The recent Special Report by the IPCC was widely described as giving a stark warning about risks faced by humanity if climate change is not dealt with urgently. What exactly does this imply, and how reliable is this document? We present analyses by Michael Mann, Richard Heinberg, Ratheesh Pisharody, Adam Markham, Kevin Anderson and Padmini Gopal.
Climate and Capitalism
We’re on track for four degrees of warming, more than twice as much as most scientists believe is possible to endure without inflicting climate suffering on hundreds of millions or threatening at least parts of what we call, grandly, “civilization.” The only thing that changed is that the scientists, finally, have hit the panic button.
From Jacobin Magazine: The New York Times’ blockbuster story on climate change concludes that democracy and human nature are to blame for the climate crisis. They’re wrong. You cannot tell the story of climate change without telling the story of twentieth-century capitalism. This isn’t just a missed opportunity or a partial story—it’s the wrong story.
We’re not going to get a decarbonized energy system by 2050. We’re going to fail the climate targets, probably by a large margin, and I suspect that a warming of about 3 degrees centigrade is going to be almost inevitable. It’s perfectly possible that self-amplifying feedback mechanisms under way will amplify this change even more.
From Ecosocialist Horizons: The First Ecosocialist International is not just another gathering, nor another reunion of intellectuals to define ecosocialism. Neither is it a single organization with a seal, or with the omnipresent danger of becoming a bureaucracy. It’s simply a common program of struggle, with moments of encounter and exchange, which anyone may join.
Barry Saxifrage writes: What determines our climate fate is how much climate-polluting fossil fuels we burn. Renewables are great, but only if they actually replace oil, gas, or coal. Sadly, rising renewables haven’t stopped our fossil fuel burn. Instead, we keep expanding both renewables and fossil fuels at the same time, in a new business-as-usual.
In this essay, a contribution to the‘Pathways to the Post-Carbon Economy’ symposium by Insurge Intelligence, the author argues persuasively that the much-hyped “renewable energy technologies” cannot play any role in solving the multifaceted global crisis of today; on the contrary, investing in them is a waste of time, effort, energy and, most important of all, scarce resources.
The determinant element in the concept of eco-socialism is the prefix eco. And that means the rejection of industrialism. A good socialist only needs to rejects capitalism. But to be an eco-socialist one must also reject industrialism as a future perspective for mankind, and agree to a program of de-industrialization (now often clumsily called de-growth).
Clive Hamilton writes: Our best scientists tell us insistently that a calamity is unfolding, that the life-support systems of the Earth are being damaged in ways that threaten our survival. Yet, faced with these facts, we carry on as usual. Most citizens ignore or downplay the warnings; many of our intellectuals indulge in wishful thinking.
In his new book, Why Are We Waiting? The Logic, Urgency and Promise of Tackling Climate Change, Nicholas Stern explains why, notwithstanding the great attractions of a new path, it’s been so difficult to tackle climate change. He makes a compelling case for climate action now and sets out the forms that action should take.
Rupert Read writes: In financial parlance, a ‘black swan’ is a radically unexpected event. Ever-worsening man-made climate change (that is, barring a system change) is not a potential ‘black swan’ event. It’s a white swan, an expected event. It is, quite simply, completely what anyone with a basic understanding of the situation should now expect.
Editor’s Note: Last week, Ecologise carried the well-known Marxist scholar John Bellamy Foster’s foreword to a new book, Facing the Anthropocene. In response, noted eco-socialist writer Saral Sarkar posted a comment questioning the usefulness of Marxist analysis in understanding the global ecological crisis. This short piece, first published on Ecologise, is Foster’s reply to Sarkar.
The Paris climate agreement was hailed by Al Gore as the moment when “the community of nations finally made the decision to act”. But there’s been no readjustment of energy stock prices since then. Indeed, the flotation of a tranche of Saudi oil giant Aramco, is expected to create the most valuable company on earth.
The Guardian reports: The oil giant Shell issued a stark warning of the catastrophic risks of climate change more than a quarter of century ago in a prescient 1991 film that has been rediscovered. However, since then the multinational company has invested heavily in highly polluting oil reserves and also helped lobby against climate action.
There’s a fundamental difference between the ecology movement and social movements of the past. The demands of social movements could be fulfilled to a large extent, thanks to the growing cake. But with the emergence of the ecology movement, the situation has changed completely. Now, not only must the cake not grow, it must shrink.
Andreas Malm writes: Mainstream climate discourse is positively drenched in references to humanity as such, human nature, the human enterprise, humankind as one big villain driving the train. Enter Naomi Klein, who in ‘This Changes Everything’ lays bare the myriad ways in which capital accumulation pour fuel on the fire now consuming the earth system.
On the eve of the American presidential election, where the two leading candidates offer little hope for climate action, it’s worth revisiting this hard-hitting 2006 article by Chad Harbach, who warned, “(Other countries) will do nothing until the United States demonstrates that a grand-scale transition to renewable energy can be achieved by big industrial countries.”
To fight climate change, a war-like mobilization a la McKibben is not necessary. Actually we are not at war at all. If we are, then it is we who are the aggressors, we are the enemy of nature. Then the first task for the transition is to end our aggression. We need only to withdraw.
Michael T. Klare writes: Nationalistic exceptionalism could become something of the norm if Donald Trump wins, or other nations put the needs of a fossil fuel-based domestic growth agenda ahead of global climate commitments. In its latest report, the Norwegian energy giant Statoil outlines a chilling scenario focused on just this sort of dystopian future.
Shankar Sharma writes: It’s evident that an economic policy focusing on high GDP growth rate has not only not resulted in the elimination of poverty, but is certainly leading to accelerated depletion of our natural resources and to the unacceptable level of pollution of land, water and air, while contributing to the global warming phenomenon.