Climate Crisis: Our Last Chance

May 2024 Forums General discussion Climate Crisis: Our Last Chance

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    The recent IPCC report indicates we have roughly a decade to seriously reverse our production and consumption of we are to avoid the worst of climate change. Note not prevent or stop, but avoid the worst.

    For me as a Socialist this is our last chance to evidence the failure of capitalism and to give hope for a socialist future. The opportunities are there and the conversation about the route cause of our problems is becoming more direct. Even less revolutionary more mainstream organisations are asking deep routed questions….

    I don’t think there has been a more ideal time to get our message out there……


    It appears to me that our usual response is to publish a pamphlet and rest on our laurels. I’m not sure some members quite realise the urgency for civilisation and they seemingly share the general view that capitalism will fix it.

    This not like the nuclear war and end of the world hysteria we have met in the past. It is beyond the finger on the red button to something that is very much beyond any human intervention.

    “…This rapid acceleration in climate change may lead to potentially irreversible damage to the climate system, making timely mitigation efforts unfeasible…”

    And all the evidence (and it is a growing body of scientific opinion) is that we are heading towards such a situation.

    It may well be that by the time socialism is achieved it will be the only system that can mitigate the worse, but before then, at what cost in lives,  before people conclude it is a rational answer.

    Yes, i am a pessimist. And who can blame me when the alternative is relying on the capitalist class and their governments to bring forth the solutions to climate change.

    It is not just the ideal time to get our message out there…it may be the last time.



    UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned the world is facing “a direct existential threat” and must take action in the next two years to avert the disastrous consequences of runaway climate change.
    <p class=”speakable”>”If we do not change course by 2020, we risk missing the point where we can avoid runaway climate change, with disastrous consequences for people and all the natural systems that sustain us,” he said.  Guterres said scientists have been warning about global warming for decades, but “far too many leaders have refused to listen – far too few have acted with the vision the science demands”.</p>
    But perhaps capitalism will change its spots if it detects a market for profits

    Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former Finance Minister of Nigeria and Co-Chair of the Global Commission, said that “policy makers should take their feet off the brakes, send a clear signal that the new growth story is here and that it comes with exciting economic and market opportunities. $26 trillion and a more sustainable planet are on offer if we act decisively now.”

    Over 130 of the world’s most influential companies now committed to using only renewable energy, fossil fuel-dependent countries looking to diversify, and over 250 investors with $28 trillion in managed assets signing on to the Climate Action 100+ initiative.
    But i am not holding my breath. Are you?

    Obviously nothing significant is going to be done by 2020. But I don’t think this will result in an “existential threat”. If the average global temperature rises by 2030 by the predicted 1.5 degrees, this will certainly cause problems in some parts of the world but won’t represent a threat to the existence of human life on the planet Earth (which is presumably what “existential threat means”). That would require a rise in average global temperature by much more than 1.5 degrees. I am not sure either that it would mean the beginning of “runaway global warming”, i.e, the beginning of a process that could not be stopped (not even in socialism).

    I can understand what Gutteres is using such language — it’s to try to shock governments into doing something. But there is a danger in crying wolf.

    If an “existential threat” does emerge I don’t think the capitalist governments of the world would just sit back and do nothing. After all, that would be a threat to them and their system. I don’t know what they would do but they would be bound to do something. I don’t know if the fact that they haven’t unleashed a nuclear war is a precedent for them stepping back from the brink.


    The IPCC report was very conservative and excluded certain scenarios such as tipping points and feedbacks from their projections to avoid appearing too alarmist.

    “The full report of the IPCC reflects our lack of knowledge of the full potential of tipping points, he said: “The underlying report suggests that the other tipping points are too poorly understood, or not likely to be triggered until higher amounts of warming – but given their consequences, one would expect a more risk-based approach. That is, you don’t ignore them until you know them to be impossible.”

