shorties to instil machismo and white supremacy. And we were taught that technology would soon provide us all with a life of leisure and exploration. Space was not so much the final frontier as the symbol of all human progress. I was raised to it.

That’s my way of explaining away why, over the last few years, I’ve kept track of Elon Musk’s SpaceX technology, claiming to start the process of enabling people to live on other planets. Through each day I take efforts to campaign for investment in sustainable life on earth, and in the process damn the billionaires who have exploited all to the point of extinction for their own avaricious pleasure. But every so often I take a sneaky private peek at whether the recyclable Starship rocket has landed successfully or exploded in a fireball worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster.

I console myself by recognising that human beings carry contradictions in both mind and body. Our mood swings between hope and hopelessness span a vast spectrum of emotional states and heavenly questions, with many periods of life demanding nothing less than sheer perseverance. We are constantly excited and aroused by carefully contrived imagery manipulating our emotions and coercing our affiliations.

Unless wholly in charge of ourselves despite all external influences we live in a state of tension between conflicting thoughts and desires. In isolation, such as the self-imposed house arrest against the threat from viral infection, we can begin to think we’re mentally unwell, forgetting that all humans live the dance of internal conflict. As a saving grace, usually, the practical demands of self-maintenance prevent constant introspection.

Without constant self-assessment, a condition in itself that ensures mental distress, we are most likely to hold on to contradictory thoughts and beliefs. We can readily understand that all film and TV is contrived in script-driven studios, yet become emotionally attached to the characters represented. They’re much easier to manage than the people we live alongside in reality.

When we find ourselves losing sleep over what will happen to Jon Snow, or fantasise over the avatar of an online celebrity, we have to disinfect our minds by shouting at the mirror – “they’re not real people!”

Such personal debriefings are far more difficult when dealing with the constant propaganda churned-out on behalf of a ruling class wishing to normalise human traits of competition and avarice to the point of denial of mutuality and compassion.

Our consciousness is split asunder, nurtured to acknowledge the barbaric inequalities of Capitalist society yet still buy-in to its’ cosmetic comforts. The ability to pretend, to substitute our dreams for reality, perpetuates the status quo rather than disrupts. When considering the plight of others we can “thank God its them instead of me”. When considering planetary ecology we can choose to believe that our tiny acts of recycling or reducing plastic use can turn around the destruction. We’re delusional. We might as well believe we can live on Mars.

The internal struggle for fact versus fiction, justice versus tyranny, inclusion versus competition, is today’s common human condition. It’s distressing. Social history suggests it hasn’t always been so nor is it inevitable. There can be a material reality based upon mutual cooperation, self-determination and equality of status and provision. There have been significant periods of peaceful human society. Humanity can rejoin Earth’s natural metabolism and enjoy the synthesis of creativity and sustainability. We have the handed-down know-how.

Another world is possible, here on Earth. In fact, its our only hope. We will have to concentrate our activities as well as our hopes, here. Whilst I appreciate science fiction as a vehicle for conceptual exploration, we have to keep a grip on reality. Break the illusions.

Yet, just as my parents and school teachers encouraged my star-gazing and moon dreams, today’s Tim Peakes’, Helen Shermans’ and Tim Dodds’ continue the same school and silver screen fantasising about the joys of living off-planet. I see little difference between astronauts and soldiers offering whole-school “learning programmes”. It is pure propaganda.

The reality of terraforming Mars is pure myth. The timescale of natural evolution together with the sheer size of a planet makes having humanity create a new home in space quite impossible. Impossible, that is, in the time we have left to rebalance the Earth’s climate sufficiently to ensure we can still live here, rather than drive ourselves to species extinction. It is going to take every effort, much pain and sacrifice to turn the world economy from ecological destruction to carbon-zero repair in the time left to us.

Perhaps that’s the real draw of Elon Musk’s egomaniacal mythologising. Even if we destroy life on Earth he will have been responsible for ensuring humanity migrates and survives somewhere else. A fresh start. The next Adam and Eve. It doesn’t matter that it can’t possibly work, only that it distracts us from the very pressing existential realities of the present day.

