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“There’s No Economy on a Dead Planet”: Reflections on a Missing Election Issue


“A Powerful Symbol of the Age of Man”

Climate change is indisputably anthropogenic – human-made. The long deep-pocketed propaganda, public relations, and lobbying arms of the corporate carbon industrial complex have long insisted that global warming is a reflection of unalterable natural forces that operate independently of human control. But the preponderant majority of the climate-sentient world agrees with the overwhelming consensus finding of contemporary earth scientists that global warming is anthropogenic (“human made”) – that it reflects the visible hand of human practice, politics, and policy. It knows that the story of the world’s broken ecology is about the human release of greenhouse gases resulting from the uncontrolled extraction and use of carbon-based fossil fuels.[8]

The harsh reality has to be acknowledged in elite capitalist media. Reflecting its duty to provide its privileged readers with reasonably accurate information, even the neoliberal, arch-capitalist Anglo-American Economist magazine acknowledges the dominant role of human agency in a recent special supplemental report on “The Vanishing North.”  According to The Economist last June, “The shrinkage of the sea ice is no less a result of human hands than the ploughing of the prairies. The cause is global pollution, and the risks it carries are likewise global. The Arctic, no longer distant or inviolable, has emerged, almost overnight, as a powerful symbol of the age of man.”[9] 

“Accelerating the Catastrophe”

What do the two dominant U.S. business parties offer towards the goal of saving the planet – well, its living species – from the crisis of anthropogenic global warming? Less than nothing. An escalation of the assault, in fact, making the problem worse.

Writing about the drastic melting of “the earth’s air-conditioner,” Gillis notes a chilling lack of urgency in reacting to the problem the part of rich nation governments, whose “main response has been to plan for exploitation of newly accessible minerals in the Arctic, including more oil.”[10]

Instead of acting to limit greenhouse emissions, those governments see the retreat of the great northern ice cover as an opportunity “to accelerate the catastrophe…The reaction,” Noam Chomsky notes, “demonstrates an extraordinary willingness to sacrifice the lives of our children and grandchildren for short-term gain. Or, perhaps, an equally remarkable willingness to shut our eyes so as not to see the impending peril.”[11] …

…The Republicans and the Democrats both decline to take the great time bomb of climate change[18] with anything remotely like the seriousness it deserves since doing so would disrupt “the economy.” They both worship at the altar of growth and the notion that “a rising tide lifts all boats” – capitalism’s longstanding fake, eco-cidal answer to popular pressure for jobs, and end to poverty, and the downward redistribution of income and wealth.[19] They both refuse to let long-term considerations of livable ecology and human survival interfere with the short-term pursuit of material expansion and the bottom line, not to mention the short-term logic of the election cycle.

I often wonder why people, who know that climate change is real, refuse to discuss it. They refuse to discuss it because it will upset their regimen of making money and carrying along with business-as-usual.

Bill Mckibben was on some late night TV show and he mentioned that the executive of some oil company said that if we need to move our food production north, then we will. Here is why that won’t work. Climate change means widespread famine, wars for dwindling resources, the fall of States, and the final extinction of man. There’s no more pretending that economic growth is possible or even a sane path for us to follow. Yet the system continues on through coerced participation.

I wonder if our forebears from 100 years ago would alter their actions if they knew from scientific and observable evidence that their way of life would cause the extinction of their progeny. Do you think they were more sensible back then? At that time, Edward Bernays and the tools of mass media manipulation had not yet entered society. Are not climate change deniers and free market ideologues the flat-earthers or Salem witch hunters of the 21st century? Feel free to give me an answer if you have one.

If you destroy the oceans, the cradle of life, then they will overtake you, returning you from whence you came…