With only 12 years to resolve the climate crisis, a system change is in order. Only bold new solutions with a magnitude equal to the existential threat of climate change will generate enough power to win. It’s time for alternatives to capitalism.

Photo Credit: Luke Massman-Johnson

SoCal 350 Climate Action

For decades now, the world has been warned about the growing costs of climate change, ranging from the widespread surge of climate refugees, to international health crises, and even radical political instability as a byproduct of food and water scarcity. Yet still, the established power structures have – at best – placed their dependence upon solutions that fit exclusively within the confines of the systems that created the catastrophe to begin with, if and when solutions are developed at all. It is a betrayal to ethics and rationality alike to respond to the cataclysmic warnings of climate change by means of moderate, incremental solutions such as market incentives for green technology, and loose agreements like the Paris climate deal, which both fail to reverse – let alone halt – the effects of the climate crisis. Although these actions are better than no action, they fail to cross the threshold of the bare minimum.

Climate change cannot be solved by refining the system from which the looming devastation initially arose, because so long as that system prevails, so too will the injustices that intersect within it. Due to this, narratives on climate change must rapidly shift toward a focus on revolutionizing the ideas of the nation state, class, and resource distribution, because only an immediate overhaul of the status quo will be enough to meet the climate crisis with enough strength to win. As a result, a call for a prompt transition away from unregulated capitalism, and toward a new democratic socialist paradigm rooted in climate justice is essential.

The first step is reimagining the functionality of borders to ensure immigration justice in light of the pending mass influx of global climate refugees. The refugee crisis, as one of the most potentially devastating outcomes of climate change, demands that borders undergo a swift transformation to serve as places of open transition into America. Basic resources and guidance toward shelter and income must be provided to newcomers, rather than allowing borders to continue as places of militarism, walls, and deportation. The omission of this narrative in neo-liberal discussion and policy poses a grave threat to the populations most impacted by global climate change and fossil fuel imperialism, because inaction merely fuels reactionary human rights abuses. Xenophobic nationalism has already seen a blatant rise to power due to the recent spikes in refugee numbers, and the world stage faces the risk of this right wing ideology growing exponentially to unprecedented levels of radicalism in the face of increased global instability. To prevent this risk from achieving fruition, it must be met with a brave antithesis: moving beyond the nation state, and establishing international humanitarianism as the fundamental basis of domestic policies.

Secondly, America must firmly establish an economy rooted in class justice as a response to the disproportionate impact of climate change on low income and working people. By relying solely on market based solutions rather than expansive public programs and sweeping infrastructure investments to implement green technology, mass portions of the population who are unable to afford access to green technologies are left ignored and vulnerable. This presents the need to look towards community based green energy programs such as energy democracy, public micro-gridding, and collectively owned sources of renewable energy. The globe must act on the urgent need for the rollout of community powered solutions to climate change, rooted in mass accessibility rather than total free market dependence.

Lastly, a new approach to resource distribution must be taken in order to ensure food, water, and energy security. The dependence on imports for base human necessities has to be overcome if civic structures are going to be maintained, and poverty increases evaded. This is rooted in the creation of self sustaining neighborhoods with internal systems of preservation including urban farms, water collection, and decentralized models of hyper-local energy generation. Non-localized economies stand as roadblocks to resilience, and the ability of cities to maintain stability when pressed by the threats of harvest failures, rising energy demands, and extreme water scarcity. This danger must be eliminated without further delay.

The climate crisis can be resolved, but only if fundamental changes are implemented without hesitation, at a highly accelerated pace, and all while the window of opportunity continues to close. Further, it has been demonstrated that capitalism and the wealthiest portions of the population are unprepared to take the steps of action necessary to achieve these goals, despite the fact that human life depends on it. When the profits and comfort of the rich come at the expense of global livelihood, it is up to the masses to claim their collective power, and implement solutions themselves. A new world is inevitable. The choice is in whether this new world will consist of disaster, or an eager exploration of new models for living. The outcome is now in the hands of the people, and their willingness to act is rooted in stakes of existential nature. Capitalism has played its course. Now it’s time to build.

Gavin Pierce