Maybe, just maybe, this is the point at which the vastness of the human imagination can win through. Our children are experiencing a consciousness split between one eye on the stars, the other on the environment. One moment of compassion and concern for the dying White Rhino, the next an intellectual flow of facts and figures about the travel distance from here to Mars, and how to successfully land on a dead planet.

The amazing but absurd technology, wasteful and pointless, of Starships, proves nonetheless that we have the ability to transform production away from fossil fuels within a few years. In the mere flash of an eye.

Much of the space programme’s computer technology and gas combustion is of little use in our survival programme. We could turn our gaze away and begin to express wonder and excitement in the more simple but life-affirming technologies of solar and wind power generation. And glory in the reduction of energy use, the absence of explosions! Peace.

Instead, the world is accelerating to the Dark Side. Tuesday’s orbiting of the “Hope” probe launched by the Arab Emirates, Thursday’s success of China’s Tianwen-1 (“Heavenly Questions”) vehicle, and next week’s landing of NASA’s rover, “Perseverance” on Mars via “Sky Crane” is as much evidence of imperialist competition as technological magnificence.

Whilst SpaceX is routinely launching spy-satellites for the USA, NASA is busy testing the massive SLS system designed to take astronauts back to the moon, to “settle” in hermetically sealed anti-viral bubbles. Here in the UK, huge sums of tax-payers hard-earned cash is being ploughed, not into sustainable agricultural food production but Space Ports, allied with the USA, from which to launch social control platforms into space. Tourists will flood to Newquay, Cornwall not so much for the sun, sea and surf as the rocket launch. The real stuff of fantasy.

I’m trying to disinfect myself from this Sci-fi awe. The money, and more, should be spent on Earth without hesitation to stop the Climate Catastrophe. Indeed, why isn’t it? Because the “Space Race” first announced by Kennedy – a man so throughly mythologised into a progressive Peacenik – is well and truly back-on. Space 2039 will be full of laser battles and mineral wars. Earth 2039 will be burning-up.

I am reminded that President Kennedy’s real motive for demanding the US land “men” on the moon by 1970 was solely to compete with and break not only the economy but the hope of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. This time it’s China.

I had no illusions in, nor allegiance to, the Russian government or the political system of China back in the 1960’s, nor now. The need to challenge western imperialism remains a practical priority in a world where the military expenditure of the USA is greater each year than the rest of the world combined. It is the Empire of the USA that is driving the militarisation of space, satellites, moons and indeed, whole planets. To pretend that the new drive to Space is in any way peaceful or progressive is to live in the clawing clutches of self-deceit.

For SpaceX read Star Wars.

Net-Zero or Net Profit

The buzz-word of 2021 will be, if it isn’t already, Net.

With both the G7 and COP26 being hosted by the UK this year – the Climate Emergency breaking through the COVID-mist to headline at both – the World’s Establishment are rallying behind Net gains from Net promotion: Net-Zero and NET production.

Arguing that they’re “only following the science”, corporate bosses and their political lackeys are hiring media and communications specialists to build their “Green Credentials”. Pricey advertising and glossy brochures proclaim their shift to lowering emissions as a collective capitalist commitment to “Net-Zero by 2050”.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), charged by the United Nations with the responsibility for collating current science reports of global heating, has declared 2050 as the deadline by which human society should emit no more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than the amount that can be removed – Net-Zero.

The amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere, at 0.04% and increasing at an unprecedented rate when compared to most of Earth’s history, largely determines the extent of global warming. The IPCC’s 2018 Report concluded that we are careering towards the very “worst case scenario”, meaning global heating that will see the collapse of human societies and extinction of the majority of life. For a notably over-cautious and conservative body of the Establishment, that’s hard talk.

