Al Gore's Nobel Peace Prize
and the fiascos of corporate

by Joseph Green
(CV #41, February 2008)


The growing consensus on global warming
Fiascos of corporate environmentalism
Carbon trading and the failure to meet the goals of the Kyoto Treaty
--The looming biofuel disaster
--American corn ethanol and higher food prices
--Sugar cane ethanol and the destruction of the Amazon rainforest
--The palm oil fiasco
Al Gore, advocate for corporate environmentalism
Two types of global warming deniers (one type that Gore fights and one type that Gore represents)
Fighting global warming requires comprehensive economic planning
Mass participation
Environmentalism and the class struggle

. Last October Al Gore and a UN science committee, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), shared the Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 for their work on global warming. This is a sign that the world bourgeoisie is nearing a consensus that the danger of global warming is real, and that much more has to be done. The Bush administration and many conservatives still don't really believe it. But increasingly, governments around the world are finding that they have to deal with both climatic and other environmental problems.

. True, it's outrageous that the Norwegian Nobel Committee has yet again handed a peace prize to a militarist. Under Clinton and Gore, the US government continued a policy of global military domination. But the Nobel committee represents the opinion of an influential section of world capitalism, not of the masses, and it's nothing new for them to award prizes to leading imperialist figures.

. Well, has the Nobel committee done any better on environmentalism than it has on the issue of war and peace? It has declared, with the 2007 Prize, that the danger of global warming is real and imminent, and that's true. There's no doubt that environmental issues will increasingly shape world events.

. But the Nobel committee, in its statement awarding the Peace Prize for 2007, said that Al Gore "is probably the single individual who has done most to create greater worldwide understanding of the measures that need to be adopted."(1) That is precisely what he is not. Yes, he has dramatized the dangers of global warming, especially in his book and film An Inconvenient Truth, but he advocates marketplace measures that can pave the way to our doom. Gore, both while vice-president and afterwards, has been an enthusiastic advocate of replacing necessary regulations with bribery of the corporations to do good.

. By awarding the prize to Al Gore, the Nobel committee is helping to usher in an era of stepped-up "corporate environmentalism", in which the same capitalist interests that have been devastating the environment will be hailed as the defenders of the earth. Corporations are hiring advertising firms to demonstrate how green they are. And establishment environmentalists, following the course recommended by Gore, are seeking partnership with corporations in the name of realism. It will be an era where neo-liberal market methods get taken to their ultimate absurdity, as the bourgeoisie, hoping that the "invisible hand" of Adam Smith will solve everything, continues along the path from the Kyoto Protocol of creating environmental "markets".

The growing consensus on global warming

. The IPCC was founded in 1988 to evaluate whether human activities were changing the world's climate. It does not conduct research, but provides a forum where governments and scientists evaluate the research and climate measurements done by others. Its reports represent a consensus of official science, but with the policy sections toned down by pressure from government representatives. The IPCC is not a radical body, and its economic views and policy ideas are those of the bourgeois governments which have formed it. But the overwhelming weight of evidence, and the rapid improvements in climate science over the last few years, has led the IPCC to assert more and more definitely and emphatically that global warming is real and caused mostly by human activity, and that steps have to be taken to prevent it from growing too large and to cope with those effects that are already inevitable. As far as the scientific evidence goes, the IPCC reports contain a lot of valuable information. But in its Summary for Policymakers (its phrase), the views range from the dubious to the merely insufficient, and on to the disastrous, and it blithely ignores the blatant failure of a number of present environmental policies, whose continuation it recommends: it could hardly be otherwise, as UN reports routinely clothe the most unpleasant realities in the most beautiful and mellifluous phrases.

. The 2007 IPCC report shows that the world faces a serious situation and growing problem. It speaks more firmly than before, although it still minimizes the risks. This is partially because it reflects only those dangers that just about everyone involved in the IPCC agrees on; this is especially notable with respect to the relatively modest figures that it gives concerning possible increases in sea level. It is also because additional scientific reports throughout 2007, that came in after the cut-off date for material to be considered, have been especially alarming and showed, for example, that ice was melting faster than expected. While influential in certain circles, IPCC reports aren't read widely by the general public. But the broad popular interest can be seen in the increasing number of books in the last few years that popularize the issue of global warming, or talk about the latest developments in climate science. Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth provided a series of dramatic maps and charts, but it is only one of a number of books, magazine articles, television shows, and films on global warming. Meanwhile a certain section of bourgeois opinion still scoffs at environmentalism, and provides a base of support for global warming deniers, who either doubt global warming or say that it's just a natural phenomenon, having nothing to do with human activity and certainly nothing to worry about, any more than one worries about the alternation of night and day. Some have even proclaimed that global warming would be good for people, or described it as the "greening of the world". This has no more to do with real scientific doubts than does the fundamentalist opposition to the theory of evolution; but it has a good deal to do with corporate backing and with conservative pride in being "politically incorrect".

