Breaking News

As Kishida and Biden meet, what is the state of US-Japan relations? The best places to visit in the United States, according to Americans… On Lunar New Year – United States Department of State What happens next in the debt limit debate? Fighters, NATO, Congress and Ukraine: Complex Issues Trouble… Saudi Arabia just said it is now “open” to the idea of ​​trading currencies in addition to the US dollar – does that spell doom for the dollar? 3 reasons not to worry Trump warns US Republicans not to touch Social Security, Medicare American citizens are given the chance to play a role in resettling refugees US hits debt ceiling, prompting Treasury to take extraordinary measures ‘We’ve got them over a barrel’: Inside the US and the Germans do not hesitate to send tanks to Ukraine

Prof Aviva Chomsky teaches Latin American history and studies at Salem State University and has authored and edited several books including Central American Forgotten History, A History of the Cuban Revolution, and Undocumented: How Immigration Became Illegal. Her latest book Is Science Enough? Forty Critical Questions About Climate Justice attempts to answer, in a clear and accessible way, questions about what we should do to address climate disasters. Is Science Enough? is a useful primer for anyone who wants to go beyond the facts of the IPCC report and think seriously about the options we currently face. This book is grounded in the desire to give people the practical knowledge they will need to take action. (It also answers the question of why driving a Prius isn’t anyone’s good.) He came on the Current Affairs podcast to talk with editor -in -chief Nathan J. Robinson about questions of justice and the political and economic changes that will occur. needed to prevent the worst suffering from climate change. These interviews have been edited and condensed for grammar and clarity.

Robinson

Let’s start with your book title question: enough science? Your book is a foundation on climate change policy and some moral and justice questions about climate. The question of whether science is “enough” is really interesting. You start by saying, Let’s assume we all agree on the basics of climate science. There are other books that make the facts about climate change. People can be scared by the IPCC report. But then you say, okay, after we have the baseline of science settled, more questions arise. When you ask, “Is science enough?”, What kind of questions do you want?

Read also :
Web 3.0 is growing, and people like Ben Kovalis, co-founder and CMO…

Chomsky

I think a lot of the debate has been derailed by the far right position of denialism of science. People who are concerned about climate change are forced into this debate. What we are doing is trying to defend science and say that, true, climate change is really happening. Read also : health-department-celebrates-2022-pride. And it’s truly catastrophic. And it’s caused by humans.

We have been absolutely right in the debate as defined by the right that we are missing some narrative. We need to do more than defend science. Science will not give us a solution to climate change. Excessive emphasis on science pushes us into this type of technological position. Similarly, the experts are going to solve that for us. But the experts are not going to solve it for us.

That may be the actual cause of climate change, I argue, not just technically. And the solution is not technical. On the contrary, they are in our global economic system. Of course, the left wants to challenge the global economic system, but we must ensure that the causes of climate change are colonialism, racism, and capitalism. True, the cause of climate change is CO2 emissions. But that doesn’t take us very far. We need to understand what it is about our political, social, and economic systems that keep us on this path. We have a current president, Joe Biden, who accepts science, but he is not doing anything to eliminate us from the way we use fossil fuels. So that’s what I’m going to shoot with this book.

This may interest you :
If you’re lucky enough to live in a place where nature puts…

Robinson

The striking thing about climate politics in the United States is that you have a party that openly rejects the fact of climate change. Then you have the other party who at least rhetorically claims it understands the scope of the problem and says it’s very serious commitment to the solution. But then take Barack Obama. Read also : Willie Wilson advertises upcoming food and gas deals for $ 2 million. He described how seriously he took climate change and celebrated that the U.S. reached greater oil and gas production heights in his tenure than in the previous administration.

