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Last Hours Indeed (part 2)

April 4th, 2007 · post by isy · Make a comment

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The last few days, we’ve been hanging around our garden in T-shirts. I’ve seen ladybirds and butterflies, and the trees are leafy and lovely and all that sounds great – but it’s fucken November!! Doesn’t anyone else think something really weird is going on?

Climate change has been big headlines lately. But taking the most sensible course for long term good of the Earth and its inhabitants is just not the way the capitalist world works. Look at the whole Kyoto process for a start. After years of faff, and reluctance, and huge amounts of energy wasted by NGOs and people meaning well, the commitments to reductions are meaningless. And a major outcome of the Kyoto process are carbon trading schemes, where countries and companies can basically buy the right to pollute more and trade off with less polluting countries or with ‘clean development’ projects that for the most part involve some hideous monoculture in a third world country.

We are now on a course of acceleration when it comes to climate change, with amplifying effects kicking in. These range from melting icecaps losing their cooling effect on the atmosphere, to methane trapped under icesheets being released (which is a way more potent greenhouse gas than CO2), to the death of vital ecosystems, for example rainforests, releasing vast amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere in the process… The world is experiencing effects such as freak weather, flooding, fresh water shortages (it’s worrying to think about just how many people depend on the icecaps of the Himalayas for water – that are melting), plus huge confusion in the animal and plant world – see above re. butterflies and ladybirds! Even small changes in a local climate mean animals and plants need to move, or seriously adapt. A whole lot of them are just going to go extinct.

In my last column, I talked about peak oil and gas. The idea that we are reaching the end of easily available oil and gas supplies is becoming more acknowledged and widespread. Don’t forget, it’s not just oil to run cars and gas to heat our homes, it’s electricity, fertilisers and pesticides, medicines, and a huge range of products we use everyday.

All this means national and corporate research and investment into ‘alternatives’ is on, and actually profitable. Unfortunately, ‘the market’ is interested in either a) keeping all the cars on the road, any way possible – without considering climate change, or b) developing alternative electricity supplies, such as solar or wind or nuclear, all of which demand a lot of fossil fuel resources to build, or c) some crazy techno fix thing such as a big sunshield to stop global warming invariably with side effects, or d) money spinning greenwash solutions.

I think it’s needless to say we can’t run our society as we know it with its short haul flights, superstores and gadgets for all on non-fossil fuel energy supplies. Even with a reduction in consumption of resources, a huge re-organisation would be necessary. And if you’re re-organising everything anyway, why not do it properly… But let’s have a look at biofuels – supposedly ‘carbon neutral’ alternatives to oil. Now it’s one thing to burn biomass waste to generate heat, or run your car on used chipfat, but there’s only so much chipfat in the world – what biofuels mean are crops grown specifically to make bioethanol or biodiesel. Biodiesel is now a major reason for the deforestation of tropical rainforests, because in the free market, palm oil from Southeast Asia wins… And even if the crops were home grown it would mean putting food production and fuel production in direct competition. The change of land use to agricultural production is a major contributor to climate change itself, not to mention habitat destruction, soil erosion, etc. The EU Biofuel Directive aims at supplying 5.75% of all fuel from biofuel by 2010 – that’s a lot of palm oil plantations in Indonesia. See for more information.

Another weird thing happening in the ‘alternatives’ discussion is addressing individual consumption. Yes, of course we should be learning to live with less resource use – we obviously need to – but seriously, what you’re urged to do to ‘save the Earth’ seems more than ever to involve mostly spending money and buying things. Such as energy saving appliances, a Toyota hybrid car, and if you’ve got a house you can get your own wind turbine just like David Cameron, oh and turn off that dripping tap you fucker! Apart from feeling a bit of a mug when you think about the resource use of industrial production or the mains water leaks that are so common, it’s also that the problem lies with our society and how it’s organised – our collective choices about how to live, rather than our individual consumer choices about what to buy. It’s another distraction, but one people gladly respond to because who doesn’t like to think that if they buy the right thing, it’ll all get better?

Climate chaos, resource scarcity and wars, economic instability, mass migrations, yep that’s a pretty scary future. I recently heard that beech trees in the UK may die out because they have fairly shallow roots, and the groundwater levels are sinking due to the drier climate – beeches are my very favourite trees and I find the thought totally horrific.

So maybe I need to start building my bunker, or at least learn that thing where you light fire with some bits of wood (my housemate can do that now! It’s very impressive) – it makes sense to prepare myself to be better able to cope with a lack of resources and a decline of civilisation. But that’s not all – by no means. I figure first and foremost I’m an anarchist – and the urgency and despair of any situation can’t make my dreams of community in liberty any less valid – if anything, my discomfort with society and civilisation should be my starting point to respond. As an anarchist, you’ve always been in a pretty bleak situation, living in a world of oppression and inequality. But you try to face your fears, and you don’t lose your ideals and your motivation. This also means to me that I’m not going to make some master plan for everyone to follow to get us out of this mess – and neither am I going to follow anyone else’s. We are all in different situations, with different skills and different desires, and the tasks we can best engage in or want to take on are determined by that. As Derrick Jensen says, “That’s the wonderful thing about everything being so fucked up. No matter where you look there’s great work to be done… You want to know why we don’t rebel? We still think we have something to lose. That’s what’s stopping us. As soon as we realise we have nothing left to lose we’ll be dangerous.”

Things I’m currently obsessed with: single malt whisky (unfortunately a very expensive obsession, so I’m not being actually too successful with it. And I’d like to make my own pot still, though I think it’s illegal), The Knife, ‘Stripped’ by Neurosis, ‘Ways to be wicked’ by Lone Justice, the series Deadwood, Propagandhi, saying ‘dude’ (I wish I’d stop), my new duvet, the Fart Party comics (, learning to fucken saw straight.

New productions: My comic zine Morgenmuffel #15 is out now, it’s 60p plus letter stamp. Then there’s also the pamphlet, Today’s empires, tomorrow’s ashes – about the above, basically! It’s a bargain 50p plus stamp. The women’s self defence zine, £1.50 incl. Postage. We’re taking pre-orders, so get yours in!, PO Box 74, Brighton BN1 4ZQ.

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