Too many people? A review

December 28, 2011 by

Too many people? Population, immigration and the environmental crisis

Ian Angus and Simon Butler

Haymarket Books, 2011

Available in Australia from Resistance Books

Reviewed by Ed Lewis

In about 20 years as an active supporter of the Australian Greens I’ve regularly encountered people advancing populationist points of view, which all share the starting point that overpopulation is main cause of the global environmental crisis.

Environmentalists are justifiably alarmed about the damage human activity has caused, and is still causing, to our planet, particularly since the industrial revolution that transformed firstly Europe, and then the world, in the 19th century. Too many, however, avoid looking at the role of forms of government and corporate control that developed out of the industrial revolution.

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Why Greens do not welcome Obama

November 15, 2011 by

By Ed Lewis

A few days ago, Bob Brown said he was looking forward to joining the welcome for US President Barack Obama on his visit to Australia. He said Obama’s visit was “a much happier prospect” than the visit of George W Bush on the eve of the second Iraq war, and he would like to meet Obama.

Bob Brown said Obama would get a great welcome from Australians “and that will include Greens”. Brown should speak for himself on this, as there are plenty of Greens who will not be welcoming Obama. I have worked for the Greens on many election campaigns and in other activities, but I have been politically active for much longer opposing great-power aggression against small nations.

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Scottish climate bill “sets a new moral standard” for the industrialised world.

June 25, 2009 by

Yesterday, the Scottish parliament agreed on a climate change bill that sets the toughest statutory target yet established in the industrialised world. In a rare show of unity, all political parties unanimously agreed to fix the target as part of a radical bill, which also requires the Scottish government to set legally binding annual cuts in emissions from 2012.

The legislation requires early action to cut emissions, with a target of 42% reduction in Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 against 1990 figures. This shows what is possible for advanced industrial nations like Australia and sets a precedent for other developed nations ahead of the international negotiations at Copenhagen.

This has been hailed by campaigners: some say it is ‘hugely significant’ and that it sets a new ‘moral’ standard for the rest of the industrialised world. The devil, as always, will be in the detail. Some groups are already critical of the government’s refusal to abandon road and airport expansion programs, and its plans for a new coal-fired power station. In addition, Scottish ministers only directly control about 30% of Scotland’s total annual emissions of 68m tonnes of CO_2 – most significant climate change policies are controlled in Brussels and London.

But given Australia’s tragic 5% unconditional targets, this surely must give us all some hope.

Further details at:

a community response to the recession – a Green ‘New Deal’ for Victoria?

April 28, 2009 by

a community response to the recession – a Green ‘New Deal’ for Victoria?

This is a proposal for a collaborative and integrated response to the triple crunch of recession, climate change, and peak oil.

A recent poll (1) suggests that while Australians appreciate the bonuses they are getting from the federal government, they are not convinced that they are the way to find our way out of economic recession. Instead they believe that we should be investing in infrastructure.

But there is also a deeper dimension at play here. We are not just facing one crisis. Australia, in common, with the rest of the global economy, is facing a triple crunch of recession, accelerating climate change, and growing energy costs and insecurity. These overlapping phenomena threaten to develop into a ‘perfect storm’, the like of which has not been seen since the Great Depression.

As jobs are lost at an increasing rate, decisive and visionary action by the state and federal governments is needed to guide us through this gathering storm and to take advantage of the opportunities that these unprecedented events present to us.

A green ‘New Deal’ for Victoria?

A way forward that is finding support in both Europe and the United States is the idea of a transformational policy program aimed at tackling growing unemployment and declining demand on the scale of Franklin D Roosevelt’s New Deal of the 1930s. This approach involves policies and novel funding mechanisms to substantially reduce the use of fossil fuels while also driving the creation of new ‘green collar’ jobs. This in turn will help us tackle climate change and cope with the energy shortages likely to be caused by peak oil in coming years.

We stand at a pivotal moment in history. To prevent catastrophic climate change we must ensure the global temperature does not rise by more than 2 degrees centigrade above pre -industrial levels.

At the same time we are facing one of the deepest and most severe recessions the world has known, plunging millions into poverty.

Yet these two crises share common roots. A world addicted to fossil fuel, driven by an ideological obsession with letting the market rule has led to economic and environmental breakdown.

These threats are also a major opportunity for our society, and rather than looking for a quick fix that creates some jobs and encourages spending, we must not miss this opportunity to restructure our economy to:

* build resilience to survive the coming changes of global warming
and the end of cheap fuel,
* a ‘steady state’ economy, where the human economy has ceased to
grow, but remains at a healthy, sustainable level.

The bushfires that devastated much of Victoria over the past summer have, and will, lead to considerable changes in how and where we build in fire prone areas. We should ensure that the response to bushfire is fully integrated into a broader response which deals with the recession and builds resilience in the face of climate change.

None of us are as smart as all of us ….

Friends of the Earth has written a discussion paper on these issues. We realise there is a vast depth of good thinking in the community about how to respond to the interlinked threats of recession, climate change and the end of cheap oil. We have launched this paper via a blog, in the hope that others in the community will feel inspired to send their thoughts and suggestions about how to deal with the coming crisis. Ideas and suggestions will be compiled into what we hope will be a compelling document that will argue for the need for a profound and deeply thoughtful response to the challenges we face – individually and collectively.

We would welcome your involvement in creating a broadly supported vision of transformation for Victoria.

It is available at:


We would appreciate feedback by monday May 18 to allow us to incorporate it into the final report.

(1) ‘Mind and Mood’ report, Ipsos MacKay, April 2009

What paradigms beyond Cap and Trade?

August 9, 2008 by

John Rice

The Rudd government’s response to climate change is being revealed daily as more and more painfully inadequate, as it caves in steadily and surely to powerful business lobbies. This is not surprising, given that, among a multiplicity of other things, the wife of Rudd’s Chief of Staff, Sandra Eccles, is one of Canberra’s key lobbyists, with links to mining and energy giants.

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Professor Matthew Connelly on why population control is a furphy

August 2, 2008 by

Late Night Live on ABC Radio National recently ran an interview with historian Matthew Connelly, Associate Professor of History at Columbia University, who has written the first global history of the population control movement.

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Workers and environmentalists need a new alliance

July 20, 2008 by

Cam Walker

Like many others, I cut my activist teeth during the Franklin River campaign of the early 1980s. Like thousands of others, I joined the blockades in south-west Tasmania and, like hundreds of others, was arrested for my troubles and spent a week in Risdon Jail.

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There’s one born every minute

May 19, 2008 by

Jeff Angel gets his thanks from Morris Iemma and Mick Costa

Ed Lewis

Usually governments wait a decent time before, as quietly as possible, breaking promises, but the NSW government of Morris Iemma did the Total Environment Centre’s Jeff Angel no such courtesy last week when it made public its lobbying of the federal government for air pollution concessions to the state’s coal-fired power stations that would gut the emissions trading scheme being developed by the federal government.

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Resources from the Climate Change/Social Change conference

May 10, 2008 by

John Rice

The very successful Climate Change/ Social Change Conference was held recently in Sydney, and now video and audio of virtually all pleneries and workshops are now available online

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Comments on the two ecosocialist manifestos

May 7, 2008 by

Shane Hopkinson

The first ecosocialist manifesto was an attempt to introduce the notion of ecosocialism at a time when many people were wondering how the traditional left, with its focus on material progress and higher living standards for the working class and the poor could fit with measures to tackle the environmental crisis, which to many means lower living standards and a retreat from industrialisation.

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