Read also :
Relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia reached a new low…

Chomsky

I started my book on the Trump administration, but I ended up under the Biden administration. Under the Obama administration, emissions were uneven and began to decline for the first time since 2005, which is the height of U.S. emissions. But the changes were, on the one hand, to be little compared to what we should implement. And on the other hand, basically because of two things: one, the recession, and two, the promotion of natural gas and fracking Obama. Read also : Devastating earthquake in Afghanistan – United States Department of State. So what we see is a slight decline to a new baseline. But it still works, too high. This is a one-time shift from coal to natural gas; it will not continue to fall. There is too much celebration of minimal achievement.

Joe Biden got some bigger talk on his campaign — I see comparisons here with immigration, another issue that I’m concerned about. There are high expectations for what the Biden administration will do. But once in office, he didn’t really care about the climate; he didn’t really care about immigration; people are going by the wayside. And all the more forward to the right, so as not to be vulnerable to Republican attacks. And it’s just really discouraging considering that the future of humans ’ability to live on Earth is at stake.

Robinson

My impression, too, is that some of the rhetoric or attractive policy promises about the climate are out of Biden, in large part, the result of the fruit of zealous activism that was successful on the part of the Sunrise Movement and others. And I think the same is true in immigration. Progress has been made because politicians have been pressured by people who are committed and organized. What is found in your book is that the solution is more than technical. It also requires regular and active human beings to make things happen. The political system will be very resilient to make things happen.

Chomsky

Yes, absolutely. It has definitely been a lot of push from the bottom. Every time the IPCC meets, there is a counter movement that protests what is happening. They get a lot less attention. The Green New Deal concept came out of a combination of many popular regulators and a very small number of votes that were progressive in Congress. The Ed Markey / AOC proposal is ambitious but not very good. That’s the first step. Bernie Sanders presents more proposals for the Green New Deal. But Sanders ’proposal, and the Green New Deal for Europe proposal, which is the same as Bernie Sanders’, has not yet received traction or attention. And that’s absolutely a proposal. It is very concrete and very good for a variety of socio-economic political changes that will truly make us not only fossil fuels. Part of the problem is that fossil fuels are one of the greatest culprits. But there is also a hidden narrative saying that we must create non fossil forms of energy, and then we can continue to consume and benefit as much as we want. Even oil and gas companies say, yeah, more funds for alternative energy.

Robinson

BP is “beyond petroleum” now. They are rebranding themselves. [[Note: BP eventually launched a greenwashing project “beyond petroleum”.]

Chomsky

But they don’t see a larger political economy than what is happening. In fact, there is no alternative form of energy that would allow us, especially those in the United States — who are the largest consumers in the world, and have historically — continue to consume energy at the level that we are now. . It’s all very good to talk about alternative energy. We need alternatives to fossil fuels. But we also need to see how we can greatly reduce energy use if we want alternative energy that truly works for us.

Robinson

One of the valuable aspects of your book is helping people exceed expectations. When someone sees predictions about climate change that will be inflicted on mankind, you can be very disappointed. Your book says, Let’s think about the actual solution to this problem. Let’s assume that we care about the future of mankind and believe that we can have a better and sustainable future. Then, what questions are we asking? You do stab many easy solutions to climate change. And you suggest that “clean” or “zero clean” is a working keyword that indicates that we don’t need to do much to solve the problem.

Chomsky

About a decade ago, Colombian union leaders really helped shape my thinking. I have done a lot of work in coal areas in Colombia and communities displaced by coal mining and with unions in coal mining. In one of the delegations that we brought to Colombia, a representative from the Sierra Club, who was recently hired to run the Beyond Coal campaign, came to the delegation, and he confronted the union leader and said, you know, no. do you agree that we should stop coal mining? And he stared at her for a long moment. And he said, I am not mining this coal for us. You are asking the wrong person. We mine coal for you. We export 100 percent of this coal. This is not for us. Then he said that if you thought you would constantly absorb the same energy by switching to a so-called “clean source,” that wouldn’t happen because there is no such thing as clean energy.