    “Current promises made by countries as part of the Paris climate agreement would lead to about 3 degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) of warming by the end of the century, and the Trump administration recently released an analysis assuming about 4 degrees Celsius (7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100 if the world takes no action…If you’re expecting IPCC to jump up and down and wave red flags, you’re going to be disappointed,” said Phil Duffy, president of the Woods Hole Research Center. “They’re going to do what they always do, which is to release very cautious reports in extremely dispassionate language…

    …the scenarios that the IPCC presents that hold warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, particularly the reliance on negative-emissions technologies to keep the window open.

    “Even if it is technically possible, without aligning the technical, political and social aspects of feasibility, it is not going to happen,” added Glen Peters, research director of the Center for International Climate Research in Oslo. “To limit warming below 1.5 C, or 2 C for that matter, requires all countries and all sectors to act.”


    “The worst-case predictions regarding the effects of global warming are the most likely to be true…Our study indicates that if emissions follow a commonly used business-as-usual scenario, there is a 93 per cent chance that global warming will exceed 4°C by the end of this century,” Dr. Ken Caldeira, an atmospheric scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science.

    We already have governments disregarding scientific recommendations…USA, Australia, Brasil.

    China was recently revealed as secretly breaking their coal-power stations promises, India continues on regardless with their fossil fuels.

    Plenty other countries are procrastinating on much urgent policies.

    Perhaps capitalism will succeed with green capitalism. If capitalism can avoid the existential threat to humanity, then perhaps we should promote it as still being a progressive social system and the solution. Certainly, there is no reason for green reformers to adopt socialism if even socialists say capitalists and their politicians can fix the problem

    We place our trust and faith that the world’s governments will do the right thing if only to just save their own skins. (A bit like the 19th C public health reforms to stop catching diseases.)

    Is that our policy now?


    Of course that’s not our policy. The point I was making was against bandying about the term “existential threat”, i.e the threat of human extinction. Talk about being alarmist!  I just don’t think that this is an issue (even a rise of 4 degrees won’t being about this) and, if it was, I don’t think capitalist governments or the people they rule over would do nothing to try to stop it (the scenario in Pieter Lawrence’s novel The Last Conflict might be played out where even capitalist governments under popular pressure take drastic measures that involve inroads into the capitalist profit system to deal with the threat of a comet or an asteroid hurtling towards Earth.)

    This doesn’t make capitalism a progressive system than can solve current environmental problems (or the other problems it generates). It is merely saying that it won’t bring about the extinction of the human race, a rather more serious charge against it.


    I seem to remember a similar debate in the 70s when some members thought we should join the CND and  a member called Skelton suggested that it was absurd to believe that the capitalists would destroy their planet, their property with a nuclear wipe out.

    I tend to agree with ALB. Climate change is against the interests of the capitalist class. They have a lot more to lose than the rest of us. The planet earth belongs to them and it it is in their interests to protect it.

    It is of course in our interests to protect the earth, too, by organising for socialism but in the meantime I would expect more green taxes supported by the various left wing groups.


    I have restricted my existential threat to civilisation for i am guessing human beings will survive as a species. In what numbers and in what form of social organisation i cannot really imagine.

    Like yourself, i have recommended the Last Conflict as a possible response, although it is a piece of wishful thinking. The world stumbling unthinkingly and unplanned into socialism by necessity.

    On the other hand, perhaps the example of Elon Musk might also be applicable…the rich and wealthy escaping in their space lifeboats. The 1% are already building their gated communities an employing their private armies.

    I think i suggested before that rather than blind guesses the Party creates a committee for more concrete projections along the lines of production for use committee.

    You may not believe a 4-degree rise is something not to be alarmed about yet many others consider it would mean a world emergency. The recent IPCC report revealed the dire consequences what a mere half-degree difference would make.

    The explored consequences of an increase of the global earth temperature of 4°C are indeed devastating.