Talk that has made the super-rich corporate executives shudder. Not from fear of loss of life so much as fear of loss of profits. It doesn’t require much research to recognise that modern global Capitalism is wholly and inextricably reliant upon a carbon-economy. Coal, coke, oil and gas for energy, transport, plastics and steel production. To be told to move away from the carbon-based economy, even over 30 years, is not only a threat to the future of Transnational oil giants but to the profitable infrastructure of every business.

For decades, oil companies had been the biggest investors in the ideology and propaganda of “Climate Denial”, funding and even constructing entire university campuses based-upon concocting quasi-scientific reports to “prove” that the heating was caused by sun-spots, or just natural fluctuations and nothing to worry about, or actually not happening at all.

Worsening extreme weather events and a succession of record-breaking hottest years in history, together with overwhelming numbers of detailed scientific reports and analysis from across the globe finally broke the contrived impasse. The break-through was helped, to the greatest extent, by a growing clamour from below from school students taking strike action to lead a wave of protest that caught the public imagination and won public sign-up. Everywhere. The World is On Fire!

Oil Executives had already assessed the rising tide of opposition, changing their logos from yellow to green or green-lettering to yellow sunshine, projecting the absurd and openly contradictory notion of “clean carbon”. It worked to some extent, but the scientific facts kept exposing their pretty lures as decoys. Public consciousness was getting away, the bait refused, the holes in the arguments exposed.

It was time, once again, for damage limitation, not so much of the Planet but of the projected rate of corporate profits. The arguments were concentrated into two camps, Zero-carbon or Net-Zero.

Global heating emissions were increasing and accelerating, the impacts on sea, ice, land and air each feeding each to ensure heating would continue for decades if not centuries even if we hit the zero-emissions button immediately.

There is no time to lose!” “Keep the Carbon in the Ground, Keep the Oil in the Soil” sang the protesters as they were arrested. Carbon-Zero by 2025 or face Rebellion ahead of Extinction.

Any worthwhile study of the scientific readings and models would expose the need to stop emissions now, but the facts should not get in the way of money-making. It escaped nobody’s attention that the demands would mean, if accepted, the end of the carbon-based economy and, indeed, complete system change. Heavens forbid, the very end of Capitalism -the system of exploitation of Nature and Humanity for accumulation of wealth by a rich few.

The rich few met as the World Economic Forum in 2021 to defend themselves. Under the guise of promoting a “cohesive and sustainable world” they announced The Great Reset Initiative. In a characteristically perverse charade, they blamed COVID-19 not Climate Catastrophe for the need for urgent economic change. But it was carbon emissions rather than viral aerosols that had their attention.

NET – Negative Emissions Technologies – is their collective proclamation. To achieve Net-Zero by 2050, the oil-guzzling, coal-crunching, gas-spewing companies will come clean. Converted as if by magic, they’re offering the latest sleight-of-hand to ensure business as usual as a much as possible.

Carbon-capture-and-storage, the panacea that will allow coal and gas generators to continue to spit, their emissions to be captured and stored instead of emitted, is no more than a distraction from the coming calamity. At present the capture is in its infancy and the storage is unproven. The very few companies investing in the technology are, to a unit, recycling the stored carbon into new fuel that yes, when used, sends emissions back into the atmosphere. And the scale of capture needed, when currently over 43 billion tonnes of CO2 are spewed into the atmosphere each year (imagine a 20 mile wide and high cube) makes the technology a dream rather than a hope. Capture that!

Other pronouncements, from shift from gas and oil to biofuels (Europe declaring the burning of wood as carbon-neutral) are even easier to discount. And while some environmentalists cling-on from understandable desperation to nuclear power, the cost and length of construction prior to energy production is ridiculously high, in terms of both carbon emissions and the storage of highly toxic and widely-polluting waste.

Carbon-taxes and off-setting are similarly promoted with huge enthusiasm by transnational corporations, their fingers in most pies, to allow continued emissions so long as you fund someone, somewhere else, not to emit. The formula is finite of course. Once everywhere not emitting is “bought” in order to allow everywhere else to continue emitting, the truth will be out – they’re still emitting!

