Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Climate change denial and totalitarian systems

George Monbiot finds a precursor to state-sponsored climate change denial: Lysenkoism, a cockeyed alternative vision of genetics that trashed Soviet agriculture.

The stakes now are higher, of course: Monbiot says we're dealing with "the greatest crisis humanity has ever encountered" and major players, led of course by the United States, are trying to ensure we do nothing about it. The problem, he argues, is systemic:

Our problem is that, just as genetics was crushed by totalitarian communism, meaningful action to prevent climate change has been prohibited by totalitarian capitalism. When I use this term I don't mean that the people who challenge it are rounded up and sent to break rocks in Siberia. I mean that it intrudes into every corner of our lives, governs every social relation, becomes the lens through which every issue must be seen. It is the total system which leaves no molecule of earth or air uncosted and unsold. And, like Soviet totalitarianism, it allows no solution to pass which fails to enhance its power. The only permitted answer to the effects of greed is more greed.

I don't know how long this system can last. But I did see something in Scotland last week that I hadn't seen before. At the G8 Alternatives meeting in Edinburgh and the People and Planet conference in Stirling, climate change, until recently neglected by campaigners, stirred fiercer emotions than any other topic. People are already mobilising for the demonstrations planned by the Campaign against Climate Change on December 3rd. I saw a resolve there to make this the biggest issue in British politics. If we succeed, the new campaign will crash head-on into the totalitarian system. But as more people wake up to what the science is saying, it is not entirely certain that the system will win.

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