The National - led government continues to show a casual disregard for pressing environment issues and the very real threat of ecological collapse. But the Green Party's promotion of a 'smarter green capitalism' is a woefully inadequate response and would simply continue to chain us to the very economic system that is destroying the planet.
LAST WEEK SAW the release of another authoritative report on the stark environmental dangers confronting the planet. The report of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns that climate change will have a myriad of disastrous consequences for life on the planet from sea level rise, to extensive drought, to extreme weather to food supply disruptions and to conflict.
This is the sixth report from the IPCC since 1990 and the most strongly worded report yet.
What is also depressingly familiar is the way the warnings will go unheeded by corporate interests and their allies in government.
Exxon Mobil are a case in point.
In a shareholders report that was also released last week, Exxon states that is will not be planning for 'aggressive carbon emissions cuts before 2040', because governments are unlikely to impose such expensive regulations.
Exxon states that 'prioritising the need to meet the world’s growing energy demands through its oil and gas products, rather than addressing climate change.'
The New Zealand government's own response to the report has been equally lamentable.
The report says that the level of warming was likely to raise the oceans around New Zealand's coast by at least half a metre before the end of the century, threatening low-lying communities and ecosystems. But the response of Climate Change Minister Tim Groser has been to emptily declare that the report shows the importance of 'adapting' to a warmer world.
If we are to believe Groser, we must merely sit tight and 'adapt' as a climate change catastrophe rushes towards us. It is as we are transfixed by the lights of the speeding train as it descends upon us
But, of course, Groser and his government are entirely hypocritical. They are more than happy to help big energy put the accelerator down in its search for more fossil fuels. The government has just announced new areas that can be explored by the fossil fuel corporations.
This announcement was made against the backdrop of a fossil fuel industry that spent nearly $700 billion in 2013 looking for new deposits of coal, oil and gas.
As writer and activist Chris Williams has noted:
The inexorable logic of capitalist market relations and the fixation on short-term profitability trump common sense or the physical constraints of the universe, as reported by the world's preeminent scientific experts.
And as he said in a presentation at the EcoSocialist conference in Los Angeles in September last year:
It is increasingly clear to a growing number of people that the ecological crisis is a direct outgrowth of the operation of our economic system; namely, capitalism. The crisis has many facets: environmental racism, energy production, pollution, gender oppression, biodiversity loss, agribusiness and climate change to name only a few. But they can all be traced back to a singular cause: the relentless pursuit of profit and the accumulation of capital.
While Russel Norman and the Green Party might bag Simon Bridges for his government's destructive environmental policies, their promotion of a 'smarter green capitalism' is wildly misdirected.
An economy in which investors demand short-term profits simply can’t carry through the implementation of the radical changes that are now urgently demanded.
In this century of environmental crisis, the common ruin of all - the destruction of civilization - is a very real possibility
In 2010 the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, was held in Cochabamba, Bolivia. The final statement of the conference remains true today:
Humanity confronts a great dilemma: to continue on the path of capitalism, depredation, and death, or to choose the path of harmony with nature and respect for life.It is imperative that we forge a new system that restores harmony with nature and among human beings. And for there to be balance with nature, there must first be equity among human beings.
Over a century ago, Karl Marx predicted that unless capitalism was eliminated the great productive forces it unleashed would turn into destructive forces. Who can say he was wrong?