“Notes on Exterminism” for the Twenty-First-Century Ecology and Peace Movement

In 1980, the great English Marxist historian and theorist E. P. Thompson, author of The Making of the English Working Class and leader of the European nuclear disarmament movement, wrote the groundbreaking essay "Notes on Extermination, the Last Stage of Civilization." Although the world has undergone a series of significative changes since then, Thompson's essay remains a useful starting point for addressing the central contradictions of our time, characterized by the planetary ecological crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic, the New Cold War, and the current "empire of chaos," all stemming from deeply rooted features of contemporary capitalist political economy. - John Bellamy Foster

Finding Flow: exploring the potential for sustainable fulfilment

Materialistic values and lifestyles have been associated with detrimental effects on both personal and planetary health. Therefore, there is a pressing need to identify activities and lifestyles that both promote human wellbeing and protect ecological wellbeing. In this Personal View, we explore the dynamics of a psychological state known as flow, in which people are shown to experience high levels of wellbeing through involvement in challenging activities that require some level of skill, and can often involve less materially intensive activities. –– Amy Isham and Tim Jackson

Deforestation and World Population Sustainability: a Quantitative Analysis

In this paper we afford a quantitative analysis of the sustainability of current world population growth in relation to the parallel deforestation process adopting a statistical point of view. We consider a simplified model based on a stochastic growth process driven by a continuous time random walk, which depicts the technological evolution of human kind, in conjunction with a deterministic generalised logistic model for humans-forest interaction and we evaluate the probability of avoiding the self-destruction of our civilisation. Based on the current resource consumption rates and best estimate of technological rate growth our study shows that we have very low probability, less than 10% in most optimistic estimate, to survive without facing a catastrophic collapse. –– Mauro Bologna and Gerardo Aquino

Is China Transforming the World?

In the early years of the 21st century, many Western capitalists saw China as a "new El Dorado". In most Western media, China is now presented as a threat, a conquering "empire", an "imperialist" power, even if the term imperialism is taboo when it comes to the behavior of global banking establishments, companies or Western institutions. And this threat seems all the more serious because Beijing's "regime" is easily described as "dictatorial" or, in diplomatic terms, "authoritarian". The United States, which remains the world hegemon, is worried about China's rise to power, and its successive administrations are building up the anxiety-provoking image of a China eager to supplant them and steal their leadership of the capitalist world system. On the other hand, it is also the case, to some extent, for the governments of the European Union who realize they are trapped in their free trade dogma. -- Tony Andréani, Rémy Herrera and Zhiming Long

Re-visiting the Owenites–contemporary cultural co-ops

Co-operatives as an alternative business model to solely commercial firms are a widely known concept, partly through UK supermarket experiences. But, as Kate Oakley summarises early findings from her recent project, there’s much more to the practice of co-ops. Her interview study shows that the political, historical and ethical meanings attached to the idea of a co-op—and of working co-operatively—is what motivates workers and keeps them going in the long term. Institutional support, however, to maintain a co-op structure against mainstream pressure is often inadequate. –– Kate Oakley

Placing People at the Heart of Climate Action

Profound societal change along with continued technical improvements will be required to meet our climate goals, as well as to improve people's quality of life and ensure thriving economies and ecosystems. Achieving the urgent and necessary transformations laid out in the recently published IPCC report will require placing people at the heart of climate action. Tackling climate change cannot be achieved solely through technological breakthroughs or new climate models. We must build on the strong social science knowledge base and develop a more visible, responsive and interdisciplinary-oriented social science that engages with people and is valued in its diversity by decision-makers from government, industry, civil society and law. Further, we need to design interventions that are both effective at reducing emissions and achieve wider societal goals such as wellbeing, equity, and fairness. Given that all climate solutions will involve people in one way or another, the social sciences have a vital role to play. –– Patrick Devine-Wright et al

Is Population Crucial for Degrowth?

