Capitalism's endless growth paradigm can't be squared with sustainability. But no one – from politicians to the protest movement – is willing to admit the truth
This is the most cogent account of how we got here that I've read. Brilliant.
Dead on, as always, Johnathan. Capitalism will not permit anything that might interfere with the extinction of humanity and life on earth as we have experienced it. They want money; life is of no concern for the psychopathic bastards.
I really liked your article. It covered an enormous breadth of material and did so very well. The only thing I would add is some understanding of why the capitalist and political elite classes (actually, only one) don’t act on what they know and therefore save themselves as well as the rest of humanity. My experience (now retired) was as a worker. I was a relatively “good” worker, and therefore had the ear of bosses. When I asked if they would consider including workers in the decision-making process, all, every single one, said that workers would wreck the business (or school, or department) due to lack of interest, intelligence, etc. (On the other hand, when I asked workers the same question, about 95% said they would like more involvement in the workplace.) So, though that isn’t exactly a scientific paper, it mirrors the attitudes of those in power about those out-of-power across all the various silos and through history. So, my guess is that the power brokers think that, if the world is going to sink, they might as well stay in charge as it will certainly sink if capitalism is supplanted or overthrown.
And one other quick point. Although the oil industry is often blamed for the climate crises, as you point out at various times, their interests are exactly the same as all the other corporations within capitalism. And it is that interest that is threatened, and is the reason why the business interests in general are in support of the oil industry (or at least don’t criticize it).
Climate change isn't real because it's been a cold summer where I live this year, and world hunger and famine is a hoax because I just ate a sandwich. As a good, logical, and sensible rule of thumb, if it hasn't happened to me, it's not real, and that's the rule everyone else ought to live by. If it's hot where you live or you don't have a sandwich, nice try saying so, but I'm onto your plan to enslave us!
Thank you Jonathan - this is a great essay and well worth the read - I have forwarded it to any who would listen! It has been obvious to anyone with an ounce of curiosity about our world for at least the last 30 years that we are heading for global catastrophe. The targets of the Paris Agreement were woefully inadequate and have not been acted upon. It seems likely that 2 degrees will be with us before this decade is out, let alone the predicted end of century. David Attenborough is too late with his admonitions - we are clearly on the slippery slope and past the safety line. What will it take for politicians (for it is only they that can impose limits and control mechanisms) to start taking action? The natural disasters occurring round the world are making no impact so I guess we will just have to wait until London, New York and Sydney (for example) are under water - by which time it really will be too late! I can see us as a collection of small nation states ruled over by demagogic war lords, charlatans and opportunists. What was it the man said about a whimper*? We'll all be whimpering as we starve or eat the weakest in the lifeboat!
*"The Hollow Men", T.S.Eliot, 1925:
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper
When the corporate solutions we're offered are complicated, it's best to be suspicious. I apply the same logic to denialists - why can't they deny climate change whilst being anti-pollution (cause no one likes to choke). Checkout DW doccie about how EU funds are virtue signalling when it comes to waste management in Romania - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_tJqGVJk2E
Yes, excellent article except that NATO expansion did NOT cause Putin to invade Ukraine. He always had evil in mind and in some ways is as toxically delusional as Trump.
The sheer hubris to think that we can understand what drives global climate and then to think we can reduce that to a number. I find all this speculation rather hilarious. But the funniest thing of all is that they want to "fight" the climate.
'Capit. .....truth' = Key phrase of this new century.
Oh dear, Jonathan, you’ve fallen for the climate catastrophe psyop. And the thing is you admit that the science is not settled and yet you’ve based your argument entirely on the view of the climate catastrophists and ignored the side that has repeatedly demonstrated that climate change is not man-made. You’ve simply opted to confirm you bias.
THANK YOU! This was an excellent summary of a disaster we live through. I have become so confused, but I think, it is just another wonder than neoliberalism is wreaking on all of us. First, we deny a working class, supplanting it with various identities that fight each other instead of capitalism. And, then, as you noted brilliantly: “As a result, the elephant in the room – the inherent, self-destructive tendencies of capitalism – is pushed by protesters to the sidelines or out of sight completely. Protests are invariably restricted to policy failures or government U-turns.”
I'm conflicted by this essay because while I agree with the assessment of global warming - yes, it's real and a consequence of fossil fuel consumption - the implicit solution is impractical and fails to account for the realities of our current techno-industrial situation.
At root, Jonathan, your argument is premised on the idea that capitalism is incapable of addressing climate change and is inherently self-destructive in the longer run. Implicitly, then, the solution must be some sort of socialistic allocation of resources overseen and governed by a panel of global technocrats. But this is an undesirable world to a substantial portion of the population. Capitalism isn't just one of many possible, equally valid economic systems; it's a collective force, the embodiment of human drive and personal ambition. Snuff out one, and you extinguish the other. So any tenable solution for climate change must harness this force and be congruent with human nature, not work in opposition to it.
The other problem that must be addressed is our current level of societal fragility as a result of the need to maintain a very high level of technological complexity in order to survive as a species at our current population level. Unless we're willing to accept hundreds of millions to billions of human deaths, the world needs to maintain and improve current levels of agricultural, energy, and information technology in order to preserve order and prevent a devolution into anarchic chaos (once people miss three meals...). Cheap energy powers all development and identifying and transitioning to a replacement source is essential.
So, in sum, I agree with you that climate change is real and that we need to find a way to address it, but the answers can't include pulling the plug on capitalism and/or limiting energy consumption and thus rolling back technological development. One won't work and the other would be a humanitarian disaster. I understand the frustration of the other posters on the slow progress being made and I'm sure my comment won't be too popular, but we need to find pragmatic solutions to this most pressing of problems.
Much as I agree with most of Jonathan Cook's writing, especially on Nato, Israel, and corporatism, I am sorry to see he has bought into climate hysteria and all its hype. In Earth’s history there have been countless times when the climate was much warmer, or much cooler than today. Global temperature changes occur naturally, primarily due to changes in the irradiance of the Sun, and did so long before the Industrial Revolution, which is now (ludicrously) being blamed for destroying the planet. https://mpbondblog.wordpress.com/2021/12/05/climate-change-an-historical-perspective/
I would advise all doubters, and even those in the know, to read James Hansen's book, "Storms of My Grandchildren". Arguing climate science while never having read the book would be akin to arguing General Relativity without knowing who Einstein is.
I was battling a few know-nothings on a Substack recently, commenting on a climate hoax post, pleading with them to read Hansen, and got these two replies "Who's he? Never heard of him". And, "No one cares, Peter, go back to REDDIT". As for such I would have to quote Umberto Eco :
"Les réseaux sociaux ont donné le droit de parole à des légions d'imbéciles qui, avant, ne parlaient qu'au bar, après un verre de vin et ne causaient aucun tort à la collectivité. On les faisait taire tout de suite alors qu'aujourd'hui ils ont le même droit de parole qu'un prix Nobel. C'est l'invasion des imbéciles."