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Bill McKibben on a "Remarkable Political Moment for Climate Change"


In the New Yorker, writer and longtime environmental activist Bill McKibben suggests that we are currently in a promising political moment for efforts against climate change, after years of despair and government inaction. This moment was brought about, he writes, by large-scale activism in different parts of the globe, and signs that people across the political spectrum are worried about the issue, not just liberals. Check out an excerpt from McKibben’s article below.

Having followed the issue closely since I wrote my first book about climate change, thirty years ago, I think I can say that we’re in a remarkable moment, when, after years of languishing, climate concern is suddenly and explosively rising to the top of the political agenda. Maybe, though not certainly, it is rising fast enough that we’ll get real action…

Many streams contributed to this tide. Ten years of movement-building, often led by those most at risk, laid a foundation. (The young people of the Sunrise Movement, who have championed the Green New Deal, cut their teeth in the campus fossil-fuel-divestment movement.) Scientists sharpened their analysis. (Last year’s report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was the first to set a deadline—of 2030—for being fully under way with the fundamental transformation necessary to meet the targets set in the Paris climate accords.) Donald Trump’s foolery heightened apprehensions. (One senses that even some of his most loyal supporters doubt that global warming is a “hoax manufactured by the Chinese.”) And nature itself provided the strongest boost: flood after drought after firestorm, in every corner of the planet, pierced public consciousness. Last November, Americans saw a town called Paradise literally turned into hell within half an hour, and suddenly they had a glimpse of what climate change looks like.

Image via the New Yorker.


All the environmental activism that Bill McKibben sees as grounds for optimism about fighting climate change will turn to dust unless environmentalism stops being a “single issue” and really embraces the need to remove the profit motive from human affairs. Monopoly-capitalism has to be ended by socialist revolution if the planet and civilisation are to be saved, as the Economic & Philosophic Science Review explains:
"The gross and cynical trampling across scientific consensus and alarms by the increasingly Hitler-like Trumpism commanding the giant wealth and armed might of the US and by stooges like Brazil’s new fascist president Jair Bolsonaro, unlocking even more rainforest destruction, genetic plundering and corporate mineral and oil piracy and pollution, make the real problem clear - the ruthless drive for international monopoly profit.
"Casual and careless corporate plunder ‘justified’ with deliberately backward philistinism and denial will prevail for as long as such profit is the underlying class-dominated rationale of society and its economic foundations, only changeable by revolutionary overthrow.
"Even if ‘regulations’ for social conditions, work standards, ‘fair taxes’, environmental limits, or anything else could really make a permanent difference (they cannot), such restraints would be swamped by the rapidly intensifying contradictions tearing the world economy apart, forcing the corporations to get round them or to bribe and lobby the legislators (the reality of ‘democracy’) to rescind them, in order to keep making a ‘return’. "
And the EPSR also warns: "…until [environmental activists] make the connection to the greed and anarchy of the capitalist system and its foul warmongering, blitzkrieging, torture and exploitation tyranny, they are also a distraction and ultimately a diversion from finding a solution (as a largely positive bourgeois press response to the demonstrators confirms). "