The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released their synthesis report, summarizing the research about the Earth’s entire climate system done over the past few years. The conclusions were grim. According to the report: “There is a rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a livable and sustainable future for all (very high confidence).” The IPCC estimates that global temperatures will have risen on average by more than 1.5C by the early 2030s – far above the targets set by the politicians.
What will this mean for us? For the poor and working class, especially in the Global South, it will mean catastrophe. Extreme droughts will become much more common than they already are, with the IPCC estimating that 700 million people could be displaced as a result. Staple crops like rice and wheat will become difficult or impossible to grow in the hottest parts of the world – leaving people without food or a way to support themselves. Massive heat waves will become longer and more common and could lead to temperatures beyond the limits of human survivability, a point at which even spending a few hours outside could prove fatal.
But are the governments of the world and the rich capitalists they represent going to implement any of the proposed changes? Not at all. Joe Biden, supposedly the most climate-conscious president in U.S. history, recently approved a massive oil drilling project that will last for decades in Alaska, the Willow Project. Then, Biden’s administration approved selling new oil and gas drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico. This all happened even as the IPCC report warns that we must end all fossil fuel production and have net zero emissions by 2040.
This arrogant disdain shown by the rich for the lives of the poor should be no surprise. There are still huge amounts of money to be made in fossil fuel extraction – so much so that even now, the money invested by banks and financial companies is much greater than the money invested in green energy. There’s just too much profit to be made, even if that profit comes at the expense of our lives and our future. This IPCC report is just the latest siren that the rich and the politicians who serve them cannot and should not rule us anymore. The IPCC report is strikingly clear on this point: we have the technical ability to limit global heating and the worst effects of the climate crisis. As long as we live under capitalism and the rule of the rich, it will be impossible for us to address the climate crisis seriously. We have to act now.