Patrick Bond’s Politics of Climate Justice and Related Titles Launched at Ike’s Books
Tying in with the environmentally significant 17th Conference of the Parties (COP 17), taking place at the Durban International Convention Centre, last night Ike’s Books played host to the launch of five new titles relating to climate change: Politics of Climate Justice and Durban’s Climate Gamble by Patrick Bond, Earth Grab edited by Sylvia Gar, Nnimmo Bassey’s To Cook a Continent and African Awakening by Firoze Manji
The verandah at Ike’s was crowded with Durban left-wing stalwarts, as well as a number of international visitors. Patrick Bond, political economist and head of the Centre for Civil Society at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, facilitated the event while also having two of his own works in the line up – Politics of Climate Justice, which he wrote while on sabbatical in Berkeley last year, and Durban’s Climate Gamble: Playing the Carbon Markets, Betting the Earth, a collection of essays of which he is the editor.
After speaking briefly about these two texts, Bond introduced Sylvia Gar from Uruguay, editor of Earth Grab: Geopiracy, the new Biomasters and Capturing Climate Genes. Gar expressed her concern that companies are “grabbing the earth” through new technologies and warned her audience that it is ‘much worse than we believe’.
Bond then invited Joel Covel, editor of prominent social journal Capital, Nature, Socialism and contributor to Durban’s Climate Gamble, to address the crowd. According to Covel, ‘we are delusional if we think COP 17 is going to make a difference in our economy’. He noted that, although he ‘rails against the psychopath polluters who make the big environmental choices,’ the real purpose of creating literature like this is to ‘go on and do what must be done which is to give this crisis the attention it deserves and break the cycle of exploitation.’ Covel argued that, although this particular collection celebrates Durban’s environmental struggles, an unprecedented revolution is necessary if we want to chance the whole world.
Next up was renowned social activist, Ashwin Desai, one of the major contributors to Durban’s Climate Gamble, who offered many thought-provoking statement. He told activists in the audience they have to be ‘serious about civil society as an antidote,’ questioning the NGOs which rely so much on funding that they forget how to organise. He said that, instead of ‘delivering a constituency to the ruling classes’, we should ‘f*ck them up’. In closing, Desai referred to Hans Christian Andersen’s story, The Emperor’s New Clothes, warning that ‘civil society is not what it says it is’.
Last up was Nnimmo Bassey, Nigerian grassroots activist and author of To Cook a Continent: Destructive Extraction and the Climate Crisis in Africa. Bassey emphasised his belief that Africa is not a lost cause, referring, in particular, to the on-the-ground activism of rural women who ‘will one day rise up and take their destiny’. He warned that, if polluting nations postpone curbing their emissions for another decade, Africa will ‘be evacuated of its citizens’. Bassey proposed that activists connect and learn from one another, forming a united front against so-called “Biomasters”. Each chapter of To Cook a Continent contains ‘snatches of poetry’, culminating in a poem he wrote about Shell’s extraction of oil in Nigeria: ‘we thought it was oil/ but it was blood’.
The launch of these books heralded a much-needed discussion around climate change in Africa, which one hopes will continue to remain in focus once COP17 concludes on Friday.