As Capitalism Fails, We Need A Roadmap To Survive Climate Change

Paavo Järvensivu

As we enter an era of energy transition and the effects of climate change become more dramatic, our need for new forms of economic thinking is becoming increasingly urgent. The existing economic theories and models are clearly ill-equipped to address the intertwined challenges of a massive energy shift and climate change because they are all linked to the era of material abundance and cheap energy resources. The existing economic system has failed and if it continues it will lead to inestimable catastrophic consequences. But what would the policy framework of the much-needed new economics on energy, climate and environment look alike?

C.J. Polychroniou: Dr. Järvensivu, how did your research unit end up producing the background paper for the U.N. Global Sustainable Development Report?
Paavo Järvensivu: BIOS is an independent, multidisciplinary research unit, launched in Helsinki in 2015. Our basic task is to study the effects of environmental and resource factors on Finnish society and develop the anticipatory skills of citizens and decision-makers. To be able to do that, our research, of course, deals with the same issues also globally…. Moreover, we felt that due to the urgency to act on the climate crisis, researchers need to engage much more proactively outside the academic community. We dedicate much of our time on ongoing dialogue with decision-makers, journalists and many others…. There are few [other] research teams that would systematically aim at a comprehensive view of the political, economic and cultural changes caused by mitigating and adapting to climate change.

The paper your research unit produced for the U.N. claims with certainty that we will soon be entering a new energy era. What is this new energy era all about, and how will it replace the capitalism of today, which relies mostly on fossil fuels for supplying the vast majority of our energy needs and, subsequently, for growth?

The question of future energy can be approached as a [carbon] source and [carbon] sink problem. According to some estimates, the depletion of accessible fossil fuels would drive dramatic changes in the human energy system. This is true in a certain time frame, but climate change, or the inability of ecosystems in their current state to handle all the emissions from the excessive use of fossil fuels, gets us there first. Mitigating climate change requires a rapid decarbonization of the energy system — not only electricity generation but also heating/cooling and transportation.
Most likely we need to reduce energy consumption in order to succeed in rapid decarbonization. Replacing fossil fuel infrastructure with low-carbon solutions is such a demanding task physically, financially and organization-wise that the chances for succeeding improve dramatically if we lower overall energy consumption at the same time. This would be in line with also other environmental goals, especially with fostering biodiversity. In practice, this would entail qualitative changes in people’s lives through an emphasis on public transport and walking and biking, and perhaps relaxing on the (very new to humankind) requirement to have the same temperature inside throughout the year.
If the major economies don’t succeed in decarbonization, the global fossil economy is in for a rough ride. As an example, in a world with escalating geopolitical tensions — for instance, due to climate refugees — the position of fossil fuel-importing countries is weakened. Those countries — such as Finland, where I’m from — would be better off with less dependence on fossil fuels. Acting on this proactively, investing a lot on low-carbon infrastructure, should be on the high priority list of current and next governments. Read more

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Anna Eijsbouts ~ Voting In The EU

A short film explaining democracy in the EU and the European Parliament and how your vote moves it.
Written by European Constitutional Law Professor Tom Eijsbouts, animated & directed by Anna Eijsbouts.

This film has been made out of necessity and has been funded via Kickstarter.
Credits:
Voice – Gabriella Schmidt
Sound Design – Rik Kooijman
Additional Post Production – Kasper Werther
Thanks to Lot Rossmark, Marlyn Spaaij, Dorien Suntjens, Amber Verstegen, Tünde Vollenbroek, Jamie K. Bolio
Executive Producers – Jan Eijsbouts, Dolf Huijgers, Pieter Jan Kuiper, Laurence Chazournes de Boisson, Kris Spinhoven

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Freedom On The Net 2018

Fake news, data collection, and the challenge to democracy

Governments around the world are tightening control over citizens’ data and using claims of “fake news” to suppress dissent, eroding trust in the internet as well as the foundations of democracy, according to Freedom on the Net 2018.
At the same time, the regime in China has become more brazen in providing like-minded governments with technology and training that enable them to control their own citizens.
“Democracies are struggling in the digital age, while China is exporting its model of censorship and surveillance to control information both inside and outside its borders,” said Michael J. Abramowitz, president of Freedom House.

These trends led global internet freedom to decline for the eighth consecutive year in 2018.
“This year has proved that the internet can be used to disrupt democracies as surely as it can destabilize dictatorships,” said Adrian Shahbaz, Freedom House’s research director for technology and democracy. “Online propaganda and disinformation have increasingly poisoned the digital sphere, while the unbridled collection of personal data is breaking down traditional notions of privacy.”

