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Issue #1635      April 16, 2014

Culture & Life

Opposing global warming and supporting fascism

There’s a supposed plot idea for a movie (or a novel) being circulated on the Internet at the moment that goes like this: 97 percent of the world’s scientists contrive an environmental crisis, but are exposed by a plucky band of billionaires and oil companies.

I don’t know if it has success written all over it, but it is certainly topical. The great majority of the naysayers about global warming are conservative, right-wing politicians with a vested interest in denying the reality of global warming. They represent or are financially dependent on corporations that market fossil fuels or manufacture goods that depend on or are derived from fossil fuels. They are provided with vocal support by a tiny group of scientists – almost none of whom are climate scientists – who nevertheless have discovered that they can achieve a certain amount of notoriety if not fame (and also oil company funding) by speaking out against global warming.

Every move by governments to protect the public from harmful products marketed with great gusto by greedy corporations has been met by those corporations digging up an obscure scientist who in return for corporate dollars is willing to go on an international lecture tour to deny that food additives are harmful, or that there is any link between cigarettes and cancer, heart disease and the rest, or that oil drilling in the Arctic poses environmental risks, or that mean global temperatures are rising.

A number of commentators have pointed out the obvious: that if the deniers turn out to be right, and we unnecessarily restrict greenhouse gas emissions, turn away from fossil fuels and develop green sources of renewable energy, no great harm will have been done. We can wipe our brows, say “Phew!” and relax our restrictions if we wish. But the world will not have suffered any irreparable harm.

On the other hand, however, if the bulk of the scientific community is right, and we take no action to halt global warming (as Tony Abbott would have us do), then the world is going to see rising sea levels, galloping desertification, more destructive storms and droughts, and possibly the end of all life on Earth. Who in his right mind would take that risk, gambling the future of the planet on the assurances of the global warming deniers?

NITV (National Indigenous Television) is running a documentary series on weekday afternoons at present called simply Tipping Points. The two episodes I have seen were about the thawing of the Arctic permafrost. The scientists were working in Alaska, but the same thing is happening in Canada and Siberia: the permafrost is thawing out and melting. As one of the scientists said last week: five million years ago the Earth’s temperature rose about five degrees, but it took several thousand years to do so. The latest cycle of global warming is also expected to raise the temperature by up to five degrees – but in just the space of two centuries!

The scientists working on the thawing of the permafrost also point out that if the permafrost melts completely, it will release into the atmosphere all the CO2 and methane currently locked away in the frozen soil and water that comprises the permafrost. It is estimated that that would mean the release into the atmosphere of an additional two trillion tonnes of greenhouse gasses!

This is not a statistic that we can afford to ignore. We cannot simply hope that it will not be as bad as feared and do nothing, trusting in a handful of scientists who disagree with almost all their colleagues. And even they do not all deny the reality of global warming. Many of them simply don’t agree that humans have caused it.

The common sense thing to do is to assume that humans have caused it, and to take all practical measures possible to change the practices believed responsible and reverse the process. As I said before, if it turns out to have been unnecessary, so what? Where’s the harm? But if the climate scientists are right, and we ignore them, we will be playing fast and loose with the future of life on Earth.

Meanwhile, Western leaders have been playing fast and loose with the truth about the situation in Ukraine. The population in Crimea voted overwhelmingly in favour of union with Russia in a poll that was scrupulously fair and legal. The US government, of course, wholeheartedly committed to democracy as it is, promptly announced that it would not recognise the results. Who cares what the people want? It’s what Uncle Sam wants that counts!

Inevitably other Russian-speaking parts of Ukraine have demanded the right to vote on seceding from Ukraine and joining Russia, as the motley gang of fascists and ultra-nationalists who have seized control in Kiev try to impose their racist neo-fascist policies (with their anti-Jewish and anti-ethnic-Russian agenda) on the rest of the country.

It is being borne in on Western leaders that their heavy reliance on fascists in Ukraine (and also in Venezuela) may have been a tactical error, as it alerted the populace to the real nature of the forces supposedly “fighting for democracy”. Significantly, the news footage of the people demonstrating in favour of joining Russia has included numerous shots of people vocally and visibly opposing fascism.

In the 1970s in Chile, when the US was trying to destabilise the government of Salvador Allendé, they mobilised (and paid) gangs of fascist thugs to take control of the streets away from the Left. This is clearly the same tactic they used in Kiev and are now trying to use in Venezuela. When it doesn’t work, as it didn’t in Chile and hasn’t in Venezuela, they tend to drop all pretence of heeding the democratic will of the people and resort to an outright military coup.

Or they invade, in order ostensibly to restore order (and democracy, of course), which was their scenario in Libya, and would have been also in Syria had Russia not been so firm. That imperialism is so openly supporting fascists is a worry for the whole world.

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