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John Passant

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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)



Socialism or global warming barbarism?

The barbarians of profit are winning. They are destroying the planet and their own capitalist system. The Global Carbon Project in its Carbon Report released today says:

CO2 emissions from fossil fuels burning and cement production increased by 3% in 2011, with a total of 9.5±0.5 PgC emitted to the atmosphere (34.7 billion tonnes of CO2). These emissions were the highest in human history and 54% higher than in 1990 (the Kyoto Protocol reference year). In 2011, coal burning was responsible for 43% of the total emissions, oil 34%, gas 18%, and cement 5%.

CO2 emissions from fossil fuels burning and cement production are projected to increase by 2.6% in 2012, to a record high of 9.7±0.5 PgC (35.6 billion tonnes of CO2).

Both developed and developing countries contributed to the ongoing high level of emissions and the increase. The Report again:

The biggest contributors to global emissions in 2011 were China (2.5 PgC, 28%), the United States (1.5 PgC, 16%), the European Union (EU27; 1.0 PgC, 11%), and India (0.6 PgC, 7%). Contributions to global emissions growth in 2011 were largest from China (0.226 PgC above 2010 levels, 9.9% growth) and India (0.043 PgC, 7.5%). Emissions from USA were down by 0.028 (-1.8%) and EU27 down by 0.029 PgC (-2.8%).

Developing nations accounted for 60% of all emissions in 2011. Average per capita emissions of developed countries (Annex B) were 3.0tC/person, several times larger than those of developing countries (non-Annex B) which were 0.9tC/person. China’s per capita emissions were 1.8 tC/person and are now close to the average of 2.0 in the EU-27. India’s per capita emissions were much below at 0.5 tC/person.

So where are we headed then? 4 to 6 degrees warmer by the end of the century. The Report again:

Current trajectories of fossil fuel emissions are tracking some of the most carbon intensive emission scenarios used in the Intergovermental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC).

The current trajectory is tracking the Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5 (of the latest family of IPCC scenarios) that takes the planet to about 4°C to 6.1°C above pre-industrial times by 2100.

So despite all the talkfests of capital and their governments, we are now on course for a possible increase in global temperatures of four to six degrees centigrade. As Prof Corinne Le Quéré, director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research said: “These latest figures come amidst climate talks in Doha. But with emissions continuing to grow, it’s as if no-one is listening to the entire scientific community.”

Or as the executive director of the Global Carbon Project, Dr Pep Canadell, said:

Unless the negotiators in Doha wake up tomorrow and embrace a new green industrial revolution to rapidly change our energy systems, chances to stay below global warming of 2 degrees Celsius are vanishing very fast, if they are not already gone.

They won’t.

What is the cause of this growth in emissions at the very time reductions to limit the rise to 2 degrees centigrade were mooted by various gabfests and deemed defensible? Capitalism.

“Fossil fuels play a very central role in global economic development but raise serious implications for the Earth’s climate,” Gregg Marland, one of the authors of the Carbon Report paper in Nature Climate Change, said.

“Each year of increased emissions makes a two degree target harder to achieve. The only feasible way to keep below two degrees is global reductions in emissions and this can only happen if the top emitters in the developed and developing world have deep and sustained mitigation,” said lead author of the study Glen Peters of CICERO, a climate research institute in Norway.

Unfortunately the hangmen of capitalism are lining up to sell us their rope.  This is the inner logic of capitalism. To make profits and reinvest those profits it has to destroy the planet. That is cheaper and more cost effective than saving it. Short term profit rules over long term viability.

Further, the competing imperialist blocs, the US and China, cannot make deep cuts to emissions for fear of advantaging their rival.

It gets worse. This analysis doesn’t include the impact of  global warming on the permafrost. As a recent United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) report called The policy implications of warming permafrost says:

Arctic and alpine air temperatures are expected to increase at roughly twice the global rate and climate projections indicate substantial loss of permafrost by 2100. A global temperature increase of 3°C means a 6°C increase in the Arctic, resulting in anywhere between 30 to 85% loss of near-surface permafrost.

What is the impact of this? As the UNEP report says:

Carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane emissions from thawing permafrost could amplify warming due to greenhouse gas emissions. This amplification is called the permafrost carbon feedback. Permafrost contains ~1700 gigatonnes (Gt) of carbon in the form of frozen organic matter, almost twice as much carbon as currently in the atmosphere. If the permafrost thaws, the organic matter will thaw and decay, potentially releasing large amounts of CO2 and methane into the atmosphere. This organic material was buried and frozen thousands of years ago  and its release into the atmosphere is irreversible on human time scales. Thawing permafrost could emit 43 to 135 Gt of CO2 equivalent by 2100 …. Uncertainties are large, but emissions from thawing permafrost could start within the next few decades and continue for several centuries, influencing both short-term climate (before 2100) and long-term climate (after 2100).

The impact of permafrost melting could be as high as an extra 1.5 degrees centigrade warming.

Let’s cut to the chase. It isn’t profitable to cut greenhouse gas emissions so it won’t happen unless there is a revolution to do so.  The ruling class, the petit bourgeois middle classes, the peasantry, intellectuals cannot lead the revolution necessary to overthrow the Sauron of climate change that is global capitalism.  Only workers, the majority class, have that power.

In the two major polluting countries, China and the US, workers hold the key to the future. In China the dictatorship is creating its own gravedigger, a massive working class now with more than 300 million workers. In the US the working class is over 200 million. The workers in these two centres of capitalism have the capacity to change the course of history if they can overthrow their rulers and set up a system based on democracy and production to satisfy human need.

Far Fetched? So was global warming and the consequent global barbarism a few decades ago.

