photo & text by nacrowe
CLIMATE CRISIS AND THE GLOBAL GREEN NEW DEAL (VERSO, 2020) finds noted progressive economist ROBERT POLLIN of UMASS AMHERST and legendary linguist and originator of modern cognitive science NOAM CHOMSKY of MIT tackling the complex and heady question of pursuing how to go about pressing for an international agreement regarding the ongoing CLIMATE CRISIS.
the essential problem is that inherently capitalist objectives are not aligned with the survival of the environment and its life systems. capitalism is about generating profit and providing value to their shareholders. end stop.
in the UNITED STATES the entire political structure, including both parties, adhere to a religion of NEOLIBERALISM that advocates unadulterated faith in the markets and the flawed idea that markets should replace government as the rule setter of economic activity. this is beyond problematic as the markets are not unbiased agents. all problems, or externalities in business parlance, that result formtheir flawed profit-seeking logic will be dealt, as believed by NEOLIBERALS, with the gusto, ingenuity and innovation. the concern now is that a market correction is not on the radar for most companies, who have a profit incentive to downplay and promote a culture of CLIMATE DENIALISM. it gets worse.
this culture is most obviously seen in the REPUBLICAN PARTY post-NEWT GINGRICH who have advocated for obstructionist policies regarding policies that would limit the economies ability to continue exploiting nature unabated and diminishing life in the process. it may sound like an alarmist fever dream, but consensus regarding CLIMATE SCIENCE by the scientific community is nearly unanimous. even among right-wing political parties worldwide, the REPUBLICAN PARTY is an outlier, with their domestic policies largely being shaped by private energy interests like the KOCH BROTHERS since their infiltration in the 1980s. the power of this constituency is bearing fruit currently and is the reason for AMERICAN intransigence in global attempts at addressing this issue.
in the UNITED STATES there is this concept that until recently has not been challenged of the enduring moral superiority of CAPITALISM over other systems, forgetting entirely that our economy has been driven over the course of our history by SLAVERY, COAL and OIL. all three are ethically problematic and have set into motion what is likely to be a world environment degraded and desecrated for future inhabitants. and the base reason for such is the profit principle.
it all seems so sad and pathetic really.
this book is rather wonky and a bit dense. it very much feels like reading a lecture chaired by two knowledge academics who are not dumbing down the conversation. this is very much how the book is structured, with moderator C.J. POLYCHRONIOU asking questions and each taking turns expounding on such. for me this book helps solidify my knowledge of current efforts to combat the CLIMATE CRISIS through advocating new power structures through renewed commitments to organized labor and other grassroots advocacy organizations worldwide aimed at being a voice for sanity in this discussion, which is essentially being sidelined by AMERICAN objectives, both political and economic. for the sake of the world these groups need to flourish and gain influence for further negotiations. otherwise the prognosis is toxic.
much like THE SIXTH EXTINCTION (review linked HERE) by ELIZABETH KOLBERT, this conversation regarding the CLIMATE CRISIS and human attempts at addressing such are dizzyingly complex and soul crushingly depressing given its scale. but it is a necessary conversation worth having.
this calamity just feels inevitable. to me personally at least.
great book that presents a discussion that i by no means did justice to. this is a book most definitely worth reading.
photo & text by nacrowe
you think you know how bad things are with nature, and then you read THE SIXTH EXTINCTION: AN UNNATURAL HISTORY (PICADOR, 2014) by ELIZABETH KOLBERT, WILLIAMS COLLEGE fellow and staff writer on environment for THE NEW YORKER. and now you are officially overwhelmed and depressed.
where KOLBERT excels is in her ability to provide context to the geological time scale involved in any discussions surrounding the evolution of life and extinctions. the problem is not that change hasn't happened in the past that has resulted in mass extinction, it has. the problem currently is the rate of change. life in this context does not have the time to evolve or adjust to new parameters and the implications are disastrous. it is as if the rules of nature have been one way for millions of years and then humans post-INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION have shifted the climate and environment to the point that old rules dont apply. this emerging geological age we live in now is called the ANTHROPOCENE and it is marked by GLOBAL WARMING, OCEAN ACIDIFICATION, HABITAT FRAGMENTATION, the flattening of global biodiversity through the creation of a NEW PANGEA where foreign predators are introduced via international trade and commerce among other mechanism. in the end they all result in human initiated incursions that are projected to result in an historic sixth mass extinction that will be visible for millions of years via the geological record.
that is not to say that the world wont continue. it will. new speciation and relations between organisms will emerge and continue to run unabated in a future post-human era. it is just that our presence and the collective choices of mankind have resulted, from our inception, in the death of countless species. it is really quite remarkable and it is a testament to her ability as a writer to paint these problems with such crushing force. these mechanism of extinction are all introduced with her describing a visit to a relevant locale (PERU, ICELAND, WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS, BRASIL etc.) and elaborating for us about what is special about the plant and animal residents of this era and the unique parameters that brought on their evolution and specialized rituals and adaptations to the area. and then we learn how humans, usually unintentionally, have affected their ability to live. each time in a uniquely destructive manner.
arguably the most depressing thing about this book is that it isnt empowering. it is not about our individual choices that have gotten us here. this destruction is all seemingly hardwired and inevitable. it is essentially part of our nature as humans. as long as we prosper we will continue to impact the planet and these irreversible mechanism will continue to run unabated, destroying life and leaving our world that much less diverse and rich to leave to future generations. it is our creativity and ability to pass on knowledge via communication systems that have led us to live apart from nature, apart from evolution. it is our ability to innovate that led us here. in 500 million years since complex organisms rose up, this is the first mass extinction of geological scale predicated on the influence of a single species.
and that is our true legacy as humans. not art. not technology. just death.
this is an incredible book that i could not recommend any more passionately. it presents deeply disturbing and affecting ideas that linger and claw at you long after finishing the book.