The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has warned that we have little more than a decade to decisively tackle climate change. But the comprehensive 500 page report has already vanished from the news headlines and, in New Zealand, the fate of the planet has been replaced with endless stories about former National MP Jami Lee Ross.

ALTHOUGH THE Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its comprehensive 500 page report barely three weeks ago it has already largely disappeared from the news headlines and, seemingly, from the public consciousness.

Given the ceaseless 24/7 churn of the news cycle nothing stays in the headlines for too long. And, here in New Zealand, even an exhaustively researched and authoritative report that warns we have just a decade to avoid environmental disaster can't compete with the controversy surrounding National MP Jami Lee Ross. The media and the blogosphere are still talking about him as I write this. I suspect that the media coverage of  Ross has been far in excess of that devoted to the IPCC report. I guess that parliamentary politics remains much safer and familiar territory.

While liberals and conservatives generally don't disagree with the scientific evidence that is presented in such reports, what they do have a problem with is the solutions being proposed. The scientific evidence tells that merely tinkering with the levers of the machine is sorely inadequate when the problem is the machine itself.

Four years ago, shortly after her book This Changes Everything: Capitalism versus the Climate was published, Naomi Klein warned that mainstream environmental groups have wasted time trying to recruit big business and billionaires to adopt pro-climate measures while, all the while, economies had continued to spew out carbon pollution, making a climate fix even more difficult.

But, since then, carbon emissions have continued to increase. Earth’s global surface temperatures in 2017 were the second warmest since modern record-keeping began in 1880, according to an analysis by NASA.

Yet rather then listening to the warnings of people like Naomi Klein and others, the political elites act as if everything is under control. In response to the IPCC report both Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Climate Change Minister James Shaw blandly assured us that the country was on track to be carbon neutral by 2030 while, at the same, promoting the 'opportunities' that climate change offered New Zealand business. Disaster capitalism? It sure sounds like it.

Writing in the NZ Herald Rachel Stewart observes:

'The (IPCC) report says there's a small window of time to alter our trajectory. Which is, of course, a last-ditch attempt to get politicians and the public to start acting like it's World War III. Because that's what it would take to turn this overloaded, burning, sinking mess of a global ship around.'

Jacinda Ardern and the Green Party line up for 'green capitalism'.
The legacy of capitalism is climate change and it has the potential to wipe us out. That will be the price we will all pay for allowing the corporates to operate as if nothing matters more than the financial bottom line.

Unless we make a radical change in our economic system, it will collapse on itself as the cost of climate change begins to add up. But listen to this Labour government and its Green Party ally and, time and time again, you will hear the message that the answer to climate change is investment in clean energy combined with the right kind of market incentives.

This really is fiddling while the planet burns.

In Capital Volume One Karl Marx suggests how we can create a sustainable future, how we can win the world that we want:

'From the standpoint of a higher economic form of society, private ownership of the globe by single individuals will appear quite absurd as private ownership of one man by another. Even a whole society, a nation, or even all simultaneously existing societies taken together, are not the owners of the globe. They are only its possessors, its usufructuries, and like boni patres familias (good head of the household),they must hand it down to succeeding generations in an improved condition.'


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