"Losing Earth"

Extreme weather linked to      climate change has people reeling around the world:
*   Wildfires in Australia in winter and across the US and Canadian west, including the biggest on record in California, as well as in Europe, where over 70 were killed by one fire, in Greece;
*   Deadly heat waves in numerous, countries this summer;
*   Unprecedented flooding in places like Kerala state in India;
*   Puerto Rico and Houston, especially the poorest residents and people of colour still suffering from Hurricanes Maria and Harvey one year ago.

And yet the official responses at international level are anemic at best, and at worst wildly irrational.

With young people staring down the barrel of a nightmare future, various youth-led movements against climate change have burst out. The latest is Zero Hour, a group of teenagers led by young people.

They stress the urgency of addressing climate change and race, class, and gender are involved.

Science has clearly established that direct pollution and the effects of global warm consequences for people of socially and economically backward and for the poor. But frontline communities did not have to wait for scientific studies to find that out and to name it environmental racism. It is also true that ultimately everyone will suffer harmful impacts from toxic pollution and from climate change, but the differential impact makes it easier for those who profit from it.

Serious damage from global warming is not waiting for the future. It is already happening. However, the death and injury toll and the disruption of people's lives from crop failures, hurricanes, fires, floods, and heat waves is only the tip of the iceberg of the catastrophes that global warming will wreak if nothing more is done to prevent it than the pitifully small measures that have been taken so far.

Scientists have long pointed out that it poses an existential threat to human civilisation. It must be understood that billions die and society could be totally destabilised. The massive worldwide movement of refugees—from wars; from political, racial, ethnic, and sectarian repression; from economic failure; from climate disruption—is set to mushroom vastly with deepening climate chaos. If business as usual approach continues, climate refugees could amount to one billion in less than three decades. If Europe could tilt so strongly toward fascism in response to a tiny fraction of that number of refugees, what semblance of civilisation could survive that?

It must also be understood that that does not have to happen. It is not too late to take action. But nothing short of radical action will avoid catastrophic consequences. And the current political and economic systems dominating planet earth—all of which are founded on capitalist production relations have utterly failed.

In August, the New York Times Magazine ran an article the size of a small book called "Losing Earth", narrating developments from 1979 to 1989 around efforts by environmentalists, scientists, and politicians to tackle climate change. It ends with the US government sabotaging any kind of action at a conference that had been meant to issue a binding international treaty.

The hopelessness of the many, the reticence of scientists, the denialism of economists and other ideologues—none of this can be separated from the underlying toxic ideology that there is no alternative to capitalism. Over the last 40 years capitalism has again and again shown itself incapable of adequately, or even rationally, confronting climate change.

Capitalism's abject failure to confront climate change makes urgent the sense that another world is possible. A world where workers' control of production halts the built-in destructive direction of capitalism-and overthrows its seemingly unbreakable law of value—can in fact be built by transformative movements from below. Now one sees only the tip of that transformative iceberg but its potential to erupt is fermenting. Only that sense can merge with the inevitable eruptions from below and set the stage for a unity of philosophy and revolution that can set afoot a whole new society with a new direction away from self-destruction of humanity and toward total liberation.


Vol. 51, No.22, Dec 2 - 8, 2018