Whither Humanity? The Environmental Crisis of Capitalism We don’t Need a Green New Deal! — We Need a Green Industrial Revolution!

Whither Humanity? The Environmental Crisis of Capitalism We Don’t Need a Green New Deal! — We Need a Green Industrial Revolution!

Capitalism Fouls Thing Up!

Big Energy/U.S. Capitalism Has Made a Conscious Decision   to  Commit Humanicide, Rather Than Lose Their Profit Making Enterprises: ” The panelists examined the corporate genesis of the climate denial movement and the many methods of influence that have been utilized to stall effective climate change policy. Using documents and analysis found on Climate Files, Davies recounted how the largest oil majors, including Shell and Exxon, had extensive internal knowledge about climate change science and impacts decades before it became a topic of global concern. Rather than addressing the threat that their product posed to the world, the documents show that the fossil fuel industry engaged and funded a climate change countermovement to deny the urgency their own scientists knew to be true. — The Climate Change Countermovement: Brown University Report and Panel (2019)

2020 Preface

Extreme Fires and Floods — We Are at the Global Waming ‘Tipping Point’ If It’s Not Here, Its Near!

The Age of Megafires: The World Hits a Climate Tipping Point Rising temperatures and worsening droughts mean that the world has entered an era of increasingly catastrophic wildfires. From Siberia to Australia to the western U.S., massive fires have consumed millions of acres this year and spawned fire-generated tornados and other phenomena rarely seen before. Scientists say the world has entered a perilous new era that will demand better ways of fighting wildfires. By Ed Struzik

From Are We Watching the Arctic Pass a Tipping Point This Summer?: The melt is driven by a weather event, but that fits with a larger worrying trend. The ice sheet is getting darker thanks to dust and soot from forest fires, allowing it to absorb more heat. In fact, it was soot from Russian fires that in part led to that 2012 meltdown. Mark Parrington, a fire scientist working at Europe’s Copernicus Earth Observation Programme, told Earther winds haven’t been blowing north during this year’s fires. That could be sparing the ice sheet and sea ice from even more widespread melt, though he noted he hadn’t computed any specific numbers as far as how much fire-flung gunk was ending up on the ice.         Research has indicated that melts like the one in 2012 could become an annual occurrence by century’s end as temperatures rise and more forests burn, darkening the ice sheet further.      The unending heat in the Arctic is also keeping sea ice at record lows for this time of year. This week’s blast furnace (by Arctic standards, anyways) will only further erode ice as it inches toward its annual minimum in September. And again, this is all in line with long-term trends that have seen the sea ice minimum shrink by roughly 13 percent per decade since the 1970s.      “Overall, this summer has not been surprising to me at all,” Zack Labe, a PhD candidate at the University of California, Irvine who studies the Arctic, told Earther. “We are seeing in real-time the effects of a warming Arctic with declines in sea ice area and thickness.”      The fact that none of this is surprising to scientists is hardly comforting news.The melt is driven by a weather event, but that fits with a larger worrying trend. The ice sheet is getting darker thanks to dust and soot from forest fires, allowing it to absorb more heat.       In fact, it was soot from Russian fires that in part led to that 2012 meltdown.    Mark Parrington, a fire scientist working at Europe’s Copernicus Earth Observation Programme, told Earther winds haven’t been blowing north during this year’s fires.       That could be sparing the ice sheet and sea ice from even more widespread melt, though he noted he hadn’t computed any specific numbers as far as how much fire-flung gunk was ending up on the ice.earch has indicated that melts like the one in 2012 could become an annual occurrence by century’s end as temperatures rise and more forests burn, darkening the ice sheet further.  The unending heat in the Arctic is also keeping sea ice at record lows for this time of year.       This week’s blast furnace (by Arctic standards, anyways) will only further erode ice as it inches toward its annual minimum in September. And again, this is all in line with long-term trends that have seen the sea ice minimum shrink by roughly 13 percent per decade since the 1970s.      “Overall, this summer has not been surprising to me at all,” Zack Labe, a PhD candidate at the University of California, Irvine who studies the Arctic, told Earther. “We are seeing in real-time the effects of a warming Arctic with declines in sea ice area and thickness.”     The fact that none of this is surprising to scientists is hardly comforting news. — Are We Watching the Arctic Pass a Tipping Point This Summer?

