Future Earth

August 01, 2020

The only good thing to say about Covid is that it caused carbon emissions to drop. Not enough to save humanity from catastrophic climate change, but significantly.At the height of the global...

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The only good thing to say about Covid is that it caused carbon emissions to drop. Not enough to save humanity from catastrophic climate change, but significantly.

At the height of the global lockdown, carbon emissions fell 17 percent – when the whole world basically stopped driving and flying. According to Eric Holthaus’ new book, 'The Future Earth' by 2035 the United States must have a carbon neutral economy or face utter disaster. That, folks, pretty much means the end of capitalism as we know it.

Indeed, that’s what 'The Future Earth' advocates. A planet of vegan eco-socialists – sounds good to me, though I think the ExxonMobil CEO might stand in the way. With such opposition and other, more ordinary lukewarm opponents in mind, Holthaus himself carefully avoids terms like socialism or eco-socialism, but that’s what his proposal amounts to. And even that won’t save us from the warming we’ve already locked in.

“Reducing emissions to zero is the best way to slow down climate change…what if after already greatly reducing our global emissions, the climate tipping points we previously set in motion are triggered anyway?”

So even if we transform our economies, stop burning any fossil fuels, put the brakes on the disaster of animal agriculture (it consumes “half the world’s arable land and uses 80 percent of the world’s freshwater supply”) and so forth, by mid-century parts of the inhabited earth could still occasionally reach 170 degrees Fahrenheit in summer, coastal cities will be submerged, island nations will drown, megastorms and category 6 hurricanes will still tear up our countries, droughts will displace tens of millions of people and wild-fires will empty places like California and much of Australia.

That this is our best scenario even when we go all out and totally redo our societies tells you a lot about how much damage we’ve already inflicted on the planet. And this list of what’s coming regardless of our best efforts looks like a walk in the park if we don’t cut emissions to zero by mid-century, when the effects of runaway climate change will be unimaginably awful. We don’t have time – we must de-carbonize at once.

“Climate change is not a war,” Holthaus writes. “It’ is genocide. It is domination. It is extinction. It is the most recent manifestation of how powerful men throughout history have sought to steal from the less powerful and dismiss them as merely inconvenient.”

More specifically, the problem is growth. Capitalism depends on endless growth. So does cancer. In fact, cancer is an apt metaphor for capitalism. Of course plutocrats, confronted with this comparison, opt for chemotherapy, which is what Holthaus calls techno fixes like geo-engineering.

Excerpted from: 'Climate Change is Genocide'. Counterpunch.org



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