“The world is accelerating towards a climate catastrophe, United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon warned yesterday, urging rapid progress in talks to cut greenhouse gas emissions and tackle global warming. ‘Our foot is stuck on the accelerator and we are heading towards an abyss,’ the UN Secre¬tary General said in a speech to the world climate conference.” Globe and Mail, Sept. 4, 2009.
This latest dire warning about global warning was buried in the bottom corner of page A9 of Canada’s “newspaper of record.” The front cover of that day’s paper featured a 30cm, full colour head-to-toe photograph of the First Lady with the accompanying headline, “Michelle Obama’s style secret sets its sights on Canada.” Just another day in the myopic world of this country’s mainstream media, which, like the rest of the globe’s political and economic elite, fiddles while the world burns.
Fortunately, in recent years, a new generation of social and environmental activists has begun to emerge to confront the climate emergency and its root causes. This summer, for instance, a delegation of indigenous people from Canada joined the climate camp in the UK and brought a crowd to Canada House in London’s Trafalgar Square, in order to highlight the destruction caused by Alberta’s tar sands.
Even the corporate media had to reluctantly report this bold action against “the biggest environmental crime on the planet,” as the activists accurately described the tar sands. There’s a great picture on CTV’s online news report of delegation members at the climate camp standing in front of a banner that reads, “Capitalism is crisis.” This is one indication of a growing trend – a “green left” – that views the struggle to save the planet as inextricably linked with the fight against global capitalism.
All those engaged in these vital efforts will benefit greatly from the publication of The Global Fight for Climate Justice, a collection of essays, statements and declarations edited by Ian Angus. Bringing together 46 “anti-capitalist responses to global warming and environmental destruction,” this is not leisurely reading. Ideally, in fact, it should be read collectively, in discussion groups or as background reading for a series of classes or forums. Contributors include Joel Kovel (Enemy of Nature) and John Bellamy Foster (The Ecological Revolution), who have both written extensively about the ecologically destructive essence of capitalism.
Anti-imperialist voices from the Global South are highlighted in their own section of the book, and a number of selections highlight the centrality of the new indigenous movements in the fight to save Mother Earth. Evo Morales, Bolivia’s indigenous president, offers an ecological “Ten Commandments,” while legendary Peruvian revolutionary Hugo Blanco challenges common notions of “progress.”
For some greens, no doubt, the idea of Fidel Castro the first contributor in the book – as an ecological leader will be entirely new. Sadly, the title of the Cuban leader’s 1992 speech to the Earth Summit in Rio, “Tomorrow Will Be Too Late,” is still apt.
We can mourn the years the locusts/capitalists have eaten, but we must also fight like hell for the future. This book will us fight more intelligently. It should be read, shared, discussed, and debated preferably on buses and trains en route to the next climate camp or rally for climate justice.
This article appeared in the November/December 2009 issue of Canadian Dimension (End Times in Copenhagen).