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Issue #1677      March 18, 2015

Culture & Life

Climate change and a Red prom

The respected British newspaper The Guardian has come out fighting on the subject of climate change. The paper’s editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger in a statement says that “climate change stands out as perhaps the single most important issue now facing humanity” and notes that “climate change will probably, within the lifetime of our children, cause untold havoc and stress to our species.”

The paper has launched a series of major articles that it says will cover “what governments can do to attempt to regulate, or otherwise stave off, the now predictably terrifying consequences of global warming beyond 2C by the end of the century.” The paper comes down firmly on the side of the view that the majority of the planet’s unexploited fossil fuels – our remaining reserves of coal, gas and oil – must stay in the ground. That puts the paper at odds with our infamous climate-change denier Tony Abbott, who amazingly ignored all the scientific evidence to go on record in praise of coal!

The Guardian also published an extended excerpt from Naomi Klein’s award-winning and best-selling work, This Changes Everything: “We know that if we continue on our current path of allowing emissions to rise year after year, climate change will change everything about our world. Major cities will very likely drown, ancient cultures will be swallowed by the seas, and there is a very high chance that our children will spend a great deal of their lives fleeing and recovering from vicious storms and extreme droughts. … There are ways of preventing this grim future, or at least making it a lot less dire. But the catch is that these also involve changing everything. For us high consumers, it involves changing how we live, how our economies function, even the stories we tell about our place on earth.

“What if,” she asks, “we realised that real disaster response means fighting inequality and building a just economy – that everyone working for a healthy food system is already a climate warrior? So too, are people fighting for public transit in Brazil; housing and immigrant rights in the United States; battling austerity in Europe; extraction in Australia; pollution in China and India; environmental crime in Africa; and the bad trade deals that lock in all these ills everywhere.”

As readers of our Guardian know, “fighting inequality and building a just economy” means doing away with capitalism and replacing it with Socialism for there is no other way to achieve that aim. People who want to build a just economy while retaining capitalism (which is predicated on inequality and exploitation of the many by the few) are doomed to disappointment.

Klein also dismisses “the assertion that we have been held back [in combating climate change] by a lack of technological solutions.” She points out that “Power from renewable sources like wind and water predates the use of fossil fuels and is becoming cheaper, more efficient, and easier to store every year. The past two decades have seen an explosion of ingenious zero-waste design, as well as green urban planning. Not only do we have the technical tools to get off fossil fuels, we also have no end of small pockets where these low carbon lifestyles have been tested with tremendous success. “

She wants to see the same kind of approach used to achieve “the kind of large-scale transition that would give us a collective chance of averting catastrophe” and is puzzled by the fact that apparently it continues “to elude us”.

She rejects the idea that it might be “human nature” holding us back. “In fact,” she says, “we humans have shown ourselves willing to collectively sacrifice in the face of threats many times”. We could point to the extraordinary sacrifices of the Soviet people in defeating fascism, but Klein uses examples drawn instead from the Anglo-US experience in the same conflict. “To support fuel conservation during World War 2, pleasure driving was virtually eliminated in the UK, and between 1938 and 1944, use of public transit went up by 87% in the US and by 95% in Canada. Twenty million US households – representing three fifths of the population – were growing victory gardens in 1943, and their yields accounted for 42% of the fresh vegetables consumed that year.”

What is holding us back, of course, is the fact that capitalism makes its top priority not the well-being of humanity or even the planet, but the pursuit of profit.

Something else our readers know is that today the US and the other imperialist powers are desperately trying to re-invigorate the Cold War. So they can’t be thrilled when the people adopt positions that reflect a desire for peace and friendship. Recently the students of the Cottonwood Classical Preparatory School in the US city of Albuquerque voted online to hold a Communist-themed prom they dubbed “prom-munism”.

The goal of the school is to provide “a dynamic environment where students learn to think for themselves.” Apparently they are doing just that. Of course, precisely what they envisage by the term “Communist-themed prom” is debatable. Nevertheless, the decision has apparently “sparked some turmoil among conservative students”. I bet it did!

US historian Webster Tarpley, author of the book 9/11 Synthetic Terror: Made In USA, has raised the question that, if the US really thought that the terrorist organisation “Islamic State” (IS) was a monstrosity that must be destroyed at all costs, “Why wouldn’t the White House join the government of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, the legally recognised government and a UN member state, in the fight against the jihadists and crush them once and for all?”

Tarpley points out that the money that supports IS and its operations comes from Saudi Arabia, a key US ally in the Middle East. Tarpley believes the US could have applied pressure to Saudi Arabia to stop sending arms and money [and mercenaries] to the terrorists in Iraq and Syria. He also wonders why US ally and NATO member Turkey, with a huge army, doesn’t “simply wipe the jihadists off the face of the earth in a matter of weeks”? Why indeed?

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