Most proponents of degrowth tend to avoid the population factor, many of them fearful of being perceived as Malthusian. This is not the case. However, in the context of a genuinely democratic ethos, we must incorporate population degrowth into the core of any degrowth imaginary, as we are the preeminent source of our planet's unsustainable consumption. If people become aware of the existential danger we face, we expect that many will choose to embark on a transition that includes gradual population degrowth as a key driver of our trajectory. If the majority refuses, that is always their right. In such a case, we will have to face the consequences of significantly reducing the chances of achieving a safe and just transition-ecologically safe for all species and socially just for people, especially in the Global South-to avoid the obvious existential threat we face. –– Álvaro J. de Regil

Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene

We explore the risk that self-reinforcing feedbacks could push the Earth System toward a planetary threshold that, if crossed, could prevent climate stabilization with intermediate temperature increases and cause continued warming on a "Greenhouse Earth" trajectory, even if human emissions are reduced. If the threshold is crossed, the resulting trajectory would likely cause severe disruptions to ecosystems, society and economies. Collective human action is needed to move the Earth System away from a possible threshold and stabilize it in a habitable state similar to the interglacial. Such action involves management of the entire Earth System -- biosphere, climate, and societies -- and could include decarbonization of the global economy, enhancement of the biosphere's carbon sinks, behavioral changes, technological innovations, new governance arrangements, and transformation of societal values. -- Will Steffen et al

Degrowth is About Global Justice

Campaigners for degrowth have thrown into question the dogma that holds that a growing economy is always a sign of progress. In Less is More, anthropologist Jason Hickel argues that only degrowth can steer the world away from its worsening ecological crisis. We sat down with him to discuss his new book and ask what degrowth would mean for relations between the Global North and South. –– Jason Hickel

Toward an Ecosocialist Degrowth

Today, we face the most pronounced and remarkable contradictions between "the time of capital" and "the time of nature". As a result, a series of intertwined ecological and social crises have come together, posing existential threats to life on the planet. In the face of today's profound crises, social organization and collective political action are necessary. Otherwise, as historian Vijay Prashad has afirmed, the climate justice movement "will have no legs." An ecosocialist degrowth must be built on internationalist alliances in which the periphery takes centre stage. The political subjects and collectives of the North are called upon to humbly assume the historical claims that the South has tirelessly and justly made. Only in this way will we be able to look with hope to the future and, above all, to the present. –– Alejandro Pedregal and Juan Bordera

Socialism and Ecological Survival: An Introduction

Capitalism has brought the world to the brink. We are rapidly approaching the planetary tipping point in the form of a climate Armageddon that threatens to make the earth uninhabitable for human and countless other species. Such an absolute catastrophe for human civilization and all species is still avoidable by a revolutionary-scale reconstitution of the current energy production, consumption and use system. However, the time to act is rapidly running out. –– John Bellamy Foster and Brett Clark

Notes on Time is Running Out

Time is running out for the world to carry out the social transformations necessary to avert irreversible climate catastrophe, keeping the increase in global average temperatures below 1.5°C (or below 2°C). The most optimistic scenario currently provided by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) describes a pathway in which the increase in temperature will not rise to 1.5°C until 2040, peaking at 1.6°C, and then falling back to 1.4°C by the end of this century. But to achieve this will require revolutionary scale transformational change in global social relations affecting the human relation to the climate and the planetary environment as a whole. –– The Editors of Monthly Review

The Blockade as a Double-Edged Sword

The blockade, which has been in existence for the entire history of the Cuban Revolution, despite brief movements toward normalisation, is a product of both U.S. criminal aggression and the Cuban Revolution itself. For the United States, as much as for Cuba, it has always been a double-edged sword, reflecting not only Washington’s continuing enmity to Cuba and the enormous harm inflicted on the latter, but also the U.S. failure to bring Cuba to its knees. Given continuing Cuban resistance, the termination of the blockade, as the analysis here shows, would only be a reflection of the ongoing decline and destabilisation of U.S. empire and the enduring strength of the Cuban Revolution, a dialectical process that now implicates the fate of the entire world. –– Roberto Regalado

