350.org sees the "100 by '50 Act" as a Washington record-breaker, "the most ambitious piece of climate legislation Congress has ever seen.” But even if it does actually clear that decidedly low bar, it threatens to bog down efforts at preventing climate catastrophe.
You are here
The system of fossil-fueled neoliberal capitalism is indeed moving toward an end of history, but only in the sense of the end of any historical advance of humanity as a productive, political, and cultural species due to the increasingly barbaric socio-economic and environmental conditions the system creates. There is now no alternative to the end of history as we know it. The sustainable development of human society co-evolving with nature including other species now depends on a definite historical break with capitalism as the dominant mode of production.
Climate change is a different prospect of calamity—not just elementally but morally different from nuclear exchange in a manner which has not been properly dealt with. The first difference is that it’s definitely happening. The second is that it’s not happening to everyone. For anyone who grew up in the Cold War, the apocalypse was a simple yes-no question: either it was coming, or it wasn’t. Many people I know who grew up before the end of the nuclear arms race describe this as oddly freeing: there was the sense that since the future might explode at any point, it was not worth the effort of planning. Climate change is species collapse by a thousand cuts. There will be no definite moment we can say that yes, today we are fucked, and yesterday we were unfucked. Instead the fuckery increases incrementally year on year, until this is the way the world ends: not with a bang, not with a bonfire, but with the slow and savage confiscation of every little thing that made you human, starting with hope.
Both capitalism and electoral democracy impede effective climate action. But while we have to defend and transform democracy, there is no possibility that capitalism can be made compatible with either global climate mitigation or social and economic justice.
On December 5, former vice president Al Gore met with Donald and Ivanka Trump in an effort to convince the president-elect that he should not gut federal policies and agreements dealing with climate change. Three days later, actor Leonardo DiCaprio also paid the Trump duo a visit, urging them to help build a green, climate-friendly economy with lots of jobs.
A Review of Brian Tokar's book Toward Climate Justice: Perspectives on the Climate Crisis and Social Justice (Porsgrunn, Norway: New Compass Press, 2014).