The World Bank recognizes we’re on the track for a 4 degree warmer world—by the end of this century. Kevin Anderson of the UK’s Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research explains a 4 degrees Celsius warming (7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) is ‘incompatible with any reasonable characterization of an organized, equitable and civilized global community’. Why haven’t the peoples of the world mobilised to save the planet? The answer is we have not done the things that are necessary to lower emissions because these things fundamentally conflict with capitalism. The actions that would give us the best chance of averting catastrophe—and would benefit the vast majority—are extremely threatening to an elite minority that has a stranglehold over our economy, our political process, and most of our media outlets. The climate change denialists may be wrong but as Naomi Klein writes “but when it comes to the scope and depth of change required to avert catastrophe, they are right on the money.” To avoid economic collapse capitalism requires unfettered expansion yet what is needed to avoid society’s collapse is a contraction in humanity’s use of resources. Only one of these sets of rules can be changed, and it’s not the laws of nature. No amount of technological “fixes” will do the trick.
People must confront the perverse and dehumanising logic of capitalism. Socialists have long talked of the class war between capitalists and workers , now we must refer to the war between capitalism and our planet. Humanity’s survival requires a new economic system. Trying to protect the existing social system is dishonest and delusional because a way of economics based on the promise of infinite growth cannot be defended. Socialists must build a movement that advocates system change not climate change. Don't expect much help from mainstream environmental groups such as the Nature Conservancy. Don’t places any hope in the “enlightened billionaires” who have expressed interest in environmental protection policies. Could there be anything crazier than expecting rich people to save us by geo-engeering projects.
Naomi Klein points out the obvious lesson: hope lies not with a new climate movement but with a coming together of all the living movements to pursue “the unfinished business of liberation” when awareness and political engagement aren't only for activists but become part of everyday life. She continues that the situation may not look too promising now, but we have to be ready for the “moments when the impossible seems suddenly possible” to be “harnessed not only to denounce the world as it is, and build fleeting pockets of liberated space. It must be the catalyst to actually build the world that will keep us all safe. The stakes are simply too high, and time too short, to settle for anything less.”
No one has magic powers of prediction but put all the bad news together and the apocalyptic downward spiral set in motion by fossil-fueled capitalism may never be reversed in time to save the human race from extinction. Capitalism’s achievement has been to give us the ability and the process of exterminating ourselves and maybe every other living things as well. Throughout the world, people of all countries need to act with urgency to switch to a genuine socialist economy that aims at sustainability rather than endless consumption and growth, an economy based on renewable energy rather than fossil fuels, an economy devoted to life rather than to profits, an ecologically sound economy that functions as a part of the ecosystem with its people interacting in a cooperative way. The question facing us all is whether we stick with the capitalist rat-race and perish as a species, or abandon that rat-race and survive?