The Longer Monopoly Capitalism Survives, the more Humanity's Survival is in Jeopardy!
Revolutionary Organization of Labor, USA, 9th April 2019
A Commentary on the New Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
By Ray Light
The scientists tasked with assessing global climate change are hearing urgent warnings for all humanity from Mother Nature!
On Saturday, October 6, 2018, in Incheon, Republic of Korea, “The Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius” was approved by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC, a UN creation, is the leading world body for assessing the science related to climate change, its impacts and potential future risks, and possible response options. Ninety-one scientists from 40 countries prepared the IPCC report in response to an invitation from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), projected for 2018, when it adopted the 2015 Paris Agreement.
“Global Warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius” is the first in a series of Special Reports to be produced in the IPCC's current Assessment Cycle to guid world leaders. Stunningly, the IPCC Report projects an even more catastrophic environmental impact of global warming on humanity thus far than previously envisioned by them and the governments that had mutually committed to a set of environmentally-conscious goals at the Paris Accords.
The Paris Agreement adopted by 195 nations in December 2015 aimed to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by “holding the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.” (ROL emphasis.)
As Coral Davenport explained in her New York Times piece on the IPCC Report, “The authors found that if greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current rate, the atmosphere will warm up by as much as 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 degrees Celsius) above preindustrial levels by 2040, inundating coastlines and intensifying droughts and poverty. Previous work had focused on estimating the damage if average temperatures were to rise by a larger number, 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius, because that was the threshold scientists previously considered for the most severe effects of climate change. The new report, however, shows that many of those effects will come much sooner, at the 2.7 degree mark.” (New York Times, October 7, 2018, ROL emphasis)
Now it turns out that far greater environmental catastrophe will be visited sooner upon the human species and Mother Earth --- unless there is a doubling of the actual decrease of global warming's projected increase accomplished by these countries over the goals they had set in Paris in 2015 !!!
The basic flaw that makes the scientists' projections in the IPCC a lullaby instead of a wake-up call is that petty bourgeois science, in service to monopoly capital, takes a metaphysical approach rather than a dialectical approach to the problem of climate change. It is criminally silent about and fails to take into account the driving economic force for the monopoly-capitalist dominated political-economic world. This is the incentive for private corporations and banks and financial institutions to carry out their individual selfish corporate goals for profit maximization --- and humanity be damned!
Today's political world, including the current United Nations Organization, is dominated by monopoly capitalism and imperialism. Petty bourgeois science is in service to the dominant political-economic power. Thus, even the IPCC presents the question of humanity's ability to alter this tragic global trajectory as if it were somehow separate from the capitalist political-economic system that generated and continues to generate this impending catastrophe. No wonder climatologists have consistently underestimated the gravity of the situation.
“Limiting warming to 1.5 degrees C is possible within the laws of chemistry and physics but doing so would require unprecedented changes,” said Jim Skea, Co-Chair of one of the three IPCC Working Groups. It would require “rapid and far-reaching” transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport, and cities. Recognizing implicitly that its 2018 assessment report represents “too little, too late,” under capitalism, the IPCC hedges its bets by placing tremendous emphasis on techniques that remove carbon dioxide from the air to return global temperature to below 1.5 degrees Celsius, if [when] the global warming “overshoots” 1.5 degrees C. The desperation of the IPCC is reflected in the fact that its Report admits, “The effectiveness of such techniques [carbon dioxide removal] are unproven at large scale and some may carry significant risks for sustainable development.” Taking all this into account, it is crucial to note the following: The IPCC Report concludes that the greenhouse gas reduction pledges put forth under the Paris agreement will not be enough to avoid the higher, more catastrophic level of 2 degrees C. or 3.6 degrees (F) of warming.
Can Rogue States Be Punished by the World Community?-
The Times' Coral Davenport exposes the opposition of President Trump, the billionaire Koch brothers through their Americans for Prosperity and the World Coal Association to the thrust of the IPCC Report, including campaigning against politicians who support a carbon tax. Even Senator Elizabeth Warren, the current leading “progressive” Democratic presidential candidate for 2020, remains an unabashed supporter of capitalism. So, on this question of life and death for humanity, as on so many other issues, Warren and the Democrats provide no real political alternative to Trump.
And Trump's USA is not alone in resisting steps to reduce emissions enough to prevent the worst effects of climate change. The other day, Brazil, the world's seventh-largest emitter of greenhouse gas, elected President Jair Bolsonaro, who declared his intention, in line with Trump, to withdraw Brazil from the accord.
Nevertheless, the U.S. delegation had joined with more than 180 countries in accepting the report's summary for policymakers, “while walking a thin diplomatic line,” given Trump's intention to lead the USA in withdrawal from the Paris Agreement as soon as possible.
This temporary tactical U.S. “retreat” in the face of the IPCC Report reflects the fact that the overwhelming majority of the world's governments including major powers such as China, the European Union, Russia and India that remain affiliated with the Paris Accord, have tremendous justification/leverage to unite to punish rogue governments such as Trump's USA and Bolsonaro's Brazil economically, politically and ultimately militarily, if necessary. For, as the rogue governments accelerate and exacerbate Mother Nature's wrath coming down on all of global humanity, for the Paris Accord countries, punishing the rogue governments, will constitute self-defense at the most macro level.
