Capitalism, Climate Change, Poverty & Hunger

Yesterday I read three articles which helped me connect the dots: Capitalist greed, leading to planetary destruction and global suffering – pandemics, drought, extreme poverty, starvation, mass migrations, and war

Global Warming

You’d think that anybody who’s paying attention couldn’t possibly miss what’s going on in the world, but sometimes we can’t see the deforestation for the trees

Extracts follow, although I recommend reading all three articles in full for the best effect:

1. Piggish Capitalism Endangers Us All, by David Sirota, from Creators Syndicate, via Common Dreams, May 8, 2009

Even if you don’t dig on swine, it has become impossible to avoid them. If you’re not pummeled by television reports about Wall Street oinkers, you’re bombarded by talk-radio rants about congressional pork and newspaper dispatches about swine flu.
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The bacon-flavored themes probably aren’t purposefully repetitive, but that’s OK because these seemingly unrelated story lines share a common bond: They are each part of what might be called piggish capitalism – an economic theory that mixes subsidization, consolidation and deregulation – and it endangers us all.

Take the pandemic scare: The Associated Press says scientists suspect that swine flu began in a Mexican town that “has been protesting pollution from a large pig farm” partially owned by the Smithfield company. That’s the same Smithfield that used three decades of lax anti-trust enforcement and corporate welfare to become one of the few megacorporations now controlling global agribusiness.

Unregulated, taxpayer-subsidized oligopoly spreading risk – sounds familiar, right? It should, because at the very moment agribusinesses were vertically and horizontally integrating themselves, so too were financial firms.

Pigs may, in fact, be the smartest domestic animal. But when charged with managing capitalism, they clearly have trouble comprehending the simplest lessons.

© 2009 Creators Syndicate

David Sirota is a bestselling author whose newest book is “The Uprising.” He is a fellow at the Campaign for America’s Future and a board member of the Progressive States Network – both nonpartisan organizations.

Read The Full Article
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2. Climate Change Displacement Has Begun – but Hardly Anyone Has Noticed By George Monbiot, from The Guardian/UK, via Common Dreams

Two weeks ago a momentous event occurred: the beginning of the world’s first evacuation of an entire people as a result of manmade global warming…this appears to be the first time that an entire people have started leaving their homes as a result of current global warming.

The Carteret Islands are off the coast of Bougainville, which, in turn, is off the coast of Papua New Guinea. They are small coral atolls on which 2,600 people live. Though not for much longer.

There are compounding factors – the removal of mangrove forests and some local volcanic activity – but the main problem appears to be rising sea levels. Over the past few years they have been repeatedly inundated by spring tides, wiping out the islanders’ vegetable and fruit gardens, destroying their subsistence and making their lives impossible.

They are not, as the Daily Mail and the Times predicted, “the world’s first climate-change refugees”. People have been displaced from their homes by natural climate change for tens of thousands of years, and by manmade climate change for millennia (think of the desertification caused in North Africa by Roman grain production).

Their numbers might be small, but this is the event that foreshadows the likely mass displacement of people from coastal cities and low-lying regions as a result of rising sea levels. The disaster has begun, but so far hardly anyone has noticed.

George Monbiot is the author of the best selling books ‘The Age of Consent: a manifesto for a new world order’ and ‘Captive State: The Corporate Takeover of Britain’. He writes a weekly column for the The Guardian

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3. Poverty and Food Insecurity in the Developing World: For Us, Tolls the Bell: “American citizens are chemically modified humans, now being destroyed at genetic level” by Arun Shrivastava, from Global Research, May 7, 2009

Blaming food insecurity and hunger on poverty [essentially, inability to earn sufficient cash to buy food] has been the official position of most governments and of international institutions like UN-FAO, World Bank, IMF, and CGIAR. Unfortunately such notions serve powerful economic and political interests that perpetuate hunger, malnutrition, diseases, illiteracy, ignorance, urban slums and filth and rural poverty globally.

Those who influence the developmental agenda of governments seldom pause to think that farmers and gardeners can always grow enough food to stave off hunger and malnutrition from less than 200 square meters of land; with about 2000 square meters they can feed themselves quite well with some surplus.

For rural Asians, Africans and South American farmers, growing food has been a way of life. Yet the irony is that they are facing food shortage, hunger, under-nutrition, and poor health.

And yet, instead of addressing issues of nutrition and health, ‘connecting the dots’ as Michael Pollan says, the US Congress is hell bent on introducing laws with global reach that would destroy the very basis of…food security and food sovereignty. That is what the two pending legislations HR875 in the House of Representatives and S425 in the Senate, essentially seek. The latest in the bouquet of legislations is the ‘Global Food Security Act of 2009’ with global implications.

Had it not been for the poor, famished independent farmers of the less developed countries, the oceans would already have turned muddy and air un-breathable. But we are all headed that way.

Arun Shrivastava is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

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