. But doubts are being overwhelmed by the increasing effect on everyday life of climate change. The climate crisis is upon us, and it affects the most varied activities. The permafrost is melting in the Arctic. Australia has faced one year after another of drought, until one official has said that "Perhaps we should call it our new climate."(2) Some island nations are afraid of being inundated completely by the surrounding waters as ocean levels rise. On the other hand, drought, exacerbated by climate change and other environmental problems, has been a problem in the US this past year; the supply of drinking water is endangered in the state of Georgia; and there is worry that "at least 36 states will face water shortages within five years". (3) Meanwhile Oxfam says that its have tabulated that natural weather-related disasters have quadrupled in 20 years, rising from about 120 per year around the world, to 500. (4) And on and on. Everyday brings new reports of problems caused by climate change. This, too, drives the growing consensus.

Fiascos of corporate environmentalism

. It's taking a long time for the bourgeoisie to take the environmental crisis seriously. Its main concerns are making money, fighting each other for domination, and keeping the lower classes in their place; everything else is secondary. Environmental issues are mainly charity for them, like supporting museums and soup kitchens: the attitude is that it might be in good taste to give some money, but it shouldn't interfere with their real business, which is business.

. But now that more of the bourgeoisie has begun to be concerned about global warming, does this mean things will be taken in hand? After all, Europe and Japan have worried about global warming for some time, and form the base for the Kyoto Treaty, while even the American bourgeoisie is likely to pay lip-service to the problem in the next presidential administration. But no. The fact that the bourgeoisie is concerned doesn't mean that its solutions are helpful. True, more research is being done now than previously, and there has been some development of alternative energy resources. But the massive devastation of the environment has continued. Worse yet, a number of steps taken in the name of environmentalism have ended up speeding up this despoliation of nature and worsening the global warming crisis. These weren't just start-up mistakes, which can happen in any new endeavor. On the contrary, even as the harmful effects of these misguided measures have become obvious, they are still being carried out, and they may well get worse in the coming years.

. Let's look at a couple of these fiascos.

Carbon trading and the failure to meet
the goals of the Kyoto Treaty

. The fight among the bourgeoisie, between those who advocate that the environment will take care of itself, and those who want to do something, has centered in large part on the Kyoto Protocol. Conservatives in the US don't believe in it, while the pro-environmentalist section of the bourgeoisie has backed it. The fierce debate on Kyoto has made it seem as if criticism of Kyoto is treason to the environmentalist cause.

. But the fact is that Kyoto has been a failure. Many European countries and Japan are failing to meet their obligations under Kyoto, or even seeing substantial increases in their greenhouse gas emissions. And that's despite the fact that the Kyoto Protocol set rather modest goals: individual "Annex One" countries have different targets, but overall there was to be simply a 5% reduction of carbon dioxide emissions from the 1990 level, while non-Annex One countries have don't have any reduction goals at all under Kyoto.

. The Bush administration says the problem is that Kyoto set compulsory goals. But it was important that Kyoto set goals in physical terms concerning the reductions that had to be made; this set a standard on which progress can be judged. The problem is that the Kyoto Protocol aimed to achieve these goals through neo-liberal market methods, specifically, carbon trading. This is a complicated scheme which sets up artificial markets for the emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

. In Europe these markets are part of something called the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). Under the ETS, companies are given the right to emit so much greenhouse gas. The total amount of these permits is supposed to drop gradually, year by year, so that, in theory, greenhouse gas emissions will decline sufficiently to protect the environment. However, each company has the choice of either decreasing its carbon emissions, or maintaining or even increasing these emissions, but paying for the privilege by buying permits from those companies that have decreased their emissions enough to have spare permits to sell. There will thus be a market in greenhouse gas permits. Oh yes, aside from the permits, there is another way under Kyoto for companies to satisfy their obligations. Companies can also pay for "carbon offsets" -- that is, instead of reducing their own emissions of greenhouse gases, they can fund projects in non-Annex One countries, which are outside the carbon trading schemes; these projects are supposed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and to be projects that wouldn't have been undertaken except that they were funded as a carbon offset. This is called the "Clean Development Mechanism", because it is supposed to result in foreign investment carrying out environmentally-friendly projects. Unfortunately, there isn't any effective supervision of the "clean development" projects: the companies are basically on the honor system when they claim that their carbon offset projects are reducing carbon emissions; these reductions are generally certified by consultants hired by the companies involved.