This week’s blast furnace (by Arctic standards, anyways) will only further erode ice as it inches toward its annual minimum in September. And again, this is all in line with long-term trends that have seen the sea ice minimum shrink by roughly 13 percent per decade since the 1970s.  “Overall, this summer has not been surprising to me at all,” Zack Labe, a PhD candidate at the University of California, Irvine who studies the Arctic, told Earther. “We are seeing in real-time the effects of a warming Arctic with declines in sea ice area and thickness.”     The fact that none of this is surprising to scientists is hardly comforting news. — Are We Watching the Arctic Pass a Tipping Point This Summer?

Extreme Fires and Floods — We Are at the Global Waming ‘Tipping Point’ If It’s Not Here, Its Near! With Siberia Burning and Greenland Melting, we are at or near the golbal warming tipping point. Capitalism done nothing to slow the pace of Global Warming. In fact it has increased the pace of and the degree of globa Global Warming!  The 1% have decided that profits come befor the survival of humanity!   The Planent will survive global warming— but Humanity won’t.  The 1%’s dulopoly is not the answer.  All people must act and take the steps my any means necessary to oppose the 1%.  Such as a world-wide march and economic strike for humanity!

 Capitalist Production, the Burning of  Fossil Fuels, and Wars  are  the Main Causes of Global Warming!

We Don’t Need a Green New Deal! — We Need a Green Industrial Revolution!

In the present world, the rights of the capitalists to make a profit are in direct conflict with our basic rights. In this sense, the capitalist system has now become a threat to humanity.

Jefferson’s words, from the Declaration of Independence, that human rights are unalienable, mean that these rights can never be superseded. At all points of conflict the rights of humanity to survive must supersede the right of the few to make a profit. The right to a safe environment is an unalienable human right!

Since environmental illness and destruction are a global concern, it requires all of humanity to act collectively, in its overall interests for its survival as a species, to correct the problem and to remove the obstacle of capitalism.  It requires a society where humanity has social, economic, and political control over the entire environment. Such a society, a socialist society, is needed to ensure that all decisions affecting the environment are under the democratic control of humankind so that the production of goods will be done for the needs and survival of humanity instead of the production and the destruction of humanity and other species for profit.

With common ownership of the means of production, and common control and protection of all property and wealth, science and society will be in harmony with the ecosystem and humanity’s future.   With these goals we can begin to build a more effective environmental’peace movement. As we continue to organize against capitalism and its destructive course, we can and will transform the world!

I see no other way forward for humanity, Except a Socialist Revolution! Tommorrow may be too late, to do what we should done in the1930s!

2009 Preface

“The reason the ecosystem is dying is not because we still have a dryer in our basement. It is because corporations look at everything, from human beings to the natural environment, as exploitable commodities. It is because consumption is the engine of corporate profits. We have allowed the corporate state to sell the environmental crisis as a matter of personal choice when actually there is a need for profound social and economic reform. We are left powerless.” — A Reality Check from the Brink of Extinction.

Quotes About Copenhagen Climate Summit 2009: “The governments which moved so swiftly to save the banks they have bickered and filibustered while the biosphere burns.” — George Monbiot

“If the climate were one of the biggest capitalist banks, the rich governments would have saved it.”— Venezuelan President’s Speech on Climate Change at the Copenhagen Climate Summit

“ . . . . the mine is dark … But when I walk through the Tan — something — shaft, in the dark, I can touch with my hands the leaves on the trees, and underneath … where the corn is green … There is a wind in the shaft, not carbon monoxide they talk about, it smell like the sea, only like as if the sea had fresh flowers lying about … and that is my holiday. — Emlyn Williams’ The Corn is Green

In the current darkness of this Liaise Fair Capitalist  Orwellian Society,  I can walk through the darkness and see where “the corn is green” — I can still imagine in the words of, John Lennon, ‘Imagine all the people Living life in peace’ and in harmony with nature. And I am not a dreamer!  — Roland  Sheppard

Khalil Bendib

From the 09/24/UN Climate report: CLIMATE CHANGE SCIENCE COMPENDIUMEarth Systems A thin veneer of atmosphere, soil, and water covers the surface of the planet.

That is the envelope supplying most of the raw material we need to live. Energy from the Sun, with some residual energy still within the planet’s core, feeds Earth’s dynamic systems that cycle materials within the envelope. Earth System scientists are investigating the energy and material fluxes that determine the systems’ dynamics to better understand climate change.