The Present in History, 2021

In The 18th Brumaire of Louis Napoleon, Karl Marx observed that class struggle can create circumstances and relationships that make it "possible for a grotesque mediocrity to play the role of a hero." Donald Trump can be seen as one such grotesque mediocrity, infflated to "heroic" proportions by his reactionary followers. Unable to accept defeat, Trump attempted to seize power after losing the 2020 presidential election. His afirmation that victory was stolen from him by massive fraud and his effort to encourage Republican-held states and his vice president to give him the office-all possible within the formal rules established an ominous roadmap for Republican strategy in 2024. –– William K. Tabb

The Problematic Role of Materialistic Values in the Pursuit of Sustainable Well-Being

Strong materialistic values contribute to the maintenance of consumer capitalism but can negatively affect individual well-being, social equity and environmental sustainability. In this article, we add to the existing literature on the adverse consequences of materialistic values by highlighting their negative association with participation in attitudes and actions that support the achievement of sustainable well-being. – Amy Isham et al

The Defence of Nature: Resisting the Financialisation of the Earth

In 2016, more than fifty multinationals came together to design a framework for monetizing the global ecology, using invented shadow pricing systems based on the capitalist market system. The report highlighted the enormous opportunities for debt "leverage" represented by "emerging natural capital markets, such as water quality trading, wetland and endangered species banking, and natural carbon sequestration." Consequently, it was imperative to "put a price on the value of nature" or, put another way, "a monetary value on what nature does for...business." The future of the capitalist economy lies in ensuring that the market pays "for ecosystem services that were previously free," which could generate new economic value for companies able to convert natural capital securities into financial assets. –– John Bellamy Foster

Billionaire Space Race: the ultimate symbol of capitalism’s flawed obsession with growth

In 1972 a team of scientists at MIT published a very influential report on the Limits to Growth. Economists have fought over whether the economy can expand forever. Those who believe it is an appeal to the power of technology to "decouple" economic activity from its effects on the planet. Those who think it is impossible point to the scant evidence that decoupling will occur at the rate necessary to avoid a climate emergency. And now comes a group of confessed technology lovers finally admitting that the planet is too small for us. Yes, they were right; they imply: the Earth cannot sustain infinite growth. That's why we have to expand into space. –– Tim Jackson

Financial, Speculative and Parasitic Capital

It is a crime to rob a bank, but it is a greater crime to found one. - Berthold Brecht -- People eat little and badly. They are crazy to swallow this! Christophe Brusset, an agri-food industrialist, denounces. From the diversion of raw materials to the manipulation of products via controversial hygiene controls, Christophe Brusset denounces the many evils of which he has been, for twenty years, an accomplice or mastermind behind the scenes of the food industry. Indian paprika stuffed with peppercorns, Chinese green tea treated with pesticides, fake Moroccan saffron, cheeses transformed into veal, fruit jam without fruit, oregano cut into olive leaves, etc. Fraud with raw materials in the food industry is also part of this mafioso system. –– Alejandro Teitelbaum

Building the Vision of the Good Life

The crux of Kate Soper’s "Post-Growth Living" is simple: we need to redefine “the good life.” We need to move away from a culture that equates the good life with endless consumption and toward one that equates it with experiences that are not defined by the market. Not only is this transition ecologically necessary, but it will also lead to fairer, and far more pleasurable, experiences, such as Soper’s desired “alternative hedonism.” I am confident that this singular plea is both fecund and needed, even if, after reading, I am still not sure exactly what “alternative hedonism” actually is. –– Jordan Fox Besek

Providing Decent Living With Minimum Energy: A Global Scenario

It is increasingly clear that averting ecological breakdown will require drastic changes to contemporary human society and the global economy embedded within it. On the other hand, the basic material needs of billions of people across the planet remain unmet. Here,we develop a simple, bottom-up model to estimate a practical minimal threshold for the final energy consumption required to provide decent material livings to the entire global population. We find that global final energy consumption in 2050 could be reduced to the levels of the 1960s, despite a population three times larger. However, such a world requires a massive rollout of advanced technologies across all sectors, as well as radical demand-side changes to reduce consumption – regardless of income – to levels of sufficiency. Sufficiency is, however, far more materially generous in our model than what those opposed to strong reductions in consumption often assume. –– Joel Millward-Hopkins et al

