This past week, a milestone was reached in human impact on the environment. Carbon levels in the atmosphere exceeded the 400 parts per million level.
According to a report from National Geographic:
“The last time the concentration of Earth’s main greenhouse gas reached this mark, horses and camels lived in the high Arctic. Seas were at least 30 feet higher—at a level that today would inundate major cities around the world.
“The planet was about 2 to 3 degrees Celsius (3.6 to 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer. But the Earth then was in the final stage of a prolonged greenhouse epoch, and CO2 concentrations were on their way down. This time, 400 ppm is a milepost on a far more rapid uphill climb toward an uncertain climate future.”
The sharp increase of carbon released into the atmosphere during the 20th century and our continued reliance on fossil fuels will have lasting compounding effects. For example, warming temperatures may release carbon from the ocean floor, in turn contributing to further climate change.
According to Scientific American magazine,
“Some scientists argue we passed the safe level for greenhouse gas concentrations long ago, pointing to the accelerating impacts, from extreme weather to the meltdown of Arctic sea ice. Others argue that we have yet more room to burn fossil fuels, clear forests and the like—but not much—before catastrophic climate change becomes inescapable.”
Climate change is also contributing to run-away melting in the Arctic which will raise sea levels at an increasing place. What once was thought to be a distant reality, the complete melting of Arctic sea ice, is now expected to occur in 2015.
Over the past few years, erratic weather has led to poor crop performance, and even the US Department of Defense warns the effects of climate change may “act as accelerants of instability or conflict in parts of the world.”
Yet besides preparing counter-insurgency strategies, capitalist-imperialism offers few solutions.
Again, according Scientific American:
“What can be done? In the short term, more potent but shorter-lasting greenhouse gas emissions could be curbed or a concerted effort to develop CO2 capture and storage technology could be undertaken.
“At present pace, the world could reach 450 ppm in a few short decades. The record notches up another 2 ppm per year at present pace. Human civilization developed and flourished in a geologic era that never saw CO2 concentrations above 300 ppm.”
Capitalism or the environment, one will perish
Beyond its addiction to burning fossil fuels, capitalism’s predication on expansion is ruinous for the environment. Without the ability to expand, the internal logical of capitalism breaks down and structural disorder ensues. Unfortunately, the Earth holds finite resources. While capitalism could adapt over the long-term to only utilize renewable resources, this will occur only after global ecological and environmental calamity absolutely necessitates it. In the short-term, either capitalism or the natural environment must perish.
Capitalist-imperialism is a system which fails to serve the immediate needs of the global proletariat and the long-term interests of humynity. Its only motive is the accumulation of capital and the maintenance of global structural divides. Productive activity occurs not for the benefit of all. The destruction of Earth serves to enrich a small class of monopoly-capitalists and to maintain the decadent lifestyles of their hangers-on (including the vast First World petty-bourgeoisie). Instead of providing people with a humane minimal standard of living and promoting ecological health, resources are drained away into military expenditures, unnecessary packaging, and incessant marketing and advertising. While pets in the First World ‘suffer’ from obesity, children in the Third World starve, and environmental resources (such as oceanic fish stocks and rainforests) dwindle.
Imperialism’s false ‘solution’ is yet another gadget, another commodity, and another marketing scheme. Meanwhile, behind the scenes it is preparing for increased ‘instability’ and modernizing its military to be less dependent on fossil fuels. Its real ‘solution’ is a wave of fascistic aggression against the rising global tide of predictable mass unrest.
There is one way out of the ecological destruction and mass tyranny concocted by capitalism. That way out is communism: the long-term conscious struggle for the abolition of social oppression, class divisions, and the reactionary state; along with the development of an entirely new mode of production based on the democratic and egalitarian production and distribution of use-values.
It remains the task of communists to unite various struggles, both immediate and long-term, into a movement for revolution. From the destruction of the environment, to the ongoing dispossession of Indigenous lands, to the pauperization which threatens the masses of the Third World, to police terrorism against and the criminalization of oppressed nations within imperialist countries, and patriarchy in all mundane and depraved forms, communists must unite the struggles against these and many more problems into a single world-wide movement capable of seizing power away from the imperialists and reactionary parasites. Only through revolution can we lay the foundations for a world without oppression or rampant destruction the natural environment.
Imperialism has ‘distorted’ class structures so that value produced by workers in the Third World is exported to the First World. First World workers, as a class, consume more of the social product than they produce. This both creates ‘social peace’ in the First World and is part of the structural dynamic of imperialism itself. An ‘ecological unequal exchange’ also exists whereby natural resources are exported from the Third to First World and pollution and waste is transferred back in return.
The structural realities of the modern world places before the communist movement specific tasks en route toward the communist mode of production (i.e., production ‘by all, for all.’). Namely, we must: unite various struggles, including proletarian-led people’s wars, into a global united front against imperialism; embark on a period of global new democracy in which the self-determination and equality between nations is established; launch socialism, the vigorous ‘epoch of struggle’ in which communism is established and classes, oppression, and the state are abolished.
Communists recognize certain axiomatic truths. Among them are ‘Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win,’ or, ‘Who Dares Wins.’ Those who genuinely hope for a better world, one without extreme disparity and ecocidal prerequisites, must get active within the communist movement.
The communist call to action is this: get organized; educate yourself; learn through practice; join RAIM, another proletarian-oriented organization, or develop your own cell and political work. Together, through professional dedication, hard work, and a materialist and strategic outlook, we can be part of a movement which ensures capitalism goes extinct instead of everything that we know as the natural environment.