Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Many of us have said all along that the radical left are using climate change as an excuse to rally the troops, but its nice to see it all laid out in clear, without any of the dissimulation or trickery Comrade Lenin recommended for global Communist revolutionaries.
Climate change and the next left
Sunday 17 June 2018, by David Camfield
Climate change is already happening. But the really bad news is that there’s very strong evidence that capitalism will deliver a future of catastrophic climate change that will have far-reaching effects around the world, especially in the imperialized countries of the Global South. There is a vast gap between the continuing growth of greenhouse gas emissions and the massive reductions of emissions needed to prevent widespread catastrophes.
In a thoughtful article, “Revolution in a Warming World: Lessons from the Russian to the Syrian Revolutions,” Andreas Malm writes,
Lenin spoke of the catastrophe of his time as a ‘mighty accelerator’ bringing all contradictions to a head, ‘engendering world-wide crises of unparalleled intensity,’ driving nations ‘to the brink of doom’… Climate change is likely to be the accelerator of the twenty-first century, speeding up the contradictions of late capitalism – above all the growing chasm between the evergreen lawns of the rich and the precariousness of propertyless existence – and expedit[ing] one local catastrophe after another. 
In advanced capitalist countries, we could see even more aggressive attacks on public health care, education and social services as states cut there while they spend more in response to floods, droughts and other effects of climate change. It’s easy to imagine mass international migration out of regions of the South hit hard by climate change leading to an intensification of racism and repression and the growth of fascist and other far right movements.
The situation we’re in – a stable capitalist society where the ruling class rules unchallenged, with the working class highly fragmented, divided and depoliticized and a feeble radical left – calls for us to unite on the basis of politics that can guide our activity in the current period. That’s different from organizing around a specific political tradition like Trotskyism or anarcho-communism (or as part of a narrower current within a tradition). It’s also different from adopting a basis of unity that claims to have answers to questions that we just don’t face in this moment of history, such as precisely what kind of society beyond capitalism we’re aiming for or exactly how a transition beyond capitalism could be started.
There’s been an almost complete break between cohorts in Canada, so that almost none of the lessons learned between the 1960s and the mid-1990s about how to build the radical left have been passed down to today’s activists. It’s not that everything we need to know merely awaits rediscovery. Far from it! But some methods have been tested and shown to be effective, while others have been shown to be ineffective. Let’s learn and use what works. And let’s learn from our experiences, like the failure of the Greater Toronto Workers’ Assembly and, for a positive example, the process leading to the launch of Solidarity Halifax.
There are no short cuts to a new left. The best next step will be different in Toronto, where the radical left is larger than in other cities but also more divided, than in other places. Quebec Solidaire, a sizeable left-reformist party, makes the landscape of the left different in Quebec. But we can and must try to take a step towards a new left.
The Radical Left won’t get their global warming crisis, nature is failing to oblige with the much anticipated climate change acceleration. But the radical left might be able to spin a potential future global cooling crisis into their radical cause célèbre. Scientists like former NASA GISS Director James Hansen have opened the way for claims that any abrupt drop in global temperature is our fault.
… Global temperature becomes an unreliable diagnostic of planetary condition as the ice melt rate increases. Global energy imbalance (Fig. 15b) is a more meaningful measure of planetary status as well as an estimate of the climate forcing change required to stabilize climate. Our calculated present energy imbalance of ∼ 0.8 W m−2 (Fig. 15b) is larger than the observed 0.58 ± 0.15 W m−2 during 2005–2010 (Hansen et al., 2011). The discrepancy is likely accounted for by excessive ocean heat uptake at low latitudes in our model, a problem related to the model’s slow surface response time (Fig. 4) that may be caused by excessive small-scale ocean mixing.
Large scale regional cooling occurs in the North Atlantic and Southern oceans by mid-century (Fig. 16) for 10-year doubling of freshwater injection. A 20-year doubling places similar cooling near the end of this century, 40 years ear- lier than in our prior simulations (Fig. 7), as the factor of 4 increase in current freshwater from Antarctica is a 40-year advance.
Cumulative North Atlantic freshwater forcing in sverdrup years (Sv years) is 0.2 Sv years in 2014, 2.4 Sv years in 2050, and 3.4Sv years (its maximum) prior to 2060 (Fig. S14). The critical issue is whether human-spurred ice sheet mass loss can be approximated as an exponential process during the next few decades. Such nonlinear behavior depends upon amplifying feedbacks, which, indeed, our climate simulations reveal in the Southern Ocean. …
While many of our leaders fritter away our wealth on addressing the imaginary global warming crisis, the real potential crisis, the possibility a drop in solar activity will trigger crop failures across much of the North, is being ignored.
Frightened people don’t think, they react – the jump at any promised solution to their problem. Even the voices of the insane left might find an audience in a global cooling crisis.
A strong, vibrant capitalist economy could address even crisis of this magnitude – rapid large scale imports of food from less affected regions could compensate for any local failures. A 2017 crop failure in Spain barely caused a blip in Europe – a few weeks of lettuce shortages. Within weeks large scale imports from the USA and elsewhere made up the loss.
A weak, over regulated society burdened with pointless green taxes might not prove so resilient to a major crisis.