[“The majority of the global social product is consumed by First World peoples. The current system serves those in the First World, not those in the Third. Almost all First World peoples have lavish lifestyles by global standards, yet Third World peoples make enough only to survive, if that. Yet the First World often expects the Third World to pay the price for pollution, deforestation, and other undesirable by-products of the system that mainly serves the First World, not the Third. In addition, the current crisis did not develop overnight. The current crisis is a result of deforestation that has gone on for hundreds of years around the world. And it is the imperialist countries who have historically cut forests down in every corner of their global empires. It is mainly the imperialists and their lackeys who have polluted the skies across the planet in order to maintain the decadent First World lifestyle. To put the burden mainly on the Third World is to excuse the imperialist countries for their bad policies going back hundreds of years.
Destroying the First World is not only necessary to liberate the Third World, but the destruction of the First World is necessary in order to save the future of humanity itself. After all, maintaining the First World way of life is simply not ecologically sustainable. Capitalism serves the populations of the First World, it does not serve the interests of the vast majority. Capitalism is an irrational system that cares not if the Earth is livable a hundred years from now. Profit is the driving force behind the system, not human need, not justice, not rationality. Socialism, by contrast, is organized to serve the people. Socialism seeks to balance current human need with the needs of future generations. Socialism does not sacrifice the future for the present. Socialism does not sacrifice the future so that one section of the population can live at the expense of the rest. The First World owes a huge eco-debt to humanity and the planet. It will take a global people’s war by the Third World masses to collect.” –LL]
Don’t Panic, But Carbon Dioxide Levels Are the Highest They’ve Been in Human History
The Mauna Loa Observatory sits atop a hillside on the big island of Hawaii. And while that sounds as if it must be a place of calm and tranquility, on May 10, it became the world’s messenger of doom.
Using its tracking equipment, the observatory recorded that the average amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere exceeded 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time in 55 years of measurement—and quite probably the last 3 million years of Earth’s existence.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the primary greenhouse gas emitted through human activities and is a major factor in global warming. What does this mean in practical terms? It means we’re now 50 ppm over what’s known as the safe zone for avoiding the worst environmental consequences of climate change.
That’s sobering news considering that “…in the last 50 ppm we melted the Arctic,” reported environmentalist Bill McKibben, to The Climate Desk.
Al Gore, who pioneered global interest in climate change with his groundbreaking documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, responded to the news in a public statement, “…the accumulated manmade global warming pollution in the atmosphere now traps enough extra heat energy each day to equal the energy that would be released by 400,000 Hiroshima-scale atomic bombs exploding every single day.”
Though The New York Times reports that the 400ppm mark is on the one hand just an odometer reading, it’s “also a sobering reminder that decades of efforts to bring human-produced emissions under control are faltering.”
CO2 levels first started their rise with the onset of the Industrial Revolution and have spiked since then by 41 percent, due to our reliance on fossil fuels.
While May is typically the month where CO2 levels rise, reports suggest those levels haven’t in human history reached the height they did this week; by next year, researchers expect that the 400ppm mark will become the new year-round average.
The science suggests that the last time carbon dioxide levels were this high was around 3 million years ago, during a period of time called the Pliocene; the Earth’s temperatures are thought to have been remarkably warmer, with sea levels that may have been as much as 80 feet higher.
If our current warming trends continue, scientists fear that among other climate change-related disasters, sea levels might again surge, putting much of the Earth’s inhabitants in danger, including at least a quarter of the U.S. population.
Researchers agree that stopping climate change will have to involve an energy evolution on a global scale.
According to groups like 350.org, “[T]he only way to get there is to immediately transition the global economy away from fossil fuels and into renewable energy, energy efficiency, and sustainable farming practices in all sectors (agriculture, transport, manufacturing, etc.).”
And that includes a global ban on coal burning by 2030, if we’re to return to safer levels of carbon dioxide.
On a personal level, the obvious suggestions—turning off lights, using power strips, adusting the thermostat, riding a bike—may sound rote and albeit small, but they’re often suggested because they work. In addition, organizations like 350.org can help you help your community transition away from fossil fuels, start a campaign, and otherwise initiate a movement in your own neighborhood.
The good news is that more U.S. conservatives are recognizing the science, or at least recognizing the financial value in renewable energy over fossil fuels. Whether that recognition will incite a meaningful energy shift on our own soil is not yet known.
While there are still some groups arguing over the legitimacy of climate science, the rest of us have it in our power to alter our daily lives while insisting our world leaders make profound changes now to reverse our path.