Global Warming: A Capitalist Crime against Humanity
by Michael G. Livingston
In a report issued to Congress,
the Bush Administration has finally admitted that global warming is occurring
and that human activity, namely the production of greenhouse gases, is the
cause. (See ď
Since 1900, the average temperature on the planet has gone up one degree Fahrenheit. The increase in temperature, in turn, is caused by the production of greenhouse gases from human activities such as driving cars or running a coal-burning power planet. CO2 is the most commonly generated greenhouse gas, but not the only one. These gases trap heat in the atmosphere, heating the planet beyond what would normally happen. The historical baseline of CO2 for most of the last 10,000 years was around 280 parts per million. The current level is 379 parts per million and accelerating. Even if we stopped producing greenhouse gases right now, the climate would continue to warm for a time.
If you donít think one degree Fahrenheit is much, think again. The weather around the world is getting hotter and more extreme. Of the 18 hottest years recorded by humans, 17 have occurred since 1980. The hottest five-year period in human recorded history was from 1991 to 1995. Glaciers are melting, icecaps are disappearing, and the number of draughts, floods, and heat waves is increasing, as are the number of hurricanes and tornados. If our production of greenhouse gases continue the average temperature will increase from between 3 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit over the next 100 years. In which case, the world we know would be fried.
A recent study published
on-line in the Proceedings
of the National Academy of Sciences examines the impact of this kind of
While Bush has done absolutely
nothing over the last four years (except deny that global warming was
occurring), the Kyoto Protocol would not have been much better.
Global warming is not just one environmental issue among many; it is one of the greatest threats facing our species. Global warming is not caused by an individualís negligence, but by the very structure of industrial capitalism. It is a capitalist crime against humanity. And those who do nothing, or next to nothing, in the Democratic and Republican parties, are criminal co-conspirators.
September 2, 2004