Friday, September 23, 2016

What War?

The Greens are preparing for an all-out war against the fossil fuel industry and climate change. Early this year, Bernie Sanders called for a World War II-scale climate mobilization. Later, the Democratic Party included in its campaign platform a climate plank that read, “We are committed to a national mobilization, and to leading a global effort to mobilize nations to address this threat on a scale not seen since World War II.” Environmentalist, Bill McKibben wrote that we are “literally at war” with climate change, and, like the America of the 1940s, we will have to retool our economy for wartime production; this time, he argued, the weaponry will not be not planes and tanks but photovoltaic solar arrays and wind turbines.

In a Counterpunch article, Elliot Sperber, was more accurate when he pin-pointed the real enemy we face. And it is:
“…the political economic system designed to exact, extract, and exploit resources (and to reinvest its gains into exacting, extracting, and exploiting more resources, ad mortem).”

Critical of McKibben, Sperber argues:
“McKibben’s “war on climate change” only indirectly addresses these structural inequities. Although it might alleviate unemployment, “help ease income inequality,” and clean up the environment to some degree, simply replacing the toxic fossil fuel industry with a clean, green energy sector would do little to correct deeper, systemic problems – such as poverty, slums, our hypertrophic prison system, militarism, and other injustices emanating from our exploitative political economy (one that could be maintained by green cops, and by green armies, just as easily as by their fossil fuel counterparts).”

 Sperber goes on to say:
 “…The laws, rules and institutions governing this society (rather than the fossil fuel industry alone) compel people the world over to perpetrate unprecedented levels of violence against rain forests, rivers, oceans, and human and non-human animals alike, just to survive. To characterize the fossil fuel industry, which merely fuels these ravages, as the primary enemy, and to argue that it should be replaced by a clean, green energy sector, is deeply problematic.”

Sperber continues:
“…if our priority is effectively mitigating climate change’s harms, as opposed to making money, slowing economic production is crucial. Moreover, rather than exacerbating existing poverty, the phasing out of ecocidal industries, such as the fast food industry, could lead to the elimination of poverty; we simply need to produce necessities, such as food, housing, healthcare, and transportation, for their own sake, rather than in exchange for money. Among other benefits, this would eliminate the conflicts of interest that result in such absurdities as food producers refusing to grow, and willfully destroying, tremendous amounts of food each year in order to keep up prices, and market forces driving vulnerable populations from necessary housing in order to develop luxury housing for people who already have more than enough.”

Sperber concludes:
“Rather than McKibben’s “war on climate change,” adequately mitigating the harms associated with climate change (which are inseparable from poverty and exploitation) requires an entirely new, emancipatory political economy, one that produces necessities for human flourishing for their own sake, rather than for exchange… Climate change is not the enemy; it’s merely one of the many harmful effects of our biophagous political economic system. This is what needs to be eliminated.”