10. CLIMATE MEMO MONDAYS 2-15-21
Ending Fossil Fuels Capitalism, or Chaos
Preface to the Persian Edition of The Ecological Revolution: Making Peace
with the Planet
by John Bellamy Foster.
This is the preface to the Persian-language edition of , translated by Mohsen Saffari and forthcoming this year from Cheshmeh Publication in Iran.
was first published a little more than ten years ago in April 2009, at a time when climate change had already been recognized as a pressing global issue for over two decades, but when there was still hardly any realistic discussion of its connection to capitalism or of the immense ecological and social revolution that would be required to overcome the Earth System crisis.
In order to understand the historical gulf separating that time from our own, it is useful to refer to the account provided in Naomi Klein’s 2014 book, . Klein, one of the leading figures in today’s global climate movement, recounts that April 2009 was the “precise moment when I stopped averting my eyes to the reality of climate change.” She attributes her awakening to an encounter that month with Angélica Navarro Llanos, Bolivia’s socialist ambassador to the World Trade Organization. Navarro Llanos convinced her that global warming was by far the most pressing and momentous issue of the twenty-first century, and that any attempt to address it would also require vast, radical changes in human society. Still, few people in spring 2009 saw the true seriousness of anthropogenic climate change for the world economy, or the existential crisis it entailed. Although the planetary emergency arising from fossil fuel combustion had been spelled out for decades by the world scientific consensus, what was still generally lacking was a deep understanding of how this was related to capitalism as a system of accumulation.
Indeed, in 2009 there was still a widespread belief even on the left that the United Nations climate negotiations in Copenhagen that year would take the necessary steps to begin to resolve the climate crisis. However, such illusions regarding the system were to be stripped away in December 2009 with the total collapse of the climate talks. As Klein recalled: “I have come to think of that night [when the complete failure of the Copenhagen negotiations became apparent] as the climate movement’s coming of age: it was the moment when the realization truly sank in that no one was coming to save us.… It really is the case that we are on our own and any credible source of hope in this crisis will have to come from below.” The problem of course was that all the talk about limiting climate emissions had proven to be so much hot air as long as fossil capital reigned unchallenged within the world economy. Either the peoples of the earth would organize to fight for solutions going against the logic of capital accumulation, or the future would be one of unending catastrophe—even a kind of exterminism—on the planetary level.
Follow up Klein’s conviction that the economic system that caused the catastrophe must be replaced in her latest books No Is Not Enough and On Fire.
Check out Obama’s role in the Copenhagen failure.