Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Is President Biden losing his base? 92 year old activist icon Noam Chomsky has accused Biden of placing politics before climate action, though Chomsky appears to suggest Biden’s inaction is somewhat redeemed by Congress, thanks to Bernie Sanders and young activists.
Noam Chomsky: Ending Climate Change “Has to Come From Mass Popular Action,” Not Politicians
AN INTERVIEW WITH NOAM CHOMSKY
On Climate Change
To change subjects: What do you see as the greatest obstacle in solving the climate crisis?
There are two major obstacles. One is, of course, the fossil fuel companies. Second is the governments of the world, including Europe and the United States. We have just seen that very dramatically over the summer. On August 9, 2021, the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] issued its last analysis of the climate situation. It was a very dire warning — much more than before.
The message basically was, “We have two choices.” We can either start right now cutting back on fossil fuel use, [and] do it systematically every year, until we phase them out by mid-century. That’s one choice. The other choice is cataclysm. The end of organized human life on earth. Not immediately — we’ll just reach irreversible tipping points, and it goes on to disaster. Those are the options.
How did the great powers react? The day after the IPCC report, Joe Biden issued an appeal to the OPEC cartel [Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries] to increase production. Europe chimed in by calling on all producers, including Russia, to increase production. Increase production. This is a response to the IPPC warning that we have to start reducing right now.
That’s for political reasons, for profit for the oil companies. [The] political reason is that they want the price reduced. It’s better for them. [For] Joe Biden, if the gas prices are high, it harms his electoral prospects. [If] you read the major business press right now, [there’s] a big discussion going on: What’s the best way to increase production? Is it through the American shale oil — the fracking industry — or is it through OPEC? But how do we increase production best? That’s the business press. Turn to the petroleum journals. [They are] euphoric: “We just found new fields to exploit. Demand is going up. It’s great.”
Let’s go to the US Congress. The Biden program — under pressure from young activists, the Bernie Sanders movements, and so on — is actually a big improvement on any previous ones, on paper. It’s not wonderful, but it’s much better than anything else. Well, the [previous] negotiations in Congress over the “reconciliation bill,” initiated by Bernie Sanders, cut back very sharply from Sanders’s proposals. It’s a very valuable bill. It somewhat reverses the huge assault on the population during the neoliberal era.
…Read more: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2021/11/noam-chomsky-climate-change-afghanistan-anarchism-china
Its a fascinating dynamic. Chomsky appears to prefer Bernie Sanders over Biden, but I’m sure Chomsky prefers Biden over a Republican President.
Yet Chomsky believes Biden has shown willingness to throw climate action under a bus as soon as it becomes politically painful.
Chomsky must be aware, there is no reason for Biden to change course, so long as he can count on the grudging support of iconic activists like Chomsky and his followers. Time will tell how long Chomsky and friends will tolerate what must be for them a very unsatisfactory compromise.