Posted by: r.m. | October 30, 2013

Climate scientists tell us: we need a revolution

From Naomi Klein’s excellent piece… How science is telling us all to revolt. Is our relentless quest for economic growth killing the planet? Climate scientists have seen the data – and they are coming to some incendiary conclusions.

“Brad Werner’s own session  was attracting much of the buzz. It was titled “Is Earth F**ked?” (full title: “Is Earth F**ked? Dynamical Futility of Global Environmental Management and Possibilities for Sustainability via Direct Action Activism”).

Standing at the front of the conference room, the geophysicist from the University of California, San Diego walked the crowd through the advanced computer model he was using to answer that question. He talked about system boundaries, perturbations, dissipation, attractors, bifurcations and a whole bunch of other stuff largely incomprehensible to those of us uninitiated in complex systems theory. But the bottom line was clear enough: capitalism has made the depletion of resources so rapid, convenient and barrier-free that “earth-human systems” are becoming dangerously unstable in response. When pressed by a journalist for a clear answer on the “are we f**ked” question, Werner set the jargon aside and replied, “More or less.”

There was one dynamic in the model, however, that offered some hope. Werner termed it “resistance” – movements of “people or groups of people” who “adopt a certain set of dynamics that does not fit within the capitalist culture”. According to the abstract for his presentation, this includes “environmental direct action, resistance taken from outside the dominant culture, as in protests, blockades and sabotage by indigenous peoples, workers, anarchists and other activist groups.

His research shows that our entire economic paradigm is a threat to ecological stability. And indeed that challenging this economic paradigm – through mass-movement counter-pressure – is humanity’s best shot at avoiding catastrophe.”

Klein gives much needed attention to a critical question: can the current economic model be used – through “green jobs” and “efficiency” – to mitigate the tremendous impacts of climate change? This is the argument presented by UN agencies, by liberal scientists, and – most dominantly – by governments.

Scientists – courageous scientists – argue that this current economic model cannot lead us to safety.

In the words of one of Britain’s top climate experts, Kevin Anderson, the deputy director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research:

“Perhaps at the time of the 1992 Earth Summit, or even at the turn of the millennium, 2°C levels of mitigation could have been achieved through significant evolutionary changes within the political and economic hegemony. But climate change is a cumulative issue! Now, in 2013, we in high-emitting (post-)industrial nations face a very different prospect. Our ongoing and collective carbon profligacy has squandered any opportunity for the ‘evolutionary change’ afforded by our earlier (and larger) 2°C carbon budget. Today, after two decades of bluff and lies, the remaining 2°C budget demands revolutionary change to the political and economic hegemony” (his emphasis).

Revolutionary change to the political and economic hegemony!

Read the Naomi Klein’s full article here





  1. BIOL207
    I take satisfaction from the assertion implied by the ecologist Naomi Klein that people should engage in a revolutionary state against the devastating aftermath of the overwhelming economic growth. In my point of view, renewal is a hard yet essential step to overcome the adversity we are facing and diverge from the negative impact threatning us with the growth of economy. And to deal with the dangerous crisis, one should start his own revolution at a micro-ecological state thus decreasing the amount of pollution, and increase green spaces in front of his house, therefore reaching the macro-ecology which will obviously improve and will lead us to dodge the fatal impact caused by the drain of Earth native sources of energy.

  2. […] By the way, very little of what is predicted by this leaked IPCC draft is new.  Flannery spoke of it in his excellent book Weather Makers – as did so many other scientists. I go back to what Climate Change Scientist Kevin Anderson said we need: A REVOLUTION. […]

  3. The argument concerning the compatibility between the current economical system and “green jobs” is not supported in the article but rather only mentioned. I believe one who is aware of the potential damage awaiting the ecosystems due to global warming knows that a radical change must be done. However, I believe that the article needs to present alternatives rather than inviting people for a change in the political and economical states without providing a certain destination.

  4. many articles concentrate on the results and consequences of whats happening due to climate change. they speak of the statistics of the catastrophes awaited. this was interesting because werner took it a step further. climate change should be a given and not debatable anymore. so by saying that “we are fd” he is not opening the matter for discussion. i must also point out that he mentioned capitalism as a cause to this problem and opened my eyes to something i wasn’t aware of; it’s true, if the companies who are producing the greenhouse gases were owned by someone who cares about the well being of the earth and were aware of the catastrophe heading towards us, they would have stricter regulations. with capitalism there will just be companies competing to be better at selling their product hence ignoring everything else. werner criticizes the whole economic paradigm and finds a revolution made by us highly necessary. theres a part of the article where klein mentions how small changes made by small groups are helpful yet not enough on the large scale. they propose a 10 percent reduction of greenhouse emissions which is nearly impossible. it would be a dream but like they said even a cool 1 percent may lead to economical or other problems. and this is all so funny because most of these changes are expected to may help if started TODAY. and not when the government takes a look at it, votes on it, plans it and actually does it. a drastic revolution really is as necessary as he exaggerates it to be. it was also interesting to see what anderson and bow revealed about the play on words with the scientific expression of things. scientists are so afraid of their research results that they’re not even sharing it correctly it seems. i also went in to see where balcombe is located when it was mentioned as one of the places action is taking place. one of the first things that came up on google was the fracking there. horrible.

    so to conclude this i want to quote a part of which i found very important and summarizing concerning emission targets “…Anderson and Bows describe as “radical and immediate de-growth strategies in the US, EU and other wealthy nations”. Which is fine, except that we happen to have an economic system that fetishises GDP growth above all else, regardless of the human or ecological consequence”

    so yes until people in charge wake up with an epiphany and sudden urge to want to breathe by 2050 air as we know it, we will be living helplessly under their mercy. or we can revolt as proposed?

