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New Climate Report calls for immediate massive reduction in fossil fuels and carbon emissions, but does anyone really care?

March 2, 2022

While the commercial news media has us all focused on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, little attention has been given to the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The United Nations Secretary General responded to the lasted Climate Change report and stated:

Today’s IPCC report is an atlas of human suffering and a damning indictment of failed climate leadership. With fact upon fact, this report reveals how people and the planet are getting clobbered by climate change. Nearly half of humanity is living in the danger zone now. Many ecosystems are at the point of no return now. Unchecked carbon pollution is forcing the world’s most vulnerable on a frogmarch to destruction now. The facts are undeniable. This abdication of leadership is criminal. The world’s biggest polluters are guilty of arson on our only home.

These are harsh words, but they honestly reflect the realities of the catastrophic predicament we are facing and they make it clear that those in power, both political and economic, have been the ones who have prevented the serious reduction of the greenhouses gases and carbon reduction from happening.

In the United States, there has been for decades, a Bi-partisan effort to take serious the calls for Climate Justice. Both Republicans and Democrats refuse to pass a Green New Deal, yet they allow massive subsidies to the fossil fuels industry, along with passing massive military spending bill on an annual bases. 

In Michigan, the fossil fuel giant Enbridge is continuing to move forward, with State support, to construct a tunnel under Lake Michigan for the Line 5 oil pipeline. Fracking continues to take place throughout Michigan, keeping natural gas consumption flowing, and Michigan is still importing coal to burn for electricity production.

The auto industry continues to get massive bi-partisan support for car production and we should not be deceived by the GM announcement for increased electric car production.

Agriculture in Michigan is still dominated by agri-business interests, with crops for export rather than feeding those who live locally. If you look at the Farm Bill in Michigan, you see that the primary beneficiaries are larger farms, along with those that grow single food items, known as mono-crops.

In Grand Rapids and Kent County, the local governments have done little to significantly reduce to use of fossil fuels and practice real sustainability. Resident-led efforts to push for a more Climate Justice center approaches were generally ignored. Grand Rapids claims it has a world class transit system, but all one has to do is observe the level of single passenger vehicles during rush hour and the amount of parking lots that dominate the downtown area. At the same time Black and Brown neighborhoods have the least amount of greenspace and have limited access to healthy, fresh foods, thereby suffering from Food Apartheid.

On a Global scale, the IPCC report also makes it clear that those most vulnerable around the world are Indigenous, Black, Latino and Asian communities that make up a significant portion of the Global South.

Neither Prayer nor Technology will save humanity from the Climate Crisis

I’ll admit that after reading the recent IPCC report, I felt depressed and wondered what the future holds for us. I’m just a few months from Turing 62, but what about future generations? We CANNOT rely on the political class to solve these problems and we CANNOT rely on the Capitalist Class either, since both of these classes bear most of the responsibility of getting us into this mess to begin with. 

I am reminded of the recent study done by the  Indigenous Environmental NetworkIndigenous Climate Action, and Oil Change International, which concludes that Indigenous communities resisting the more than 20 fossil fuel projects analyzed have stopped or delayed greenhouse gas pollution equivalent to at least 25 percent of annual U.S. and Canadian emissions. This is a powerful example of the importance of engaging in Direct Action and to not be lulled into the illusion that we just need the right set of politicians to fix things. 

I do believe is developing strategies of resistance and there are plenty of people who have been working in that arena for a long time. On organizational approach I would suggest, is what environmental strategist Stephen D’Arcy lays out for us in his essay, Environmentalism as if Winning Mattered: A Self-Organization Strategy.

D’Arcy suggests a two-pronged strategic approach, the Resistance Phase and a Transition Phase. Keep in mind that D’Arcy is focusing on environmental outcomes, but he also makes clear that his approach is fundamentally an anti-capitalist strategy.

The Resistance Phase would include some of the following strategic objectives:

  • To construct an anti-corporate alliance of Indigenous communities, workers’ organizations, and environmental protest groups, based on a serious, sustained commitment to practical solidarity at the grassroots level.
  • To build cost-raising protest movements, directed against all forms of environmental destruction, framing these struggles whenever possible as struggles for environmental justice, including Indigenous self-determination, economic justice and public welfare.
  • To promote prefigurative community-based alternatives to capitalist production that model sustainability, solidarity, popular autonomy, and environmental justice.
  • To re-establish vital currents of ecologically oriented anti-capitalist radicalism, for instance, eco-socialism, anarcho-Indigenism; social ecology; left eco-feminism; and so on.

The Transition phase would also have four strategic objectives:

  • To organize anti-capitalist environmentalists into a common front of radical community organizations (SMOs, CCOs, PAOs), capable of tactical concentration for united action;
  • To establish the hegemony of the anti-capitalist common front within the mass environmental movement, so that it exercises a consensual, acknowledged leadership role in pointing the way forward for large sections of the broader movement;
  • To gain for the common front and its allies a degree of community-based “social” power, resting on the capacity to deploy general strikes, mass protest, and mass civil disobedience campaigns, on such a scale that the community-based opposition constitutes a community-based counter-power that can effectively challenge the economic power of corporations and the coercive power of the state;
  • To secure the transfer of ever more extensive governance functions to community-based self-organization (SMOs, CCOs, PAOs), so that “social” sector institutions ultimately displace — rapidly whenever possible, gradually whenever necessary — both “private” and “state” sector institutions from their role in running the economy, the healthcare and education systems, providing social services, etc.

This is just one model for how we move forward, but the point I want to emphasize is that based upon the recent IPCC report, we need to collectively reduce carbon emissions by 90% of their current levels within the next few decades or we will leave a world for our children that will be hell. In order to achieve the 90% reduction, we will need to radically alter how society currently functions. We will have to end militarism and military spending, dismantle the agri-business system, expose and dismantle the system of White Supremacy, create real mass transit and come to terms with the fact that we cannot produce enough energy, even through solar or wind, to power our communities and not expect to have to make more fundamental changes to how we live. 

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