. According to neo-liberal economists, buying and selling carbon credits is supposed to be more efficient than direct government regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. It is supposed to harness market forces to environmentalism: the search for profit will supposedly result in companies deciding on and developing the fastest and most efficient methods for reducing carbon emissions, or at least the cheapest. Instead of the government mandating improvements in production practices, all that is supposedly necessary is that each company decide for itself which is cheaper, making reductions or buying permits or offsets. Each company will thus decide for itself the best procedure: implement better production methods? use chimney filters? replace fossil fuels with biofuel? buy permits? or perhaps simply produce less because there's a recession? or that old corporate favorite ­ influence the relevant government to give the industry concerned a special exemption (both of these latter methods have been used). Meanwhile carbon offsets are to bring the benefits of free-market environmentalism to the rest of the world.

. The reader might have a hard time understanding the scheme from my short exposition. It is complicated, and a longer description of how it works, and of what really happens under it, is given in my article The Coming of the Environmental Crisis. (5)

. The result of the trading schemes has been devastating. Carbon trading is a complicated business; it's not "transparent" but conducted behind the backs of the public. It hasn't provided much incentive for change, and the desired reductions in carbon emissions aren't being achieved. It isn't even close. Meanwhile the carbon offsets have been a disaster in themselves. Companies have funded projects around the world of little environmental value, or that even do damage, because it gets them a carbon credit. This has made a mockery of the "Clean Development Mechanism". But after all, the companies getting carbon offsets are not responsible for the overall affect of the offset, or how it fits in with the local environment: their aim is to simply to find the carbon offset that saves them the most money.

. Even more significant than that Kyoto isn't working, is that this doesn't seem to matter to the neo-liberal environmentalists. Carbon trading is likely to be stepped up anyway. The typical attitude is reflected in the article Post-Kyoto pact: shaping the successor from Britain's Natural Environment Research Council, one of the leading voices of establishment environmentalism in Britain and a member organization of the European Science Foundation. It points out that "a prominent failure of the [Kyoto] agreement thus far is that some nations are falling far short of their commitments". Indeed, the article can only find three countries to mention by name as being "on track". And this despite the fact that the emissions targets were "modest first attempts". Nevertheless, the article praises carbon trading, writing that ". . . the European Trading System has proved highly successful overall and . . . is 'the single greatest achievement of Kyoto'." Highly successful, except that greenhouse gas emission goals aren't being met! No matter, the carbon trading scheme is to be extended, and the article goes on to say that "Policy-makers envision linking individual markets into a global carbon market that could get underway in 2013, when a new climate pact is launched. In the meantime, as individual markets take shape, experts say they can be designed to provide incentives for recalcitrant nations to come aboard."(6) So the system is going to be extended, even though it hasn't worked. It's just like the old saw: "the operation was a success, but the patient died". The carbon trading was a success, but the earth died.

. The other major method being considered by the bourgeoisie is a carbon tax. If the bourgeoisie abandons carbon trading, it likely will turn to a carbon tax, and it may well implement both in the next few years. The carbon tax isn't designed as a supplementary measure to enforce regulations, but as a replacement for regulations on greenhouse gas emissions. Here too the idea is that the corporations will decide for themselves the best methods for meeting environmental goals, if only they are motivated by market forces. This time the market force is the increase in the price of their products due to carbon taxes. Like carbon trading, this is an idea that works best in the imagination of free-market economists.

The looming biofuel disaster

. Replacing fossil fuels with biofuel, fuels from plant matter, might seem like a good idea. The crops that could be used to make biofuels would seem to be a renewable resource, which could be harvested year after year, and the carbon dioxide released by burning them would be reabsorbed by growing the next crop. Thus, it might seem, the use of biofuels would stop the accelerating increase in the emission of carbon dioxide when fossil fuels burn.

