Can Global Warming Become a Political Issue?

Mark Jones jones118 at
Sat Jun 10 06:24:01 MDT 2000

Jose G. Perez wrote:
>the approach of the Marxist movement to "the agrarian
> question"
> was not then and is not now exclusively or primarily determined
> by technical
> and scientific issues, but by political and social ones.

Is there a contradiction between the two? When your politics flies in the
face of the facts, you abandon the facts in favour of the politics?

>     And that is precisely what I argue should be our approach,
> for example,
> to the so-called energy crisis which have a lot more to do with
> the rape and
> pillage of the third world than to any actual physical shortage of fuel
> reserves.

I think we ought to stop talking about the politics of energy crisis until
we are more in agreement about some of the facts.

>     This is not to denigrate the scientific study of
> environmental impacts,
> including the hypotheses that the rise is CO2 levels in the atmosphere is
> causing/will cause the earth's climate to become warmer on a world scale.

This sounds like you are conceding the point, at last. Now you have to go on
and compare the worst case and the best case outcomes, for example as in the
Hadley Centre predictions. If there is an energy crisis, ie oil shock, and
the system goes back to using coal, burning biomass (ie, the trees) and
similar things, then we will get the worst case outcome which even by the
Hadley's conservative estimates will wreck the lives of hundreds of
millions, mostly living in the South and in the neocolonial world. Does this
matter, or does it not?

> And as far as
> I've been able to determine, the science of global climate modeling and
> prediction is still extremely tentative. The global warming
> hypotheses, for
> example, is based on a very simplified view of global climate. This is, of
> course, a perfectly legitimate way of conducting scientific inquiry,
> developing models and hypotheses, testing them and so on, provided, of
> course, that you understand what you've done.

We got beyond this kind of discussion long ago. Let's discuss the specific
flaws of specific models; otherwise this is just empty opnionating and
doesn't advance matters a millimetre.

>     The "scientific consensus" on the global warming hypotheses
> is based on
> this, and on the simple, "common-sense" proposition: more
> greenhouse gases =
> a warmer earth. This statement, however, if viewed as more than a
> hypotheses
> is more an expression of pragmatic, bourgeois ways of thinking about the
> natural world, not, or at least not yet, an expression of scientific
> findings.

This simply shows you haven't read the literature enough, starting with the
major statement of consensus, the 1995 IPCC Report. You alternate between
accusing 'the bourgeoisie' of 'scaremongering' and 'sensationalising' about
global warming, to saying that actually they think there is no problem at
all. But the 'scientific consensus' si quite different from how you describe

>     Contrary to the predictions of the general circulation models,
> weather satellites have not been able to detect a clear pattern of warming
> of the lower atmosphere to accompany surface-based temperature
> records of an
> increase of about one-one hundredth of a degree per year in the
> mean surface
> temperature.
>This has led to questions being raised in all sorts of
> directions -- about the reliability of the satellite data,

This is hopelessly outdated stuff. A few years ago the Fred Singers were
crowing that sat obs proved them right; now we know it does no such thing.
The satellite obs prove that global warming is occurring and is accelerating
just as the models predicted. Give me the references which prove anything

> we should avoid the hysterical,
> cataclysmic pose that the bourgeois press takes on this from time to time,

Well, I check thru the bourgeois press every day and far from seeing
catalycsmic prose I see yards of articles about how good it all, how it;'s
getting better, and hwo the satnav works on the latest 2-ton SUV. It is
nonsense to suggests that the press or western governemnts or big corps are
doing anyting to sensationalise GW or even convey a due sense of urgency.
The Kyoto commitments to reduce GHG will not be met by miles, it's business
as usual, we are throwing 6gt co2 into the air every year, and the planet is
burning up. As the energy crisis deepens, this will not get better because
yes, as oil prices skyrocket consumption will fall; but the gaps will be
filled by burning coal and biomass (ie trees) and the clearing of
rainforests will accelerate; meanwhile, the world system will have even less
resources to bring to bear on the long term effects of GW if these do turn
really nasty.

>     I firmly believe that even if the projections of the global warming
> hypothesis are borne out, it will not mean the end of
> capitalism or of civilization as we know it.

I think it is time to move on fro  firmly-held beliefs and start to look at
the tragic reality already engulfing large areas of Asia, India, South
America and China.

>     The *only* REAL threat to our survival as a species and to
> the survival
> of civilization is world nuclear war. And that threat, far from having
> disappeared with the victory of imperialism in  the cold war, remains and
> would grow tremendously if the U.S. rulers succeed in their plan to
> establish a first-strike capability by building a "Star Wars" defense.

Of course you are right and Star Wars2 is a major threat: but why is it
happening at all? Do you think it has anything to do with the decline of
NOPEC, inc Venezuelan and Mexican, oil production and the need to defend the
sealanes and conserve US control over the Persian Gulf/Caspian space? Do you
not see a connection between oil crisis and the threat of war? The 2 things
are interlinked.

> in greenhouse gases. Air pollution from internal combustion engines and
> power plants is extremely common; we do not need to base ourselves on some
> projected eco-apocalypse 50 or 100 years down the road to denounce what
> capitalism is doing or formulate demands.

It's not a question of looking for soemthing to denounce, but of
understanding that of all the options that exist for capitalism, one that
DOESN'T is business as usual, because a huge general crisis has already
begun. We must learn to analyse our LOCAL struggles/crises/disasters as
aspects of an ongoing, deepening and developing GENERAL crisis, because
there is no other way to massify our forces; the Indian landless workers and
peasants who attack World Bank support of Narmada or who burnt Monsanto GM
cotton fields have already learnt how to forge alliance with those in
Washington, Londonm, Seattle etc who are taking to the streets against the
WB, WTO etc.

>     Moreover, there is an aspect in which the bourgeois sectors of the
> anti-global-warming movement present an absolutely reactionary and
> imperialist program, and that is in all this stuff about buying
> and swapping
> pollution credits and so on.

This is what I agree 1000% with: nothing is more foul and immoral than
pollution-trading; it is the consummation of Larry Summers infamous proposal
to export poollution to regions where people have too short life expectancy
for it to matter.

>     By presenting an overarching, overriding ecological
> apocalypse of global
> warming, Marxists disarm themselves before bourgeois forces who argue,
> essentially, "Wish we had the time and resources to save the hundreds of
> millions of children starving to death and dying from preventable diseases
> in the third world, but we've got to save the planet!"

Unfortunately, they are not saying 'save the planet'; that's the whole


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