Key findings from Freedom on the Net 2018:
– Declines outnumber gains for the eighth consecutive year. Out of the 65 countries assessed in Freedom on the Net, 26 experienced a deterioration in internet freedom. Almost half of all declines were related to elections.
– China trains the world in digital authoritarianism: Chinese officials held trainings and seminars on new media or information management with representatives from 36 out of the 65 countries assessed by Freedom on the Net.
– Internet freedom declined in the United States.
– Citing fake news, governments curbed online dissent: At least 17 countries approved or proposed laws that would restrict online media in the name of fighting “fake news” and online manipulation.
– Authorities demand control over personal data: Governments in 18 countries increased surveillance, often eschewing independent oversight and weakening encryption in order to gain unfettered access to data.

Read more – Full Report: https://freedomhouse.org/freedom-net-2018

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Laat terroristen niet bepalen wie onze helden zijn

Bart Top

Bomaanslagen op moskeeën in Nieuw Zeeland worden beantwoord met zelfdodingsmissies in Sri Lanka en aanslagen op een synagoge in de Verenigde Staten. Extremisten richten zich op religieuze symbolen van de veronderstelde vijand. In 2015 waarschuwde Bart Top dat ‘cartoonwedstrijden’ in diezelfde richting gaan. Reden om een geactualiseerde versie van het essay nogmaals uit te brengen.

Wie weet nog dat er een tijd was dat de VVD zich hard maakte voor de emancipatie van de islam in Europa, een tijd waarin uitgerekend Frits Bolkestein zich profileerde met zijn rol in het comité van aanbeveling bij een leerstoel ‘liberale islam’ voor de Parijse hoogleraar Islamitische Filosofie Mohammed Arkoun, zoals Bolkestein ook het boek Moslims in de polder publiceerde waarin hij in gesprek ging met een range aan moslims en dat volgens de VVD-leider een ‘boeiend perspectief’ bood ‘op de positie van de islam in de polder die Nederland heet’. Na 9/11, Fortuyn, Verdonk wil niemand er meer van weten. Zich inlaten met de islam, dat past niet meer bij het beeld dat de VVD nu neerzet.

De verschuiving binnen de VVD is ook bij links te zien. De agenda van partijen als PvdA en Groenlinks bestond vanaf de jaren negentig tot 2008 zo ongeveer uit het zo ongemerkt mogelijk opschuiven naar de rechts-liberale agenda, pas onlangs is daarin een kentering gaande. Van de vrijheid, gelijkheid en broederschap bleef twee decennia lang alleen de vrijheid op het banier staan. Dertig jaar nadat in Frankrijk de bekende leuze Touche pas á mon pote opkwam, kleurt de leus Je suis Charlie het (virtuele) landschap. Waar de jongerenbeweging toen schreeuwde om integratie en het aanpakken van de banlieues sluiten de rijen zich nu om de vrijheid van meningsuiting. Waar toen het accent lag op gelijkheid en het tegengaan van discriminatie is nu bij sterk toegenomen maatschappelijke ongelijkheid vrijheid het parool.

Vrijheid van meningsuiting en persvrijheid zijn op zich uiteraard geen rechtse onderwerpen. Integendeel. Het zijn moeizaam door burgers op overheden bevochten rechten voor wie misstanden aan de kaak wil stellen. Zij worden pas ‘rechts’ als het concept vrijheid in een dominante verhouding gebruikt wordt om de vrijheid van anderen te beperken. Is dat nu het geval? Op voorhand is vast te stellen dat de discussie over de vrijheid van meningsuiting op dit moment geen vrijblijvende, filosofische kwestie is. Zij spitst zich in een heel specifieke context toe op het recht het afbeeldingstaboe in de islam te schenden. Het schijnt op dit moment de ultieme en enige lakmoesproef om die vrijheid van meningsuiting te toetsen.

Dit discours over de islam, de vrijheid van meningsuiting en het recht op kwetsen begon voor ons in Nederland met de zogenaamde Rushie-affaire, die geruime tijd na het publiceren van de Duivelsverzen losbarstte. Rushdie zelf benadrukte altijd dat hij nooit de intentie had om moslims te kwetsen en distantieerde zich niet van de islam. Rushdie was en is eerder een multiculturalist die werelden confronteert zonder ze boven elkaar te stellen.
Read more

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Colin Marshall ~ Roald Dahl, Who Lost His Daughter To Measles, Writes A Heartbreaking Letter About Vaccinations: “It Is Almost A Crime To Allow Your Child To Go Unimmunised”

