To save Mother Earth: Change the system

By Teresa Gutierrez
April 19, 2017

Progressive and liberal-thinking intellectuals have noted that the issue of global warming is so critical that it is “the biggest issue of our or any time” and that if environmental catastrophe “isn’t going to be averted, then in a generation or two, everything else we’re talking about won’t matter.” (Counterpunch, Feb. 9)

Despite the climate deniers in Washington, it is absolutely true that the capitalist system’s long war on Mother Earth is creating devastation of epic proportions. A genuine, worldwide humanitarian crisis exists as a result of climate change, and it will only intensify as the planet continues to warm.

Billions of people are and will be affected, primarily people of color, as the oppressed continue to live with the ravishing effects of colonial and imperialist domination.

What are the immediate tasks activists can fight for to address this crisis?

Call for disarming the Pentagon; end all U.S. wars of intervention. Hands off Syria, north Korea, Afghanistan and Venezuela.

Money for social services, not war.

Fight for more than the Paris Accords; fight for real sustainability.

Return Standing Rock and all Indigenous land to their original owners.

Support #NoDAPL; demand money for union jobs producing renewable energy instead of fossil fuels.

Take the lead from Cuba and China, which incorporate fighting the consequences of climate change and phasing out dependence on fossil fuels into their economic plans.

Full reparations for victims of climate change, including survivors of hurricanes Katrina and Sandy; take the money from Big Oil; instead of unnecessary and looting insurance policies, provide affordable, quality housing for all victims of storms, floods and fires, ­uninsured or not.

March on May Day 2017 and support the call for a strike by immigrants and other workers. No to the wall!

Make the oil corporations and billionaires pay to reverse the terrible damage they have caused.

Fight to change the system; fight for revolutionary socialism!

Make Doomsday for the capitalists

In mid-January, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved the Doomsday Clock ahead to two and half minutes before midnight, symbolizing the extreme danger represented by the Donald Trump administration.

The clock was established in 1947, with “midnight” a symbolic warning that the world is close to a nuclear or existential catastrophe. The clock had been at three minutes to midnight since the early 1980s.

Should activists drop other issues, like the war at home on migrants, police terror or attacks on the working class like Medicaid cuts, to fight for the climate? Should we stop organizing against the Trump administration’s war abroad in Syria, Afghanistan or north Korea?

Of course not. These issues are all connected.

The key is to turn these struggles into a struggle against the capitalist system as a whole and to fight to build a new system: socialism. The key is to develop a long-term goal of fighting for the environment while at the same time struggling to change the system.

Climate change may indeed be one of the biggest reasons why the movement must fight for socialism, as it affects every single living species. If we were to rid the world of the profit motive and build and organize society for the people, the quality of life would immediately ­improve.

One could argue that the fight for socialism here in the U.S. is so important that it is indeed decisive for activists to make their struggle, whatever issue that may be, a class struggle against the capitalist class.

As the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. noted years ago, U.S. imperialism is the “greatest purveyor of violence in the world” — a truth long before Donald Trump came along.

In fact, the Pentagon — the very ones who dropped the U.S.’s largest ­non-nuclear bomb on impoverished Afghanistan a few days ago — is the world’s biggest institutional consumer of petroleum products. The Pentagon is the world’s worst polluter of greenhouse gas emissions, yet the generals hovering over the White House have a blanket exemption from adhering to any international climate agreements!

This exemption includes more than 1,000 U.S. bases in more than 130 countries around the world, 6,000 military facilities in the U.S., as well as aircraft carriers and jet aircraft. Also excluded are weapons testing and U.S./U.N.-sanctioned activities of so-called “peacekeeping” and “humanitarian ­relief.” (WW, Sept. 4, 2014)

Unlike the Trumpites, the Pentagon does not deny climate change. But their solution is more militarism, the “survival of the fittest” mentality, instead of defending humanity.

For example, in 2003 the Defense Department issued a report titled “An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for United States National Security.” It stated that the catastrophic effects of climate change compel wealthy nations like the U.S. to “construct defensive fortresses” to shut out climate refugees, of which there are millions and there will be more. It called for more money for the military, which the Trump administration has been happy to provide.