. However, as happens with many plausible ideas, there are a lot of problems in putting it into practice. For one thing, the amount of land it would take to grow enough biofuels to fully replace fossil fuels is staggering. For example, according to the British left-wing journalist George Monbiot, the best crop to grow to produce the fuel to power transport in his country would be rapeseed, but even if the entire agricultural output of the United Kingdom were devoted to growing it, biodiesel made from it could replace only a little more than one-fifth the amount of fossil fuel currently used in British transport. And that leaves no land left to grow biofuel for home and office heating, manufacturing, and the generation of electricity, to say nothing of food. (7) True, Britain is more densely populated than the US, and future improvements in biofuel are likely, but the basic problem is clear.

. Thus biofuels aren't a panacea; the world can't even power all its transport on biofuels. At best, they can supply only a small part of energy needs and be one limited component of an overall environmental plan. And for them to play this role, there will have to be more research as well as careful attention to their effect on farming practices and overall land utilization.

. Biofuels, however, have been taken up by corporate environmentalism. The idea is that there doesn't need to be overall environmental planning. All one has to do is replace fossil fuels with biofuels -- just a different fuel at the filling station. Supposedly nothing else has to change. Once this is accepted by the bourgeois governments, then corporations simply have to rush to find as much biofuel as possible: they are not responsible for how this fuel is produced. Agribusiness can then proceed to sell them as much biofuel as possible; it, too, is not responsible for the overall environmental impact of producing this fuel. The carbon trading and carbon offset markets can grow fat on biofuels. And no company is responsible for the overall environmental effect of this biofuel boom.

. The result has been that biofuels have been turned into one of the looming disasters of corporate environmentalism. Many capitalists and even governments will make large amounts of money on it. Meanwhile the world is left to deal with the dismal consequences, including the accelerated destruction of the world's remaining rainforests and higher food prices.

--American corn ethanol and
higher food prices

. The US and Brazil are currently the major world producers of ethanol. In the US, ethanol is presently made mainly from corn, and it is blended with gasoline to form "E10", or gasohol (10% ethanol, 90% gasoline). Ethanol burns more cleanly than gasoline and has some other attractive properties.

. Ethanol has been taken up by a number of corporate interests. Thus the giant agribusiness firm ADM (Archer Daniel Midlands) runs ads promoting how environmentally-conscious it supposedly is, citing its production of ethanol. Actually, ADM has received billions of dollars in federal subsidies for its ethanol production, and it makes a lot of money off corn. And many politicians now see ethanol as a way to pump money into the farm economy.

. But it's questionable whether American corn ethanol is any help at all with respect to global warming. Given current American farming practices, the growing of corn and processing of it into ethanol involves the use of a lot of petrochemicals: there's the fuel for tractors, the use of petrochemicals in fertilizers, the power needed for the processing plants that convert corn into ethanol, and so forth. All this increases corn ethanol's "carbon footprint". Some sources say that it uses up more energy from fossil fuel to produce ethanol than the ethanol contains, which would mean that corn ethanol actually increases the consumption of oil and gas. Others claim a positive "energy gain". But even by the most optimistic estimates it's a modest energy gain, so that if all American cars ran on 100% ethanol rather than gas, they will still emit at least three-quarters of the greenhouse gases that they emit today. (8)

. Ethanol production in the US has been rapidly increasing since 2001, farm acreage has shifted from soybeans to corn, corn prices have zoomed, and in 2006 about 20% of the total US corn crop went to ethanol. As much corn is made into ethanol as is exported, and US corn exports represent 70 percent of the world's corn exports. Thus American ethanol already has had an effect, not just on American food production, but on world agriculture. Yet ethanol production would have to increase several fold from present levels to allow everyone in the US to be on gasohol, and it would have to increase ten times that to allow replacement of gasoline by 100% ethanol. The US still has excess farm capacity, but the thought of such increases takes one to the brink of utter fantasy and beyond. (9)

. Food prices have been rising in the US during the last year, and the price of basic staples has dramatically increased. Indeed, around the world food prices have been rising for several years. This last December The Economist ran a cover headline, "The End of Cheap Food", although as brutal free-marketers, it didn't think that this was necessarily a bad thing. It said that "since the spring, wheat prices have doubled and almost every crop under the sun­maize, milk, oilseeds, you name it­is at or near a peak in nominal terms. The Economist's food-price index is higher today than at any time since it was created in 1945 .  .  . Even in real terms, prices have jumped by 75% since 2005." No doubt farmers will meet higher prices with investment and more production, but dearer food is likely to persist for years . . ."(10)

