Crises in the Environment: 3 Reasons Why Nothing Less Than Revolution Is Urgently Needed

May 16, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper |


Refugees from Syria where hellish wars and climate change have made life impossible at a refugee camp in Suruc, at the Turkey-Syria border. Photo: AP


1. In early May, researchers at Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Chemistry and the Cyprus Institute in Nicosia released a report that they have “calculated that the Middle East and North Africa could become so hot that human habitability is compromised.” And that “The goal of limiting global warming to less than two degrees Celsius, agreed at the recent UN climate summit in Paris, will not be sufficient to prevent this scenario.” Already climate change—along with hellish wars throughout the region—is a significant factor driving millions of refugees from their homes as farmland turns to desert and heat waves kill off crops and grazing animals. And this situation would be exponentially worse if these calculations are borne out.


2. In late April, CNN reported that over 90 percent of the Great Barrier Reef is suffering from coral bleaching, which is a product of rising sea temperatures. The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) along the northeastern coast of Australia supports or hosts one tenth of all species of marine life on earth. It nurtures fish and sea life that keep millions of people in poor countries alive. As much as 93 percent of the 1,429 miles reef suffers from some level of bleaching—an effect that indicates the corals and algae that make up the reef are endangered or dying.

Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada, May 4, 2016. Fire fighters frantically battle wildfires. Hot temperatures and other products of climate change have transformed the boreal forest in much of Canada, Alaska, and Russia into tinder boxes. Photo: AP


3. A ferocious forest fire nearly destroyed the western Canadian city of Fort McMurray, forcing tens of thousands to flee for their lives. Climate change is degrading and destroying vast tracts of forest that ring the Northern Hemisphere across Canada, Alaska, and Russia. Those forests play a key role in regulating Earth’s temperature, and their destruction makes things much worse.

There is a moment of truth here: Nowhere, in the plans and strategic thinking of anyone in this world with any power is there anything close to coming to grips with the true immensity of this crisis and addressing it in ways that have anything to do with the interests of humanity.

Why? Because production in a capitalist system can only proceed if it is profitable; and it can only proceed through expand-or-die competition with other capitalists. This sets the terms for what is and is not possible in this system. Actually moving to deal with the level of environmental disaster we now confront would mean such huge transformations and massive dislocations and losses that there is no will to do so.

So they try to channel you into “adapting” to a world where hundreds of millions can’t survive and are driven to seek refuge. “Be grateful,” they preach to those in the richer parts of the world, that the worst of this isn’t happening to you, right now. They push you to hope—and even demand—that walls and armies, deserts and oceans will keep those desperate hundreds of millions from fucking up your life too much.

Listen: things do NOT have to be this way. A socialist society that supported revolution worldwide and that organized society’s resources to advance beyond exploitation and oppression of any kind, could develop an economy aiming to meet people’s basic needs and protect and revive the environment. Such a society would have a real basis to muster the energy, knowledge, and creativity of humanity to address this global crisis in a way that proceeds from the interests of all humanity.

Getting to that society—making revolution, and nothing less—would require sacrifice. But in the face of this crisis—and in the face of the tremendous suffering this system causes in every other sphere—is that not a sacrifice worth making?



Climate-exodus expected in the Middle East and North Africa—Part of the Middle East and North Africa may become uninhabitable due to climate change,” Max Planck Institute, May 2, 2016

How Climate Change is Behind the Surge of Migrants to Europe,” Time, September 7, 2015

Global Warming Cited as Wildfires Increase in Fragile Boreal Forest,” New York Times, May 11, 2016

Study: Over 90% of Great Barrier Reef suffering from coral bleaching,” CNN, April 20, 2016


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