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Over the past 20 years, like clockwork, severe droughts have hit the Amazon every five years with regularity: 2005, 2010, 2015. Of course, droughts hit the Amazon rainforest throughout paleoclimate history, but this time it’s different. The frequency and severity is off the charts.
Biomass plant, Williams, California. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.
As a former environmental activist and environmental journalist with a brief appearance in Jeff Gibbs’ film Planet of the Humans—I was the guy trespassing at the biomass facility—I’m blown away by the amount of discussion the film has generated.
POTH brings up a slew of critical environmental issues ranging from ecosystem destruction to species extinction to climate change; the impacts of fossil fuels and limitations of alternative energy; the successes, compromises, and failures of the mainstream environmental movement; and, at the root of it all, our culture’s collective delusion of infinite economic growth on a finite planet. Intriguingly, the film also acts as a kind of Rorschach blot for people to read whatever message they want into it, whether it’s there or not.
As we enter the second decade of the new century, signs of crisis are all around us. Climate change, rising economic inequality, assaults on workers’ rights and wages, unchecked corporate power, financialization, entrenched racism, misogyny, and xenophobia, and emboldened neo-fascism and right-wing populism, to name a few. The entwined crises we face share a deep-rooted common cause: the undemocratic, inequitable, and extractive nature of our economic system. Despite the veneer of a prosperous recovery from the great financial crisis a decade ago many people rightly feel the economy no longer works for them and this is contributing to a deep popular disenchantment and realignment that is reconfiguring our politics and societies.
... averting climate change is not going stop the global collapse of the planet as we know it. Don’t get me wrong. Climate change is a global emergency and will cause tremendous damage, and, in fact, already has for many. But the thing is, massive, global-scale destruction has been going on for a long time even before climate change. ...addressing climate change using the values and viewpoints of this Western culture will only exacerbate the problem. The disease powered by solar fields is still the same disease that is powered by coal.
The core cultural values of a revolutionary
Science, imagination, education and democracy are core values for any revolutionary movement which aims for an ecologically sustainable civilization.
If nothing else, the last few months have heightened awareness of the desperately parlous predicament that now faces humanity, with an accelerating climate and ecological crisis. So attempts to design assertive policy proposals are very welcome. The Green New Deal is the one that currently is getting the most attention and perhaps traction. So I want to ask some critical questions that generally seem to be ignored in the infectious enthusiasm for the idea. In doing that I’ll also be rehearsing some insights from the degrowth perspective.
The dynamics of capitalism as a system and the limits of single-issue reforms
If capitalism is the principal source of the planetary emergency, which we argue here is the case, then our political response must be one that diminishes and ultimately ends capitalism as the dominant form of social relationship for making our way within nature.
En permettant l'homme, la nature a commis beaucoup plus qu'une erreur de calcul: un attentat contre elle-même.
“Our goals need to shift from GDP growth and the pursuit of affluence toward sustaining ecosystems and improving human well-being by prioritizing basic needs and reducing inequality.”