US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Greta Thunberg the Swedish student activist on 23rd January on her Davos statement on climate change that she should study economics, a jibe which prompted the climate activist to say she did not need a degree to know the world was not meeting its climate targets. Asked about Thunberg’s previous calls to divest from fossil fuels, Mnuchin told a news briefing in Davos: “Is she the chief economist? I’m confused ... After she goes and studies economics in college, she can come back and explain that to us.” Mnuchin lists a bachelor’s degree in economics from Yale University on his LinkedIn social network profile. This is what the imperialist leaders, the neo-fascists who are in power in majority of the countries and the imperialist think tanks tell the students and youth: you have no business to criticize or agitate against what we do, you are just students. But as the humankind is taken to the brink of an impending ecological catastrophe, it is the new generation going to raise their voice and revolt in the streets challenging the reactionary ruling system which devastate the human society and nature.
Earlier in the week US President Donald Trump and Thunberg sparred indirectly at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss ski resort. After Trump said the United States had committed to joining the one trillion tree initiative, Thunberg retorted that fixing the climate crisis was not only about trees. Thunberg, who has taken a year off school to advocate action on climate change, hit back on Twitter, saying it did not take a degree to know the world was not meeting its climate targets. “So either you tell us how to achieve this mitigation or explain to future generations and those already affected by the climate emergency why we should abandon our climate commitments,” Thunberg, said days after addressing a packed panel at the Davos summit, where she has been a star attraction.
But, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel rushed to Thunberg’s defence, saying in Davos that attaining the goals of the Paris climate accord, which the US has quit, was vital. “Time is pressing, so we - the older ones, I am 65 years old - must make sure that we take the impatience of young people positively and constructively,” Merkel said in her speech. There are many more like Merkel, who are not so arrogant like Trump who claims to understand the problem, but refuse to do anything to slow down the ecological degradation. Both sections defend the hegemonic imperialist system which intensifies the neo-liberal/corporatization policies which are devastating the nature.
Presently, the humankind is confronted by the challenge that without overthrowing the hegemony of capital in all fields, that is, without a revolutionary system change putting forward a sustainable, egalitarian and people oriented development perspective as an alternative, the ecological degradation cannot be reversed, the human species cannot be saved from extinction. It is a political question, which demands political answer.
It is a fact that scientists and environmental groups have done enormous work, especially from the 1970s, to propagate the dangers confronting the ecological system, as the global warming, climate change like features were becoming worse. But, neither have they linked it with the dominant role of ruling capital system, nor the mainstream political parties recognized this fact. Instead, in almost all the countries, the ruling parties see the environmental movements as obstruction to development, and condemned them as environmental fundamentalists.
It is in this context, CPI(ML) Red Star and the revolutionary parties/organized united in the International Coordination of Revolutionary Parties and Organizations (ICOR) have recognized the contradiction of global capitalist ruling system and the nature as a major contradiction and took it up as an important program of action. Following this many campaigns are organized by these parties as well as ICOR against the intensifying danger of ecological destruction. What is required today is an ecological-political movement which shall struggle against the global imperialist system and fight for replacing it with fundamentally different development paradigm.
To effectively carry forward these struggles a unity of the scientists and environmentalists active in this field, the environmental groups and the political parties who recognize the impending danger of ecological catastrophe is urgent necessity. Immediate initiative by all concerned forces is called for to achieve this unity and to launch countrywide and international level movements to achieve this goal. n
Severe pollution, environmental destruction leading to ‘health emergency’ now, ecological catastrophe in coming days, are political questions! They call for political solutions!
Delhi has become the most polluted city in the world. As toxic smog envelops Delhi and North and Northwest India, a health emergency is declared, all schools are closed for days. But, stubble burning in Punjab, Haryana, Western UP, the immediate reason for sudden jumping of pollution from poor to severe levelscontinues! Still, Modi government does not find any urgency to convene a meeting of representatives from these states to find solution to this problem. Though 42% of the pollution in Delhi/NCR region is due to the emissions from the ever increasing number of vehicles, 10% of the pollution is due to burning of solid waste, controlling number of private automobiles and increasing public transport facilities, starting solid waste disposal plants in all localities are not even considered urgent steps. The mainstream parties reduce it to a question for mutual mud-slinging, with a view to coming elections!
If this is the condition India’s capital, condition in other areas not different. Pollution level in Mumbai is now ‘very poor’. The scientists have warned that at present level of environmental destruction, as a result of global warming and climate change, most of the coastal areas in Asia, including Mumbai shall be submerged by 2050! Still authorities were in a hurry to cut down 2600 trees of Aarey overnight to avoid a Supreme Court intervention, for constructing a metro car shed! In spite of Gadgil Committee report, two consecutive huge floods in Western Ghats region, climate rhythm changing with 30 days rain pouring down in 3 days devastating farming and hill sides, from Kerala to Maharashtra, no government takes any preventive steps!
Same condition at global level also. In spite of all UN studies and reports from environmental groups that if urgent steps to bring down carbon levels are not brought down, the environmental destruction shall lead to destruction of human species in seven or eight decades, Trump has walked out of Paris agreement and increased production of shell oil! Even those governments who signed Kyoto protocol and Paris agreement are not putting them in to practice. Their priorities are different! Even after severe cyclones have risen 32% in 5years, rate of glaziers’ melting rate in North and South poles have increased 5 times in two decades, every where the ruling powers are not concerned. They make merry speeding up neoliberal/corporate policies and their development perspective based on consumerist lust and accumulation of wealth through all speculative measures.
What do all these show? Severe pollution and environmental destruction leading to ‘health emergency’ now and ecological catastrophe in coming days are political questions, which call for political solutions. This is all the more evident that compared to the past decades though more people are becoming conscious about the impending ecological catastrophe and even school children coming on the streets demanding climate emergency, the ruling powers are not concerned; Amazon forests are burning, stubbles in Indian states get burned still, automobiles increase in the roads, the devastating imperialist led development perspective is still in command, even when an alternative is possible.
If public opinion is to be created and the struggle for the ecological protection is t be intensified, the prevalent practice of confining this question to only intellectual discourses and seminars should be changed. As history has taught us, interpreting the what is happening alone is not sufficient, we have to change the situation drastically and urgently. This is possible only if it is taken as an emergency political question, all forces including political forces concerned with it build broadest platforms for vigorous campaign and struggle to overthrow the hegemonic imperialist system itself, uniting all those engaged in it from different angles to overthrow the rule of capital and realize a new world where humanity re-establish harmony with nature and advance a people oriented egalitarian democratic development paradigm!
Com Kn Ramachandran