Unfortunately, global finance capital corrupts all these governments and institutions, including the United Nations. It represents a crippling influence on those forces concerned or even dedicated to the defense of Mother Earth as a habitat for humanity. These forces certainly include many scientists and technocrats dealing with global climate change, they include some government leaders in oppressed and dependent countries whose peoples will be among the first to be drastically impacted. And they likely include even some capitalist managers and strategists and even a few financial magnates who see clearly and are moved by the grave situation to which capital has brought humanity. Yet none of these class and national forces has the independence from international capital to lead a successful defense of Mother Earth as a habitat for humanity.
The one socio-economic class whose very strength is realized through its struggle against international capital is the international working class, the international proletariat. And it is under the leadership of the global proletariat that these other class and national forces can play an important role in saving our earthly habitat and ushering in a socialist world.
A CHALLENGE TO THE WORKERS OF THE USA AND THE WORLD
One bright note, surprisingly here in the USA, “the belly of the beast,” is the current stirring of the U.S. working class. At a time when there is greater U.S. demand for labor than supply, it is even being reflected, finally, in wage increases. As part of the general stirring of the U.S. workers, in the past month or so, unionized hotel housekeepers in Chicago and spreading to both coasts, distillery workers in Kentucky and crane operators in Seattle all walked off the job for better pay and benefits. And teachers in LA, as well as steelworkers in Arcelor Mittal SA and U.S. Steel Corp. voted union strike authorization.
In a (9-24-18) Wall Street Journal piece the title tells the story, “Tight Labor Market Fuels Strike Threat.” According to the Journal, “Through August 2018 [2/3rds of the year] labor disputes have caused workers (excluding teachers) to miss 633,000 days on the job this year, up from 440,000 in all of last year.” [That is, about doubled so far this year over last year!] With massive teachers strikes included, more than two million days withheld, the most since 2006. The Journal points out: after labor disputes had reached a record low in 2009, for the first time in years, now, “the Economy shifted bargaining power toward labor.”
In line with this general stirring of the U.S. working class, there is a new boldness to workers' demands extending far beyond the “normal” bread and butter issues to issues that have traditionally been the exclusive province of the capitalists.
Last Spring, when the Trump Regime instituted it brutal policy of separating immigrant children from their families as they crossed the Mexican border into the USA, flight attendants and other union airline workers, insisted to the airline company bosses that they would refuse to staff flights aiding the U.S. government's kidnapping of these children. With leadership from Sara Nelson, International President of the Association of Flight Attendants - CWA, AFL-CIO these workers used their labor power to compel their corporate bosses to oppose Trump's fascistic oppression of these hard-pressed immigrant families. Certainly this concerted action of union airline workers contributed to the surprisingly strong mass political opposition to this particular Trump policy which resulted in a rare backing away by the presidential bully.
Some of the most skilled and privileged U.S. tech workers are now taking to the streets to protest social injustice and even harmful uses of the products they are helping to build and sell. And they are using their power at the point of production to deny their corporate masters the opportunity to use the products they create to enslave the workers and oppressed peoples of the world! An Associated Press article at the beginning of November reported on a global walkout by male and female Google employees protesting the company's treatment of women.
AP reports, “For much of the past two years, elite technology employees have been stirring and in some cases organizing—first in internet workplace meetings and messaging boards, then in signed protest letters and ultimately in company walkouts such as Thursday's street demonstrations [Google].” In the Google walkout -- from New York to Tokyo to Europe to the San Francisco Bay Area – the workers expressed discontent about the report that Google executive Andy Rubin received a $90 million severance package in 2014 after Google concluded that sexual misconduct allegations against him were credible.”
The article continues: “Worker unrest helped scuttle Google's Maven project to help the U.S. military scan battlefields using drones and artificial intelligence. Workers have also protested Google's plans to launch a censored search engine in China, and work by Amazon and Microsoft to assist police agencies and federal immigration agents with facial recognition and other tools.”
These tech workers are making demands for more power over their workplaces and using their labor power to fight for a better society and a better world. These skilled workers, unlike petty bourgeois scientists no matter how valuable and advanced they are, have the power to have some real control over the product of their labor and over their society as a whole. They are a harbinger of a working class that, when it takes state power and begins to build socialism, can deal successfully with global climate change. The capitalist system cannot.
Only the international working class, seizing political power and exercising dictatorship over the international capitalist class and presiding over a just world economy is capable of meeting the goals projected by the IPCC scientists and (possibly) averting the catastrophic tipping point they describe. Indeed, the drastic weather they forecast is already becoming the norm. One dramatic example --- wildfires in California set a new record for destruction last year and is setting a new record for destruction again as we write these lines. (See Mystery Quote elsewhere in this Newsletter.)
Tragically, the international working class, in the absence of a substantial international communist movement, is not militantly united internationally and organized sufficiently to seize power and successfully lead the challenge of the impending environmental catastrophe for humanity in a timely way. For the sake of protecting and defending the human habitat on Earth there is an urgent need for proletarians of the world and oppressed peoples to unite and vanquish monopoly capitalism and imperialism, headed by U.S. imperialism.
The Working Class in power can deal successfully with Global Climate Change. The Capitalist system cannot.
The Clock is Ticking. Please Join Us!