The global warming issue has become a bonanza for marketing political products dubbed green, meaning nature, but more realistically, meaning money. While actual dollars are rarely exchanged in electronic financial trading, the markets are thriving on green speak and fear mongering. The problem grows, but the buzzwords and commercials offered, as solutions make no mention of the economics that must be confronted.
Politicians all repeat mantras about future green horizons, but without any change in the system mainly responsible for the problem. Madly creating products for sale in markets, with little concern for either their actual need or the long range damage that process may cause, is the commercial religion which has ruled the planet for centuries. Its name is rarely spoken in serious criticism, for fear that it bring charges of economic hate speech.
Capitalist denial may be the major curse of the 21st century, differing from past denial only in that its impact has grown more deadly. Ecology under assault since the industrial revolution is threatened with even more damage as the spread of global capital brings more of the world into its malls, parking lots, garbage dumps and killing fields.
Growing affluence for a minority, a critical part of this social system, depends on the impoverishment and indebtedness of a majority, and the slow but steady deterioration of the natural foundation on which humanity survives and builds its social structures.
This environmental degradation has been criticized for generations, but now not only specialists and visionaries but ordinary citizens can sense and consciously experience the impact of fossil fuels and imperial wars on a poisoned planet. Though the suffering billions who live in poverty are well aware of the down side of this system, it has taken longer for it to be revealed to the developed world. And it isn’t only climate that is sending the foulness we put into the atmosphere right back at us. If we don’t change our ways it may not be long before what we flush down our toilet commodes instantly flows out of our kitchen faucets.
Most green-speakers represent the forces that brought us to a point at which natural systems are overwhelmed by the economics of waste and war. Some environmental groups are demanding more conscious treatment of nature, but it is difficult for average citizens to break through the plastic curtain of propaganda in the USA. Much of the world lives under the western gun and can’t be held responsible for the long term, given that its future is often tragically measured in days or hours. The major source of the problem is where the real debate is needed, not only over how serious it has become, but how to confront its source and begin working to assure future survival.
While new age entrepreneurs suggest green product lines, which may slow the pace of deterioration, others are demanding more substantial changes. Local groups calling for efficiency in industry and housing may not yet face the source of the systemic problem, but their proposals will ultimately involve bigger productive shifts than any establishment politician has suggested. That is, once they dig beneath the political surface, and get to the economic substance.
Renewable energy generation, a popular and sensible idea, may make for a revolutionary change, but only if connected to its much more positive use. It makes little sense to switch to windmill or geothermal powered factories that produce weapons, or solar powered sweatshops in the third world, or to use nuclear power to manufacture biodegradable products. Not only the creation, but the use of energy needs to become part of the debate.
There is conflict over whether the climate problem is exaggerated, or even exists at all except in a natural sense. But whether we believe it is man made or ultimately correctable by universe, dualistically speaking, we suffer either way . Until we confront the ever more dangerous system of production and distribution of the earth’s resources, arguing about the origins of a process destroying our future makes as little sense as debating whether death results from mass murders called wars, or mass murders called terrorism. The end result is the same.
Purifying carbon producing industries like coal and aluminum, to name only two, will mean vast social changes that may not be apparent now, but will reveal themselves as we encounter institutional forces that prevent a truly clean mode of production for all life support systems. And there is no way that so called free market capitalism works other than by turning a profit for private investors in the production and sale of incredible amounts of stuff which becomes un-recyclable garbage, and destroying even more incredible amounts of human and natural resources in the process.
Environmental degradation, whether seen as climate change, desertification, pollution or slaughtering innocent people in commercial race wars, is a foremost and primary example of the normal functioning of that process.
We can’t change the future unless we deal with the political economics of the present, and so far the climate change debate has avoided capitalism completely. While democratic power has been futile, especially regarding the horrible slaughter of Iraq, it must assert itself soon if there is to be any long-term future for humanity. When we stop the war on the environment, we will end other wars as well, and probably see an improvement in all aspects of nature.
In order to affect positive change in the climate, both naturally and politically, a majority democratic force needs to counter the minority anti-democratic force of capitalism. No matter what the weather forecast may be, we will face an extremely stormy future if we don’t face that fact.