Futures: A world to win

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Futures: A world to win

Conrad Landin writes about working together for a just future.


A study of 10,000 young people in 10 countries found 45 per cent said climate change ‘negatively affected their daily life’. The effect was much higher in the four Global South countries in the study: Brazil, Nigeria, the Philippines, and India. MEDIA LENS KING/SHUTTERSTOCK

Especially in the Global South many communities are already facing the terrible effects of global heating. It is clear that global heating will affect people under 40 years of age more than our elders.

Across the world 69 per cent of 14 to 19-year-olds recognize the climate emergency, but only 58 per cent of over 60s.

Younger generations are worried for a good reason.

Johan Rockström is the director of Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. Before COP27 in autumn 2022, he said that the world is coming ‘very, very close to changes we cannot stop… time is really running out very, very fast’. Earlier in 2022, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that about 3.3 to 3.6 billion people live at a great risk of the effects of climate change.

We are seeing many effects already but the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said that especially after 2040, ‘climate change will result in many risks to natural and human systems’. It is also very likely that ‘many climate and non-climate risks together will result in more risks’.

With this negative prediction, it is easy to give up hope. In a survey of 10,000 children and young people in 10 countries, more than 45 per cent said their feelings about climate change ‘negatively affected their daily life’. This effect was much higher in the four Global South countries included in the study: Brazil (50 per cent), Nigeria (66 per cent), the Philippines (74 per cent), and India (74 per cent). More and more people think that the climate change affects our choice to have children or not – but there is very little evidence for this.

A lot of ideas about the environment are about individual responsibility. Australian journalist Jeff Sparrow’s book Crimes Against Nature is about the idea of carbon footprint. But the world’s biggest polluters invented ideas like the ‘carbon footprint’ to make it seem that they were not the real climate criminals.

It’s correct that recycling and turning down your heating by one degree will do very little for the planet. But the idea that there’s nothing we can do as individuals is not useful. We need a clear alternative. The warnings from Rockström and others that more international conflict will make it much harder to take action around the world is also not useful.

If we keep going in the direction we are now, there will be such great suffering, the size of a genocide. But if we adapt to an increase in global temperature and stop a further increase in temperature, it could be the result of two possible courses of action – both would show us that the world has really changed.

The first of these courses of action would be a fast change to post-carbon capitalism. This is unlikely because there is so much money in fossil fuel extraction. But if a fast change to post-carbon capitalism is possible, it will be the greatest victory for capitalism.

The confidence this would give to our ruling class would likely start a wave of violence against the poor and dispossessed, and bring new hierarchies to make the world seem equitable.

Or we could bring a change away from profit, fossil fuel extraction, and imperialism and to socialism with true global justice. That can only happen if we say no the idea of individual responsibility and the change of responsibility to the people who will never take it.

But it is important for all of us to build global movements across generations and borders. The only possibility is to change the system.

To do this, we need to have the confidence to talk about what needs to change, and to believe that change is possible. And change can only happen when we are ready to work together.

And that will come, not from businesses and governments, but from ordinary people and the movements they build. What is clearer every day is that there is no time to lose.

We understand that a 1.5 degrees celsius increase in temperatures risks the most terrible effects. But the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that an increase of 0.5 degrees would really increase these risks. To stop these temperature increases depends on the action we take in the next ten years.

We must be ready to talk about how to act and the kind of social movements necessary.

Different ideologies and social forces can affect the struggles around the cost of living, tax, or conflict. This is also true with environmental campaigns and this will affect whether they attract support from enough people.

But we must be ready to challenge one other in a positive way and accept criticism from our comrades. The interests of the many can certainly clash with each other and with those of the few. Material comfort and environmental preservation, for instance. The urgent deadline means we need to work fast and to get it right because we may not get another chance.

Taking action against the threat to our future is scary, but we can’t let that stop us.



(This article is in easier English so it is possible that we changed the words, the text structure, and the quotes.)