Revolution #185, December 13, 2009
Global Emergency: The Earth and Humanity Need Revolution!
World government leaders are meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark from December 7-18, 2009 to discuss global warming. This has raised the hopes of many throughout the world. But the dominant players in Copenhagen are more concerned with preserving the capitalist system and gaining competitive advantage—than saving the planet. And what’s not on the summit’s agenda are the real dimensions of the environmental crisis, the underlying causes, and what’s needed to actually solve this problem.
Planet Earth is facing an extreme and urgent emergency. An impending catastrophe looms. The very things life on this planet depend on—the ecosystems of plants, animals, water, soil, and air—are being destroyed, compromised and changed forever.
The atmosphere and oceans are heating up because of the burning of coal, oil and gas, and the destruction of rainforests. Glaciers and polar ice are melting at an accelerating rate. Increased global warming will mean more powerful hurricanes, and shifts in weather patterns. In Africa where huge sections of humanity already suffer from war, poverty, and lack of food—this will mean even more devastating droughts.
The very fate of the planet is at stake. It is a scientific fact: there will be even bigger, dramatic and irreversible destruction of the planet’s ecosystems, unless there are huge and global changes in the way humanity interacts with the environment.
Today 50% of the world’s forests are gone. The remaining rainforests contain the richest diversity of species on earth (related organisms that can interbreed). But they are being wiped out at an astonishing rate. The current loss of species is estimated to be 1,000 times the natural or normal rate that species go extinct. Water, air and soil all over the world are severely polluted. Virtually every person on the planet has detectable levels of toxic substances such as pesticides that are known to cause cancer, birth defects and other harmful health effects. In the world’s vast oceans, 75% of fisheries are being fished to capacity or over-fished. The oceans themselves are warming and becoming more acidic from absorbing increasing amounts of carbon dioxide being pumped into the air. This threatens coral reefs which are home to some of the earth’s richest ocean life. Dead zones where life no longer exists are expanding in the oceans.
The U.S. accounts for 5% of the world’s population, but 25% of global carbon emissions. The rich capitalist countries of the world are responsible for the great bulk of environmental destruction. But those who suffer the greatest consequences of this are poor people in the Third World.
The planet is being destroyed not because of some "natural process" or "greedy human nature," but because of the nature and workings of a capitalist-imperialist system that treats nature as just one more resource to be exploited and poured into production for profit.
Capitalism cannot deal with the environment in a sustainable or rational way and plan for future generations. Its logic is "profit above all," "expand or die." Its economy is driven by ruthless competition between capitalists constantly trying to gain advantage over other competitors. This is why the capitalist "answer" to the problem of 20% of humanity having no access to clean water is to privatize water and sell it for profit.
The very nature of capitalist production is private and the economy is made up of many competing "capitals," each only concerned with its own expansion. When capitalist interests cut down rainforests for timber and to make palm oil, neither the massive amounts of carbon released into the environment or the destruction of the habitat of the orangutan and Sumatran tiger (and many other species) are even part of the calculations.
Tremendous productive forces and technology already exist that could be used to address the environmental crisis. And most importantly, there are billions of people all over the world, with their vast knowledge and potential creativity, who could be mobilized, led and unleashed to figure out how to put a stop to the way the earth is being destroyed.
To save the very fate of the planet we need revolution—to bring into being socialist societies aimed at a communist world. Under socialism, humanity can interact with the environment in a rational and sustainable way, consciously regulate production, and reverse and transform environmental devastation. In a socialist society ownership and control of production is socialized and there is a planned economy aimed at serving the needs of the people, not profit. The preservation of ecosystems would be integrated as a central priority in economic planning and development. And people will be educated and imbued with a sense of appreciation and responsibility for the protection of the environment.
Under socialism, the masses of people are the single greatest resource. And with all of their creative energy, knowledge and concern, the people can be mobilized to struggle out, discuss, argue and debate, and work together to figure out how to build a society that truly safeguards humanity and the very life of the planet itself. In this way, human society can appreciate the wild, wondrous beauty and complexity of nature and consciously act as guardians of the planet.
Socialist societies have made advances in developing the economy in a rational and ecologically more sound way—but much more is needed and also possible. Bob Avakian, the leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party, has been developing a re-envisioned socialism and communism—a more vibrant and scientific communism that provides a solid basis to go much further and do much better in building a truly emancipating society, including on the environmental front.
If you want a world where people live and flourish…where we act together as caretakers of the globe…where we preserve and enhance the wild and natural world…get with this revolution, and spread it right now. The very fate of the planet and humanity is at stake...and we have a whole world to win.
The environment and human destiny itself is being taken to the brink of disaster.
One of the world’s leading climatologists has spoken out about the upcoming Copenhagen climate summit, saying it would be better for the planet and future generations if the summit collapsed.
James Hansen of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, told the UK Guardian newspaper that the climate negotiations are so deeply flawed that it would be better to start over. Hansen said, “I would rather it not happen if people accept that as being the right track because it's a disaster track." He also said, “We don’t have a leader who is able to grasp [the issue] and say what is really needed. Instead we are trying to continue business as usual.” Hansen is highly critical of Barack Obama—and even Al Gore—who is promoted as a big savior of the environment.
Keep in mind that Hansen was one of the first scientists to sound the alarm about the danger of global warming in the late 1970s, and has done groundbreaking scientific research on the subject. He has been an outspoken voice, telling people the truth about what is happening to the Earth's climate and the dangers posed by the energy practices of the world's largest economies, not least the U.S. He has stood firm despite attacks from powerful forces. The Bush administration repeatedly tried to suppress Hansen’s views and to prevent his findings and recommendations from reaching the broader public.
Hansen’s characterization of the looming danger of global warming is very important for people to hear:
About the Copenhagen Summit's stated goal of reaching some kind of compromise agreement in dealing with global warming caused by the energy practices of the world's economies, Hansen said this:
The Bridge at the Edge of the World: Capitalism, the Environment and Crossing from Crisis to Sustainability, James Gustave Speth, Yale University Press 2008
The End of the Wild, Stephen Meyer, the MIT Press 2006
The Empty Ocean, Richard Ellis, Island Press 2003
“G8 to Earth: Drop Dead,” Revolution #171, August 2, 2009
“Capitalism, the Environment and Ecology Under Socialism,” Raymond Lotta, Revolution #52, June 26, 2006
“How the Palm Oil Industry is Cooking the Climate,” Greenpeace (www.greenpeace.org), November 2007
Reflections, Sketches, and Provocations, Bob Avakian, page 46, Text 9, "The Land Question in the Final Analysis Is a Global Question, or What a Look at a World Map Is Good For"
“Global Warming: the Earth Cries Out for Revolution,” Revolution #108, Nov. 11, 2007
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