“In order to replace capitalism with an ecological society we need a revolution.” That modest sentence is how Fred Magdoff and Chris Williams, the authors of Creating an Ecological Society: Toward a Revolutionary Transformation, begin the last chapter of their new book. Although the chapter is the end of the book, it is also an opening to a new direction, a new movement. It is also the essence of the entire text.
A long-standing critique of the writings of Marx and Engels has been their supposed lack of concern for or even analysis of the environmental damage caused by capitalism. Worse, even as they envisaged and fought for a world of human freedom, their conception of socialism showed a comprehensive disregard for how humans interact, or should interact, with nature.
IN THE age of Trump, the person writing those words has much to teach us about the impending scientific struggles of our own time.
So spoke Salviati on day two of his debate with Sagredo and Simplicio in a hypothetical discussion imagined by the great scientist and astronomer Galileo Galilei, for his book Dialogue on the Two Chief World Systems, published in 1632.
In the Dialogue, Galileo puts forward his heretical view that the Earth and other planets revolve around the sun in opposition to the Catholic Church-sanctioned Ptolemaic system in which everything in the universe revolves around the Earth.
Galileo hoped that by adopting a conversational style for his argument, it would allow him to continue his argument about the true nature of the universe and evade the attentions of the Inquisition, which enforced Church doctrine with the force of bans, imprisonment and execution.
However, Galileo's friend, Pope Urban VIII, who had personally authorized Galileo to write the Dialogue, didn't allow sentimentality to obstruct power. Galileo was convicted of heresy and spent the rest of his days under house arrest--the Dialogue was banned by the Inquisition, along with any other book Galileo had written or might write.
Typically portrayed as the quintessential clash between religion and science, Galileo's conflict with the Papacy was, in fact, just as rooted in material considerations of political power as it was with ideas about the nature of the solar system and our place within it.
Amid parallels to today's conflict between Donald Trump and the scientific community over funding, research, unimpeded freedom of speech and the kind of international collaboration required for effective scientific endeavor, neither situation exists solely in the realm of ideas.
We are now officially living amid the sixth great extinction, according to scientists, but the global economy has still not shifted to prevent climate change's existential threat to human civilization and much of the biosphere.
Barely discernible among the surrounding rock-strewn ground, a meandering dirt track winds its way up a barren, windswept hill. In the arid heat, dotted amid the dry ocher soil, the rocks look baked from the sun. A few stubby trees and scrubby bushes bestrew a landscape with no obvious signs of habitation in this parched land of northern Kenya. But on top of the hill, sitting behind a low wall made of the abundant stones that litter the ground, we find six men. They have been living on the hill for eight years.
World leaders from government, business and civil society will gather in New York on September 23 for a United Nations climate summit. After two decades of failed talks, it will be the latest attempt to make progress on a global treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This time, legions of protesters will be on hand to press for meaningful solutions to the climate crisis to be implemented.
1976: Viking I landed on Mars, the Ramones released their first album, the Soweto Uprising began in South Africa, North and South Vietnam reunified to become the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, and Gerald Ford was in the White House. The same year scientists discovered that refrigerant chemicals, chlorofluorocarbons, better known as CFCs, were responsible for creating a hole in the ozone layer was also the last time when global average temperatures were below the 20th century norm.
According to new data on the climate crisis, such as new satellite mapping of the polar ice caps melting at an unprecedented rate released by NASA and the IPCC draft report leaked last week warning that if you stay on the present course, that increasing greenhouse gas emissions, there will be, quote, "severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems". We are actually now in a climate crisis.