Generations of us know Roald Dahl as, first and foremost, the author of popular children’s novels like The BFGThe WitchesCharlie and the Chocolate Factory (that book of the “subversive” lost chapter), and James and the Giant Peach. We remember reading those with great delight, and some of us even made it into the rumored literary territory of his “stories for grown-ups.” But few of us, at least if we grew up in the past few decades, will have familiarized ourselves with all the purposes to which Dahl put his pen. Like many fine writers, Dahl always drew something from his personal experience, and few personal experiences could have had as much impact as the sudden death of his measles-stricken seven-year-old daughter Olivia in 1962. A chapter of Donald Sturrock’s biography Storyteller: The Life of Roald Dahl, excerpted at The Telegraph, tells of both the event itself and Dahl’s stoic, writerly (according to some, perhaps too stoic and too writerly) way of handling it.

But good did come out of Dahl’s response to the tragedy. In 1986, he wrote a leaflet for the Sandwell Health Authority entitled Measles: A Dangerous Illness, which tells Olivia’s story and provides a swift and well-supported argument for universal vaccination against the disease:

Olivia, my eldest daughter, caught measles when she was seven years old. As the illness took its usual course I can remember reading to her often in bed and not feeling particularly alarmed about it. Then one morning, when she was well on the road to recovery, I was sitting on her bed showing her how to fashion little animals out of coloured pipe-cleaners, and when it came to her turn to make one herself, I noticed that her fingers and her mind were not working together and she couldn’t do anything.

Read morehttp://www.openculture.com/roald-dahl-it-really-is-almost-a-crime

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Defining Islamophobia And Its Socio-Political Applications In The Light Of The Charlie Hebdo Attacks In Paris

Ills.: UK Human Rights Blog

Abstract
This study concentrates on the definition of Islamophobia based on an etymological overview of the term and application of it in political discourse in Europe, following the 2015 Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks in Paris (encompassing the attacks on the magazine’s office, Jewish supermarket and police officers). Firstly, emphasizing the influential Runnymede Report on Islamophobia (1997), an extensive research on the application and definition of the term are presented. Secondly, a political discourse analyses (PDA) method is applied to official responses to the Charlie Hebdo attacks by leading politicians from twelve European countries. Results of this analytical framework are discussed in light of contemporary definitions of Islamophobia with particular attention given to the definition by Runnymede Trust. The study culminates with an elaborated discussion and presumptive solutions to the growing ambiguity and dispute concerning the phenomenon of Islamophobia and its definition.

Key words: Islamophobia, Runnymede Report, Charlie Hebdo attacks, European Union, populism

Historical perspective
The phenomenon of Islamophobia, considered as fear, dislike or prejudice against Islam and its followers, is arguably as long as Islam itself. In the contemporary world, a pivotal moment in the study of Islamophobia as a phenomenon and its definition was the publication of a report titled: Islamophobia: A Challenge for Us All (Runnymede Trust, 1997, hereafter: The RT Report) by the Commission on British Muslims and Islamophobia, established by the Runnymede Trust. In a pioneering study the independent race, ethnic and religious equality think-tank attempted at the identification of causes and reasons for the phenomenon of Islamophobia as well as defining it. According to the Runnymede Trust, Islamophobia is: ‘… a shorthand way of referring to dread or hatred of Islam – and, therefore to fear or dislike of all or most Muslims’ (The RT Report, 1). And further: ‘the term Islamophobia refers to unfounded hostility towards Islam. It refers also to the practical consequences of such hostility in unfair discrimination against Muslim individuals and communities, and to the exclusion of Muslims from mainstream political and social affairs (ibid.; 4).’ The report reached much further than a mere identification of the terminology and consequently the definition along with its characteristics (outlined below) remain the most quoted and influential study on Islamophobia as a phenomenon and from an etymological perspective. In an attempt at breaking down the causes and reasons for the ‘hatred’, ‘hostility’ and ‘discrimination’ towards Islam the authors made an essential distinction between ‘legitimate criticism’ and ‘unfounded prejudice and hostility’ towards Muslims (The RT Report; 4). Consequently, the commission proposed closed and open views towards Islam and its believers, illustrating two essentialised approaches a non-Muslim can have towards the Islamic religion and its worshippers. ‘Phobic dread of Islam is the recurring characteristic of closed views. [While] legitimate disagreement and criticism, as also appreciation and respect, are aspects of open views’ (The RT Report; 4). Identification of the two contrastive views was based on acknowledging eight main features of each of them. The eight features of the closed/open views were recognized as: monolithic/diverse; separate/interacting; inferior/different; enemy/partner; manipulative/sincere; criticism of West rejected/considered; discrimination defended/criticized; Islamophobia seen as natural/problematic (The RT Report, p. 5). Read more

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