. There are a number of reasons for this besides biofuels. They include the shift from grains to meat and other foods as Asia develops. They include the increase in the price of oil, which affects transportation and processing costs. They include climatic factors, exacerbated by global warming, such as the long-running Australian drought, which is cutting down on wheat production in a country which is the world's second largest wheat exporter. But the production of biofuels is one of the important reasons, as the amount of corn used for ethanol rapidly increases. As a result, prices have gone up not just for corn, but for soybeans, and also the price of animal feed has zoomed up, resulting in higher prices for meat, milk, and eggs. Moreover, American ethanol causes prices increases not just for American consumers, but around the world. For example, the increase in American corn prices was the major factor behind a particularly severe price shock in Mexico. The price for corn, a basic staple of the Mexican diet, doubled in the latter half of 2006, resulting in hardship and demonstrations. (11)

. Sudden changes can result in painful price spikes that eventually subside. Perhaps agriculture could adjust to the 2006 level of utilization of corn for ethanol. But it zoomed up in 2007, and is going to have to continue to sharply increase year after year if ethanol is to make a big dent in American gasoline consumption. Moreover, it would seem that only the search for immediate profit could close anyone's eyes to the threat that climatic change, and the resulting droughts, floods, and shifts in temperature, will pose to food production. Already, as mentioned earlier, various states face water shortages. On the world scale, a major issue of the 21st century will be to maintain sufficient food and fresh water. The fact that biofuels aren't the only cause of higher food prices doesn't make more reasonable the perspective of increasing corn ethanol production many times over.

. Of course it is possible that there will be improvements in biofuels in the future. New types of ethanol are being proposed, such as cellulosic ethanol. It is produced from cellulose, allowing the use of non-edible parts of food crops, or certain grasses that grow on non-farm land. It is said to have a much higher energy gain than corn ethanol. But it's not a certainty--it's still just a possibility, though, one of many. There has to be more research and development, including a careful look at what happens to the land and its fertility when so much of what is grown upon it is removed, rather than being returned to the soil, whether through plowing it back into the soil or through no-till methods. (12).

. But instead of a sober accounting of the advantages and disadvantages of ethanol, or modest experiments with ethanol in order to gain experience and accelerate research on biofuel, a number of influential commercial interests hype corn ethanol as another product to sell in as large a quantity as possible. Government-subsidized corn ethanol is profitable, so market forces have pushed the escalating production of it. This is already creating problems for food production. The corn ethanol boom is leading up to an environmental bust.

--Sugar cane ethanol and the destruction of
the Amazon rainforest

. In Brazil, ethanol is made from sugar cane, not corn. There is much less energy used in growing sugar cane in Brazil and processing it into ethanol, than in producing American corn ethanol. So Brazilian sugar cane ethanol has a much higher energy gain than American corn ethanol. Brazil has successfully used ethanol as a replacement for a substantial part of the gasoline that would otherwise be used to fuel its cars. So, at first sight, this might look like a success story for ethanol.

. But ethanol is one of the factors helping to eliminate the Amazon rainforest. It's not the only factor by a long shot. Some cane sugar is grown in the Amazon, but it's mainly logging, cattle ranching, and the production of soybeans and palm oil that are directly devastating the Amazon, through the burning and clearing of land for farms and ranches.

. Indeed, most Brazilian sugar cane isn't grown in the Amazon but in the Cerrado, or Brazilian savanna (grasslands). But the expansion of sugar cane in the Cerrado results in the farming of soybeans and other products moving into the Amazon. Moreover, the destruction of the Cerrado has an impact on the Amazon; a significant section of the watershed which feeds the Amazon basis is located in the Cerrado. For that matter, it is one of the most important savannas in the world; it's a place of great biodiversity; and its destruction would be an environmental tragedy.

. The increasing devastation of the Amazon rainforest and the Cerrado are related to other biofuels as well. Part of the soy beans and palm oil grown in the Amazon are made into biodiesel and, say, exported to the EU. As well, the dramatic extension of American production of corn ethanol, taking place in part at the expense of soybeans, has increased the world price of soybeans, and this encourages the extension of soybean production in the Amazon.

