Sections of the environmental movement bemoaned the birth of the world’s eight-billionth person, but the Left should have no part in this cynical misanthropy. The cause of food insecurity and climate change is the irrationality of capitalism — not rising populations.
Matt Huber is a professor of geography at Syracuse University. His new book, Climate Change as Class War: Building Socialism on a Warming Planet, is out from Verso Books in 2022.
Policymakers who have belatedly recognized the peril of climate change now promote incremental, market-based solutions to the crisis. But there’s no way we can prevent ecological disaster without tackling the vested interests at the heart of global capitalism.
Spreading knowledge and awareness of the climate crisis isn’t enough. There’s no hope for the planet without climate policies that address the material interests of workers.
The Tennessee Valley Authority was one of the greatest achievements of FDR’s New Deal. But a new generation of liberals and leftists are turning against the dream of “big public power” in America.
Climate legislation is failing under Joe Biden because the Green New Deal strategy was ignored from the beginning. We need to link decarbonization directly to material gains for the working class, not technocratic clean energy policies.
And those are exactly the people we need to save the planet.
This summer has been a cascade of climate disaster. But we shouldn’t assume that ever-worsening floods and heat waves will spur political change — we need a working-class strategy that can excite and win over people to save the planet.
The Green New Deal program has enormous potential to generate mass popular support. But absent real leverage from labor, it’s likely to be continually watered down into a toothless slogan for NGOs.
Rich people have enormous carbon footprints. But the fundamental problem with their climate impact isn’t what they consume — it’s that they own the means of production, and it’s extremely profitable for them to pollute.
The oil industry, long characterized by boom and bust cycles, has crashed, with prices hitting below zero. The White House will reach for a corporate bailout, but now’s the opportunity to move away from oil extraction and build a rational system of clean energy.
Coronavirus has emphasized a truth we knew before the pandemic: capitalist food systems are irrational and don’t serve human needs. Socialists have to demand a food system based on social and ecological needs — one that can provide food for all.
To build the power to take on climate change, we can’t simply validate individual movements or assume single-issue struggles will add up to something greater than the sum of their parts. We need class politics to connect the dots of our many struggles — and to save the planet.
Solving the ecological crisis requires a mass movement to take on hugely powerful industries. Yet environmentalism’s base in the professional-managerial class and focus on consumption has little chance of attracting working-class support.
Electing Bernie Sanders president wouldn’t be enough to fight climate change. But his class-struggle politics give us the best chance we have to take on the fossil fuel companies.
If we want a Green New Deal that can take on climate change, we need to challenge powerful business interests.
The burden of market-based climate change solutions will fall on workers. We need strong state intervention.
Tesla’s new Powerwall battery offers an individual solution to the collective problem of climate change.
Taking on climate change will require massive state investment and the destruction of the fossil fuel industry.