Every form of energy relies on the extraction of resources from the earth. They rely on industrial production, and create waste. So you have to recognize that. Instead of just saying, True, we’re going to move to different forms of energy, understand that you, the United States, are the biggest consumer of energy. And you have to find a way to live in what some scholars call the boundaries of the planet. You have to recognize that there are planetary boundaries. And that many large consumers need to share resources fairly with such indigenous people in this area of ​​Colombia who do not have access to electricity.

Robinson

This is often wielded as a gotcha point by the right. I read the Wall Street Journal pages regularly in order to keep tabs on what the capitalist class is doing. And one of the things that emerges in climate op-eds is the idea that, indeed, electric cars cause all this dirty mining. “The green solution that you want actually has negative environmental effects in these other ways.” And I think there’s a temptation, obviously, to stick to your favorite green solution and say, “No, that’s not true.” But the reason that they spread this argument is to do nothing, or suggest that there is no alternative to the massive use of fossil fuels. You show that we can accept the fact that no energy is perfectly green and still believe that it is very important to wean ourselves from fossil fuels.

Chomsky

Indeed. With what we call alternative or clean energy, I would say that it is a relative term. We should say cleaner energy, and we really should switch to cleaner forms of energy, but not individual electric cars. And I only read statistics that 80 percent of new vehicles sold in the United States last year are SUVs and light trucks. So we’re not even talking about cars. We talk about trucks and SUVs. So, yes, we need new technology for transportation. But we also need a new transportation system that removes our cars. And we also need less transportation. Only 15 percent of the planet’s population has ever boarded an airplane. Like everything else, we are the worst culprits in air travel. And air travel is one of the worst forms of transportation in terms of emissions. So thinking about global economic equality is a very important aspect here. We need to think about how not to consume more than our share, recognizing that there is a cost to every form of energy production. Humanity needs energy, but we must prioritize basic human needs rather than the luxury of wealthy people in terms of what we will work for energy. There is a cost for every form of energy.

Robinson

Ford Motor Company recently announced that it will come out with an electric version of its signature F-150. Colossal truck. So are you saying that F-150 electric trucks are not, really, the way for sustainable transit?

Chomsky

We Americans are very married to our cars. When we look globally, we can see that there are other industrialized countries that have very high living standards, that consume lower energy, and create more emissions than we do. And they have very different types of transportation systems. In places like Japan, people have all the basic human needs, the kinds that we want, such as low infant mortality, higher levels of education, and fewer emissions. Currently, Japan still emits more than its emissions. And I am very attracted to this concept of fair share. Then how can we manage it so as not to consume more of the fair portion? Those who have done these calculations, I should point out, say that we have used more than our fair share of the fixed carbon budget if we are going to stay within the 1.5 degree centigrade limit to global warming that the IPCC has recommended. Almost all scientists agree that more than 1.5 degrees C, we are heading into the catastrophic range. It affects people in wealthy parts of the world but not as catastrophically as it affects people in poorer parts of the world.

Another thing that happened when I wrote the book was, of course, COVID, and I saw an economic slowdown. Now, obviously, the economic slowdown under COVID is happening in the worst case scenario. There are no plans for that. It happens from one day to the next. But there are some things that we can learn from that. This is what is proposed by the Green New Deal for Europe. If we plan an economic slowdown that prioritizes sectors that meet human needs, and if we can do it in a planned and managed way, so that the idea of ​​basic human needs remains central, we can truly live with. much less energy. I will also point to the concept of a good life for all within the boundaries of the planet. There is a large portion of the world’s population who do not have access to a good life, to the energy and consumption needed to have things such as baby safety and access to clean water and access to education. But those things are not the most energy intensive sectors. We can build sectors such as health and education, culture, arts — sectors that can improve the quality of life — while pulling back energy-intensive sectors such as SUVs. We can create alternatives to some high energy consumption to prioritize a good life rather than profit and high consumption.