The Deceptive Delusions of Green Capitalism — Why Endless Consumption of Our Finite Planet Will Take Us to Our Cliff of Doom and How We Can Prevent It

Endless Consumption of Our Finite Planet's Resources is Taking Us to Our Cliff of Doom... But we can save ourselves by saving the planet by changing our economic/consumption systemsBut we can save ourselves by saving the planet by changing our economic/consumption systems. This implies a radical transition of structures, replacing capitalism with a new paradigm whose sole purpose is to pursue the welfare of people and planet and NOT the market. To do this, people must organise to force change because all governments are subservient to the market and will lead to our extinction in this century. — Álvaro J. de Regil

Leaked Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Reports

On the Climate Change Planetary Crisis. If we want future generations to live with happiness on a healthy planet, we must stop denying reality and take action, for all governments are driving us to our final demise. —(Required reading to become aware that it is up to us, the citizenry, to save ourselves by taking eco-revolutionary action. — The Editors of Monthy Review

Lithium and the Contradictions in the Energy Transition that Devastate the Global South In Favour of the Global North

Green Capitalism is a Hoax, because switching to batteries is not sustainable and it keeps depredating the ecosystems. — Nubia Barrera Silva

Notes on Ukraine

A MUST-READ —An assessment shedding sobering and objective light on the underlying causes of the eight-year civil war in Ukraine turned into a full-scale war. This is a New Cold War and a great human tragedy. — The Editors of Monthly Review

The Covid-19 Pandemic: "Their Contradictions and Ours"

It is urgent to define a clear set of demands and objectives that specifically defend the interests of the popular classes, i.e. the vast majority of the world's population. — Alain Bihr

Epidemic Response –The Legacy of Colonialism

The COVID-19 pandemic is at its root a crisis of globalisation, a crisis of racial capitalism, a crisis of colonialism, a crisis of the social organisation of our public health system. It is a crisis of treatment and care versus demonisation and wall building. And it is the latest pandemic in a long line of modern ones—from SARS to swine flu to HIV to Ebola—a predictable and predicted outcome, not the mysterious unforeseeable lightning strike as it is often portrayed. The COVID-19 pandemic is at its root a crisis of globalisation, a crisis of racial capitalism, a crisis of colonialism, a crisis of the social organisation of our public health system. — Jennifer Dohrn and Eleanor Stein

Show COP26 and Ecology

A true ecology of consumption—a new system of enduring needs is only possible by incorporating it into a new ecology of production, which requires the destruction of the capitalist system. — Alejandro Teitelbaum

Marketocracy and the Capture of People and Planet — The acceleration of Twenty-First Century Monopoly Capital Fascism through the pandemic and the Great Reset

This study examines the trajectory that the world has followed since neoliberalism was imposed on humanity half a century ago, assessing the subsequent motivations—and their consequences for humanity and the planet as a whole—of key global elite groups and individuals (Gates, Musk, Bezos and the World Economic Forum, and its proclaimed "Fourth Industrial Revolution" through "The Great Reset") who have powerful influence on the world's governments. We live in dangerous times on our planet that threaten the future of all living things, but there is a way to avoid such a future –––– Álvaro J. de Regil

COVID-19 and Catastrophe Capitalism — Commodity Chains and Ecological-Epidemiological-Economic Crises

COVID-19 has accentuated as never before the interlinked ecological, epidemiological, and economic vulnerabilities imposed by capitalism. As the world enters the third decade of the twenty-first century, we are seeing the emergence of catastrophe capitalism as the structural crisis of the system takes on planetary dimensions. — John Bellamy Foster and Intan Suwandi

Capitalism of Dispossession in the Palm Oil Plantations in the Countries of the Global South

The commodification of land has deepened the ecological, social and economic crises. The unprecedented global pandemic of the covid-19 virus comes from the destruction of the habitats of species of wild animals and plants and the subsequent migration to humans. The neoliberal model is unsupportable in the sustainable conservation of nature and the planet's economy. A change in the capitalist economy is urgently needed. — Nubia Barrera Silva

