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Issue #1860      March 13, 2019

Editorial

History calls

Human civilisation is at a cross roads 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 to save the world for future generations.

The UN Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns that even l.5°C warming will have “brutal consequences” – but that if we keep warming to that level, at least this and coming generations will have “a fighting chance” for the future!

The world’s governments have pledged to the UN to cut emissions, but the targets they have set for themselves would deliver a disastrous 3°C of global warming by 2100. These pledges are not enforceable, but worse, at current global rate of emissions we are on track to pass 4°C warming!

This level of warming will trigger unprecedented ecological catastrophe – pushing us past possible “tipping points,” causing out of control runaway warming. Technically, says the IPCC, we can reduce emissions sufficiently to keep global warming to l.5°C (it has already risen 1°C above pre-industrial levels), but to do this, HUMANITY MUST ACT NOW – at a speed & scale that is without “documented historic precedent” – if we are to avoid triggering a major extinction event!

The IPCC’s urgent recommendations were presented to the UN climate summit in Poland at end of November 2018, attended by 200 governments. Yet, this summit ignored the key question – how can governments step up their targets to keep emissions to 1.5°C.

The USA and Australia went so far as to join in a “celebration of coal” at the summit. The US swore to withdraw from any further climate agreements. The capitalist system cannot and will not prevent global ecological catastrophe. Its heedless drive for profits and growth regardless of social or environmental cost has created the crisis in the first place.

Uncontrolled greenhouse gas emissions are just a symptom of the depth and extent of the crisis in which capitalism has placed humanity. The present global political-economic system is dragging us inevitably toward a global disaster, that includes:

  • Impending environmental catastrophe – global warming; widespread habitat destruction, and a march to mass extinction;
  • extreme economic inequality; and a global economic crisis that will affect the livelihood of billions;
  • exacerbating all other environmental and economic crises are growing militarisation and re-emergence of fascism and developments reflecting the drive towards war.

In a powerful speech given to the 2009 UN climate summit in Copenhagen, the President of Bolivia, Evo Morales (the only Indigenous government leader at the gathering) summed it up: “… two cultures are under discussion here: the culture of life and the culture of death; the culture of death, which is capitalism. We, the Indigenous peoples, say that it is living better, better at the cost of others,” Morales said.

“Mother Earth or Nature exist and will continue to exist without the human race, but human beings can’t live without planet Earth, therefore, it is our duty to defend the right of Mother Earth.

“We have profound differences with the Western model, and that is under discussion at this moment.

“…our obligation is to save all of humanity and not half of humanity.”

In another strong speech the then Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez noted: “If the climate were one of the biggest capitalist banks, the rich governments would have saved it.”

Chávez correctly laid the blame for climate change at the feet of capitalism. He went further than the immediate demands and principles of the Protocol and the UNFCCC that were being debated. He addressed the nature of the capitalist system, the cause of the crisis. “Can a finite earth support an infinite project? The thesis of capitalism, infinite development, is a destructive pattern… we cannot continue like this.

“Capitalism is the road to hell, to the destruction of the world.” Then paraphrasing Simón Bolívar: “If the destructive nature of capitalism opposes us, let’s fight against it and make it obey us, let’s not wait idly by for the death of humanity.

“History calls on us to unite and fight.”

Next article – NTEU protests casualisation

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