Climate Change Forum

Up coming forums:

  • November: Malcolm Cleaveland and The Republican War on Science
  • December: Jeanne, “Subsistence Perspective”

October 1

Presenter Dick
Creating an Ecological Society: Toward a Revolutionary Transformation by Fred Magdoff and Chris Williams. Monthly Review, 2017.

Publisher’s Description: Sickened by the contamination of their water, their air, of the Earth itself, more and more people are coming to realize that it is capitalism that is, quite literally, killing them. It is now clearer than ever that capitalism is also degrading the Earth’s ability to support other forms of life. Capitalism’s imperative—to make profits at all costs and expand without end—is destabilizing the Earth’s climate, while increasing human misery and inequality on a planetary scale. Already, hundreds of millions of people are facing poverty in the midst of untold wealth, perpetual war, growing racism, and gender oppression. The need to organize for social and environmental reforms has never been greater. But crucial as reforms are, they cannot solve our intertwined ecological and social crises. Creating an Ecological Society reveals an overwhelmingly simple truth: Fighting for reforms is vital, but revolution is essential.
Because it aims squarely at replacing capitalism with an ecologically sound and socially just society, Creating an Ecological Society is filled with revolutionary hope. Fred Magdoff and Chris Williams, who have devoted their lives to activism, Marxist analysis, and ecological science, provide informed, fascinating accounts of how a new world can be created from the ashes of the old. Their book shows that it is possible to envision and create a society that is genuinely democratic, equitable, and ecologically sustainable. And possible—not one moment too soon—for society to change fundamentally and be brought into harmony with nature.

November 5

Presenter Malcolm
Mooney, Chris. 2006. The Republican War on Science, Revised and Updated pb edition. New York, Basic Books. 357 p., notes with references, index.

Why talk about a book first published in 2005 and updated for the paperback edition in 2006? A couple of quotes from the preface may give a clue, “… it reaffirms central suspicions about Bush nourished even by many who once supported him: that he’s in a bubble walled off from reality; that he takes matters on faith; that he allows ideology to trample expert opinion; that he staffs the government with cronies who run it incompetently.” And, “If mistreatment of science reverberates as an issue, it is because it is emblematic of why so many Americans oppose George W. Bush to begin with. They think he is unfit to lead and that those he appoints cannot competently administer a government with such a wide range of duties, virtually all of which require some form of expertise (often scientific) if they are to be carried out properly.”

If you substituted Trump for Bush in the above, it would be a perfect description and it demonstrates that Republicans have disregarded reality, scientific and otherwise, for a long time to favor ideology. That ideology has destabilized the Middle East, resulting in millions of civilian deaths and involved us in two unnecessary wars with a price tag of well over $3 trillion (Stiglitz and and Bilmes, 2008, The Three Trillion Dollar War, New York, Norton) while welcoming a resurgence of neo-Nazis and other white supremacists. Republican refusal to acknowledge climate change and its potentially catastrophic effects is the perfect example of wilful blindness to reality. As Jared Diamond pointed out in Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (2005, New York, Viking Press), failure to acknowledge and cope with reality is the sign of a society bound to fail. The fact that Trump was elected and is still supported by many, despite the fact that anyone who was paying attention knew exactly how immoral, corrupt, and irrational he is, which he demonstrates on a daily basis, just proves the corruption of Republicans in general and Republican politicians in particular.

Let’s hope when our society collapses it does not take the rest of humanity down with it, as it threatens to do.