. While this danger is increasing, European firms are getting carbon credits by using ethanol or biodiesel as fuels. This is encouraged by carbon trading under the EU ETS. Moreover, if they are worried about the forest being chopped down, these firms can salve their conscience by investing in various tree-planting schemes in Africa or elsewhere. They get carbon offset credits for this. But these offsets are doing nothing to protect the Amazon and the other rainforests that are being chopped down and burnt out.

. The destruction of the Amazon rainforest would far outweigh the benefits from sugar-cane ethanol. As of yet, it comprises more than half of the world's remaining area of rainforests. It is widely regarded as the "lungs of the world", although the constant fires from land clearing have already put in doubt its status as a major source of oxygen. The loss of the Amazon, if it takes place, will be one of the great environmental tragedies of the 21st century.

--The palm oil fiasco

. Palm oil has become the most heavily used vegetable oil on the world market; in the last couple of years, world consumption of palm oil slightly exceeds even that of soybean oil. (13) It is used both in food products and to make biodiesel; and as it has a high energy gain and a lot of palm oil can be obtained per acre of tropic forest, it might appear at first sight to be an excellent biofuel. Indeed, palm oil production is surging due in part to the increasing use of palm oil biodiesel in Malaysia, China, and the EU, while Indonesia sees the use of palm oil biodiesel as a way to cut down its imports of oil.

. But the result is that large sections of the rainforests in Malaysia and Indonesia, two countries which supply over four-fifths of the world's palm oil, are being burned and cleared. Of course, this isn't only the result of palm oil, but also because of other cultivation and of logging. The capitalist market devastates the environment in a number of ways other than the fiascos of corporate environmentalism.

. But there's still worse. These forests are in large part peatlands, which contain vast amounts of dead organic matter which haven't decomposed because the ground is too moist. They're huge carbon sinks. But when the forests are cleared, the ground begins to dry out, and it emits spectacular amounts of carbon dioxide. Largely for this reason, Indonesia is the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases on the planet, exceeded only by the US and China. And biofuels plays its role in this: it is estimated that clearing peatlands to grow biofuels results in emitting thirty (yes, 30) times as much carbon dioxide as the use of these biofuels saves in replacing gasoline or diesel. (14)

. Yet importing palm oil from Indonesia is an acceptable way to achieve one's obligations under Kyoto and the EU ETS. Thus the EU ETS and other carbon trading schemes have intensified the danger to the world's forests; they end up encouraging the devastation of the environment. And this disaster is being brought to us in the name of curbing greenhouse gas emissions, while it actually increases those emissions. This is surreal; it would be a comedy if it weren't also a historic tragedy whose consequences will be felt for years and years to come.

Al Gore, advocate for
corporate environmentalism

. The Nobel Committee praised Gore for promoting "understanding of the measures that need to be adopted." Yet Gore has been one of the chief promoters of corporate environmentalism, and as such, he has been one of the chief architects of its disasters.

. A different type of environmentalism had arisen in the midst of the mass struggles that shook the 1960s. A great anger against environmental polluters and poisoners was one of the threads of the mass movement. From Rachel Carson's Silent Spring in 1962 to radical critiques that brought out the relationship of capitalist exploitation to environmental degradation, environmental literature found a growing audience. A variety of popular movements arose, from people just seeking to eat better food to groups getting together to fight corporate polluters. As people became active in other struggles, they tended to become more concerned with the environment. And a number of specific struggles connected different parts of the mass movement. In the movement against locating hazardous dumps and other dirty facilities in minority neighborhoods, environmentalism connected with the anti-racist movement. In the anti-nuclear movement, it connected with the movement against militarism and imperialism. The struggle against dangerous chemicals and pollutants connected to the struggle for a safer workplace.

. During the economic expansion after World War II, little attention was paid to protecting air, water, land, and biodiversity; federal legislation, insofar as there was any, was mainly symbolic. It's not until the 1960s when legislation that provides for actual regulation finally began to be passed, and both the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration weren't created until December 1970. How far EPA and OSHA would actually act was, of course, dependent on the general state of the mass struggle.

