United Nations’ Scientists Call for Drastic Action on Climate Change—The World Cries Out for Revolution

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From a volunteer:

The Earth is facing a climate emergency. Human-caused climate change is killing thousands every year, fueled by this system of capitalism-imperialism.

The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently issued a report, “Global Warming of 1.5° C,” calling for an urgent global response to keep Earth’s temperature from rising 2.7° Fahrenheit (1.5° Centigrade) over the level that existed prior to 1900. Ninety-one scientists from 40 countries wrote the report, analyzing more than 6,000 scientific studies. Representatives from island nations had called for the UN to assess the impact of 2.7° F change, fearing that their countries would become uninhabitable due to rising sea levels.

“It’s a line in the sand and what it says to our species is that this is the moment and we must act now,” said Debra Roberts, a contributor to the report. “This is the largest clarion bell from the science community and I hope it mobilizes people and dents the mood of complacency.”

Fossil Fuels, Global Warming, and Capitalism-Imperialism

The burning of fossil fuels (like oil, coal, natural gas and petroleum) releases immense rivers of gases into the atmosphere. Some of these gases stay in the air and trap heat from the sun. This is the main thing driving the increase in global temperatures and drastically transforming the planet.

Plundering Earth for coal, oil, and natural gas to fuel the global economy is deeply woven into the workings of capitalism-imperialism. This system can’t rid itself of this addiction because capitalists are forced to ruthlessly compete with each other for maximum returns and strategic advantage, driving them to use the cheapest and most widely available sources of energy, and treating environment impacts of their production—like greenhouse gas emissions—as something “external”—not factored into their profit and loss calculations. Instead these environmental costs are off-loaded onto society and the planet.

The cutthroat competition that propels capitalism means the capitalists can’t afford to do otherwise—no matter their professed, or even sincere, environmental concerns. This is why in 2017—when report after report warned of the danger of rising global temperatures—the world pumped out MORE greenhouse gases than in any previous year, and the last four years have been the hottest ever recorded.

The Current Situation Is Deadly... and the Future Far Worse

The impact of climate change in the world today is already a catastrophe.

The global average temperature has risen about 1.8° F since 1900. In previous reports, the IPCC had been uncertain about whether current extreme weather events such as hurricanes/cyclones, heat waves, wildfires, droughts are caused by climate change. The new report is clear: it can be said with “high confidence” that human-caused global warming is already having a profound, and deadly, effect.

These changes are responsible for the deaths of thousands every year. A heat wave struck Europe in 2003 and killed 70,000 people. Worldwide, the number of weather-related natural disasters has more than tripled since the 1960s and these are responsible for 60,000 fatalities each year, mainly in poor countries. In 2015, 19 million people were displaced because of climate or weather-related natural disasters.

Despite knowing the dangers of global warming for decades, the world produced MORE greenhouse gases than ever before. Britain is pushing ahead with natural gas fracking, Norway with oil exploration in the Arctic, and the German government wants to tear down Hambach Forest to dig for coal. The United States, the second largest producer of greenhouse gases, is working to expand the use of coal. Donald Trump mocks climate change and is pulling the U.S. out of the Paris international climate accord. Brazil, the seventh largest producer of greenhouse gases, is on the verge of electing a president who also promises to abandon the Paris agreement.

At the current rate, global temperatures will rise 5.4° F (3° C) over their preindustrial levels by 2100 and possibly far sooner. At this level, the scientists writing the report conclude, “The world as it was in 2020 is no longer recognizable.” Agriculture may collapse in whole regions, more intense hurricanes/cyclones will wipe out whole cities, hundreds of millions will be displaced, vast coastal regions will be submerged.

Targets and Consequences

Much of the IPCC report looks at what will happen in the environment at different average global temperatures. In particular the report looks at changes at 3.6° F (2° C) and 2.7° F (1.5° C).