NET and Net-Zero will not work. Even the IPCC is clear that we’ve little chance of stopping 2 degrees temperature rise above the base – not seen in half-a-million years or more. And most projections acknowledge we’re well on our way to 3 degrees, with current emissions if not reduced at all ensuring 10 degrees in a couple of hundred years time. That’s the end of life on earth. Mars.

I repeat, these new technologies – the NET – won’t work, at least not in time. Even the economics suggests that the amount of investment needed for these new technologies, in contrast to the low cost of solar and wind power together with large reductions in energy use, is problematic. Already, the US tax-payer subsidises the oil, gas and coal industries to a tune of $15billion annually, the UK $13billion and some $60billion tax-aid is paid to prop-up the profits of the carbon-based economy worldwide. Now they’re asking for even more government hand-outs for their cosmetic “green initiatives”.

The Great Reset is a Great Lie. Yet most climate and environment non-governmental organisations (NGOs) as well as government departments, national and local, are adopting the Great Reset, netted hook, line and sinker. It is embedded into the core of most versions of a Green New Deal or Building Back Better. Most adoptees, at least privately, admit they’re banking on some change being better than no change and hoping that their own tenacity in continually asking for “more” will net some progress.

The pessimism of the NGOs combined with desire to protect the status quo in which they’ve prospered is entirely short-sighted. Only carbon-zero in 10 years offers any chance of any form of social stability. And anyway, to be honest, the only thing to do with a big lie is to expose it before it becomes “common sense” and impossible to budge.

Born in the Age of COVID, the Great Reset promotes the ideological principle of adaptation and adoption – supply a shot in the arm (hopefully at a handsome profit) to protect the infrastructure as it is, after which we should simply learn to live with it. We may well have to live with various mutations of Corona virus, but all the science says that the Climate will not be so accommodating.

Net-Zero will, more likely than not, Net-Nothing.

Momentary

I’m always elated when symbols of the far-Right get broken. The demise of predatory misogynists such as Weinstein, the end of South African Apartheid, the bankruptcy of the British National Party, the defeat of racist Trump – all moments in history offering me renewed faith in humanity and hope for the future.

Actually, they’re not moments at all but events in a continuous process. It took millions of women’s voices to shout out “Me Too” on the streets to have just one serial rapist jailed. The suffering through torture and murder of tens of thousands lead to the scale of global outrage and protest that finally dismantled the Boer’s white supremacist government. The thousands clashing with Police from Cable Street, through Lewisham and Welling to the mass campaign to defeat “Tommy Robinson”, many an Anti-Fa losing their livelihoods and opportunities for life through unjust arrests, altogether ensured that British fascism has never, to date, taken hold.

And Trumpism? There can be no doubt that the tens of millions actively involved in the Black Lives Matter Movement in the USA and beyond, the neighbourhood and community organising to expose and counter his cuts to Welfare and Health services, the teachers strikes for better funding for working class communities, and, not least, the millions on the streets challenging Trump’s Climate Denial, all built the foundation to Trump’s demise.

It is, therefore, simply not true that Biden has won the US Presidential Election, despite all the World’s media shouting the message out this morning. It is a victory, absurdly narrow and momentary, for the people who care so much as to put themselves out enough to build the vote, to campaign tirelessly and to hold their noses in support of another Billionaire figure of the very Establishment they are in constant struggle with. It was only a vote in a ballot, and a moment in time.

All these struggles continue, hopefully unabated, essential to be escalated. The process of seeking social justice for all appears still in it’s infancy given the scale and span of human history, and is certainly far from concluded: organised and institutional racism is still endemic; the scale of abuse against women is pervasive across all societies; and neo-fascism is rebuilding and growing fast on all continents.

This accurately labelled “descent into barbarism” is the product of the crisis of the system capitalism. Capitalism’s reliance upon Debt, corruption and more-than-all-that, exploitation of people and planet, ensures that we are subject to the most amplified and accelerating tensions on all fronts.

