If year 2012 was the year Ecowar went from being this blog to being primarily a book, 2013 was the year when Ecowar resigned to merely being a category of bookmarks / tweets. To compensate You, my loyal reader, (and satisfy my own curiosity) here is a quick selection of highlights from the past year.
But 2013 was another year with an abundance of news stories about conflict linked to natural resources. It isn’t even controversial any more, media now mention the links without hesitation. This annual post could pile thousands of words about war for oil, pollution for profits, murder for business et cetera. 2013 saw an increasingly independent Greenland retract the ban on uranium mining, the least meaningful COP meeting ever, extraordinarily brave Mexican villagers stand up to illegal logging by organized criminals and the CIA finally admit it orchestrated the 1953 Iran coup. Not to mention someone ought to list the names of the brave environmentalists that have been assassinated by corrupt governments or callous corporate thugs. But I give up! Some links, though, deserve more than just a tweet.
The Ecowar blog and book has always built its foundation on solid scientific work. The core hypothesis has been supported by peer reviewed studies that has quantified the link between resources and violence (oil increases the likelihood of separatism, lootable commodities lengthen existing conflicts, resources in actual conflict zone doubles length of conflict, onshore oil reserves raise risk of rebellion by 50%, diamond production increase risk of conflict by 40%).
In 2013 the UN stated that 40% of all conflicts are linked to use of natural resources. A study found that climate change has caused a rise in violence. And, acknowledging the link, another blog investigated exactly when does oil lead to war. Not if.
So, all wars are fought over natural resources. It’s been accounted for, it’s been explained. Cause and effect. But why? And why does no positive environmentalist progress seem to have the least effect on the underlying current of global disorder producing one small disaster after another? Hiding in plain sight: Capitalism. Not capitalism as an alternative to any other political ideology. Capitalism as the one and only religion every citizen on Earth abides by.
If supply and demand is to save the world, the fastest way to save it is to destroy it. Because only scarcity will raise the price of nature, making it worth anything at all in the Capitalist perspective. In 2013, desperate measures to save the endangered Black Rhino came down to selling a license for killing one specimen. You read that right. Last April David Roberts of grist.org realized that none of the world’s top industries would be profitable if they paid for the natural capital they use. There is a blindingly obvious disharmony between the major problems we face and the fundamental order which we use to put structure on anything we do.
In 2014, keep googling news for “TTIP ISDS”. TTIP (and TTP): The free trade negotiations we’d hardly have heard of if a crowdfunded bribe had not resulted in a leak to Wikileaks. ISDS: The rather invasive trade provision that (primarily) allows multinational corporations to sue developing nations of any alleged lost income in investments. (Confused? Friends of the Earth has a factsheet.) Poor countries and NGOs wants ISDS out of trade treaties, rich countries insist on keeping them enforced. Just one example of ISDS in action in 2013 would be Costa Rica getting sued for protecting its rain forest.
In examining the violent scramble for Earth’s last resources there is no way around a look at the growth centric economic system that frames every political debate, business decision and daily life consideration. One organization that has gotten a lot of my attention in 2013 is Positive Money; begin with their article on how the banking system affects the environment.
- A documentary: Big Men. Oil, corruption, pollution and rebellion in Nigeria.
- A YouTube video: Democracy Now: Indigenous Groups Win Right to Seize Chevron’s Canadian Assets over $18 Billion in Amazon Pollution.
- A christmas tale: George Monbiot tells a tale of illegal gold miners in Brazilian Amazon.
Happy / merry winter solistice, christmas and / or new year to everyone.