Modern capitalism is being engulfed by an environmental crisis of its own making. Without concerted effort and global economic planning the crisis of global climate will mean a world with a 6 to 8º C rise in average temperature within a century. Associated with this change will be a general worsening of weather with unpredictable drought and storms which will turn what was once fertile agricultural land into desert. Seas will rise with the melting of the arctic ice-cap, covering exposed coastal lands. Climate change is an irrefutable fact of our time. The monthly average temperature worldwide has been higher than the twentieth century average for 329 straight months. Global annual mean temperatures have broken records in 11 out of the last 13 years. By 2012 the polar ice cap was smaller than it has ever been in recorded history. Even now, 97% of the ice cover in Greenland is melting. The scientific community is essentially unanimous in its call for immediate and sustained action on the part of the world community to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, gases that are driving the increasingly calamitous extremes in the Earth’s climate.
The U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change already projects that much of the United States will no longer be arable for food crops by the end of this century if current trends continue. Industrial capitalism has profited greatly from the emergence of the machine; its entire system of production and distribution has arisen through the application of human work to the technological succession of increasingly great machines and their proliferation. As Marx observed, it is only through application to nature (and the increasing technologizing of it) that human work has brought forth value.
For centuries capitalism has collected great profits while producing greenhouse gases which has slowly, gradually been transforming nature and not to the benefit of mankind. Greenhouse gases have been the great externality – the most persistent pollution arising from capitalism – now this pollution has affected the carrying capacity of the earth. One might think that capitalism might have taken this danger to heart, but the ruthless need to extract as much value from production has blinded capitalism to the danger. Capital will poison the last producer with its pollution, carefree only to extract enough value until the entire edifice of humanity is consumed. In this way is the dilemma presented: the slow descent to barbarism provided by capitalism. Or socialism, because only the concerted effort and economic planning of socialism will allow us to escape the environmental crisis.
First and foremost, we must reduce the level of greenhouse gases. A significant portion of this results from the coal and other fossil-fuels we use to power factories, to heat our homes. Only a fundamental commitment to vastly reduce dependence on coal and other fossil-fuels. The elimination of coal production will have an effect on U.S. miners. We propose the establishment of a national “green jobs” program which will help place workers in new jobs. Among the most urgent need is a program to weatherize American homes and businesses. This will produce millions of jobs in the intermediate term.
We must also acknowledge that the developing world is only beginning to achieve the first benefit of industry. We cannot condemn the developing world to a future without the benefit of industry. The industrial world must shoulder the burden of reduced greenhouse gases. We solemnly commit to use our technology to assist the developing world to reach the full prosperity of socialism.