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Issue #1855      February 6, 2019

On climate change and revolution

Human civilisation is at a crossroad as future life on the planet is threatened. Humanity must reduce net emissions of greenhouse gases to ZERO by 2050 if we are to have a chance to limit global warming and save the world for future generations!

The United Nations Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has recently warned that even 1.5°C of warming will have “brutal consequences” – but urges us to keep warming to that level so young people and the next generation at least have “a fighting chance” for the future!

At the moment, the world’s governments have given the United Nations a “pledge to cut emissions, but the targets they set themselves, even if they achieved them, would deliver a disastrous 3°C of global warming by 2100. These pledges are yet to be made enforceable. Worse, the current rate of emissions is on track to deliver 4°C warming!

This level of warming will trigger an unprecedented ecological catastrophe – pushing us past possible “tipping points” that could cause uncontrollable runaway heating and lead to extinction of all life on the planet.

The IPCC says that “technically” we have the ability to reduce emissions sufficiently to keep global warming to 1.5°C (it has already risen 1°C above pre-industrial level), but if we are to do so, humanity MUST ACT NOW – at a speed and scale without “documented historic precedent”.

The problem is political and systemic

The IPCC delivered its urgent recommendations to a United Nations climate summit in Poland at end of Nov 2018, attended by 200 governments. This summit however, ignored the key question – how can governments readjust their emissions targets to keep global warming to 1.5°C.

The United States and Australia, provocatively, joined into a “celebration of coal” at the summit. The United States, under the Trump administration, has sworn to pull out of any further climate agreements!

Back in Australia, Liberal-National Prime Minister Scott Morrison declared he had no intention of spending money on global climate conferences and “all that sort of nonsense,” but said he would not follow the US out of the Paris climate treaty because that would be “catastrophic” – not for the climate, but for Australia’s attempts to land a free trade deal with Europe!

Politicians and governments seem unwilling or unable to do anything substantial about the impending and self-made threat to civilisation and life on the planet. This stems from an increasingly obvious fact – that governments no longer even attempt to appear to serve the people!

They serve the masters of a system that ruthlessly exploits humanity and nature in a relentless, worldwide pursuit of profit.

This is the capitalist system and it cannot and will not prevent global ecological catastrophe; its heedless drive for profits and growth regardless of social or environmental costs has created the crisis in the first place!

Uncontrolled emission of greenhouse gases is just a symptom of the depth and extent of the crisis in which this system has placed humanity.

The present global political-economic system is dragging us inevitably toward a global disaster that includes:

  • Impending environmental catastrophe – global warming, ocean acidification, widespread habitat destruction and a march to mass extinction;
  • Extreme and growing economic inequality; and re-emergence of a global economic crisis, that will feed revolt and affect the livelihood of billions;
  • And exacerbating all other environmental and economic crises – societies increasingly taking on the features of police-surveillance states; growing militarisation and re-emergence of fascism, and a drift towards disastrous, worldwide, nuclear war.

Power to the People

Most people sincerely desire to live in a sustainable – and sustaining – society, but this society, geared to serve the insatiable needs of profit and the aggrandisement of capital, is deeply hostile to the life forces on the planet.

We need to challenge this brutal, exploitative system and to overcome the power of those who – with their wealth, power and greed – confront the rest of humanity, across the whole range of social, economic, political, ethical and existential values.

The IPCC has declared that we must act now, at a speed and on a scale that has “no documented historic precedent”.

This is, effectively, a call for a deep and vast social revolution – one that fundamentally changes society; one that changes us. It is a call to change the world!

We, the world’s people, can no longer remain in the thrall of the global profit takers and the planet’s despoilers. We must resolve to take a path towards sustainability: we the great majority of humanity, whose labour creates the world’s wealth, must wrest power back from the global, corporate elites, into our own hands;

We must establish a society that serves people’s needs, not corporate greed: the key to this is to bring the largest corporations under public ownership and control;

We need to bring about a society based on cooperation and planning, not exploitation and brutalisation.

It is in our power, collectively, to create the means to live in a civil, enlightened, global society, harmoniously with nature and with each other, but nothing less than a conscious and determined effort by common humanity will achieve this; and nothing less than achieving this will give humanity a chance to pull back from the ecological disaster towards which the present course is sweeping us.

We can force the pace of change by building broad unity among people demanding change – and we need to isolate and undercut the most reactionary elements of the capitalist class. We can link up nationally and globally, as well as focus on community and the workplace and industry.

We must confront the exploiters! We the people must take the power – we must dare to win! We can lose everything if we don’t!

We can change the world! Help us create a better future!

Next article – Taking Issue – Power a class question

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