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Climate change and capitalism

Climate change and capitalism

By Xavier Caño Tamayo

Africans from Sudan, Eritrea, Somalia and Ethiopia emigrate to Saudi Arabia, through Yemen, fleeing the advance of the desertification of their countries. Rain in Senegal has decreased by 50% in the last twenty years, farmland has disappeared and people migrate to Europe in cayuco. Thousands of people displaced by floods flee in Mozambique. Many people emigrate from Bangladesh, where the sea level also rises, and because of increasingly destructive floods. From the Tuvalu archipelago in the Pacific they migrate to New Zealand for the same reason, the rise in sea level. In China there are migrations due to the advance of desertification. In the Andean region of Ecuador, the rains decrease and this causes more emigration to Europe. In Murcia and Almería in Spain desertification advances with great droughts ...

The overwhelming evidence of the effects of climate change does not appear to prompt governments to take action to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. But citizens and civil society organizations are aware of the serious problem. That is why a few days ago there was a massive global citizen mobilization to demand measures against climate change. Millions of people demonstrated in 2,808 cities around the world to pressure the Climate Summit in New York, a city in which more than 300,000 people mobilized.


According to the UN Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Climate Change (GIECC), climate change will cause the disappearance of livelihoods in coastal areas and small island states due to storms, floods and rising sea levels; serious risks to health and loss of livelihoods for urban groups due to flooding in the interior; destruction of vital infrastructure and services such as water, electricity, sanitary facilities due to extreme weather events; more mortality and disease in periods of extreme heat and more hunger due to the destruction of food systems; loss of resources and livelihoods in rural areas due to a severe reduction in potable and irrigation water; loss of goods and services in coastal and fishing communities in the tropics and in the Arctic ...

Can the increase in global temperature and the consequent climate change be contained? Yes, if action is taken, but soon, according to the GIECC. Among others, deep technological transformations and changes in individual and collective behavior to replace consumerism with responsible consumption. To stop the increase in the Earth's temperature to a maximum of 2º C, it is essential to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases by 40% to 70%, depending on the area, compared to the total emission in 2010. Beyond 2º C, the consequences are catastrophic.

Since the industrial revolution, greenhouse gas emissions have increased unabated. Those gases reached a new high in 2013, according to a recent report by the World Meteorological Organization. The concentration of carbon dioxide, the main cause of global warming, increased by 396 parts per million in 2013; the largest annual increase in 30 years.

We don't learn, but climate change is a matter of life and death: continue human history or disappear. How the dinosaurs disappeared.

As Florent Marcelleci writes “to avoid a temperature increase of more than 2º (agreed at the Copenhagen summit in 2009), world GDP would have to decrease more than 3% annually; 77% between now and 2050 ”. And the French economist Michel Husson, quoted by Marcelleci, poses a dilemma: growth and disastrous climate consequences or reduce GDP and recession with harsh social consequences. Is this so? American analysts Fred Magdoff and John Bellamy Foster argue that the dilemma exists in capitalism, because capitalism needs growth and growth leads to climate disaster. And sustainability in a system that is driven by profits is a summer night's dream.

But if we substitute capitalism, as a necessary condition, an ecological civilization without inequality is possible. Arduous and hard task, no doubt, but

there is another option?

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Video: Big Thinking - Naomi Klein: This changes everything: Capitalism vs. the climate (June 2021).