Our Planet, Our Movement

Brenner, Robert; et al.

Publisher:  Against the Current
Date Written:  01/09/2014
Year Published:  2014  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX20794

In response to recent activist activity regarding climate change in New York City, the editors examine the dimensions of the global environmental crisis and how to confront it.



Nature's warnings are ubiquitous. The poisoning of the drinking water of half a million Ohioans by algae bloom toxins, the result of phosphorus fertilizer and livestock manure runoff into Lake Erie, is no isolated incident -- the same threat exists in hundreds of bodies of water in the United States. Smoke from fires in the Canadian Northwest Territories, the inevitable consequence of climate warming, has risen into the stratosphere and blown so far as to be detected in Portugal. Every week brings new examples.

Those of us who call ourselves "ecosocialists" understand that two stark realities stand out. The first is that capitalist production and "the market" cannot and will not halt the rush to climate catastrophe. Whatever "green" technologies may come on stream in a capitalist economy won’t replace, but only supplement, the consumption of deadly fossil fuels -- from new coal-fired plants to deep-sea oil drilling to tar sands to fracking.

The second reality, however, is that even though a socialist transformation will be absolutely necessary for survival, the crisis cannot "wait for the revolution" if we’re going to avoid the collapse that could well become irreversible -- according to a mounting mass of scientific evidence -- within a few decades. As scientists and activists like James Hansen and Bill McKibben have pointed out, preserving good odds of survival depends on keeping four-fifths of known hydrocarbon reserves in the ground -- reserves already listed as "assets" on the books of the energy corporations -- to say nothing of deposits yet to be discovered.

In fact, the struggles to halt environmental destruction and capitalism itself must be waged simultaneously, and inextricably. It's not about what comes "first." A rapid transformation from fossil fuel to sustainable energy entails both a technical and a radical democratic transformation -- both feasible, but both revolutionary.