Climate change - An answer to Brian Baker
By Mick Brooks
Wednesday, 30 April 2008
I was surprised to see the recent discussion document (Global warming: a
Socialist Perspective - Part One by Brian J. Baker) published on
marxist.com. I have been following the website for years, and know that
you have run articles since 2000, acknowledging that climate change is
happening and that human agency in the form of greenhouse gas emissions
is a contributory factor. You have never differentiated yourself from
that viewpoint in the articles you have published.
The articles generally follow the following formula. (I know this since
I have written several of them.) They assert that there is a growing
scientific consensus that human agency is a factor in climate change.
They neither attempt to prove the consensus is correct nor to disprove.
They leave science to the scientists.
They then apply Marxist analysis to the problem as they see it. They
criticise capitalist ‘solutions' such as emissions trading. They are
careful to critique the idea that industrialisation as such is
responsible (this is a Malthusian position) and point the finger at
The basic problem is conceived to be that capitalism is unplanned and
that it is a system based on profit. Since pollution is a cost born by
society and not by the polluting firm (and emissions are a form of
pollution), firms take no account of the cost imposed on society by
their pollution. There is no doubt in my mind that this was Marx and
The conclusion is that environmental problems such as climate change are
inevitable under capitalism and that what is required is a world
socialist plan that takes account of all the costs and benefits of human
economic activity. This template deals quite well with related
environmental problems, such as resource depletion, the reduction and
elimination of biodiversity and more localised pollution problems.
This approach also chimes in well with the views of a broad layer of
young people who have become very concerned about environmental issues,
and rightly so. These people show their concern not because they are
dupes of the capitalist establishment, but because they are suspicious
of the role of big business - as they are right to be. Why separate
marxist.com from the concerns of these people by publishing this smug
and, as far as I can see, inadequately argued document?