The terrible news on unfolding climate change can have opposite effects on people: despair, lassitude and denial — or angry energy.
The ranks of those in this country who buy into the lie, promoted by the fossil fuel industry and repeated by opportunist politicians like Trump, that denies climate change are thinning out, as evidence of its reality mounts. Sometimes it hits in their own backyards, whether it’s fierce storms or wild fires or floods.
The young in particular, for whom the future is a big chunk of their own lives, are driving the movement demanding governments and corporations take meaningful steps to turn around what seems like an unstoppable slide into climate chaos.
And more and more, people in this movement are targeting capitalism as the problem and socialism as the answer. It’s about time — and there IS still time.
What can bring about change
Over the last century and a half — a period when the industrialization of the planet led to massive amounts of greenhouse gases accumulating in the atmosphere like a great blanket warming the Earth — we have seen people organize and do what seemed impossible when they are convinced that their collective interests outweigh their own personal needs and desires. Tragically, this ability to sacrifice and struggle has been made use of by the ruling classes of the imperialist world, who have indoctrinated people by the hundreds of millions to fight and die “for their country.”
In fact, the 20th century’s world wars, as well as devastating “police actions” — think Vietnam and Korea — were driven not by noble sentiments of democracy and freedom, but by the ferocious need for markets and profits built into the capitalist system.
Learning otherwise — as have so many GIs who were forced into the Vietnam War and now visit that socialist country in friendship — is a shattering but necessary experience.
In recent decades, when capitalist governments call on the masses of people for more sacrifice, cynicism has replaced enthusiasm. And understandably so. But cynicism is the absence of belief or conviction.
It is what you do, not what you scoff at and don’t do, that changes the tide of history.
An anti-capitalist movement is developing all over the globe in response to the crimes of imperialism. One of its urgent issues is climate change. Can enough be done to stop global warming before the “tipping point” is reached which, scientists warn, would make it irreversible?
Obviously, this will take mass mobilization on a grand scale. It will take thoughtful and organized restructuring of the way we humans live, work and get enjoyment out of life. Such restructuring is completely at odds with a profit-driven economic system.
Uniting the forces for socialism
The working class potentially has the power and organization to paralyze capitalism, bring down its repressive state and mobilize for the planned, socialist reconstruction of society to benefit the producers, not the exploiters.
And it needs allies among those people not directly exploited at the point of production but suffering from capitalism in every other way. The struggle for a sustainable system, socialism, can unite these class forces.
Right now, the greatest energy for social change is coming from those most exploited and oppressed by this system. It is the peoples of Africa, Central and South America and the Caribbean, much of West and East Asia and the Pacific, who have contributed the least to global warming but are suffering the most from its consequences.
The recent cyclone that hit Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, killing more than 600 people at a minimum and devastating hundreds of thousands, is a case in point. So is the hurricane devastation of Puerto Rico that continues. But we must also include the massive floods in the U.S. Midwest, where those most affected are always the poor, who lack adequate shelter and can’t afford flood insurance.
Despair won’t get us anywhere. The only effective response to global warming is to fight like hell for workers’ power and socialism.