A Resistance Movement for the Planet

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin .... No. 1446 .... July 10, 2017
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A Resistance Movement for the Planet

John Bellamy Foster interviewed by Juan Cruz Ferre

Climate change is out of control. It is already too late to avoid soaring temperatures, scarce water, and extreme weather. But the financial structure of capitalism is tied to fossil fuels. Market-based solutions are ineffectual. John Bellamy Foster, a professor of sociology at the University of Oregon and the editor of Monthly Review, speaks about the kind of program necessary to stop this catastrophe. He was interviewed by Juan Cruz Ferre for Left Voice where it was first published.

Juan Cruz Ferre (JCF): There is overwhelming evidence that demonstrates how anthropogenic climate change is out of control and will lead to global environmental catastrophe -- without a major overhaul of energy production.... In the February 2017 issue of the Monthly Review, you point out that although we have been presented with precise and indisputable estimations, science and social science institutions have failed to come up with effective solutions. Why do you think this is the case?

John Bellamy Foster (JBF): We are in an emergency situation in the Anthropocene epoch in which the disruption of the Earth system, particularly the climate, is threatening the planet as a place of human habitation. However, our political-economic system, capitalism, is geared primarily to the accumulation of capital, which prevents us from addressing this enormous challenge and accelerates the destruction. Natural scientists have done an excellent and courageous job of sounding the alarm on the enormous dangers of the continuation of business as usual with respect to carbon emissions and other planetary boundaries. But mainstream social science as it exists today has almost completely internalized capitalist ideology; so much so that conventional social scientists are completely unable to address the problem on the scale and in the historical terms that are necessary. They are accustomed to the view that society long ago "conquered" nature and that social science concerns only people-people relations, never people-nature relations. This feeds a denialism where Earth system-scale problems are concerned. Those mainstream social scientists who do address environmental issues more often than not do so as if we are dealing with fairly normal conditions, and not a planetary emergency, not a no-analogue situation.

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