In other words, build walls, not solidarity or renewable energy.

It is the working class and the oppressed who will be most affected by climate change. The rich and powerful capitalist class has its preparations for the Doomsday clock. The working class must also prepare by fighting to change the system.

The rich have their economic cushion to deal with any crisis, including climate change. In fact, CNN recently ran a report titled “Billionaire bunkers: How the 1% are preparing for the apocalypse.” (March 20) It reported on companies that are building military-level secure housing, called DoomsDay Dwellings, with 9-foot-thick walls and a 161-foot-high protective dome. Some bunkers come with a five-year supply of food for each resident and can be lowered into the ground on a hydraulic pump. Costs run from $25,000 to $8 million each.

Some can house up to 5,000 people.

The CNN report added that the ­Texas-based Rising S Company “says 2016 sales for their custom, high-end underground bunkers grew 700% compared to 2015, while overall sales have grown 300% since the November U.S. presidential election alone.”

Rich have the Pentagon;
workers have the power

What can stop the oil corporations, the Pentagon and all those who are devastating Mother Earth? Can we appeal to them to stop emitting the gases now warming the planet?

The time to appeal is long over. What is needed is revolutionary change, and that begins by understanding that neither the system nor the capitalist government — whether it’s an Obama or a Trump at the helm — can resolve this crisis.

Massive upheaval is the only solution to climate change.

May Day 2017 provides an opportunity to “Shut shit down” in defense of the most targeted workers, like immigrants and the Black community, but also all workers.

Those participating in the People’s Climate March on Washington on April 29, who come from more privileged backgrounds, must also come out two days later, May Day, to defend migrants who have risked their low-wage pay by demanding an end to Trump’s war against them. Workers who face reprisals for marching on May Day should get support from environmental activists.

It must be remembered that many past climate change actions have been politically ambiguous and have included fronts for the very corporations that are polluting the earth.

In anticipation of the Sept. 21, 2014, climate march in New York and other cities globally, activist Chris Hedges pointed out that The Climate Group, which endorsed the march, included among its members and sponsors BP, Dow Chemical, Duke Energy, HSBC, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase.

“The Environmental Defense Fund,” wrote Hedges, “which says it ‘work[s] with companies rather than against them’ and which is calling on its members to join the march, has funding from the oil and gas industry and supports fracking as a form of alternative energy.

“These faux environmental organizations are designed to neutralize resistance,” he concluded. “And their presence exposes the march’s failure to adopt a meaningful agenda or pose a genuine threat to power.” (alternet.org, Sept. 8, 2014)

A demonstration of 500,000 can become a nice walk in the sun with that kind of program, while a demonstration of 5,000 — if it has revolutionary class politics — can be more of a threat to the capitalist class if its goal is to shut the system down.

Socialism the answer to climate change

The #1 sustainable country in the world is revolutionary socialist Cuba. It is so not because the Cubans love their beaches or coral reefs, which are 1,000 percent healthier than those in Florida.

The Cubans do love their beaches, but that’s not why it is a sustainable country. It is because it is a socialist country, with revolutionary leaders who are guided by Marxism. The banks do not dictate policy; the masses do. The Cubans don’t drop bombs abroad; they send doctors.

The website publication The Daily Good ran an article on April 7 titled “While America Launches Missiles, China Quietly Leads on Climate Change.” Among other things, it stated: “China has gone from perpetual climate scapegoat to a major leader in the global transition away from fossil fuels. …

“China plans to spend more than $360 billion on renewable energy sources like solar and wind, a plan that is projected to create more than 13 million jobs by 2020. Roughly 3.5 million Chinese workers are already employed in the renewable energy sector — nearly half of the global total and represents nearly four times as many clean energy jobs as exist in the United States.”

In fact, the Chinese government has carried out groundbreaking projects to deal with this problem that should shame the U.S. government.

This is what can happen if the workers — not the Pentagon or Wall Street — dictate society.

It is capitalism that created the climate crisis; it is capitalism that must pay the bill. It is time for us to collect.

(Photo: Joseph Piette)