[Marxism] Capitalism and the Destruction of Life on Earth: Six Theses on Saving the Humans

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Nov 11 08:14:28 MST 2013

When, on May 10, 2013, scientists at Mauna Loa Observatory on the big 
island of Hawaii announced that global CO2 emissions had crossed a 
threshold at 400 parts per million for the first time in millions of 
years, a sense of dread spread around the world - not only among climate 

CO2 emissions have been relentlessly climbing since Charles David 
Keeling first set up his tracking station near the summit of Mauna Loa 
Observatory in 1958 to monitor average daily global CO2 levels. At that 
time, CO2 concentrations registered 315ppm. CO2 emissions and 
atmospheric concentrations have been climbing ever since and, as the 
records show, temperatures rises will follow. For all the climate 
summits, the promises of "voluntary restraint," the carbon trading and 
carbon taxes, the growth of CO2 emissions and atmospheric concentrations 
has not just been relentless, it has been accelerating in what 
scientists have dubbed the “Keeling Curve."

In the early 1960s, CO2ppm concentrations in the atmosphere grew by 
0.7ppm per year. In recent decades, especially as China has 
industrialized, the growth rate has tripled to 2.1ppm per year. In just 
the first 17 weeks of 2013, CO2 levels jumped by 2.74ppm compared to 
last year -- "the biggest increase since benchmark monitoring stations 
high on the Hawaiian volcano of Mauna Loa began taking measurements in 
1958."[1] Carbon concentrations have not been this high since the 
Pliocene period, between 3 million and 5 million years ago, when global 
average temperatures were 3 degrees or 4 degrees Centigrade hotter than 
today, the Arctic was ice-free, sea levels were about 40 meters higher, 
jungles covered northern Canada and Florida was under water - along with 
coastal locations we now call New York City, London, Shanghai, Hong 
Kong, Sydney and many others.

Crossing this threshold has fueled fears that we are fast approaching 
"tipping points" - melting of the subarctic tundra or thawing and 
releasing the vast quantities of methane in the Arctic sea bottom - that 
will accelerate global warming beyond any human capacity to stop it: "I 
wish it weren't true, but it looks like the world is going to blow 
through the 400-ppm level without losing a beat," said Scripps Institute 
geochemist Ralph Keeling, whose father, Charles, set up the first 
monitoring stations in 1958: "At this pace, we'll hit 450 ppm within a 
few decades."

"It feels like the inevitable march toward disaster," said Maureen E. 
Raymo, a scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, a unit of 
Columbia University.[2]


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