‘Let’s be honest. The activities of our economic and social system are killing the planet. Even if we confine ourselves merely to humans, these activities are causing an unprecedented privation, as hundreds of millions of people-and today more than yesterday, with probably more tomorrow-go their entire lives with never enough to eat. Yet curiously, none of this seems to stir us to significant action.’ — Derek Jensen, The Culture of Make Believe
Every week new scientific reports are published that note how industrial civilization is driving us towards catastrophic climate change. Climate change is already having a massive impact all over the world. California, for instance, is experiencing its worst drought in 1200 years. Corporate politicians all over the world are beholden to their big business paymasters and so keep on glossing over or ignoring the issues. Meanwhile, the corporate media tries to lull the population into a false sense of security with its endless stories full of hope that science and technology will save the day.
Guy McPherson is professor emeritus of Natural Resources and the Environment at the University of Arizona and a prolific author on environmental concerns. These are extracts from an interview which has a very pessimistic prognosis for us all, that is perhaps offers a little too much doom and gloom for socialists, the eternal optimists.
DM: It is clear that the capitalist class across the globe have neither the intention nor the knowledge of how to stop catastrophic climate change. The pursuit of hydraulic fracking, tar sands, nuclear energy, geo-engineering all reveal how the capitalist system is blind to the pursuit of profit at all costs. We cannot place any faith in corporate politicians of any stripe to help ordinary people cope with the effects of climate change as it gets worse and worse. Who should ordinary people turn to for help in coping with climate change?
GMcP: The corporate governments and the corporate media are not interested in we, the people. They are interested in profits for the corporations. As individuals and as a species, I doubt we have much time left on the planet.
DM: Many people sign petitions, send letters, organise lobbies of politicians and regulators in the hope of stopping the destruction of the environment. Is this type of resistance enough to stop capitalist civilization from destroying the planet?
GMcP: Apparently not. This type of work has been proceeding for decades, and the 150-200 species are still driven to extinction each day.
McPherson’s farewell conclusion in this interview is “I recommend passionately pursuing a life of excellence rooted in love. Identify what you love. Pursue it, with passion. Throw off the shackles of a culture gone seriously awry. Along the way, you’ll be viewed as insane. Most professional psychotherapists, embedded in an omnicidal culture, will provide little help. Find your tribe. Spend time with those you love. Love the ones you’re with.”
What we do know about global warming suggests that because global warming is a process that “feeds on itself,” unless its causes are removed long before a “tipping point” is reached, “runaway” may begin at some point, and it will be impossible to halt the process. The reason it’s essential to remove the causes far in advance of the arrival of the “tipping point,” is that the greenhouse gases that are directly responsible for global warming will remain in the atmosphere for centuries, perhaps much longer; and although their degree of presence in the atmosphere will diminish over time, while they are still present, they will contribute to continued heating. It’s conceivable that certain geo-engineering measures could be developed, however, it’s improbable that these will occur—and that if such measures are developed, they will be implemented, and in time.
The World Socialist Movement suggests another approach to McPherson’s fatalism and resignation which may be appropriate to those who advocate solutions based on the ‘greening’ of the economy through capitalism, which simply maintains an illusion that is fostered and funded by political elites and financial institutions.
An ecological socialist revolution consists of a complete change in the social organisation of production, reproduction and consciousness, that will revolutionise the way human societies produce and distribute wealth in order to create “non-alienated work” (i.e. work that is not dependent on the whims of an exploitative capitalist class, and where the fruits of labour belong to the workers rather than the ‘owners’). With greater social justice, and respect for life, there would be less need and desire to exploit the Earth irresponsibly.