Professor: End Capitalism to Save the Planet

Barb Wire

University of California-Santa Barbara Sustainability Champion Dr. John Foran is part of a political campaign to end our dependence on all “dirty fuel sources.” Foran is a sociology professor at UCSB and co-founder of the International Institute of Climate Action and Theory (IICAT). The means by which to save the planet from climate change? End capitalism and consumption as we know it.  America, of course, is the poster child of this campaign!  In other words you represent the world’s “wealthy few percent” who must reduce your carbon footprint by 80%.

I would prefer that Dr. Foran describe how he himself is living up to, and more fully explain, his ideology.   Specifically, would he be willing to describe the global governance that he wants to  create in order to end the “climate war” against humanity and the planet? One thing is for certain, Foran’s vision of utopia would end America as we know it. If you think I am exaggerating, consider this series of promotional quotes taken directly from the IICAT website:

In his powerful essay, “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math,” Bill McKibben argues that the world’s largest fossil-fuel producing corporations and countries must be compelled to leave 80 percent of their proven reserves (and thus their actual value) in the ground. This is the inescapable physical logic of salvaging a livable planet for future generations.”

Only the richest several percent of the world population need do radical mitigation. Market solutions won’t achieve any of this.  2014 must be the year that we all scale up our efforts toward the end of mounting irresistible pressure of all kinds on our governments and on the corporations, banks, and all the institutions of neoliberal capitalism that they serve, forcing them to take the decisive steps toward the treaty we all need and want.

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This reorientation of the economy will need to include a large element of direct state spending, structured around long-term planning and backed by tightening regulation. Schemes such as carbon pricing cannot play more than a limited, subsidiary role.  To keep mass living standards at the highest levels consistent with these measures, and ensure popular support, the main costs of the reorientation need to be levied on the wealthy.

Humanity’s future, then, looks increasingly set to be a race between the effects of climate change and its corporate and nation-state drivers, on the one hand, and the efforts and ability of this movement to check those effects, bring to a halt the rate of increase of the greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming, and then rapidly reverse the trend downward by defeating the one percent at the ballot box, in the streets, at places of work and consumption, and in the culture and media in which we swim.

The planet can’t survive under capitalism as we know it- the solutions to the crisis also promise to bring the system down – and sooner.  The sociology of climate change…is based on literally endless growth, which requires ever-rising demands on the planet’s finite natural resources, capitalism will become unviable as resources are increasingly depleted, overworked, or made scarce by the impacts of climate change. While some excellent advocates of sustainable development, notably Tim Jackson, have made the case for an ecologically-guided “degrowth” economy as a solution to this contradiction, they have not made a convincing case that this could be delivered under the political economy of capitalism as we know it or as it could conceivably be reformed even with all the political will in the world (currently conspicuous by its absence) in the necessary time frame out to about 2050, by which point climate science tells us the vast majority of emissions must have ended.

First published in the Santa Barbara News Press

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

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