It seems as if climate change is an issue that, partly because it “may happen in the far future”, partly because other news like celebrity scandals or heated political debates attract more readers, never gets a proper headline on any mainstream newspaper. And when it does, it is always linked to something else, such as a recent natural disaster, or a new discovery on air pollution and how it is causing all kinds of problems. However, the problem of climate change has been and is very real, and can already be perceived throughout the world.
One of the most ironic and simultaneously tragic facts is that the public debate has shifted from what can and should be done to prevent global warming becoming an existential threat, to whether climate change is really happening or not.
Even more absurd and laughable is that the debate is framed by the media coverage in a way that makes it appear as if both sides are using logical and possibly correct arguments. Of course, this is not the case: on one side, we have 97% of climate and earth scientists who have demonstrated that human-induced climate change not only exists, but is an issue that must be dealt with with urgency. On the other side, we have a minority of conservatives and lobbyists protecting corporate interests arguing either that climate change doesn’t exist (or, as newly-elected president Trump puts it, “is a Chinese hoax”), or is simply a minor issue compared to immigration and terrorism.
To top this up the most paradoxical thing of all, as Naomi Klein set forth in her new book “This Changes Everything”, is that the denial or minimization of climate change by these right-wing quacks is, to a certain degree, coherent with their worldview and ideology. In fact, accepting and acknowledging the implications of the far-reaching changes climate change requires would mean, for those in power, abandoning the current “logic of our liberalized and profit-seeking economy” and its ideological foundations that benefit a very small minority. In essence, the collective action and regulation required to contain climate change is simply irreconcilable with the current extractive economy based on economic growth. Some of them say that climate change has either been invented or magnified by the radical left in order to dismantle the current economic and political status quo. But revolutionizing the current capitalist system and changing our relationship with nature isn’t something as appalling as the right claims. As a matter of fact, it is the only way in which we can preserve the global ecosystem and live in a sustainable way. As capitalism is based solely on money, or profit, all the “side effects”, on humankind and on nature, are ignored. This means that trying to convince transnational corporations to respect the environment is missing the point: they won’t, since their ultimate aim is to maximize its profit, nothing else.
Our social system should not be one calling for profit alone, but for solidarity, decency, human values, creativity, expression of oneself, and also respect of the environment and of life in general. We should learn to treasure nature, not exploit natural resources as if they were ours. Western “developed” and “advanced” countries may need to look back and learn something from those whom 150-200 years from now they slaughtered in hundreds of thousands; populations and tribes such as the native Americans, that found a perfect harmony with nature and lived in a free and primitive way, leading to the American conception of the “savage native”.
Nowadays, just as the right wing has dreaded, a radical movement has to rise up and challenge current authorities in a democratic and open-minded way, in order to prove that our capitalistic mindset does not work in too many ways for our society, for nature and for the future of humankind.
Marco Segantini, S7ITA (EEB1)
Wednesday, May 20, 2020