Transitioning to Geocratia — the People and Planet and Not the Market Paradigm — First Steps

Parting from the fact that saving Planet Earth, our home, changes everything, we need to build a new ethos where the majority of humankind commits to a system whose only purpose is the pursuit of the welfare of people and Planet Earth. This requires that all Earth resources necessary for the enjoyment of life of all living things be managed to achieve true long-term sustainability. — Álvaro J. de Regil

The Contagion of Capital

The U.S. economy and society at the start of 2021 is more polarised than it has ever been. The wealthy are awash in a flood of riches, marked by a booming stock market, while the underlying population exists in a state of relative, and in some cases even absolute, misery and decline. The result is two national economies as perceived, respectively, by the top and the bottom of society: one of prosperity, the other of precariousness. At the level of production, economic stagnation is diminishing the life expectations of the majority. At the same time, financialisation is accelerating the consolidation of wealth by a very few. Although the current crisis of production associated with the COVID-19 pandemic has sharpened these disparities, the overall problem is much longer and more deep-seated, a manifestation of the inner contradictions of monopoly-finance capital. Comprehending the parameters of today’s financialised capitalist system is the key to understanding the contemporary contagion of capital, a corrupting and corrosive cash nexus that is spreading to all corners of the globe, and every aspect of human existence. — John Bellamy Foster, R. Jamil Jonna and Brett Clark

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Research and analysis to provoke public awareness and critical thinking

We contribute to the liberalisation of the democratic instituions of society, for they have been captured by the owners of the market. They work in tandem with their market agents, who, posing as public servants, are entrenched in the halls of government. The political class has betrayed its public mandate and instead operates to impose a marketocratic state to maximise the shareholder value of the institutional investors of international financial markets. They own the global corporations and think they own the world on behalf of their very private interest.

Our spheres of action: true democracy – true sustainability – living wage – basic income – inequality – ecological footprint – degrowth – global warming –human development – corporate accountability – civil, political, economic, social, cultural and environmental rights, responsible consumption, sustainable autonomous citizen cells...

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Parting from an ethos of true democracy and true sustainability, We, the citizenry, work to advance the paradigm whose only purpose is to go in pursuit of the welfare of People and Planet and NOT the market.

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Textile Sweatshops in the US
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Note on the Limits To Growth

Last year marked the fiftieth anniversary of one of the most influential, and also controversial, environmental studies ever written: The Club of Rome’s report, The Limits to Growth (New York: Universe, 1972) by Donella H. Meadows, Dennis L. Meadows, Jørgen Randers, and William W. Behrens III. No other environmental work of the 1970s offered such a direct challenge to the underlying assumptions of capitalist neoclassical growth economics or was responded to so vehemently by establishment thinkers.

The most important lesson that The Limits to Growth conveyed was that “growth,” as it had come to be conceived of in present-day society, referred to growth in quantitative Gross National Product, along with growth in resource use and population, all of which were being pursued by the capitalist world economy on an exponentially increasing basis. It was “growth” in this narrow sense of capital accumulation that was limited. But this did not mean that the same limitations applied to growth conceived in a far wider sense, encompassing sustainable human development, qualitative improvements of all kinds, and genuine improvements of productivity—not to mention human-enhanced sustainable growth within nature itself. As Donella Meadows and her colleagues wrote in 1972 in The Limits to Growth, “Any human activity that does not require a large flow of irreplaceable resources or produce severe environmental degradation might continue to grow indefinitely”

 

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Paradise Lost? — The iron cage of consumerism

Our systematic failure to address existential anxiety robs society of meaning and blinds us to the suffering of others; to persistent poverty; to the extinction of species; to the health of global ecosystems. With this think piece, Tim Jackson adds to an eclectic set of essays, published in honour of Wolfgang Sachs.

Society is faced with a profound dilemma. To resist economic growth is to court economic and social collapse. To pursue it relentlessly is to endanger the ecosystems on which we depend for long-term survival. For the most part, this dilemma goes unrecognised in government policy. It is only marginally more visible as a public debate. When reality begins to impinge on the collective consciousness, the best suggestion to hand is that we can somehow ‘decouple’ growth from its material impacts. And continue to do so while the economy expands exponentially.