Earth’s Ice

Accelerated shrinking of mountain glaciers on every continent, rapid reduction of Arctic sea ice, disintegration of floating ice shelves, and increased melt rates of Earth’s three Ice Sheets—Greenland, West Antarctic, and East Antarctic—provide compelling evidence of our changing climate.

Earth’s Oceans

Over the last five decades, the world’s oceans have been subjected to fishery overharvesting, seafloor damage from bottom trawling, and habitat loss around margins from coastal development schemes. Climate change further threatens oceans with higher temperatures, increased acidification, and altered circulation and nutrient supplies.Earth’s EcosystemsSince the compilation of the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report, serious and irreversible changes in Earth’s Ecosystems due to anthropogenic activities are increasingly recognized with greater confidence and better quantification of the processes.

Systems Management

A variety of actions are under discussion to manage the challenge posed by climate change: cutting emissions, reforestation, and geoengineering are a few. Some of the possible actions are not only important, but necessary, for any chance of success—but no single action is sufficient on its own.

“The earth is not dying, it is being killed, and those who are killing it have names and addresses.” — An Earth First! Rallying Cry, originally popularized by singer Utah hillips

The above graphs demonstrate the rapid rise of Greenhouse Gases in the past decade.

As Mano Sigham states in his blog, “These sharp increases in greenhouse gas concentrations are clearly correlated with rapid increases in the rate of industrialization and energy consumption within the two last centuries. It seems to me that while individual changes in behavior (such as using less stuff and reusing and recycling more) are important, they must be accompanied by concerted international governmental actions to reverse the trends.”

“James Hansen, head of the Nasa Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, calls for a sharp reduction in C02 limits. …. “He argues the cut is needed if ‘humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilisation developed.’”(Most of the Science in this essay has been  confirmed by a recent lecture by James Hansen, which can be found here. )

In The Part Played by Labor in the Transition from Ape to Man, Friedrich Engels wrote:“Let us not, however, flatter ourselves overmuch on account of our human victories over nature. For each such victory nature takes its revenge on us. Each victory, it is true, in the first place brings about the results we expected, but in the second and third places it has quite different, unforeseen effects which only too often cancel the first. …”In December 1999, when I first wrote my essay Whither Humanity? (The Environmental Crisis of Capitalism), there were some doubters, on the left, about the science of the article. However, the essay has held up quite well in the past eight years. Since that time , we now know that “Carbon dioxide rates have been accelerating — that the rate of increase in carbon dioxide emissions has more than doubled since the 1990s”!

Some of my critics on the left, who have claimed that Global Warming was a ‘natural phenomenon’, that increased solar activity was the cause of global warming, rather than predominately caused by Capitalist production. Studies of the sun’s activity, for the past two decades. have sent this concept to the dust bin of history.

According to Mike Lockwood, of the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Chilton, Oxfordshire: “In 1985, the Sun did a U-turn in every respect. It no longer went in the right direction to contribute to global warming. We think it’s almost completely conclusive proof that the Sun does not account for the recent increases in global warming.”An article in the February 2008 Journal of The Geological Society of America, GSA Today, Are we now living in the Anthropocene?, states that: “Sufficient evidence has emerged of stratigraphically significant change (both elapsed and imminent) for recognition of the Anthropocene — currently a vivid yet informal metaphor of global environmental change — as a new geological epoch to be considered for formalization by international discussion.”

Since, the first “gulf War” in 1991,and the wars since 1999, the results of capitalist production and its wars for ever greater profits; the pollution of the world by capitalism has already had catastrophic effects — Global Warming is just one of these.Worldwide, from the Katrina catastrophe in New Orleans, to the famines in Africa, destruction of rain forests, imperialism has been like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, waging War, Famine, Pestilence and Death upon humanity.One example of this is the unprovoked war against Iraq, by the United States, which has left environmental ruin upon that country and the rest of the world. Wars have once again become nuclear wars.