    Among the foreseen consequences are:

    the inundation of coastal cities; Goodbye, Clapham High St

    • increasing risks for food production potentially leading to higher malnutrition rates; many dry regions becoming dryer and wet regions wetter;
    • unprecedented heat waves in many regions, especially in the tropics;
    • substantially exacerbated water scarcity in many regions;
    • increased frequency of high-intensity tropical cyclones;
    • irreversible loss of biodiversity, including coral reef systems.
    • If the currently planned actions are not fully implemented, a warming of 4°C could occur as early as the 2060s. Such a warming level by 2100 would not be the end point: a further warming to levels over 6°C would likely occur over the following centuries.

    “A great many record-breaking heat events, heavy floods, and extreme droughts would occur if global warming crosses the 4 °C level, with respect to the preindustrial period,” said Dabang Jiang, a senior researcher at the Institute of Atmospheric Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. “The temperature increase would cause severe threats to ecosystems, human systems, and associated societies and economies.” They found that most of the models projected an increase of 4°C as early as 2064 and as late as 2095 in the 21st century, with 2084 appearing as the median year.

    Imagine something similar to the Great Depression of 1929 hitting the world, but this time it never ends.

    At 4 degrees Celsius of global warming, for example, the losses in income to the global economy are over US$23 trillion per year, or the equivalent in economic damage of three or four 2008 Global Financial Crises each year. These damages represent roughly one-third of current global GDP and about 7 per cent or more of projected GDP in 2100. Losses, for example, at 4 degrees Celsius, for Cambodia, Sri Lanka, and Nicaragua are over 17 per cent, for Indonesia 19 per cent, for India 14 per cent, Thailand 17 per cent, Singapore 16 per cent, and the Philippines 20 per cent. For much of Africa the losses range from 18 to over 26 per cent of GDP. Global losses of this size are comparable to the Great Depression of the 1930s, with its global fall in GDP of 15 per cent, except these will occur year after year, with no way for effective redress. The severe falls in GDP in the long term will put many governments under fiscal stress, since tax revenues are tied to GDP or national income levels. Tax revenues will fall dramatically, and thus social services spending.

    (We may have to re-write the capitalism won’t collapse pamphlet)

    One of the aspects i have read about is the knock-on effect of migration t. Imagine, if you can, how the arrival of a few million migrants and refugees has had on Europe…and now visualise what the World Bank  expects – 86 million people being displaced in Sub-Saharan Africa, 40 million in South Asia, and as many as 17 million in Latin America.  Climate change refugees on the move from countries that are too poor to adapt crops and farming systems (and need i add the contributing reason for this is the transnational Big Ag corporations and an international land-grab.) Trumpite demagogues will indeed be facing “invasions”

    Should we complacent and support the idea that capitalism can cope with climate change?

    Should we ignore the stark warnings and describe them as exaggerations and effectively join the ranks of climate change deniers?

    I think perhaps we should start investing in HO and turning it into a bunker as those preppers would in the hope of holding out. And in this way,  we keep the Party alive and the idea of socialism…or would it be primitive communism, again…or tribal clan communism… 😆

    • This reply was modified 5 years, 5 months ago by PartisanZ.

    Pat, the risk is that climate change becomes out of control, that capitalists will act too late to save the world…

    Yet again though, a member of our Party expresses the opinion that capitalists are rational inependent actors and not as we always said personifications of their economic role and function in the process of accumulation.

    You may have missed it in all my messages but i did refer to nuclear war in an earlier post

    “…This not like the nuclear war and end of the world hysteria we have met in the past. It is beyond the finger on the red button to something that is very much beyond any human intervention…”



    I never said that a rise of average global temperature by 4 degrees would not be alarming or cause serious political, social and economic disruption. I merely said it wouldn’t cause the extinction of the human species. This is not “climate denial” just “extinction denial”. Of course global temperature are rising as a result of human action, mainly burning fossil fuels.

    p.s. Your “End of the World is Nigh” sandwich board is ready at Head Office. Don’t forget to grow a long beard.