But there is hope. As internationalists we socialists recognise the reality of class struggle everywhere in the world. The second stage of the Egyptian revolution, with workers already on strike in major centres like Mahalla,  could see a working class revolution assuming the current revolutionary conditions can mature and the revolutionary forces grow.

That spark could set off a chain reaction to sweep the spectre of environmental destruction off the planet and the rotten system producing that possibility with it, including in the two bellies of the beast, China and the US.  

It is not profitable at the moment to move to a totally renewable society. In Australia Beyond Zero Emissions has estimated it would cost about $370 billion over ten years for Australia (with about 2% of global GDP) to become fully renewable. A lot but not insurmountable if government and business had the will. They can’t and don’t because any move to do so would both impact on traditional profit centres based on fossil fuels and change the game of competition within Australia and globally. 

It would also raise the question of who should bear the cost. The bosses would want us to pay for the cost of fixing up their polluting system. Our living standards are already under attack so any attempt to pass on the costs to we workers might be met with resistance.

Remember the sturm und drang the mining industry unleashed when the Rudd government attempted to impose a small super profits tax on them? Multiply that by about 1000 to understand the response if any government tried to move to a fully renewable society in the next ten years and wanted the bosses to contribute to let alone pay the cost.

If the resistance of the bosses to really addressing climate change is systemic, then only a working class revolution, one that gets rid of the profit motive and puts human need at the centre of production, can these challenges.

What impact will warming of 4 to 6 degrees have? In Australian terms it brings Rockhampton to Melbourne. But it does much more than that. It would wipe out most of the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area as a food producer. It would mean much more flooding and many more bushfires.

Sea levels could rise over a metre, putting at risk over $220 billion worth of infrastructure in Australia, including many houses. Some Pacific Islands would be wiped out and there peoples would want resettlement before that happens.


The urgency is great.  Capitalism cannot cure itself. It is driven by its internal logic to destroy the planet in the search for profit and the reinvestment of any surplus value we create.

The choice is becoming starker and starker. It is either socialism with democracy, planning and satisfying human need leading to a secure and safe environment or the continuation of capitalism and the descent into global warming barbarism.



Comment from la tricoteuse
Time December 3, 2012 at 8:15 pm

Pardon, mon frere, did you you just miss the 20th century?

‘the petit bourgeoisie middle classes, the peasantry, intellectuals’ have been made proletarian thanks to ‘revolution from above’ globalisation.

They are bleeding workers now!

Comment from la tricoteuse
Time December 3, 2012 at 8:25 pm

This could be a duplicate post but really…
‘the petit bourgeoisie middle classes, the peasantry, intellectuals ‘ …allied with the ruling class after 100 of systemic proletarianisation of them?

They can’t be programmed; they can’t be convinced more likely

Comment from John
Time December 3, 2012 at 9:00 pm

Not all of them. There is a contradictory process going on – of proletarianisation but also middle ‘classification’ – a middle management development of both traditional layers of the middle class (the explosion of lawyers comes to mind) and now middle ranking bureaucrats, civil servants and the like administering in the interests of capital. And factually, while workers are now the majority class, as I say in the article, there are still billions of peasants – many hundreds of millions of them in China for example.

The point I was trying to make was that only workers can make a genuine socialist revolution – not peasants as in China, or guerrillas and intellectuals, as in Cuba and failed or sidelined workers’ revolutions in Iran, Bolivia and so forth. That could then lead into a discussion about permanent revolution and deflected permanent revolution but those are topics for another day.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time December 4, 2012 at 7:16 am

John, have you considered that global warming scaremongering is just another way for corporates to rip us off on power bills and water, while they slowly take away our personal freedoms through:

. smart meters and peak power charges

. driving down wages and working conditions

. deregulating the labour market

. preventing recreation (reducing affordability, making working hours haphazard and longer)

Comment from John
Time December 4, 2012 at 10:35 am

First, I don’ think it is scaremongering. Second, the response of the ruling class is contradictory. if it does anything it won’t be substantial because to do so would challenge the very drivers of the system for profit. Any action it takes will be to protect the system and profit rates so it will be to try to make we workers pay for their environmental crises. I make that point clear for example in my opposition to the carbon tax on this site and in academic journals, and I thought in this post.

Comment from Gary
Time December 4, 2012 at 4:56 pm

Do you not find it bemusing that this website promotes the ANZ Bank, NIB and Toys R Us – bastions of capitalism, consumerism and responsible for increasing global warming.

I guess the revolution starts with a credit card, some plastic toys made in China by slave labour and dissidents and having private health cover to pay for the injuries caused by the police state!

Sorry to poke fun John, but it kinds defeats the purpose of being a socialist warrior while spruiking the banks and private health!

Comment from Lorikeet
Time December 4, 2012 at 7:41 pm

Thanks, John. That’s pretty much what I was thinking, but I think they will also use the huge costs to consumers as a control mechanism. I describe this as building a corporate neo-communist regime.

Comment from John
Time December 4, 2012 at 7:51 pm

No, I don’t find it bemusing. Workers have to sell their labour power too. I am not spruiking them. I have adblock anyway.

Comment from John
Time December 4, 2012 at 7:54 pm

Please click on a few to make me a few dollars.

Comment from Kay
Time December 5, 2012 at 3:55 pm

I actually ended up booking a good-value Princess cruise by clicking on an advert on your Blog! So the adverts can be useful!

Pingback from En Passant » Socialism or global warming barbarism? | Definition Of Global Warming
Time December 5, 2012 at 6:16 pm

[…] See original here: En Passant » Socialism or global warming barbarism? […]

Comment from John
Time December 5, 2012 at 7:44 pm

Brilliant. Thanks.