ISL International socio-environmental forum: Do look up, there is no Planet B

The magnitude of the global climate crisis no longer leaves room for denialism. The world’s elites and economic powers appropriate the concept of ecological transition as a plan of distraction in response to growing popular awareness of the socio-environmental disaster. In business mega-summits with ecological packaging, budget incentive plans for the sustainable reconversion of polluting corporations are encouraged with public money. They are variants of a green capitalism in the hands of the sorcerer’s apprentices. Faced with this panorama, the Executive Committee of the International Socialist League convenes the First International Socio-environmental Forum in September with the participation of representatives of groups, activists from countries of the 5 continents. From South America and Western Europe to Africa. From Australia to Central America. From Eastern Europe to South Asia, passing through the Middle East. Because we do look up.

By Mariano Rosa, Coordinator of the Ecosocialist Network of Argentina

Last year Netflix premiered “Don’t Look Up,” starring Leonardo Di Caprio. The plot of the film is very simple: a group of young scientists discover through astrophysical calculations that an asteroid is going to hit the Earth in six months and cause a mass extinction. The story expresses three ideas that we highlight to present a parallelism with the current, real, non-cinematic planetary panorama:

  • The collapse is inevitable, scientifically proven in advance.
  • The political and economic powers promote disinformation, confusion and low-cost solutions for large capitalist companies.
  • We see the size of the disaster, but still they want to hide it from us.

Going against the current of the common sense installed by those in power, the group of young scientists fight the idea of ​​”not looking up,” that is: they fight skepticism in conditions of extreme minority.

Of course we are not going to romanticize that film or uncritically recommend any cultural product by Netflix with all its ideological baggage. But we do take an underlying message as the orientation and basis for the call to our 1st International Socio-environmental Forum: yes, we do look up, with our eyes wide open. Because there is no planet B.

Not one more minute

The book “Losing the Earth,” by Nathaniel Rich, raises an unappealable thesis: in 1979 we already knew practically everything we know today about climate change. Climate science in the 1970s and 1980s anticipated the central coordinates of the dynamic that is taking place today almost to the millimeter in terms of the greenhouse effect. Waiting, postponing, denying, distracting, is the response that the capitalist powers of the world have deployed from then until today. James Hansen, a NASA climatologist, published an article on the subject in the journal Science in 1981 and declared at the United States Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources  in 1988. He presented categorical evidence pointing to a clear conclusion: CO2 emissions derived mainly from the massive use of fossil fuels cause an increasing rise in the average temperature of the planet. He sounded a resounding voice of alarm in the heart of the imperialist political power. He was stigmatized and persecuted, condemned to scientific ostracism.

Furthermore, in the prehistory of the socio-environmental movement, we now know that scientists from the Exxon oil company accurately predicted in 1982 the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere that we have recently reached. With that input as a precious social instrument in hand, the corporation chose to hide everything and earmarked millions of its advertising budget to promote unabashed militant climate denialism. After all that, there have been reports from the IPCC since 1990, the most recent one being published a few weeks ago. All the hypotheses of Hansen and the climatologists of 50 years ago were verified and supported with scientific solidity. But to end this section of the article, a fact that quantifies the consequences of capitalist delay in urgent measures: 50% of all CO2 emissions in the history of humanity have been emitted to the atmosphere from 1992 to the present. Incredible.

Sorcerer’s apprentices seeking to square the circle

As the emissions curve grew year after year, the need for structural and global measures became evident. This corners global capitalism and its economic dynamic that presses towards a permanently expanding and petro-dependent reproduction. For the emergency bailout of the 1%, paid spokespersons for climate science always arrive on time to offer innovative technological solutions. For a few years, the intervention of these unworthy science figures has been clearly noted in the IPCC reports plagued with various acronyms:

  • BECCS (Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage).
  • DAC (Direct Air Capture).

These innovative solutions seek to make capitalism and emission reductions compatible. They are called “negative emissions technologies,” and their purpose would be to remove the CO2 that already exists in the atmosphere. So, what are the consequences of the actions of these discoverers of the squaring of the circle?:

Fossil fuels can continue to be burned for longer.

Operate a slower decarbonization and forget about the cumbersome drastic reduction plans. We can even temporarily exceed warming limits of 1.5 or 2ºC and then re-stabilize the climate later.

Although the foregoing seems to incur a certain exaggerated technicality, in reality, this is what the slogans “net-zero,” “carbon offsets” and “nature-based solutions” that dominate official climate policies in the world hide.

Now, what is the small and secondary detail? Neither the operation nor the viability of these technologies have ever been tested.

In short, as in Di Caprio’s film, instead of diverting the asteroid, the leaders of state climate policies of dominant capitalism want to risk the fate of the entire civilization on very expensive and uncertain technological instruments capable of solving everything at the last minute. We scream: no way!

With eyes wide open: understand, act, change what is must be changed

20 or 30 years ago, denialism possibly had more room for action and powerful influence. But as the impacts of global warming became more visible, social awareness has increased. Especially with the green wave of pre-pandemic youth mobilization that forcefully put the seriousness and urgency of the matter on the agenda with major international protests. The center of attention is now placed on eco-social rescue measures for our civilization.

And on this level, the anti-capitalists and eco-socialists of the ISL have a lot to talk about: experience of struggles, theoretical-political elaboration, effectively having our eyes wide open to understand, act and transform everything that must be changed.

From this perspective, to the left of the entire so-called international community co-opted by corporations, we convene the 1st International Socio-Environmental Forum, and we especially call on the youth who are fighting throughout the world against the atrocities caused by the capitalist productive matrix that threatens the future of planetary life.

With the purpose of reaching common conclusions and organizing ourselves consciously, we are going to propose deliberating in panels with exhibitors from various countries on various strategic thematic axes, with participants from the 5 continents.

Across borders. With the historical task of activating the emergency brake. September 10 and 11. Because there is no Planet B.