Robinson

You talk a lot in the book about the concept of degrowth and the extent to which welfare is measured accurately by GDP. If not, what alternative measures should be used? You mention Jason Hickel, who wrote for our magazine several times about this. He is part of a degrowth movement or a degrowth set of ideas. The idea that we should minimize our economic activities because they are currently unsustainable has been attacked as if it would lead to austerity. The idea is that you take poor countries and say that they can’t grow, that they can’t have a standard of living that is owned by others, that we ourselves will reduce the standard of living tremendously. In your book it is clear that what we are saying here is to build living standards, but also to limit those parts, especially in countries such as the United States, our economic activities are actually destroying its inhabitants.

Chomsky

I like to use the term quality of life over standard of living. I feel the standard of living has become so closely related in our minds to conspicuous consumption. The standard of living goes up when you buy more garbage that you don’t need. So I think setting goals as a quality of life helps us avoid the idea that we should keep producing and consuming more for GDP to rise. We have to recognize that we are actually over-consumers in the United States. We produce and consuming too. Things that meet basic human needs-I also talk about things like higher education, arts and culture, forests and beaches, and all sorts of things. Most people in the United States are struggling with debt, housing, and health. Why do we struggle with these basics but we have new iPhones every year? Our priorities are in the wrong place. And the reason that our priorities are misplaced is our economic system, capitalism, based on profit-producing activities. We may be more consuming, but we are also victims of this rat race where we are really consuming to fill the coffers of the very rich. We owe it to ourselves to fill the very rich cash. Community resources need to be redistributed. The wealthier you are, the more stuff you’re going to have to give up so that people can have healthy food and decent housing and clean water and free health and higher education.

Robinson

The other criticism that is often made of the Green New Deal is — I think Bill Gates has said that it was — it was Marxist. In his opinion, What are the employment guarantees in a piece of climate law? But there is a very good argument for why we should consider other things that are not visible at the same time. It is part of the effort to produce this holistic quality of life and divert back social resources from things that are wasteful to things that are useful and good.

Chomsky

One of the things that economic degrowth talks about is not just job security, but a shorter workweek. Having a job is a part of life that is good for all. Why do we have to struggle to get a job? Why should we have people who can’t get a job? That’s part of the irrationality of how our system works. We can reduce unnecessary production and consumption, and eliminate unemployment, to fulfill this concept of a good life. Economic degrowth is very much based on the idea that, instead of making GDP the measure of all things, which requires us to increase production and irrational consumption, we should make human needs the measure of all things. Everyone deserves a job, and everyone deserves leisure. If we are not tied to a profit system, and the need to maintain production in order to survive and get a job, we can shift back to how our working time works, so that our employment is based on what we are as a real society. Deciding is our priority, which is the needs of people rather than the needs of corporations to make a profit.

Robinson

The shift was important, to ensure that we were not constantly engaging in the use of infinite energy that was constantly with reduced repetition in terms of how much human utility that produces for most people, right? The accumulation of wealth that is not ultimately very expensive for its inhabitants.

Chomsky

And it’s very expensive for poor people.

Robinson

One of the reasons that science is inadequate is because the issues of justice and distribution are so important. You have a post that came out on TomDispatch called “US Extraordinary.” And it turns out that the US is incredible in a way that we don’t want. One of the facts about climate change is that it is an act of great theft by the Western world against the global south. We are the worst carbon emitter in the world causing damage to the poor globally. It’s kind of a higher redistribution of wealth that costs one set of people to enrich another set of people. Thinking about the issue of justice and distribution is not a science, but it cannot be separated from how you deal with this issue.

Chomsky

The concept of atmospheric commons is also a useful one. If the same atmosphere belongs to us all the inhabitants of planet Earth, including future generations, all deserve the same access. But we have stolen from the poor now and from generations to come. So when we talk about the United States having carbon debt, it’s that we’ve stolen, and we’ve stolen from the people who need it most and from the front.

