Environment, Public Meetings

Socialism or Extinction: A Discussion on Climate Change and System Change with Martin Empson, this Sunday on Zoom

Marin Empson will be talking with Marx21 about the issues analyzed in his new book, Socialism or Extinction this Sunday, March 5th, at 11am PST, 2pm EST on Zoom; anyone interested is welcome to join in a discussion of this crucial topic…  

We are already facing the beginnings of climate disasters—and heading towards global catastrophe. At the same time, we are facing a new kind of climate denial that recognizes the existence of climate change with what Greta Thunberg called “blah blah blah,” but denies the urgency and enormity of what needs to be done.  

Last year’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports clearly detailed the rise in emissions, temperatures, and sea levels and demonstrated what is in store without “immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions” in CO2 emissions, but they were less useful in what is to be done. The UN’s COP26 conference, called a “last chance” and filled with agents of the fossil fuel companies and politicians who follow them, was predictably a failure. Since then we have seen more wildfires, drying lakes and rivers, and have just learned the Antarctic sea ice sheet (decreasing for years) reached a new record low this February. Here, the Biden administration has dropped its already insignificant campaign promises on climate action, and continues to approve more drilling here and urge other countries to pump more oil. And militant climate activists have been the target of government oppression around the world.

Recently, environmental protesters have been battling police while protesting coal mining in Lutzerath, Germany and Cumbria, Britain, and logging in a Finland forest. Indigenous activist Eduardo Mendúa was recently shot dead after leading resistance to expanding oil extraction operations in his region of the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador. Outside Atlanta, police shot and killed Weelaunee Forest defender Toortuguita and arrested 19 others on domestic terrorism charges. The supposedly protected forest was being cleared for a “Cop City” training facility. Thursday, March 9th, there will be a “National Day of Action” to demand justice, more details here.  

Friday, March 3rd, we marched as part of another youth “Climate Strike” organized by Fridays For Future. Worldwide, hundreds of thousands of students walked out of school in dozens of countries, including US cities. In New York City close to a thousand marched across the Brooklyn Bridge chanting “hey, hey, ho, ho, fossil fuels have got to go.” A concluding speaker from Fridays for Future told the crowd to not back down from what we want, and not to be afraid of words like “socialism.” Students struck and demonstrated throughout Germany, with thousands rallying in Berlin, and transportation workers, already striking in Germany, expressed support. Unions were also part of demonstrations in Aotearoa / New Zealand and Australia, though not striking.

Students and others cross Brooklyn Bridge March 3rd. Photo Fridays For Future

Yet, in the U.S. the climate movement as a whole seems smaller and more fractured under Biden, even as a growing majority of people in the US are “concerned” about climate change. The students in Fridays For Future need to be commended for bringing people and energy into the streets, and bringing up the idea of “climate strike,” which would be a more powerful tool if expanded to workplaces. In the absence of a growing movement, environmental NGOs have been able to channel that radicalism into local legislative campaigns. Most of these should be supported, but have no hope of stopping climate catastrophe on their own, and can divert activists into the minutiae of local lobbying and policy compromise, leaving more confrontational direct actions (like XR in this country) small and isolated.

Many in the movement have realized that opposing climate change means “system change,” and that capitalism is destroying our environment. But there are many different ideas on what that means. Socialist and environmental activist Martin Empson has written extensively on climate change, but this newest book is a polemical intervention into those debates in the movement. It analyzes the nature of capitalism and the capitalist state, how it is tied to growth, inequality and environmental destruction, and a socialist strategy for changing the world and running society from below for human needs. These are crucial discussions for anyone concerned with environmental destruction or socialism, people new to the ideas or experienced organizers. Tomorrow, March 5th, Martin will be discussing the themes in his book (subtitled “the meaning of revolution in a time of ecological crisis”) and answering questions. This Sunday meeting will be the conclusion of a Marx21 study group on this book, but is designed for anyone interested, whether they have read the book or gone to previous discussions or not.

Martin Empson is a longstanding socialist and environmental activist in Britain who helped organize the protests at COP26 in Glasgow. He is the treasurer of the Trade Union group of the British Campaign Against Climate Change, and one of the editors of the union-backed Climate Jobs report. He is the author of several books of capitalism and the environment of which Socialism or Extinction is his latest.

Event Details: facebook.com/Marx21us

Marx21 Zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/9132004856
Meeting ID: 913 200 4856