    I think the threat as outlined in my OP and backed up by Alan is fair and real. Even if the temperature extremes are in other countries rather than our own, it is the threat to crops, water and ecosystems which pose the biggest risk. I do not think this is a matter as Alan has pointed out which has happened before and when usually conservative and large organisations are saying such revolutionary things as blaming capitalism itself and pointing to possible extinctions, I’d say it we are at a tipping point and that socialism has never been more relevant.

    In terms of extinctions, this is also a real threat. Humans are diverse and real survivors but it is the food chains we are wiping out and the water we are poisoning which will cause the problems, let alone heat and weather. Sometimes I think we are too clever. We may ‘survive’ as a small remnant species, but if these predictions and possible outcomes happen then our life as we know will not exist. And that will not take a massive increase in warming to happen – most reports and data say about the 1.5 – 2% rise is not without severe consequences, let alone 4% and up.

    Capitalism does not have the answers. Neither does it have the will. I disagree with the notion that they have everything to lose – they don’t really. They are the owning class, they control, they have means. To them they are above climate change. Food shortages? Not for them. Water shortages? Not for them. Heat? They’ll use aircon. Cold? They’ll turn the fire up. They are metaphorically and literally insulated against many of the effects of climate change through power and ownership. When we are stabbing each other for the last tin of beans in the Co-op, do you think they will be there with us or locked safely in their mansions guarded by their own private security firms?

    This is the same class that currently does nothing now to prevent mass slaughter, does nothing to prevent mass famine, disease, etc. Why would they be bothered about climate change? To think they won’t kill the goose that lays their golden eggs is daft – so long as they have enough put by, they couldn’t care less.

    This is why I think this is the best and last chance we have to promote and sell socialism to the masses. This isn’t just a climate issue it is a revolutionary and a class issue. It has been caused as a direct result of capitalism, is will get worse under capitalism, capitalism has no incentive to cure it and the capitalist class will be least affected by the coming disasters. The working class and the poor will be the worst affected and now have everything to gain by challenging the status quo.


    And if there is an end of the world sandwich, please make sure it is meat free! I already have the beard….


    ALB, if you don’t read what i post, there is not going to be much of a debate

    I repeat “I have restricted my EXISTENTIAL THREAT TO CIVILISATION for i am guessing human beings will survive as a species. In what numbers and in what form of social organisation i cannot really imagine.”

    I suggest we may well experience a period similar to the Dark Ages or the impact of the Black Death or the Mongol Hordes or the arrival of Columbus and the Conquistadors or whatever.

    But social progress, the centuries Enlightenment, may very well disappear and there is a  real threat we are collectively sleep-walking towards such a gloomy doom that relies on the assumption that somehow capitalists no longer act as they always have acted – to accumulate capital and expand markets and make profits and will desist from their own internecine rivalries.





    Actually, that’s not a bad idea – read what the person you are discussing with says. My concern has been to avoid exaggeration and scaremongering and I  am pleased to see you have changed your position from threat of human extinction to threat of collapse of civilisation.

    I have never said that capitalism will deal adequately with global warming. What I said was that IF there were to be a imminent threat of human extinction  then capitalist governments would do something about it. As there isn’t and is not likely to be such a threat this is purely hypothetical. So we don’t need to indict capitalism for bringing about such a threat. The case against capitalism is strong enough. We have nothing to gain by overstating it.

    My guess is that average global temperature will have risen by 1.5 degrees by 2030 (because capitalist governments won’t agree to take the measures needed to avoid it) but I doubt it will rise by 4 degrees by 2100.

    Why not? Because the costs of taking steps to stop this happening will be less than allowing it to happen. (Also lots of things we can’t anticipate could happen in the 80 years to come before then.)

    Assuming that you disagree with Geldorf’s statement that we or civilisation could become extinct by 2030 how would you deal with his exaggeration?



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