Trump’s defeat may offer us momentary pleasure but we can be excused for wondering why we still feel a tension and despondency in our hearts.

It is at this point, all issues, all paths, all fights must be informed by and focussed through the prism of global heating and the urgency of emissions reduction if we are to survive, let alone win the ultimate prize of Peace with social justice, self-determination and agency.

Biden will deliver absolutely nothing of this. My friends, family and co-activists are shouting with joy today that Biden has promised to have the USA sign up to the Paris Accord again, “on the first day of his Presidency”. We’ll see, but in any case the Paris Accord was woefully inadequate to address the threat of climate collapse projected in 2016 let alone in the light of the escalating emissions crisis since that time. It is a weak backstop brought to the fore in aid of Greenwash – the appearance of doing something whilst doing nothing. We should have no illusions.

Biden is a tried and tested protector of the status quo in an era when staying the same is a universal death warrant. For decades he has represented the Washington consensus crossing Party boundaries to protect the interests of Business. He was a backroom architect and ultimately vice-President through a period of the Democrats’ right wing “third way” policies: neoliberal free-trade agreements, huge tax-payers gifts to banks, “tough-on-crime” anti-working class legislation and militarisation of the Police, not to mention cuts to welfare spending and services. His President Obama waged more war with imperialist intentions than has Trump. The Black Lives Matter movement was forced into existence during the reign of a Black President!

His alternative Party of the Ruling Class, boastfully emulating moral and intellectual (as well as financial) superiority, appears to represent the middle class liberals, technocrats and professionals whilst really continuing the project of the financiers and Big Business Capitalists. If that sounds like an allegation from Trump’s populist base its’ because it is. Every Great Lie has to have a kernel of Truth for it to work.

Trump’s speeches this week maintained the Great Lie that his is the true voice of the working class. Biden’s persona of dignity and fair play only fed on the feelings of indignation and anger by a population largely without opportunity, effective healthcare or education. That’s why the vote was larger than ever before, and so many Black and working class people voted for Trump as to make “Biden’s victory” so thin.

Far-right populism isn’t going away, and neither will Trump’s army whether he continues as leader or not. And this climate-denying movement will offer Biden every opportunity to limit and water-down any measures against global heating emissions that could make a real difference. In other words, the two men symbolise the two-sides of the same coin – the continuation of the System that is destroying the world.

Just for this moment, we progressives deserve a well-earned sigh of relief that Trump has lost a second term as President of the most powerful empire the world has ever seen. But, if we remain honest to ourselves we cannot feel joy or satisfaction. We can only gear ourselves up for the inevitable fights against the next President and everything he stands for. The demand has to be System Change, not symbolic change! Our existence depends upon it.

Twee

2020 horror? There are an enormous proportion of tweets and online posts offering the same antidote to this year’s challenges: “why can’t we just talk about positive things and stop all this negativity?”

My instant inner response each time is “Grow Up!”, although I’d never put that in print(!). I have often been left incandescent at the prissy call-outs to “be happy”, alongside what appears to be an all-but anti-human approach of “I know best”.

As far as I can surmise, such arrogance reflects a deeply reactionary self-consumed approach to life and society, a response to the current and ongoing global crisis that ultimately reflects far-Right “survival of the fittest” notions.

Of course, having my own blog allows me to vent and rant away without requiring anyone to listen, and publish my own observations upon the human condition for my own satisfaction. I need this outlet, and I guess that’s the same for others who similarly vent frustration and angst at anomie online.

Yet I can only observe the “Lovely, Lovely” approach to life as, not only deeply entitled, but twee. I perfectly well understand the mental health dangers of constant pessimism and hopelessness, but there is plenty to be pessimistic about, and, as a human emotion depression exists as an alert mechanism – a warning. To present otherwise is surely a descent into a different area of mental illness – asserting an emotional blindness to current challenges and the travails of others.