Robinson

Let’s discuss what people as individuals should think about their personal responsibilities. Obviously, every person can only do a small amount, and we don’t want to free people from responsibility, but we want to acknowledge the limits of what one person can do. You talk about this question of consumption options. Why should you be vegetarian? Why should you buy a Prius? You are very fair-minded. But you said, No !, to the question of buying a Prius.

Chomsky

I have so many friends who have bought Prius.

Robinson

When a person feels overwhelmed by the climate crisis, by what obligations and capabilities, how do you approach this?

Chomsky

So I think individual behavior is important in a number of different ways. Understanding where individual behaviors fit in the larger picture helps. This is important mostly because it can help us not only think about our individual consumption but to conceptualize the problem in larger terms, and to start taking action in larger terms. Anyone who is first aware of excessive consumption seems to have their own personal limits. My own personal boundaries have changed. Before COVID, I spent a lot of time traveling by air for different conferences and events, and I always entertained myself by thinking, Yes, I spread the good word and educate people. And I realized, Wow, that’s very stupid. I really don’t need to do that. It is important to recognize what is wrong in our individual patterns, and not only to change our own individual patterns, but to change the structure that puts us in this position.

It is very difficult to live in this country without a car, especially in this area of ​​the country, because it is designed for cars. So what we need to implement is to see changing the transportation system. We spend a lot of time to focus on energy production – power plants and electricity. Although it is important, less than 50 percent of emissions come from the energy sector. Emissions come from the transportation sector, the agricultural sector, the industrial sector, and the building sector. So we need to look at it comprehensively and change all these systems. This is another problem with alternative energy. One area that alternative energy relies on is what they call biofuels, which some activists call agrofuels, which are actually spreading plantation agriculture and deforestation in the third world. Then we blame third world countries for emissions for our fuel consumption.

Robinson

When one realizes how interconnected everything is, and how much things need to change, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. One of the things that we must avoid, I think, is to conclude that because this is a crisis of capitalism, unless we overthrow capitalism, we will not be able to deal with the crisis. What, in the near term, are important policy interventions that we should push and expect? In the next five to 10 years, what would you like to see happen in the United States in particular?

Chomsky

I agree. We will not overthrow capitalism in the next five or 10 years. But I think that the Green New Deal proposal-in particular, the Bernie Sanders proposal and the Green New Deal proposal for Europe-outlines some concrete steps that can be taken as soon as possible to start moving our economy away from fossil-heavy emissions. -weight, useless production, and prioritizing some sectors of basic human needs. So it won’t happen overnight. But that can happen very quickly if there is political passion. In a way, I see COVID as carrying some optimism. If people truly believe that it’s an emergency and the government truly believes that it’s an emergency, they can start taking steps that can make a difference. We must manage the economic contraction in a way that asks the rich to contribute a fair share instead of burdening the poor. Capitalism is not all-or-nothing. There are many different capitalisms. And we are now in a phase of a barbaric neoliberal type of capitalism. Being the first few steps will move us back into the kind of social welfare capitalism, which more manages and spends the rich and industry and shifts more of our society’s resources into social welfare institutions and policies. We’ve avoided that, and we’re basically heading in the wrong direction. But we can move that in the next five or 10 years.

Robinson

People should take your book if they feel there is no direction about climate change, especially if they understand the basic scientific facts about climate change but want to move to the next discussion phase – consider deep policy questions about justice and morality. There is a section towards the end of your book called “Reasons for Optimism”. Despite all the debunking of pseudo solutions and techno optimism, and exposing the ways that rhetoric and grand gestures are used as a substitute for action and the corruption of the political system, you still maintain optimism that the climate crisis can be addressed.

Chomsky

Indeed. I do. We don’t have to wait for scientists and engineers to develop new technologies and discover new things. We already have all the tools we need. We just have to turn our attention to them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *