CARBON DIOXIDE EMISSIONS or SOCIAL RELATIONS? Anti-Hierarchical Analysis of Climate Change
by Indokumentado Productions translated in English by Ana
Conceptual Analysis of Climate Change
[Climate Change and its Effects]
There is no doubt that the Earth’s climate is changing. We are experiencing a rise in atmospheric temperatures due to, among others, increasing deposits of greenhouse gases trapped in our atmosphere, resulting in countless negative impacts affecting lives around the world.
Greenhouse gas is a natural ecological occurrence whereby heat from the nearest star, the Sun, enters our atmosphere. Most of this heat is radiated back towards its source, while a small percentage remains on the Earth.
Due to rapid industrial development, numerous types of gases like carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, among others (also collectively called as ‘greenhouse gases’), the Earth’s atmosphere is becoming ‘thicker’. Thick deposits of various gases block the heat from escaping the Earth, thus causing increase in temperatures in the Earth’s atmosphere.
According to the International Panel on Climate Change–United Nations (UN-IPCC), an international organization that deals with the issue of climate change, rapid rise of atmospheric temperatures in the past 50 years is directly attributed to the production of anthropogenic greenhouse gases brought by human activity. Studies conducted by The World Meteorological Organization reveal that eleven out of twelve years between 1995-2006 were said to be the hottest years ever recorded.
Effects of global warming are indeed very alarming, especially since we have no control over what might happen and where this might lead to. Widespread disappearance of ice glaciers has been observed, as well as rising sea water levels, extreme weather conditions, ‘supertyphoons’, and droughts. Scientist are likewise concerned about large scale forced-extinction of numerous life forms/species on Earth as a result of climate change and global warming.
Recent scientific evidences, according indicate that typhoons become more intense as temperatures in the oceans increase. In the Philippines, we have experienced strong typhoons, which have caused soil erosion, floods, loss of livelihood, destruction of property, and even loss of life.
Some events of recent memory:
• Flashfloods in Ormoc in 1991 caused by Typhoon Uring;
• The 1999 landslide in Cherry Hill Subdivision due to three days of non-stop rains;
• Tragedy in Payatas in 2000 due to continuous heavy rains;
• Landslide in 2001 in La Trinidad, Baguio due to heavy rains (record breaking hour rainfall of 1,085.5 mm in Baguio City);
• Tragedies in North Leyte and Surigao in 2003 brought by heavy rainfall (record breaking hour rainfall of 1,119.0 mm in Surigao and 699.0 mm in Leyte);
• Large scale flooding in Infanta, Aurora in 2004 due to 20 days of non-stop rain brought by Typhoons Unding, Violeta, Winnie and Yoyong which also affected other neighboring regions;
• Landslide in Guinsaugon, Leyte in 2006 due to five days of heavy rains equivalent to three months worth;
• Mudslides in Legaspi in 2006 due to Typhoon Reming;
• Finally, still fresh in our collective memories, the devastation caused by Typhoon Ondoy in 2009 where almost half of Metro Manila was flooded; but four years after Typhoon Onday, once again most of Metro Manila, including Marikina, Cainta, Pasig as well as CAMANAVA, was flooded due to three days of nonstop strong monsoon rains. Residents from these areas were gravely affected (2012). An article from Opinyon reported that the monsoon rains caused deaths (a total of 60 people), and about one billion pesos worth of damages in the agricultural sector in Central Luzon reported. Furthermore, around 2.4 million people had to be evacuated and 360,000 had to remain in evacuation centers.
According to the Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources or DENR, Sec. Ramon Paje, the country is expected to experience more intensified rains with strong winds. Around the world, 300,000 people will die every year because of not just strong typhoons, flooding and landslides but also as a result of widespread drought, the continuous expansion of deserts, tropical diseases and low agricultural production.
GREENHOUSE GASES ARE NOT THE PROBLEM BUT A MANIFESTATION
Climate change is not only about carbon dioxide emissions, or the decrease in availability of fresh water, the destruction of natural resources and the Earth’s ecosystem, or the disappearance of biodiversity, or the mass extinction of living organisms. It is also about a more fundamental social and global problem – the unequal relations of human beings.
In the current economic system, capitalists produce and sell goods and services with only one goal in mind, that is, to make profit. Marketplaces are sites where these products are sold, such as the ‘talipapa’ and ‘tiangge’.
How are goods produced? First is to have all necessary technology, it may be a machine or a collection of machines designed for specific tasks. Second is to have resources which include raw materials such as forests, animals, or mountains abundant in iron, copper, gold and so on. Third is to have labor or the physical/intellectual capabilities of human beings.
According to the regalian doctrine, States, represented by governments, have control over the natural resources within a State’s boundaries. Governments have the sole responsibility over natural environments – FOR THE SAKE OF ITS PEOPLE. Control over natural resources, technology and people is usually in the hands of a few, which is often part of corporations or the government.
The collusion between corporations and governments are reinforced and made legitimate by formal agreements like laws, treaties and pacts. Decisions on how to use (control?) natural and human resources are usually in the hands of a few, particularly that of political leaders and the elite, who talk amongst themselves in the local and international levels. According to governments and corporations, decision they make will benefit everyone around the world.
Capitalists — local and foreign — with the approval and go-signal of governments, continue to abuse the environment and the Earth’s ecosystems, in the name of progress/development. These governments are supposed to be representatives of the people.
To summarize the process, raw materials are extracted from the environment with the use of various technologies and with the aid of a controlled labor force. Waste products are discarded into the already destroyed and overburdened environment. Consumer goods are then sold in the market; a market structured and organized to encourage people to buy, consume and blindly depend on corporations.
