The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) just released its sixth report bringing the most up-to-date science on climate change together in one summary. Many of its conclusions are unsurprising -temperatures are rising, and greenhouse gas emissions are driving this global warming.
However, contrary to the defeatist attitudes seen in popular news headlines (e.g. New York Times” “A Hotter Future is Certain, According to a U.N. Climate Report,” or The Atlantic’s “The Latest IPCC Report is a Catastrophe”), the report also makes clear that a dystopian future is not inevitable. While some impacts of climate change are likely irreversible, we still do have time to act to halt some of the worst impacts of this crisis.
But it’s unsurprising that the ruling class and its media outlets would rather focus on the grim takeaways of the IPCC report than the potential for change – after all, it is the system of capitalism and its economy of never ending production and consumption that has gotten into this existential crisis in the first place. One New York Times article is so pessimistic it ends by claiming positive change “would be a mammoth and expensive undertaking for the world. It would also require a level of political will that most governments have so far been unable to muster.”
True, if we place our hopes in the governments of the world to save the earth (including what is proposed in the U.S.), we can only expect the crisis to get worse. But the planet has no space for this kind of pessimism. Instead, we need to focus on the call to action this report offers us:
“We need transformational change operating on process and behaviors at all levels: individual, communities, business, institutions and governments… We must redefine our way of life and consumption.”
In other words, capitalism has caused this mess, and to save our planet and ourselves, we need to envision and create a new and more sustainable system for meeting human needs. But change will only come about if WE, regular working class people, fight for it. And this is exactly what we must do.