The use of depleted uranium, first in Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Syria, has now polluted the earth’s atmosphere with radiation, from the use of these horrific weapons.In her article, The Queen’s Death Star, Lorent Moret wrote: “The use of Uranium weapons in Gulf War II has resulted in contamination of Europe. Evidence from the measurements of the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE), Aldermaston, Berkshire, UK,” reported the Sunday Times Online (February 19, 2006) in a shocking scientific study authored by British scientists Dr. Chris Busby and Saoirse Morgan.“The highest levels of depleted uranium ever measured in the atmosphere in Britain, were transported on air currents from the Middle East and Central Asia; of special significance were those from the Tora Bora bombing in Afghanistan in 2001, and the “Shock & Awe” bombing during Gulf War II in Iraq in 2003.”1  (The result of this increased radiation will be an increase in the cancer epidemic throughout the world.)Even more catastrophic than war has been the rapid increase in Global pollution and Warming, these changes are taking place around the world at an alarming speed.The Oceans now contain vast “plastic soups” of waste floating in the Ocean. The northern Pacific Soup is growing at an an ever increasing rate and now covers an area twice the size of the continental United States! Further depleting the natural resources for the sustainability of the human species.

The Northern Pacific ‘Plastic Soups

As the forest decline and the oceans get polluted, the Earth is losing its natural urban sinks.An ominous discovery that was reported in the journal Science, is that Antarctica’s Southern Ocean, a crucial “carbon sink” into which 15 percent of the world’s excess carbon dioxide flows, is reaching saturation and soon may be unable to absorb any more carbon dioxide, allowing more CO2 to be pumped into the atmosphere.

“The last time ocean chemistry underwent such a radical transformation”, Caldeira said, “was when the dinosaurs went extinct.

One result of this CO2 saturation will the lowering of the pH of the oceans endangering the coral reefs. According to the  above article, “if CO2 emissions continue at their current pace, the pH of the ocean is expected to dip to 7.9 or lower by the end of the century — a 150% change.” In Siberia and Alaska, for instance, the permafrost is melting, releasing methane, and further accelerating the warming process. Methane in the Earth’s atmosphere is a powerful greenhouse gas , when Siberian permafrost melts, carbon buried since the Pleistocene era is bubbling to the surface of lakes, and dissipating into the atmosphere as methane, a greenhouse gas 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide).

(While carbon dioxide is typically painted as the bad boy of greenhouse gases, methane is roughly 30 times more potent as a heat-trapping gas. New research in the journal Nature indicates that for each degree that  Earth’s temperature rises, the amount of methane entering the atmosphere from microorganisms dwelling in lake sediment and freshwater wetlands — the primary sources of the gas — will increase several times. As temperatures rise, the relative increase of methane emissions will outpace that of carbon dioxide from these sources, the researchers report. — A more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, methane emissions will leap as Earth warms)

According to an August 11, 2005 article from the NewScientist.com news service article, Climate warning as Siberia melts4 states:“ The world’s largest frozen peat bog is melting. An area stretching for a million square kilometres across the permafrost of western Siberia is turning into a mass of shallow lakes as the ground melts, according to Russian researchers just back from the region.“The sudden melting of a bog the size of France and Germany combined could unleash billions of tonnes of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere.“The news of the dramatic transformation of one of the world’s least visited landscapes comes from Sergei Kirpotin, a botanist at Tomsk State University, Russia, and Judith Marquand at the University of Oxford.“ Kirpotin describes an ‘ecological landslide that is probably irreversible and is undoubtedly connected to climatic warming’. He says that the entire western Siberian sub-Arctic region has begun to melt, and this “has all happened in the last three or four years”.

“ What was until recently a featureless expanse of frozen peat is turning into a watery landscape of lakes, some more than a kilometre across. Kirpotin suspects that some unknown critical threshold has been crossed, triggering the melting.“ Western Siberia has warmed faster than almost anywhere else on the planet, with an increase in average temperatures of some 3°C in the last 40 years. The warming is believed to be a combination of man-made climate change, a cyclical change in atmospheric circulation known as the Arctic oscillation, plus feedbacks caused by melting ice, which exposes bare ground and ocean. These absorb more solar heat than white ice and snow.

“Similar warming has also been taking place in Alaska: earlier this summer Jon Pelletier of the University of Arizona in Tucson reported a major expansion of lakes on the North Slope fringing the Arctic Ocean.“ The findings from western Siberia follow a report two months ago that thousands of lakes in eastern Siberia have disappeared in the last 30 years, also because of climate change.” (New Scientist, 11 June, p 16).

This apparent contradiction arises because the two events represent opposite end of the same process, known as thermokarsk.In January, 2010, Experts said that methane emissions from the Arctic have risen by almost one-third in just five years (2003-07) and that sharply rising temperatures are to blame.