  5. Unfortunately, humans are causing all the pollution that is leading to the drastic climate change which is putting our lives in danger. It’s humans fault, they are destroying the ecosystem, cutting trees, throwing garbage and chemicals in the seas, and emitting pollutants in the air. Industries are destroying marine, aerial, and terrestrial habitats in order to get the natural resources needed. As mentioned by Werner, capitalism is behind that. Industries definitely don’t care about the ecosystem, all they care about is money, and they want to get it at any cost. Even if it means destroying the ecosystem and eradicating species. It’s very hard to stand up in front of them and try to make them stop if the government is supporting them. In this way, what people can do is to make reforestation campaigns and plant trees; encourage people to use bicycles instead of vehicles; the government could also supply public transport, in this way decreasing gas emission. There should be rules that forbid the industries from throwing garbage and chemicals in rivers, seas, and oceans. Everything in the world is linked, and everything is working together and is dependent on each other, so changing one thing shifts equilibrium which leads to chaos. Humans are the cause of natural disasters and climate change. They are taking everything from nature and are not compensating it. How do they expect to keep on making money if they depend on nature, and nature is kind of disappearing?

    • Indeed, it seems the fight against “industries” is like David against Goliath. You said: “Industries definitely don’t care about the ecosystem, all they care about is money, and they want to get it at any cost” and also emphasized about what regular people can do at their level. We should not forget that behind the global, general and vague word of “industries” there are people, organizations, societies which have a lot of non-monetarist interest in the models and business they are leading. Cause by accusing “industries”, I just feel we are creating a fantasized and simplified enemy we can more easily charge.
      Who are “industries”? I guess they “just” are companies, that is to say work organization of people. Indeed, these industries need money to exist. Moreover, in this economic war / competitive context, it is “eat or being eaten”, witch mean they don’t just try to exist, they try to grow up, maybe for the only aim to have more power and wealth but also because by presenting growth as the only strategy to resist to competitive pressure. But once again, behind the “companies’goal”, there are people. Certainly that some of them are mainly interested in the only aim to have more money, at an end on itself. Nevertheless, generally speaking, money is only a mean: a mean to have a way of life that fit with our more or less legitimized desires.
      On that point the majority of us are the same, either we are a multi-millionaire leading a big textile and clothe making company; the responsible of a territorial branch of the same company, having a very good social position and happy about his work and responsibilities; the owner a local shop of that brand in a little town I don’t know where, witch is really proud to offer her or his family a nice house to live, a good education to the children to prepare them to face the world, and to go to restaurant and cinema sometimes – and I mean, who will blame the person for that? At the end, what is she/he doing wrong but just enjoying life in a quiet simple way?; and finally, the consumer, which is of course revolted against slavery and child labor but which is so happy he/she could buy some nice clothes at a nice price, which is also revolted against deforestation, pollution of the water, health consequences, but that still buy that jean, because it’s pretty, it’s fashion, because he/she need it in everyday life and because “come on, it’s just a jean, it won’t change the face of the earth”.
      No, indeed, the common consumer’s decision to buy or not buy that jean won’t change the face of the world. My point is not to say that we all are guilty in the same way, cause I feel that the simple decision that big industrial company leader can make could have much more change power without changing a lot his/her existence than if I was completely changing my all way of life in order to be eco-responsible. But I just feel that to accuse these awful companies-that-just-want-to-make-money-and-don’t-care-about-environment is simplistic. The majority of us do also have a responsibility. Because yes, there is a scarcity of water and please, don’t let people hurt little baby cats (you know they are so cute) but wow, that kebab is soooo good. Yes, there is deforestation in South Asia because of palm oil monocultures, it’s terrible for Orangutan and biodiversity, ha, these industries are so bad…but well…would you like one more nutella-pancake? And yes, poor guys who have to work quite as modern slave in Asia, and children that born disabled because of water pollution due to textiles industries…how terrible is the world…ho yeah did you notice my new jean? I am so happy I could buy it, it was quite an investment but it is a good brand, and I love it so much.
      Once again, I am not putting all the responsibility on people as consumer, but I just feel we should not forget, that we are living in community, in society, and that each of us is one of the link of the final act, and that we also have interests to not change. As you said “humans are causing that”. I agree and that’s why I feel it’s important to continue to see “capitalism” or “industries” as deeply human phenomenon, with every social consequences, power games, and more or less personal interests it can imply.

  6. […] Dr. Brad Werner earlier said that – our entire economic paradigm is a threat to ecological stability. And indeed that challenging this e….” […]

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