The sheer scale of action implied by this strategy is daunting. In a world of 9 billion people all aspiring to western lifestyles, the carbon intensity of everydollar of output must be at least 130 times lower in 2050 than it is today. By the end of the century, economic activity will need to be taking carbon out of the atmosphere not adding to it.

Simplistic assumptions that capitalism’s propensity for efficiency will solve all the problems of ecological damage and resource scarcity are almost literally bankrupt. We now stand in urgent need of a clearer vision, braver policy-making, something more robust in the way of a strategy with which to confront the dilemma of growth. This is the challenge to which Wolfgang Sachs has dedicated his remarkable energy and much of his life’s work.

My aim in this short article is to address one aspect of this challenge: the role that anxiety – and our responses to it – play in consumer society. To make sense of this mission, I need first to sketch briefly the crucial dynamics of consumerism and to show how anxiety plays a role in it.

 

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End Ecocidal Capitalism or Exterminate Life on Planet Earth: A South African Contribution to Ecosocialist Strategy

Globalised carbon capitalism is like a snake eating its own tail, self-inflicting wounds. This is not new in the history of capitalism. Between 1870 and 1914, capitalism was also plagued by a general crisis, contributing to imperial conflict and the First World War (which claimed the lives of ten million people). Rosa Luxemburg wrote her classic Accumulation of Capital, published a year before the war, in this context. She observed:

"The more ruthlessly capital sets about the destruction of non-capitalist strata at home and in the outside world, the more it lowers the standard of living for the workers as a whole, the greater also is the change in the day-to-day history of capital. It becomes a string of political and social disasters and convulsions, and under these conditions, punctuated by periodic economic catastrophes and crises, accumulation can go on no longer. But even before this natural economic impasseof capital’s own creating is properly reached it becomes anecessity for the international working class to revolt against capital."

From a Marxist ecological perspective, the catastrophes Luxemburg refers to here, resulting from the destruction of natural economies and non-capitalist strata, can be seen as referring not only to the economic convulsion brought on by capital, but also to its ecocidal logic. This is associated with enclosures in the centers and peripheries, large-scale destruction of human and nonhuman life, and expropriation resulting in ecocide. War is merely one form and moment of extending this logic of deep systemic crisis. In such conjunctures, strategic working-class and anti-oppression politics must come to the fore in order to leverage the crisis against capitalism. However, this kind of conscious strategic politics is not always given or inevitable; sometimes, the crisis of capitalism is also the crisis of the historical social forces meant to resist it.

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Scientists’ Warning on Affluence

Affluence as a driver of environmental and social impacts –– Systemic drivers and possible solutions

For over half a century, worldwide growth in affluence has continuously increased resource use and pollutant emissions far more rapidly than these have been reduced through better technology. The affluent citizens of the world are responsible for most environmental impacts and are central to any future prospect of retreating to safer environmental conditions. We summarise the evidence and present possible solution approaches. Any transition towards sustainability can only be effective if far-reaching lifestyle changes complement technological advancements. However, existing societies, economies and cultures incite consumption expansion and the structural imperative for growth in competitive market economies inhibits necessary societal change.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Let's have a big debate on the energy emergency

Without the active support of the citizenry, it will be impossible to provide meaning to the change we must necessarily face

We live in turbulent times in which it is essential to chart a course for navigation to confront what is shaping up to be a genuine crisis of civilisation. To this end, it is crucial to know how to interpret each event in itself, but also concerning a systemic and epochal change

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 Transitioning to Geocratia — the
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This system is utter crap: organising anger and optimism for the future

It is not a question of waiting for a miraculous event or finding escape routes for a few on the system's margins but of charting the way towards an alternative society

How can we not have anxiety if this system is utter crap?" shouted a 17-year-old girl in front of a rally of hundreds of students a few days ago in Madrid. On the posters, some of them handwritten, one could read: "Stop suicides", "If there is no mental health, there will be a revolution", "Strike for mental health". It may be striking that a student mobilisation is being organised on this issue. However, it isparticularly relevant when suicide has become one of Spain's most important causes of death among young people. 