Permafrost in Siberia.Methane emissions from the Arctic Permafrost increased by 31%from 2003-07, figures show. Photograph: Francis Latreille/Corbis

As quoted in the New Scientist: In this process, rising air temperatures first create ‘frost-heave’, which turns the flat permafrost into a series of hollows and hummocks known as salsas. Then as the permafrost begins to melt, water collects on the surface, forming ponds that are prevented from draining away by the frozen bog beneath. The ponds coalesce into ever larger lakes until, finally, the last permafrost melts and the lakes drain away underground.The following article, GLOBAL WARMING: Early Warning Signs, goes into the effects of warming in the Region, gives us a glimpse of what is happening, the article states:The Asian region spans polar, temperate, and tropical climates and is home to over 3 billion people. As the climate warms, many mountain glaciers may disappear, permafrost will thaw, and the northern forests are likely to shift further north. Rapid population growth and development in countries like China and India will put additional pressures on natural ecosystems and will lead to a rapid rise in the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere unless steps are taken to curtail emissions.

  1999 Preface Whither Humanity? The Environmental Crisis of Capitalism

The reason the ecosystem is dying is not because we still have a dryer in our basement. It is because corporations look at everything, from human beings to the natural environment, as exploitable commodities. It is because consumption is the engine of corporate profits. We have allowed the corporate state to sell the environmental crisis as a matter of personal choice when actually there is a need for profound social and economic reform. We are left powerless.— A Reality Check from the Brink of Extinction

In The Part Played by Labor in the Transition from Ape to Man, Friedrich Engels wrote:

 . . . Let us not, however, flatter ourselves overmuch on account of our human victories over nature. For each such victory nature takes its revenge on us. Each victory, it is true, in the first place brings about the results we expected, but in the second and third places it has quite different, unforeseen effects which only too often cancel the first. …

In December 1999, when I first wrote my essay Whither Humanity? (The Environmental Crisis of Capitalism), there were some doubters, on the left, about the science of the article. However, the essay has held up quite well in the past eight years. Since that time , we now know that “Carbon dioxide rates have been accelerating — that the rate of increase in carbon dioxide emissions has more than doubled since the 1990s”!

Some of my critics on the left, who have claimed that Global Warming was a ‘natural phenomenon’, that increased solar activity was the cause of global warming, rather than predominately caused by Capitalist production. Studies of the sun’s activity, for the past two decades. have sent this concept to the dust bin of history.

According to Mike Lockwood, of the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Chilton, Oxfordshire:

In 1985, the Sun did a U-turn in every respect. It no longer went in the right direction to contribute to global warming. We think it’s almost completely conclusive proof that the Sun does not account for the recent increases in global warming.

An article in the February 2008 Journal of The Geological Society of America, GSA Today, Are we now living in the Anthropocene?, states that:

Sufficient evidence has emerged of stratigraphically significant change (both elapsed and imminent) for recognition of the Anthropocene — currently a vivid yet informal metaphor of global environmental change — as a new geological epoch to be considered for formalization by international discussion.

Since, the first “gulf War” in 1991, and the wars since 1999, the results of capitalist production and its wars for ever greater profits; the pollution of the world by capitalism has already had catastrophic effects — Global Warming is just one of these.

Worldwide, from the Katrina catastrophe in New Orleans, to the famines in Africa, destruction of rain forests, imperialism has been like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, waging War, Famine, Pestilence and Death upon humanity.

One example of this is the unprovoked war against Iraq, by the United States, which has left environmental ruin upon that country and the rest of the world.

Wars have once again become nuclear wars. The use of depleted uranium, first in Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Syria, has now polluted the earth’s atmosphere with radiation, from the use of these horrific weapons.

In her article, The Queen’s Death Star, Lorent Moret wrote:

The use of Uranium weapons in Gulf War II has resulted in contamination of Europe. Evidence from the measurements of the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE), Aldermaston, Berkshire, UK,” reported the Sunday Times Online (February 19, 2006) in a shocking scientific study authored by British scientists Dr. Chris Busby and Saoirse Morgan. The highest levels of depleted uranium ever measured in the atmosphere in Britain, were transported on air currents from the Middle East and Central Asia; of special significance were those from the Tora Bora bombing in Afghanistan in 2001, and the “Shock & Awe” bombing during Gulf War II in Iraq in 2003.1  (The result of this increased radiation will be an increase in the cancer epidemic throughout the world.)