There’s a lot of such self-centredness around.

Just the responses to the outrageous levels of child poverty in the UK offers sufficient evidence of that. This week Parliament voted not to pay a paltry amount to feed children of poor families with a light lunch during school holidays. To a person, the self-centred spoke out to argue that State handouts create dependency and parents should struggle to stand on their own two feet, taking individual responsibility for their children’s diet.

The fact that more than 1 in 3 children in England and Wales live in poor households where one or more of the human necessities of life cannot be afforded is not to be acknowledged or dealt with. Ask why poverty is widespread, deepening, systemic, institutionalised? Instead, “why can’t they do what I do?”

There are similar reactions in responses to the Climate crisis, often by people who consider themselves progressive and even “Left-wing”.

Firstly, let’s be clear, there is no scientific argument. It is a matter of fact that the 16 clinically observed aspects of environmental and ecological degradation are at or past their respective Tipping Points.

To deny the scale of the challenge is to deny fact, yet the “Big Picture”, or rather, the holistic approach to campaigning to stop runaway climate change is most often neglected or denied.

The facts are too many to document in a single article, but just observe a few visions from the year 2020:

• the release of methane from ocean floors and Siberian permafrost;

• The loss of sea-life as the oceans acidify;

• the record-breaking high temperatures from the USA’s Death Valley to India’s Northern Phalodi;

• the equally never-seen-before scale of fires in California, Australasia, The Amazon and Syria’s Al-Suwayda Governorate; and

• the equally devastating floods in Rwanda, Bangladesh, Vietnam-Laos-Cambodia, Guyana, Italy, Indonesia, and the Adjara region of the country of Georgia;

not to mention the extraordinary pace of extinction of animal and insect life, and the evidence of never-before-seen in the last 3 million years environmental change, at a pace that dumfounds both the scientists and their computer models. This requires alarm, not comfort.

Yet, as an activist, I spend most of my time in online-meetings and reading tracts by well-meaning and equally well informed colleagues and comrades who seek to remain within the cosmetic spaces of day-to-day campaigning.

Each to their own, anyone doing anything is to be valued. I am not arguing that they should stop, only that the numbers who are actively challenging the System are far too few to be effective.

Neither am I arguing an either-or approach, demanding only revolutionary activity and damning all day-to-day reforms. I do both. I simply note that many of my friends and associates remain single-issue and defiant against calls for System Change, “doing” only the “cycling”, “rewilding”, “reuse” or “reduce use” single focus activities.

I don’t mind that it makes them feel better (I only wish they would do for me), but do mind when they pose their chosen hobby as “the answer”: “If only people would refuse to use plastic”, “People [the Others?] should be Vegan”, “oh, personally, I only ever use charity shops – consumerism is an addiction which I don’t have” (think about it).

Of course we need fewer cars, to walk and cycle more, to use less plastic and eat less meat, just as we need to buck the trends towards social intolerance and Fear of Others. But we have very little time in which to act before conditions ensure complete social collapse.

Historically, a deep social, political and economic crisis precedes revolution. This multi-faceted crisis, comprised of pandemic, economic and political corruption, extreme inequality of power and opportunity, war and climate collapse, is not going away.

This is our life from here on in. More of the same, and far worse, is on the way. But, as in all things, what we do matters and can shape the trajectory and outcome of the crisis.

It’s no good pretending. It’s the System! If politicians deny the climate emergency, either by word or inaction, they have to be challenged forthrightly, not politely requested to produce more cycle lanes or sow wild seeds, but to establish laws against global heating emissions, starting with the oil producers, arms manufacturers (the military are biggest polluters) and fossil fuel burners (car users being way down the list of targets).

To bang-on about re-wilding parks and pavements, rave about walking rather than driving, exude moral superiority for riding a bicycle, or pontificate about how nasty some politicians can be, may well be personally reassuring. I know I have my own pet passions. But none of these produce any real change, and certainly not the level of change needed.

