The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a damning report a few weeks ago, as a sort of climax to gradually more alarming reports that had been issued since the late nineties.
A total of 209 lead authors and 50 review editors from 39 countries and more than 600 contributing authors from 32 countries contributed to the report. The report unequivocally confirmed that climate change was real, that the source of this climate change was humankind, and that the human emission of carbons into the atmosphere was the deciding factor. Unless measures are taken to curb carbon emissions, the report predicted a global rise in temperature by 2047. The planet is at a threshold – a certain amount of carbon emissions is necessary to raise world temperatures by 2 degrees Celsius, and we’re already a third of the way there.
A further study undertaken by climate researcher Camilo Mora states that the temperatures will be progressively record-breaking – hot, long summers and bizarrely warm winters are predicted to be the norm. Freak events like Hurricane Sandy will occur with greater frequency, as the raise in temperatures will be sunk into the oceans.
Amongst other disturbing revelations in the 2,200 page paper, research points to greater risks for longer heat waves and paradoxically more snow for the country as a whole. Temperatures in Canada have risen at twice the global average over the course of 50 years, and experts at the David Suzuki Foundation in Vancouver have pointed out that greater changes will be apparent at the poles; this means that Canada’s North will experience more radical changes to glacier melt and temperatures, disproportionately affecting indigenous communities.
Globally, sea levels are expected to rise a further 26-82 centimeters by the end of the century, creating heavier infrastructure costs (assuming that infrastructure changes will be adopted in the face of this rise). “As the ocean warms, and glaciers and ice sheets reduce, global mean sea level will continue to rise, but at a faster rate than we have experienced over the past 40 years,” said co-chair Qin Dahe.
Climate and capitalism
Concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have increased to levels that are unprecedented in at least 800,000 years. Dr. Thomas Stocker, co-chair of the IPCC, said that climate change "challenges the two primary resources of humans and ecosystems, land and water. In short, it threatens our planet, our only home". Carbon emissions are wholly to blame for this “unprecedented” climate change, as the panel pointed that the millennial shift in temperatures could be traced to the 1950s.
We have nothing but the burning of petroleum products to blame. Our dependence on fossil fuels is the chief culprit behind this grotesque production of carbon emissions. Oil is the heroin of industrialized capitalism – it works in the very short term to maintain normalcy, quitting is an awful process, and it will eventually kill us.
The Harper administration continues to ignore this simple truth. The Canadian government muzzles scientists: any scientist or researcher employed by the federal government has to be vetted before they are allowed to share information with the press. Stephen Harper enthusiastically backs fossil fuel extraction, telling the American Congress he “will not take no for an answer” on he Keystone XL pipeline.
The climate crisis shows the truth about the lethal and destructive nature of capitalism. Capitalism is altering the earth, and in so doing will kill us and ruin our surroundings. The contradictions are as plain as daylight, and we are facing a deadly opponent. We need an ecological revolution.