Even more catastrophic than war has been the rapid increase in Global pollution and Warming, these changes are taking place around the world at an alarming speed.

Quotes About Copenhagen Climate Summit 2009:

“The governments which moved so swiftly to save the banks they have bickered and filibustered while the biosphere burns.” — George Monbiot

If the climate were one of the biggest capitalist banks, the rich governments would have saved it.— Venezuelan President’s Speech on Climate Change at the Copenhagen Climate Summit

. . .   the mine is dark … But when I walk through the Tan — something — shaft, in the dark, I can touch with my hands the leaves on the trees, and underneath … where the corn is green … There is a wind in the shaft, not carbon monoxide they talk about, it smell like the sea, only like as if the sea had fresh flowers lying about … and that is my holiday. — Emlyn Williams’ The Corn is Green (In the current darkness of this Liaise Fair Capitalist Orwellian Society, I can walk through the darkness and see where “the corn is green” — I can still imagine in the words of, John Lennon, ‘Imagine all the people Living life in peace’ and in harmony with nature. And I am not a dreamer! — Roland  Sheppard)

Whither Humanity? The Environmental Crisis of Capitalism

I think if we don’t overthrow capitalism, we don’t have a chance of saving the world ecologically. I think it is possible to have an ecological society under socialism. I don’t think it’s  possible under capitalism. — Judi Barri 1

Since the development of capitalism, the natural resources of the planet have been consumed on a larger and larger scale by the profit system. A result of this process has been a rapid change in the earth’s ecological balance that could eventually lead to the extinction of humanity.

Whole forests have been destroyed; whole oceans are undergoing life-threatening changes, as the air we breathe is becoming more and more contaminated by the expansion of capitalist production.

From the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and the burning of fossil fuels, the earth’s ecosystem has been greatly altered. The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by U.S. imperialism at the end of World War II demonstrated the technological development and the capacity of capitalism to destroy humanity. This potential of nuclear pollution and destruction has been a glaring reality from that time to the present.

The less apparent product of World War II was that the technologies developed for wartime purposes had changed chemistry and physics forever. These products were tested for their effectiveness during war-not for the safety of humanity.

Under the banner of “Better Living Through Chemistry,” life and production changed. The “miracle fiber” asbestos was used everywhere and everything was dusted with DDT. Twenty years after their introduction, the death toll from cancer caused by these two substances began to come in.

The development and production of synthetic organic chemicals, used in everyday life, has increased over 100 fold since World War II in the United States. The increase has been geometric, doubling every seven to eight years. In the United States, by the late 1980s, production had reached over 200 billion pounds per year. Many of these new compounds and medicines have been to the benefit of humanity.

Unfortunately, only approximately 3 percent of these chemicals have been tested for their toxicity and potential long-range harm.

Rachel Carson’s Warnings

Rachel Carson was the first scientist to come forward and explain the potential dangers of the new pesticides, fertilizers, and other toxic pollutants. Her first book, The Silent Spring, is credited with the beginning of the environmental movement. This book explained that cancer and other diseases have become part of the world’s food chain and even present in the air we breathe and the water we drink.

Predicting the coming catastrophe if the mode of production does not change, Rachel Carson wrote in The Sea Around Us: “It is a curious situation that the sea, from which life first arose, should now be threatened by the activities of one form of that life. But the sea, though changed in a sinister way, will continue to exist; the threat is rather to life itself.” . .

Despite Carson’s warnings and the beginnings of the environmental movement over 35 years ago, the destruction of the environment by capitalism and the capitalist mode of production has only escalated.

An example of this escalation is global warming. The melting of glaciers throughout the world is one demonstration of this phenomenon. The Quelccaya ice cap in South America, home to some of the world’s largest glaciers, is rapidly melting. From 1930 to 1990, it had been shrinking at the rate of three meters a year. Since 1990, it has been shrinking at the rate of approximately 30 meters a year.

Wither8

Upsala glacier in Andes Mountains of Argentina in 1928 (above) and 2004 (below)The glacier is retreating about 60m per year:

wither9

Greenland’s huge ice cap, second only to Antarctica, is also showing signs of change, although measurements are preliminary. Outflow glaciers like this one on the central east coast, as measured by NASA airborne radar and laser, appear to be thinning and flowing more rapidly. The National Climate Data Center (NOAA) reports that 2002 saw the greatest measured surface melt of Greenland ice in 24 years of satellite records.  Two deep ice cores from there provide a detailed Northern Hemisphere climate record extending beyond the last ice age.

