[Marxism] Looming Danger of Abrupt Climate Change ? CounterPunch:

Ralph Johansen mdriscollrj at charter.net
Thu Dec 26 21:52:53 MST 2013

Sorry for duplicating, but I'd like to put this in its place in the 
discussion under the proper caption.

shaun may wrote

In a planned economy, even the controlled use of fossil fuels need not 
be polluting as we have (and have had) for many years the science and 
technology to prevent this and, indeed, to utilise the by products of 
burning fossil fuels. The fact that the atmosphere and oceans are 
concentrating carbon dioxide is the result of the fact that, under 
capitalism, the implementation of technical processes to stop it are not 
profitable and would take a massive, *unsustainable* bite out of the 
produced surplus value and thus interfere with capitalist accumulation.

Just because climate change wasn't discovered until later, this does not 
mean that it would have taken place to the same degree under both 
planned and unplanned systems of production. If we conceive that there 
is no difference between the two systems in terms of their destructive 
effects on Nature's creation, then we do, indeed, replicate the 
ahistorical, 'green' 'man in the abstract' destroyer of Nature notion.
I certainly agree with your proposition that a planned system of 
production and distribution is an absolute sine qua non, but what 
boggles are the enormous problems having to do with the cultural 
changes, by common consensus, required to alter our historically 
developed, massive proliferation of needs and counting, to say nothing 
of the uneven development of human access to resources.

For example, there's the problem of breaking down our global exchange 
system, in which components for production, food stuff, mineral and 
other resources are shipped over vast distances with the accompanying 
consumption of energy and time entailed. It is in despair at these 
seemingly insurmountable obstacles that many drop the whole project; but 
reformist solutions have been shown historically and absractly to be 
inadequate as even palliatives, and we're left with only one way 
through. See especially on the most recent effective statement of the 

"Over the last decade and a half ecological researchers have utilized 
the theoretical perspective of Marx's metabolic-rift analysis to analyze 
the developing capitalist contradictions in a wide array of areas: 
planetary boundaries, the carbon metabolism, soil depletion, fertilizer 
production, the ocean metabolism, the exploitation of fisheries, the 
clearing of forests, forest-fire-management, hydrological cycles, 
mountaintop removal, the management of livestock, agro-fuels, global 
land grabs, and the contradiction between town and country."


"Much of this work of course has its roots in the recognition that the 
world is crossing crucial "planetary boundaries" defined by the 
departure from the conditions of the Holocene epoch that nurtured the 
growth of human civilization---a critical approach pioneered by Johan 
Röckstrom of the Stockholm Resilience Institute and leading climate 
scientists such as Hansen. Here the main concern is what could be called 
the Great Rift in the human relation to nature brought on by the 
crossing of the earth-system boundaries associated with climate change, 
ocean acidification, ozone depletion, loss of biological diversity (and 
species extinction), the disruption of the nitrogen and phosphorus 
cycles, loss of land cover, loss of fresh water sources, aerosol 
loading, and chemical pollution."

To be plausible to the uncommitted, any proposed change would have to 
contend with these problems, at least conceptually. It is encouraging 
that, from what shaun may and a few others are contributing here, we get 
more analysis based on close study and reflective thought, and less 
discussion of the peripheral.

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