Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Living Earth

Bill McKibben's 2010 book is Eaarth: Making Life on a Tough New Planet. Earth is our only home. Global warming is real . And it’s not conducive to better holidays. We fight it or we die with no time for holidays. Our enemy? Fact: 6 of the 12 biggest corporates build cars or pump oil to run them. Either we disable these corporates or fossil fuels will kill us. Not just a collapsing climate but all the destructive wars fought over hydrocarbons that plague us. It’s only a question of what will kill us first. It looks like the weather is already having a go.

Unfortunately McKibben’s solutions fall short of the mark. He lists usual ‘sustainable’ growth, of thinking slower, smaller, local, human scale, solutions. It’s a matter of convincing the enemy to change course by working ‘close to home’. Small, not big: dispersed, not centralised.” (120) But first we have to convince ourselves.

So what to do? McKibben’s vision fits well with broad Green activism; educating ourselves about all aspects of Global Warming and then dedicating ourselves to home-grown solutions to build sustainable alternatives for our survival. So we have to conserve water, food supplies and find new sources of energy. This reads like a Hollywood dystopia movie were a few survivalists start civilisation again after a doomsday event. There is no talk of challenging and overthrowing the capitalist system that relies on oil-driven expansion to make its profits.

What about the solutions put up by James Hansen the pioneer global warming advocate currently touring Aotearoa? He has done more than any other scientist to discover and map the “fast feedback effects” that may cause a sudden climate meltdown? Hansen says the "Greenland ice sheet is losing mass at 200 km3/y (cubic kilometres a year!), the Antarctic ice sheet at 100 km3." And "Last time climate was 2 deg warmer, the sea level was 25m higher". Here is a very bright guy who surely knows that such a risk means that a revolution is needed to avoid the end of Earth and Humanity as we know it.

Back in January, 2009, Hansen said, "We cannot now afford to put off change any longer. We have to get on a new path within this new administration. We have only four years left for Obama to set an example to the rest of the world. America must take the lead." Yet Hansen is an activist only in the sense of calling for the Courts to charge fossil fuel corporates or Congress to outlaw coal mining - though he has been arrested protesting open cast coal mining. But none of this has the urgency or the potential to avoid his famous ‘tipping point’. Obama’s four years will soon be up and CO2 emissions continue to build up at alarming rates.

Clearly the solutions put up by global warming publicists and activists are no way near what is needed to stop a meltdown. The solution must be the overthrow of the social system that has created the problem - production for profit and not need. Our big need is to survive, but that is not profitable. So we have to eliminate profits to survive. Capitalism must die or we die. Climate change activists have to be anti-capitalists.

Fortunately a new generation has made the connections. Look to the Arab revolution and the educated youth coming up against the moribund profit system that starves and represses them. They revolt for ‘freedom’ and form democratic organs to fight for it. Dictators shoot down unarmed protesters, yet the revolution strengthens. They have nothing to lose but a lost generation and a lost planet.

Capitalist barbarism has finally met its match. The educated, unemployed youth rise up against total system dysfunction and breakdown. This is the only road to human survival. The masses mobilise across borders to form regional, continental and ultimately global socialist society in which allocation of resources to meet basic needs are met. The necessary by-product of this social revolution will be the living Earth.