The Graph Below Demonstrates the decline in Greenland ice from 1996 (smallest image), to 1998 (the next largest image), and to 2007 ( the largest image).

Wither10

The Antarctica ice shelves have been in retreat for 50 years, shrinking approximately a total of 7000 square kilometers in that time span. In the past year, from October 1998-March 1999, the Antarctica ice caps have retreated approximately 3000 square kilometers.

These quick increases in glacier decline are foreboding. Recent studies of ice cores in the Arctic and the Antarctic demonstrate that global warming may not be a gradual phenomenon.

The ice core studies demonstrate that during the last global warming, the earth’s climate warmed gradually and then abruptly increased by The approximately ice core studies demonstrate, that during the last global warming rose rose twenty degrees fahrenheit to end the ice age 12,500 years ago The ancient carbon dioxide levels that provoked these abrupt changes, while significant, were far lower than the rising concentrations in today’s atmosphere.

Until these discoveries, global warming had been described as a gradual event (4 degrees Fahrenheit over the past 60 years) that will reach dangerous levels around the year 2050 or 2100. This new evidence demonstrates that the present gradual warming could develop into an abrupt change.

An increase of this magnitude (20 degrees Fahrenheit) would flood most cities and industrial centers in the world as the ice caps melt into the sea raising the sea level. According to the U.S. Geological Survey3, if all of the ice caps melted, it is estimated that sea level could rise more than 80 meters or 262 feet. The potential catastrophic results of global warming and the threat to humanity’s future should become an immediate concern.

Table 1. Estimated potential maximum sea-level rise from the total melting of present-day glaciers. Wither11

Along with global warming, the increasing pollution of the oceans, the fresh water, the land, and the air throughout the world has put into question the future of our species and other species.

Fidel Castro expressed the urgency of these problems in his speech to the Earth Summit in Rio De Janeiro in 1992. He opened with these words: “An important biological species is in danger of disappearing due to the fast and progressive destruction of its natural living conditions: mankind. We have now become aware of this problem when it is almost too late to stop it.   It is necessary to point out that consumer societies are fundamentally responsible for the brutal destruction of the environment. They arose from the old colonial powers and from imperialist policies which in turn engendered the backwardness and poverty, which today afflicts the vast majority of mankind.   With only 20 percent of the world’s population, these societies consume two-thirds of the metals and three-fourths of the energy produced in the world. They have poisoned the seas and rivers, polluted the air, weakened and punctured the ozone layer, saturated the atmosphere with gases which are changing weather conditions with a catastrophic effect we are already beginning to experience.   The forests are disappearing. The deserts are expanding.  Every year thousands of millions of tons of fertile soil end up in the sea. Numerous species are becoming extinct. Population pressures and poverty trigger frenzied efforts to survive even when it is at the expense of the environment. It is not possible to blame the Third World countries for this. Yesterday, they were colonies; today, they are nations exploited and pillaged by an unjust international economic order. The solution cannot be to prevent the development of those who need it most. The reality is that anything that nowadays contributes to underdevelopment and poverty constitutes a flagrant violation of ecology. Tens of millions of men, women, and children die every year in the Third World as a result of this, more than in each of the two world wars.   Unequal terms of trade, protectionism, and the foreign debt assault the ecology and promote the destruction of the environment. If we want to save mankind from this self-destruction, we have to better distribute the wealth and technologies available in the world. Less luxury and less waste by a few countries is needed so there is less poverty and less hunger on a large part of the Earth. We do not need any more transferring to the Third World of lifestyles and consumption habits that ruin the environment. Let human life become more rational. Let us implement a just international economic order. Let us use all the science necessary for pollution-free, sustained development. Let us pay the ecological debt, and not the foreign debt. Let hunger disappear, and not mankind.   Now that the alleged threat of communism has disappeared and there are no longer any more excuses for cold wars, arms races, and military spending, what is blocking the immediate use of these resources to promote the development of the Third World and fight the threat of the ecological destruction of the planet? Let selfishness end. Let hegemonies end. Let insensitivity, irresponsibility, and deceit end. Tomorrow it will be too late to do what we should have done a long time ago.”

