Mark's environmentsal panic attack

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Tue Jun 6 08:32:21 MDT 2000

>    Overall, my viewpoint is that the climate has ALWAYS been changing; the
>change being talked about today is well within the range the earth has had
>in the last few tens of thousands of years. But all the stuff about sea
>levels rising dozens of feet, more hurricanes, another ice age, the sky
>falling, etc. etc. etc. is extremely speculative and alarmist; one could
>with just as much scientific grounding (i.e., very little) speculate that
>the anthropogenic tendencies will have a beneficient impact, extending
>growing seasons and the temperate zone, avoiding another ice age, etc., etc.

Jose, by the very nature of the subject matter, much of this will have a
speculative character. After all, predicting the state of the world 50
years from now, on the basis of 'ceteris parebis', involves matters that
have a somewhat unpredictable character. It is not the same thing, for
instance, as predicting the state of a farm if you do not replenish the
soil with fertilizer, or the state of a reservoir if pesticides leech into it.

We face a situtation where thousands of scientists are alarmed as you put
it about this looming catastrophe, where millions of people will lose their
lives because of typhoons, etc. They sense that there is something about
the status quo that is producing this crisis, but since they are not as
Marxists, they do not understand that the accumulation of capital is
driving it. They blame 'industrialization' or 'inefficient' use of
resources. Our goal is to explain the root cause of the problem and win
scientists to socialism, in the same way that a generation of engineers and
biologists were won to the Russian revolution.

For this to happen, we have draw a clear line between our own approach and
those of the global warming skeptics who are not taken seriously by the
overwhelming majority of scientists. Scientists at prestigious institutions
like Columbia's Lamont-Doherty Laboratory, MIT, Harvard, etc. are united in
their understanding of the seriousness of the problem. The only skeptics
are those who either have come to their skepticism honestly (a small number
as would be expected) and those who are whores for the energy and
transportation multinationals.

I think our differences over these questions are not over the quality of
the hard evidence, but rather the role of ecology in socialist thought. I
strongly recommend that you take a look at some of the literature in the
field, like John Bellamy Foster's "The Vulnerable Planet". It is one thing
to discuss SWP history based on one's experience, but questions of this
sort require a certain amount of familiarity with the literature.

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