One thing the numbers tell us when we see the increase in emotional distress is that this is a social, structural problem. Just as the feminist movement pointed out at the time that "it's not an isolated case, it's called patriarchy", the same could be said of the pain, depression or anxiety that affect thousands of young people. If they are not isolated cases, what do we call them? Uncertainty, the precariousness of life, multiple violence, machismo, racism, fierce competition, bullying, individualism and meritocracy, exploitation, and much more... it is called capitalism.

 

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Surviving Collapse Through Social Transformation and Regeneration

Climate change is a global phenomenon that adversely affects all biospheric systems and threatens the survival of many species, including our own. Global average temperatures have already increased 1.1°C since the pre-industrial period. The world is at risk of far exceeding a 1.5°C change, which scientists consider a critical threshold, if we do not cut greenhouse gas emissions to net zero in the coming decades. Climate change is already affecting crop yields, social conflicts, weather events, and ocean acidification, to name a few of the latest calamities. Until recently, mitigation, directed toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions, has been the primary focus of most activist and scholarly efforts. However, because the climate will continue to warm even if we stay within the 1.5°C pathway, and given that the effects are already being extensively felt, more attention is now being given to transformational adaptation, or changing the ways in which we live in order tosurvive extreme weather events, mass species extinction, and resource depletion, among other threats.

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Africa boasts examples of ecological resilience

Despite its low pollution levels, the black continent is much more committed to ecological transition than many other territories tied to their old patterns of industrial production.


It is no longer news. In recent years, Africa has emerged as the region most affected by global warming. There is a wealth of evidence to support this assertion: temperature rises of more than 1.5°C since pre-industrial times in various regions, creeping desertification in the interior, coastal erosion along the entire western coastline, increasing droughts in the east, floods and hurricanes - all linked to a disrupted hydrological cycle that is pushing the continent to its environmental, human, social, economic and political limits.

This context becomes even more painful when we consider that Africa is not the least responsible for the climate change we are denouncing: the warming caused by human activity and the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Indeed, it is estimated that African countries account for only 3.8% of total emissions, very little compared to China, the United States or Europe, which account for 23%, 19% and 13%, respectively, of global emissions.

Africa is not waiting for the industrialised world to react. There is no time for this any more. On the contrary, it is quite possible that, despite its low pollution levels, the black continent is much more committed to ecological transition than many other territories tied to their old patterns of industrial production. It is this idea that I try to highlight in África: cambio climático y resiliencia (Publicaciones UAB, 2022).  


 

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Human well-being and climate change mitigation

Climate change mitigation research is fundamentally motivated by the preservation of human lives and the environmental conditions which enable them. However, the field has to date rather superficial in its appreciation of theoretical claims in well-being thought, with deep implications for the framing of mitigation priorities, policies, and research. Major strands of well-being thought are hedonic well-being—typically referred to as happiness or subjective well-being—and eudaemonic well-being, which includes theories of human needs, capabilities, and multidimensional poverty. Aspects of each can be found in political and procedural accounts such as the Sustainable Development Goals. Situating these concepts within the challenges of addressing climate change, the choice of approach is highly consequential for: (1) understanding inter- and intra-generational equity; (2) defining appropriate mitigation strategies; and (3) conceptualising the socio-technical provisioning systems that convert biophysical resources into well-being outcomes. Eudaemonic approaches emphasise the importance of consumption thresholds, beyond which dimensions of well-being become satiated. Related strands of well-being and mitigation research suggest constraining consumption to within minimum and maximum consumption levels, inviting normative discussions on the social benefits, climate impacts, and political challenges associated with a given form of provisioning. The question of how current socio-technical provisioning systems can be shifted towards low-carbon, well-being enhancing forms constitutes a new frontier in mitigation research, involving not just technological change and economic incentives, but wide-ranging social, institutional, and cultural shifts.

 

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Castellano Transitioning to Geocratia — the