There can be little doubt about the centrality and severity of the environmental crisis in the present day. Driven by the mindless "grow-or-die" imperative of capitalism, humanity's destruction of the biosphere has reached and even surpassed various critical thresholds, whether in terms of carbon emissions, biodiversity loss, ocean acidification, freshwater depletion, or chemical pollution.
In recent months, we’ve seen a slew of environmental catastrophes. From Southeast Asia to North Africa to North America, disasters that took place once in hundreds of years are now happening with stunning regularity and at great cost to human life.
At this point, we know humans are driving this slow-moving climate disaster. More than 97 percent of research on the topic is in agreement, with a recent study finding the remaining 3 percent of research to be fundamentally flawed.
The neoliberal, arch-capitalist era we inhabit is chock-full of statistics and stories that ought to send chills down the spines of any caring, morally sentient human. Nearly three-fourths (71 percent) of the world’s population is poor, living on $10 a day or less, and 11 percent (767 million people, including 385 million children) live in what the World Bank calls “extreme poverty” (less than a $1.90 a day).
A recent survey by progressive watchdog Public Citizen (9/12/17) on the media’s coverage of hurricanes Harvey and Irma confirms what’s long been known: Corporate media are indifferent to the causal relationship between climate change and extreme weather, and by far the worst offenders are the Rupert Murdoch–owned Fox News, Wall Street Journal and New York Post.
Pacific Northwest forests are on fire. Several blazes are out of control, threatening rural towns, jumping rivers and highways, and covering Portland, Oregon, Seattle, and other cities in smoke and falling ash. Temperatures this summer are an average of 3.6 degrees higher than the last half of the 20th century, according to the University of Washington Climate Impacts Group analysis published in The Seattle Times.
More than a program for economic and ecological renewal Naomi Klein’s No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need is a thoughtful analysis of how we have arrived at this point in our politics. Both rigorous and readable it is hard to put down. It spares no one, not its readers, the media, nor even the author herself. This book can elicit the kind of self-reflective activism we desperately need.
As Hurricane Irma approaches Florida this weekend, just over a week after Hurricane Harvey devastated southeast Texas and left at least 70 people dead, the climate change debate has taken on a new sense of urgency.
Since President Trump pulled out of the Paris climate accord, there has been speculation that China could take the lead in the fight against climate change. China's leader Xi Jinping has certainly been eager to assume this role, just as he took up the cause of free trade against Trump's nationalist posturing.