The target put forward at the 2015 Paris climate summit and in previous reports from the UN was 3.6° F (2° C) of warming (over pre-1900 levels). The new report breaks with this and argues that the world needs to do everything that it can to prevent this. At this level, the report predicts:

  • Tens, or even hundreds, of millions of people will be forced to migrate across borders, especially in tropical regions. “In some parts of the world, national borders will become irrelevant,” said Aromar Revi, an author of the report. “You can set up a wall to try to contain 10,000 and 20,000 and one million people, but not 10 million.”
  • Ice covers Greenland and the Antarctic. This ice has been melting at an accelerating pace and resulting in a rise in sea levels. On the East Coast of the U.S., sea levels have risen about a foot, causing much greater damage from storm surges during the recent hurricanes. At 3.6° F, rising sea levels will flood coastal regions and Pacific islands. It is estimated that sea levels will increase 1.5 feet at these temperatures. Cities such as Miami and Shanghai will be largely submerged.
  • Ice-free summers in the Arctic will happen every ten years, threatening the survival of polar bears, whales, seals, seabirds, and other species.
  • 37% of the world’s population will experience extreme heat waves every five years.
  • Droughts will affect more than 411 million people, leading to widespread famine.
  • 99% of coral reefs will die. 18% of insects, 16% of plants, and 8% of vertebrates will lose at least half of the territory where they are able to live (habitat). Habitat loss is directly related to species extinction. According to reports, one million species may become extinct within 50 years at this temperature.

The IPCC scientists want to limit the increase to 2.7° F. (1.5° C). Even at that level, humanity and Earth will experience horrendous effects. According to a 2014 report from the World Health Organization, annual deaths from heat exposure will increase to as many as 250,000 worldwide, with the world’s poorest regions suffering the greatest number of fatalities. And this doesn’t include people who will perish as a result of hurricanes, flooding, disruption of food supplies, and other causes that are not directly heat related. Seventy to 90 percent of coral reefs will die. Coastal flooding will increase dramatically.

This is what the world will be like in 2040 and possibly as early as 2030. That’s just 10 to 20 years from now!

The report proposes drastic measures in order to limit climate change to this level. These measures include a rapid phaseout of fossil fuels, mass deployment of solar and wind energy, and the eradication of emissions from cars, trucks, and airplanes.

Report Under Fire

The IPCC report has been both attacked and ignored. The right wing National Review called it “alarmist” and “hyperbole.” Trump’s response was, “I want to look at who drew it—you know, which group drew it,” which may mean that he wants to investigate the scientists who wrote the report. Media Matters reported that they surveyed 60 major U.S. newspapers the day after the report was issued and most did not report on it at all.

If anything the report understates the danger. It is “a relatively conservative assessment,” Bob Ward, a climate expert at the London School of Economics, wrote in the Guardian newspaper: But it [the summary for policy makers] does not mention the potential for human populations to migrate and be displaced as a result, leading to the possibility of war.... The summary also leaves out important information about so-called ‘tipping points’ in the climate system, beyond which impacts become unstoppable, irreversible or accelerate.”

Breaking Out of the Confines

Although the new IPCC report is playing an important role in sounding the alarm about climate change, it is constrained by its framework of working inside the capitalist-imperialist system and relying on the powerful countries that dominate the UN to carry out changes. This is, at best, an illusion.

Let’s not mince words: the situation is urgent, the future of humanity is at stake and, at present, far, far, too little is being done to stop climate change and address its impacts. Opposition needs to rock the planet, infused with urgency, and more clearly directed at the system that is responsible.

Capitalism-imperialism cannot be reformed, and is incapable of protecting Earth. Only revolution that overthrows capitalism and puts a new, radically different, socialist system in its place can save the planet.

Even with all the challenges inherent in trying to tackle a problem like this, on that basis it will be possible to unleash the knowledge, energy, and creativity of the people, from scientists to those who are the most oppressed today, to solve this without the economic and social relations of this system standing in the way.

Anyone who cares about the future of humanity and the planet needs to get with this revolution and nothing less. There is decisive work to be done right now in making this revolution. Join with us and become an emancipator of humanity and a savior of the planet.

Stop Capitalism-Imperialism from Destroying Our Planet!
Revolution—Nothing Less!


Between 70 and 90% of coral reefs will die if global temperatures rise to 2.7° over pre-industrial levels; 99% will die if it rises to 3.6°. [Credit Smithsonian Institution]

More than 3,000 died when Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in 2017. Warmer waters, warmer air, and the amount of water vapor in the air all intensify with climate change and contribute to more powerful and destructive hurricanes. [Credit: roosevelt.skerrit Flikr]

Soybeans show the effect of the Texas drought near Navasota, Texas on August 21, 2013. [USDA photo by Bob Nichols.]

"Not fit caretakers of the earth"

A clip from Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About, a film of a talk by Bob Avakian" given in 2003. Watch the whole talk at revolutiontalk.net.


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