In this context, the fight for the spotted owl, the snail darter, and other endangered species, while important in their own right, are indicative of a far greater concern-the survival of humanity.

It is becoming clear that the struggle for the environment is a fight for human rights and the survival of the species–a struggle for environmental justice. We need to defend, in the words of Thomas Jefferson, humanity’s “Unalienable Rights to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

We should demand that:

  • All products must be tested for toxicity before being produced for the market. The present practice of experimenting on human beings and waiting for the human body counts before determining that substances are toxic must be stopped!

  • The production of toxic substances must be stopped and the least toxic alternatives must be used until all toxins can be eliminated from use!

  • Gravity, wind, and solar power must be developed to replace fossil fuels and nucleal power as sources of energy. The top priority throughout the world must be the elimination of pollution and the development of science to maintain the earth as a healthy biosphere for humanity;

  • The squandering of trillions of dollars on military spending must stop and these trillions of dollars must be used to repair the environment! (In 1991, even after the end of the Cold War, military spending was almost 1 trillion dollars.); and

  • There must be a 100 percent tax on the profits of companies that pollute!

The environmental movement has raised many of these demands. In the past 30 years, many laws have been written incorporating some of these concepts. Yet despite these laws, environmental destruction has been allowed to proceed because these regulations have always been compromised by the incorporation of the concept of economic feasibility.

Economic feasibility’ means that the profitability of an economic enterprise cannot be subordinated to environmental needs. Therefore, environmental and safety laws, under capitalism, have always been a compromise between science and business.

In fact, environmental destruction, pestilence, and death are factored into production the same as casualties of war are factored into military battles.

The most glaring example is the occupational environment, where workplaces have become “killing fields”. (See my essay The War at the Point of Production: The ‘Killing Fields’ of the United States.)

According to Lisa Cullen, on page 2 in her book, A Job To Die For: “Every day, 165 Americans die from occupational diseases and 18 more die from a work related injury. On the same day, more than 36,400 non-fatal injuries and 3,200 illnesses will occur in America’s workplaces.” Every year 60,225 Americans die from occupational diseases while 6,570 more die from work-related injuries. In that same year, more than 13,286,000 non-fatal injuries and 1,168,000 illnesses occur in America’s workplaces. Again: “Each year, this unknown workplace epidemic extends into nearby communities to claim the lives of 218 innocent bystanders and injure another 68,000.”

In fact, some estimates are higher!

Blue-collar workers and agricultural workers all have higher rates of cancer and other diseases because they receive higher doses of the toxic chemicals at the workplace than the rest of the population. Eventually, these toxins spread to the entire working class as they become part of the environment.

Scientific technology exists to prevent the high rate of occupational diseases, but the profit motive and capitalist competition prevent the implementation of preventive action and proper safety precautions.

Science and technology are not an obstacle to maintaining a safe environment. The barrier to a safe environment is capitalism and its paramount principle of production and science for profit. Most environmental studies demonstrate that environmental destruction has become globally intertwined within our society and that the globalization of capitalism has quickened the destruction of the planet. Under the conditions of global capitalist competition, it is not economically feasible to invest the capital necessary to reverse this destruction.

In the present world, the rights of the capitalists to make a profit are in direct conflict with our basic rights. In this sense, the capitalist system has become a threat to humanity.

Jefferson’s words, from the Declaration of Independence, that human rights are unalienable, mean that these rights can never be superseded. At all points of conflict the rights of humanity to survive must supersede the right of the few to make a profit. The right to a safe environment is an unalienable human right!

Since environmental illness and destruction are a global concern, it requires all of humanity to act collectively, in our overall interests for our survival as a species, to correct the problem and to remove the obstacle of capitalism. It requires a society where humanity has social, economic, and political control over the entire environment. Such a society, a socialist society, is needed to ensure that all decisions affecting the environment are under the democratic control of humankind so that the production of goods will be done for the needs and survival of humanity instead of the production and the destruction of humanity and other species for profit.

With common ownership of the means of production, and common control and protection of all property and wealth, science and society will be in harmony with the ecosystem and humanity’s future.

With these goals we can begin to build a more effective environmental movement. As we continue to organize against capitalism and its destructive course, we can and will transform the world!

In the words of Margaret Mead, the famous anthropologist: Never doubt that a “small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

1999

People & Planet Before Profits! whither