It is clear that greed and insatiable hunger for wealth are causing rapid disappearances of our forests, destruction of mountains, continuous thickening of greenhouse deposits in the atmosphere, expansion of agricultural lands, and changes in the Earth’s temperatures, and so on.
Several studies and climate models reveal that in only a span of 10 years, capitalist industries will produce enough greenhouse gases for the Earth’s temperature to increase by 20 degrees Celsius. With this, polar ice caps, which help to reflect sunlight out of our atmosphere, will melt at rapid speeds thus increasing oceanic temperatures; large methane deposits in the Siberian permafrost (‘permafrost’ refers to the layer of soil that has been frozen for two or more years, which thaws during summer, and freezes back in winter) will continue to seep out of the soil (methane has an even more severe effect than CO2); water vapor will continue to increase thus preventing heat/sunlight from leaving the Earth’s atmosphere, and; more CO2 from the oceans will be trapped and added into the greenhouse deposits in the Earth’s atmosphere.
The combination of all these effects will contribute to the increase in the Earth’s temperature, which might reach up to five or six degrees Celcius in the last half of the 21st Century. Living organisms like the human species will have to adapt to this new environmental condition, like the rise of acid content in oceans, expansion of desserts and flooding.
Currently, the global economy is driven by markets and States, and economic growth is measured in terms of GDP and GNP. Economic growth, in simple terms, is the summation of goods produced and sold. The more products sold, the higher the profit. We know that nature is finite, whereas profit appears to be otherwise. With this understanding, it shows that most products are made/produced not to fill in the needs of human beings rather for the ‘few’ to acquire limitless wealth and profit. Our environment is extremely overburdened and devastated, and yet we have not even seen nor felt prosperity/development.
STRATEGIC DIRECTION AND PRACTICAL RESPONSE
[Direct-Action and Alternatives]
Campaigns, actions, advocacies and other activities of the Local Autonomous Network are rooted in Direct Action. Every action involves individuals with knowledge and clear understanding of any issue at hand. Voluntary participation of each individual is according to her/his ability, and tasks are carried out however s/he deems necessary.
Direct action occurs when an individual or a group of individuals take specific actions, without an authority, with the intention to expose issues or problems, and to call for better alternatives. Whether deliberately or not, these actions may influence others to take part in the cause as well, especially when the message is clearly conveyed. Some examples of direct action are factory strikes, property damage especially of corporations (typical of the Black Bloc), police confrontations; examples of non-violent resistance include occupation of strategic sites like public spaces, business centers, factories and other work spaces, as well as painting streets and private walls (graffiti?) and installation of artistic structures.
The use of different tactics for activism is not limited to the abovementioned; human beings are certainly imaginative and creative. We can develop other tactics to continue our non-hierarchical action, action that is voluntary and that takes into consideration each individual’s capability and ability for activism.
OUR STRATEGIC GOAL is to change the orientation of the economy and to remove market and State control on human and social relationships. Not that we are calling for a return to a primitive set-up, rather we have become aware of the fact that indigenous lifestyles or ways of living do not revolve around profit, control and domination, thus it is more sustainable compared to centralized and hierarchical systems.
Re-claiming our lives means being free from control of big centralized institutions. We will once again live a life in accordance to how we choose to live it guided by no one else but our own selves (autonomy), we will take back and redefine social relationships and produce on our own our needs. This can be done if we have the right processes to better disseminate knowledge and experience in different fields.
According to recent studies [please cite source], the Philippine archipelago’s carbon emission is relatively lower than the emissions by industrialized countries in the EU and the US, and developing countries like China.
But our low contribution to carbon emissions is not a reason for us not to establish our own concrete steps to address this concern, especially when we know it is possible to do so. Our actions will show how serious and sincere we are with our advocacy.
DECLARATION OF A “NO-CAR DAY” – Encourage our networks involved in policy-making and public advocacy to likewise take on this position. That is, to enact into law a day in a year whereby not a single car will be allowed to travel.
SERIOUS IMPLEMENTATION OF “BICYCLE LANES” IN MAJOR STREETS – For those groups and individuals concerned, to create concrete steps for a more systematic plan to establish a safer and more spacious bicycle lanes for cyclists in major areas.
IMPLEMENTATION OF A “RADICAL ECO-URBAN PLANNING” – Cooperation among groups and individuals with experience in urban planning and groups involved in environmental justice activism is required. The goal is to create more open public spaces in the city; as well as to plant more trees. This also includes the setting-up of mechanisms to limit and regulate industries that harm ecosystems in the city. Another purpose is to develop a better public transportation system.
SHORT-TERM PRACTICAL ACTIONS: CAPABILITY-SHARING, KNOWLEDGE-SHARING, SKILLS-SHARING ON THE USE OF RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES – This could be achieved though cooperation between local and international networks that could provide communities skills and know-how on other sources of energy such as solar energy, etc.
PERMACULTURE AND RELATED ACTIONS — Knowledge-sharing, experience and expertise in permaculture and traditional farming which could be done in the city and nearby areas.
CAMPAIGN FOR EDUCATION FOR COMMUNITIES, STUDENTS, AUTONOMOUS ACTIVISTS AND THE WIDER PUBLIC.
CLIMATE CHANGE ACTION
November 2012, contingent of LAN gathered around the vicinity of Luneta Park waiting for their proper timing to join the mobilisation of NGOs and leftist political blocs. The Philippine Movement for Climate Justice staged rally in front of U.S. embassy in relation to U.S.’s commitment to reduce carbon emission.