Noam Chomsky: Policies promoting climate change are ‘a resolute march toward suicide’
In 2020, veteran left-wing author/professor Noam Chomsky teamed up with Robert Pollin, an economics professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst for the book “Climate Crisis and the Global Green New Deal: The Political Economy of Saving the Planet.” Chomsky views climate change, along with a global increase in far-right authoritarianism, as one of the worst dangers the world is facing in the 2020s.
Two years after that book was released, Chomsky is still sounding the alarm about climate change and calling for an aggressive and comprehensive Green New Deal. And Chomsky and Pollin had a lot to say about that subject during an interview with Truthout’s C.J. Polychroniou published as a Q&A article on October 23.
Polychroniou asked Chomsky and Pollin to address, “governments’ failure to slow or even reverse global warming,” adding, “Isn’t the evidence already overwhelming that the world stands on a climate precipice?”
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The 93-year-old Chomsky — who has lived through everything from the Great Depression to World War 2 to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination to Watergate to Iran-Contra to 9/11 — responded, “Insofar as governments have failed to act in the ways that will prevent catastrophe, it is because the principal architects of policy have higher priorities. Let’s take a look. The U.S. government has just passed a climate bill, a pale shadow of what was proposed by the Biden Administration under the impact of popular climate activism, which in the end, could not compete with the power of the true masters in the corporate sector. The final shadow is not meaningless. It is, however, radically insufficient in its reach.”
Chomsky described policies that promote fossil fuels as part of a “resolute march toward suicide.”
“Corporate lobbyists are even pressing states to punish corporations (by withdrawing pension funds, etc.) that dare even to provide information on environmental impacts of their policies,” Chomsky told Polychroniou. “No stone is left unturned. Every opportunity to destroy must be exploited, no matter how slight, following Marx’s script of capitalism going berserk.”
Polychroniou asked Pollin to “give us an estimate of where we stand on climate change and what needs to be done for the world to become carbon-neutral by 2050.” And he responded that “where we stand with climate change” was “expressed clearly” in two reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that were released earlier this year — one in February, the other in April.
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The February report, Pollin noted, warned that “increased heatwaves, droughts and floods are already exceeding plants and animals’ tolerance thresholds, driving mass mortalities in species such as trees and corals.”
Pollin, quoting that report, told Polychroniou, “These weather extremes are occurring simultaneously, causing cascading impacts that are increasingly difficult to manage. They have exposed millions of people to acute food and water insecurity, especially in Africa, Asia, Central and South America, on Small Islands and in the Arctic. I would note that reputable climate scientists regularly criticize the IPCC for understating our dire ecological condition.”
Pollin stressed that eventually, fossil fuels need to be eliminated altogether as sources of energy.
“It is clear then that the single most important project for advancing a viable climate stabilization program is to phase out the consumption of oil, coal and natural gas for energy production,” Pollin told Polychroniou. “As the fossil fuel energy infrastructure phases out to zero by 2050, we concurrently have to build an entirely new global energy infrastructure whose centerpieces will be high efficiency and clean renewable energy sources — primarily solar and wind power. People are obviously still going to need to consume energy, from any available source, to light, heat and cool buildings, to power cars, buses, trains and airplanes, and to operate computers and industrial machinery, among other uses. Moreover, any minimally decent egalitarian program climate stabilization program — what we may call a Global Green New Deal — will entail a significant increase in energy consumption for lower-income people throughout the world.”
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