As others document well, not least George Monbiot, the honest approach is to own the sheer scale and sonics of the challenge. Effective re-wilding is about ending industrial farming and transforming the management of areas the size of Dartmoor, the Lake District and the East Midlands. Planting tens of millions of trees.

By contrast, letting the football pitch at my local Victoria Park return to Dandelions, Lousewort and Yellow Rattle won’t make a heap of difference (except for the group of young asylum seekers whose use of the well-mown grass football pitch is a rare escape from the fear and tedium of imposed poverty).

Equally, ensuring homes are refitted to zero-carbon emissions will not be aided if the weeds (sorry, wild flowers) are protected and allowed to grow in the curtilages, walls and roofs with the ensuing destructive root damage and water intrusion to buildings. Flowers seed themselves everywhere. Fungus eats wood. We have to protect our homes, de-weed our vegetable patches, kill Russian Vines (the mile-a-minute Fallopia Baldschuanica) before they overwhelm us!

It is argued that these small-scale approaches offer education and patterns of change that add-up to large-scale changes. An oft-offered example is is recycling, now “normal” across the industrialised world. But look deeper and the majority of municipalities still burn or send to land-fill much of that which we have painstakingly recycled at home. Deeper still, smog-inducing tankers ferry our plastics to poor countries with no option but to dump our waste somewhere else. Recycling isn’t profitable enough as a money-making concern for the System to truly adopt it (but lets not talk about that).

Sometimes the twee moralism becomes anti-humanity in its holier-than-thou approach. “The World would be fine if only everyone else lived as I do”. Or worse still, “I hate humanity, the world would be better off without us!” Ugh, I can’t abide it! Humans may well be analogous to a bacteria, but there would be no life on Earth without such a marvellous mix of interactive lifeforms – especially bacteria! We are of vital importance to the Ecology!

Sharing the Planet with Nature requires that we offer management – of ourselves yes, but of other life forms that can be just as intrusive, rampant, predatory and destructive. There’s nothing benign about Nature, and whilst I’d want humanity to be as one with the metabolism of all Life, the notion of a “Return to Nature” is actually an argument for human extinction. We should not be apart from the Ecology, but as part of Life we should act upon it for our own survival.

So we need to be factual and scientific about what works and must be done to prevent runaway climate change. And seize the time. Stop playing around. It is the Capitalist System of production that exploits and destroys the ecology, and exploits and oppresses the majority of humanity in much the same way and towards the same extinction. Either it is ended or we end as a species.

These are Epic times. Why think small?

Practically, ending the domination of the internal combustion engine will not occur because we individually choose to give-up our cars but by laws that ensure oil and gas will, from henceforth, be left in the ground! And the biggest demand right now must be for the restructuring of the economy to produce millions of Green Jobs in this period of recession into economic (as well as emotional) Depression, which requires targeting Government and politicians, Corporations and businesses.

Why would we find happiness in living an illusion?

I’m sure I’m now seen as nothing other than an intolerant old man at these meetings, repeating the above endlessly and showing angst if not overt anger at the paucity of the debate and shallowness of aspiration. But so be it. The issues are of the future of human survival, not personal politeness.

Nevertheless I will now, once again, curb my ire and return to an online politeness in text and Zoom meet-ups. Only because alienating those around me is unlikely to encourage or build a movement of the scale needed for real societal change. Inside I am squirming and seething at the lack of proportionate response to existential threat: “shuffering and shmiling” as Fela Kuti would sing.

The human world is not a nice place in 2020 and isn’t about to get any nicer. Most of us (apart from the top 5% of the world’s wealthy few) are facing deepening discomfort. Rather than seek the soporific comforts of “feeling like we’re doing something”, we may as well make ourselves uncomfortable now and do things that really make a difference. That will require fighting for a different society, not just better cycle routes.

https://youtu.be/Y–5IlljO78

It’s Not You

The current discussion is focussed upon mental ill-health caused by COVID-19. The focus is always upon the individual narrative. Radio and TV programs and newsreels constantly offer Vox-Pops of personal statements expressing feelings, focussing upon emotionality.

There’s much that is political propaganda in this. Immediately, I’m cursed for “reducing” or “denying” the serious impacts of pandemic related disease, sickness, bereavement, Lockdown claustrophobia, financial stress and debt, homelessness, domestic violence, social rage and deepening alienation.

Nope, mine is not a reductionist rant. It’s been months since I’ve felt able to write, the Summer offering some solace from gardening and cautious meet-ups post-Lockdown, but my stress and anxiety levels have been high, and I know I’m far from being alone in feeling alone and powerless. I am not one to minimise mental distress.

The problem with the focus upon the rise in mental ill-health is the dominant quasi-scientific approach of “biomedical psychology”. As my compatriot, Iain Ferguson identifies, there’s nothing wrong or abnormal with a response of anxiety to pandemic conditions – such emotions must be usual and collective human reactions to such stressful circumstances.

Yet the Capitalist propaganda machine identifies “Health”, mental and physical, as our personal and individual responsibility, even though viruses clearly require societal collective responses for mutual safety – masks, hygiene, sanitation, public refuse collection and decontamination, hospitals, ventilators, vaccines – little of which can be reduced to the level of individual production.

The response has to be societal. The current dominant cultural demands of neoliberal individualism and consumerism force us to believe we are at fault if we live in damp rented accommodation, its our fault if we can’t afford a low-fat low-sugar diet, its up to us to beat obesity by running each day, checking our steps and heartbeat on our Apple Watches.

The most scant and blurred check of personal and household income in Britain quickly proves that a huge proportion of us lack any choice in our living conditions, living in various degrees of poverty. Indeed, with the economic crisis stemming not only from COVID-19 but from the long oil-slick of the 2008 banking crash, around 4 million of our children live in poverty and over 1 million households rely upon charitable food banks.

That’s the stuff of stress and anxiety. Its not you. Levels of mental distress were high in this country well before COVID hit. Isolation, inequality, poverty, women’s oppression and racism are all structurally endemic in Capitalist society and each ensures fluctuating degrees of distress response.

The System, based upon judging people on their workability, condemns millions to lack of access, lack of choice, and resulting mental ill health, mostly encapsulating self-blame and self-hatred. It’s such ideology, and the corresponding media propaganda, that condones the cuts to mental health services to minimal levels.

One aspect of the current focus on mental health is now labelled “moral distress”, suddenly exposed and espoused by media from BBC 4’s Women’s Hour to “long-reads” in Guardian. I find it a fascinating revision of any consideration of political dissonance from the ruling ideas of the Capitalist Class.

Without seeking to clearly define this category of mental ill-health, it’s worth referring the outline concept to my friends, colleagues and comrades in the Climate Movement. The more we read the Science, we witness the extreme weather events and their aftermath for swathes of humanity (not to mention the mental anguish generated every time we project forward a few years in our imagination), the more “moral distress” appears to overwhelm us.

The moral distress of ecological and climate destruction leads us to the same self-blame and self-hatred borne of the powerlessness felt in other contexts. Such individualisation of the challenge, promoted by adverts from British Petroleum, The Sun “newspaper”, Prime Minister Johnson and those cleverly distorted journalists précis’ of Attenborough programmes, drives many activists into ever more alienated and pointless, self-denying activities.

It is claimed, falsely, that it is your plastic-use, your method of home heating, cooking, diet, attire, even breathing, that is the root of the problem. All this, despite the fact that you have little control over any of them (air pollution being a case in point).

In short, unless you’re an oil business billionaire (massive land-owner, corporate farmer or arms manufacturer), it’s not your fault! You didn’t create Capitalism. COVID-19 is a collective challenge and requires a collective, societal, pro-humanity response. So is Global Heating. Focus upon the methods of production that create deadly pandemics and emissions. Turn your pent-up emotions outwards, join together, and tear-down the System!