marxism-digest V1 #5242

Mark Jones markjones011 at
Thu Dec 5 17:02:51 MST 2002

> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-marxism at
> [mailto:owner-marxism at]On Behalf Of James Daly
> Sent: 05 December 2002 17:45
> To: marxism at
> Subject: Re: marxism-digest V1 #5242
>a lot of the discussion of the technicalities seems to me a
> camouflage and smokescreen for the central -- yes as Mark says, ethical --
> question Kay raised and I followed up: would a Marxist duma
> decide from time
> to time that whole human populations would have to be exterminated for
> environmental reasons -- for instance, in the original post by Mark, to
> preserve other species. I think the question is fundamental to
> what we think
> we are doing on this list, which I contribute to at the risk of my life --
> and occasionally prudently don't.

James, here is a hypothetical question for you. The Gulf Stream, as you
know, warms up northern Europe, which would otherwise be as cold and
inhospitable as Alaska. Some climatologists claim that there is a danger
that global warming may stop the Gulf Stream, which paradoxically would have
the effect of cooling down parts of Europe and perhaps making it
uninhabitable. This, of course, would jeopardise the lives of hundreds of
millions of Europeans.

But this by-product of global warming (the occurrence of a mini ice age in
Europe as a result of the Gulf Stream stalling) might also help to stabilise
the planetary climate and prevent so-called runaway warming (which would
boil off the oceans and make the planet uninhabitable). Some climatologists
say that 'climate flipping' might happen very suddenly, within a decade or
so (we had a long debate about this on this list a few years ago). This
might ot allow much time for safely relocating the vast population of

Now, let us suppose that there is a world socialist government and it has at
its disposal the technology to prevent the Gulf Stream from stalling and
thus from saving the population of Europe from disaster (it might be
possible to put satellites in orbit which carry huge parabolic
light-reflectors, like umbrellas, which warm up northern latitudes for
example). BVut there is a downside. There is, as mentoned above, a definite
and calculatable risk that saving Europe by stopping the Gulf Stream from
stalling, might precipitate runaway warming which would make the planet
completely uninhabitable. The question is this. What should the world
socialist government do? Should it save the lives of hundreds of millions of
Europeans, or should it sacrifice them in order to complete ensure the
safety of the planet, of the whole biosphere? What do you think?


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