Green lefts and left greens perspectives on climate distaster

The almost universal deference now reluctantly being paid in the establishment forums to the actuality of climate change presents us with a major opportunity to advance the ideological envelope. What is required is a very open and public discussion about what we need to do about this impending disaster.

While there is a shallow debate proceeding in the mainstream media, green lefts and left greens have to aggressively assert their perspective. And part of this affirmation,of course, has to be a clarification of what it means to be a green leftor a left green.

Unfortunately that discourse has been stuck in idle mode since the early nineties as questions of strategy have occupied the political agenda and the rise of third force, green parties has obscured the festering urgency that we are now beginning to confront . Those debates have to continue,of course, but now we have a sharply defined window where the consequences or the ineffectiveness of competing ‘solutions’ really begin to kick in.

How are we going to be left enough and green enough to deal with this environmental catastrophe? The very scale of the self evident disaster raises the spectre of the clear choice we face: “..something something…” or Barbarism. As the Climate and Capitalism blog correctly informs us, “There is no third way.”

That’s the core of the discussion we need to encourage , isn’t it? What do we have to do to protect humanity and the other life forms on this planet from the consequences that are a bearing down upon us?

This exchange needs to locate the reason why there is so much unwillingness on the part of nation states to deal aggressively with the many causative factors on their watch. It has to come down to a discussion about the role of the economic system to explain this determined resistance to ‘save’ the planet. And if it isn’t supposed to be systematic economic parameters, then what is supposed to be frustrating the essential changes that need to be made ? We are far too close to the precipice to not now clearly name the terminator who is pushing us over the edge.

And if you haven’t noticed it already, the whole Kyoto Protocols debate is now very much passe. Today we have to establish mandatory targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions that will require a much sharper and more urgent adaptation. Ecologists like Adrian Whitehead are advocating zero emissions by 2020 as our only option. Thats’ right, zero! Over the next 13 years!

That is one helluva ask. Just imagine what level of campaigning and forethought we would have to generate in order to address such a schedule as that? In the face of political tardiness and opposition a massive peoples’ movement would be required to force the level of change required. Waiting to be elected to parliament isn’t enough. Our window is so narrow that our major activity has to be to foster a degree of panic such that we cannot afford to leave our future in the hands of parliaments.

So we have to have this discussion, we have to explore our resources and our varying solutions in order to format our collective response.


  1. As Bruce Sterling has discussed on the Viridian mailing list (and blogged here), now that global warming has gone mainstream and the problems are obvious, the solution has to include huge corporations and governments. It’ll cost hundreds of billions, if not trillions, to remediate the damage done. Only governments and mega-corps have the resources needed to do the job.

    Many of them are convinced. So, as you say, how does the Left also steer this towards new forms of government and get across the message that the economic system of capitalism is part of the problem.

    This is going to be a weird mix, as the solutions include vastly distributed electrical power generation and renewable energy, which implies vastly distributed political power too. Yet the solution needs to be top-down.

  2. “This is going to be a weird mix, as the solutions include vastly distributed electrical power generation and renewable energy, which implies vastly distributed political power too. Yet the solution needs to be top-down.”

    Excellent point Bob. That’s the seeming contradiction for a lot of greens… Especially if they haven’t a comprehension of the core dynamics of socialism and can’t see beyond the state socialism template. Check out this article on Cuba
    as it gives the Cuban experience immense relevance to this exchange.

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