The world is warming and the Sixth Extinction is happening. CO2 knows no borders; it’s worldwide. The urgent need for a meaningful solution to the climate problem could hardly be more apparent. We potentially face unparalleled catastrophes yet most Americans (and I dare say many from other nations) say they are just not that worried about it according to a new poll. Fewer than one in four Americans are extremely or very worried about it and 38 percent - were not too worried or not at all worried. The problem isn’t simply climate change. It is the crisis created by an economy that extracts wealth from communities and puts it in the hands of a few and this is a crisis created by a political system that doesn’t represent the interests of the people. Let’s construct a social democracy that represents the people.
A newly published study warns that "unstoppable" melting in West Antarctica could make a three-meter increase in sea level "unavoidable." According to researchers at Germany's Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, the vulnerable Amundsen Sea sector of West Antarctica "has most likely been destabilized." They point to recent studies indicating that this area of the ice continent is "the first element in the climate system about to tip." The researchers Johannes Feldmann and Anders Levermann explained, "If the Amundsen Sea sector is destabilized, then the entire marine part of West Antarctica will be discharged into the ocean." If that is true, computer modeling suggests the consequences could be catastrophic, initiating a process "which is then unstoppable and goes on for thousands of years," said Feldmann, lead author of the study.
Anders Levermann noted that if swift carbon reductions are not implemented, "further greenhouse-gas emission will heighten the risk of an ice collapse in West Antarctica and more unstoppable sea-level rise." Otherwise, he warned, rising oceans could "destroy our future heritage by consuming the cities we live in."
As governments set climate targets, they're working even harder to expand the extractive global economy that could deepen the climate crisis. The draft agreement they’ll be using in Paris as the basis for discussion makes no reference to fossil fuels at all. Perhaps that should come as no surprise, given that dirty energy companies and their financial backers are among the sponsors of the summit. In the absence of a concrete plan to roll back our reliance on coal, oil and gas, governments are offering climate “solutions” that let countries keep on burning them. They’re entertaining ideas like carbon capture, use, and storage, or CCUS — a technology that would allow facilities like power plants to pump carbon emissions into the ocean or underground geologic formations. The approach is unfeasibly expensive, risky, and unproven at scale, but the U.S. and China favor it as an option that would preserve the role of dirty fuels. The emerging concept of “net-zero” emissions goes a step further. Under that scheme, countries would be allowed to “offset” their carbon pollution with technologies that are meant to pull carbon dioxide out of the air, like producing vast quantities of charcoal and adding it to soils. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that 6 billion hectares of biomass — that’s four times the total land used today to grow all the world’s food — would be needed to match our fossil fuel use. That’s ridiculous. We need to cut carbon, not find new places to bury it. We need a new economy based on using less — and sharing it better.
All the things that scientists, climatologists, oceanographers, have been warning about for many years will accelerate; sea-level rise, increasing droughts and/or floods, deadly industrial pollution from flooding, larger and more devastating storms on land and sea, the Gulf Stream may already be in jeopardy, as well as other ocean currents, salinity, and fragile ecosystems, global food production/harvest disruption (at best), numerous extinctions as mentioned - the list is long and very little good, especially for humans. Unless this is somehow reversed, it does not bode well for our planet and its peoples. Climate change will degrade or destroy many natural systems, often already under stress, on which humans rely for their survival. Some areas that now support agriculture or animal husbandry may become uninhabitable or capable only of providing for greatly diminished populations. Under the pressure of rising temperatures and increasingly fierce droughts, the southern fringe of the Sahara desert, for example, is now being transformed from grasslands capable of sustaining nomadic herders into an empty wasteland, forcing local nomads off their ancestral lands. Many existing farmlands in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East will suffer a similar fate. Rivers that once supplied water year-round will run only sporadically or dry up altogether. Some people will stay and fight to survive; others will migrate, almost assuredly encountering a far more violent version of the hostility we already see toward immigrants and refugees in the lands they head for.
The result, inevitably, will be a global epidemic of resource civil wars and resource violence of every sort. Most of these conflicts will be of an internal, civil character: clan against clan, tribe against tribe, sect against sect, but however, don’t rule out struggles among nations for diminished vital resources -- especially access to water. The risk of “water wars” will arise when two or more countries depend on the same key water source -- the Nile, the Jordan, the Euphrates, the Indus, the Mekong, or other trans-boundary river systems -- and one or more of them seek to appropriate a disproportionate share of the ever-shrinking supply of its water. Attempts by countries to build dams and divert the water flow of such riverine systems have already provoked skirmishes and threats of war. A future of great water stresses are not guaranteed to provoke armed combat. Perhaps the states involved will figure out how to share whatever limited resources remain and seek alternative means of survival. Nonetheless, the temptation to employ force is bound to grow as supplies dwindle and millions of people face thirst and starvation. In such circumstances, the survival of the state itself will be at risk, inviting desperate measures.
We have not yet reached a point of no return. Socialists do hold out the hope that mankind can determine its future and that of the planet. Climate change, for the first time has created a situation where the governments of the world will have to step beyond national thinking and embrace a higher goal: the safety of the ecosphere and all its human inhabitants, no matter their national, ethnic, religious, racial, or linguistic identities. Nothing like this has ever been attempted before. It is into this debate that socialists must make their stand. We must present the case that all hope is not lost. We are striving for a new epoch where a new world will emerge.
“There really is no such thing as a human carrying capacity,” writes Erle Ellis, a professor of geography and environmental systems at the University of Maryland “We are nothing at all like bacteria in a petri dish…. Our planet’s human-carrying capacity emerges from the capabilities of our social systems and our technologies more than from any environmental limits.”
New ways to distribute resources and wealth, especially by disrupting the concentration upon money and power must be brought to the attention of the people, too. Many socialists advocate the ideal of a gardened planet cared for by those that live on it. We no longer seek to conquer and dominate Nature but to live in harmony and in symbiotic relationships with the world around us. Socialists are environmentalists to our core and seek a non-exploitative economic system that permits co-operation and collaboration between people that recognises the mutual benefits when we also fully understand the responsibilities of our stewardship of the Earth. Nearly every human on the planet cares. We just need to connect the dots.