. But there were different class trends in the environmental movements. The bourgeoisie chafed under the limited regulations which it had been forced to concede, and some of the bourgeoisie fought environmentalism openly. Meanwhile neo-liberal economists provided the fantasy rationale that market methods would allegedly achieve any goals one wanted, including environmental ones. This idea was attractive to the bourgeoisie, both those who simply wanted to be free of regulations and those who could convince themselves that environmentalism and the free market were compatible. Thus arose neo-liberal environmentalism. This is the trend that would give rise to the carbon-trading mechanism in Kyoto. As one study on carbon trading has pointed out:

"The pollution-trading mechanisms that formed the core of the Kyoto Protocol were of a type proposed by North American economists in the 1960s; put into practice in US markets for lead, nitrogen oxides and sulphur dioxide and other pollutants beginning in the 1970s and 1980s; and successfully pressed on the UN by the US government, advised by US economists, US NGOs and US business, in the 1990s."(15)

. In practice, marketplace environmentalism was a continual source of obstruction. As the same study pointed out, "The development of these markets slowed down environmental reforms. For example, "the US required 23 years to eliminate leaded gasoline through a trading programme, a task that took China 3 years and Japan 10, without trading."(16)

. Yet this is the path which Al Gore advocates to this day, and which the Clinton/Gore administration (1993-2001) put into practice. In their administration, little was done for the environment; there was one sell-out after another. Instead they stressed reorienting environmentalism to market methods. So it's not surprising that in My Life, his 957-page autobiography, Clinton paid next to no attention to environmental issues, but he did pretend that "market incentives" was the way to achieve major goals. He wrote that, with respect to the Kyoto negotiations, he "wanted to achieve the targets not through regulations and taxes but through market incentives". (17) And he pointed out that Al Gore's Reinventing Government project included focusing "on improving our environmental protection efforts through providing market incentives to the private sector, rather than imposing detailed regulations". (18)

. Indeed, Al Gore took this to the point of utter ignorant mindlessness, by presenting California-style energy deregulation as an environmental step. In his December 1999 foreword to a reprinting of his 1992 book Earth in the Balance, he spoke eloquently, as is his wont, of the dangers of global warming. But what should be done about it? He wrote about various proposals for joint work with industry and added that

. "The bottom line is that there is not only an environment to be saved but money to be made in reducing the buildup of greenhouse gases. That's also why I'm fighting for a major reform that will bring competition to the electricity industry, reducing the U. S. consumer electric bill by $20 billion a year -- which will save the average family $230 annually, while increasing the use of clean renewable energy fourfold -- and meeting fully 10 percent of our Kyoto target for emissions reduction."(19)

. The year after Gore wrote this, the California energy crisis hit in full force, bringing ruinous energy shortages and stratospheric prices. But Gore was right on one thing: there was money to be made in such measures.

. Gore has, as far as I am aware, never reconsidered his stand on energy deregulation. Nor has he bothered to reexamine carbon trading in the light of the failure of the Kyoto Protocol to achieve its goals. Instead he continues to promote the Kyoto Protocol, and even to boast of carbon trading as a US invention. In An Inconvenient Truth he writes, referring to pollution trading and "cap-and-trade" systems, that"A similar approach can speed up the reduction of CO2 emissions. The European Union has adopted this U. S. innovation and is making it work effectively."(20) Very effectively, except for achieving the mandated reductions of greenhouse gases.

Two types of global warming deniers
(one type that Gore fights and one type that Gore represents)

. Those who deny the existence of global warming, or the role of human activities in causing it, have been called global warming revisionists or deniers. They are going against a solid mass of scientific evidence. As an environmentalist, albeit a corporate environmentalist, Gore has repeatedly denounced these environmental deniers. But there is also a growing body of evidence that carbon trading and other marketplace methods are causing disasters. Those who close their eyes to this evidence also deserve to be regarded as global warming deniers, and they are helping to lead the world to disaster. Gore himself is a foremost example of this type of global warming denier. He denies that environmental crisis represents the bankruptcy of marketplace economics, and opposes overall environmental planning.

. In his latest book, The Assault on Reason, Gore continues his fight with the first type of environmental revisionists. He has some useful material about who they are and exposing their sordid motives. He focuses on the Bush administration and certain corporations, and he recalls the hypocrisy of Bush whose "solemn promise to the American people during the 2000 campaign that CO2 would be regulated as a polluting greenhouse gas was instantly abandoned only days after the inauguration." He points out that Bush's

"seemingly heartfelt declaration to the American people during the campaign that he genuinely believed global warming was a real problem was replaced immediately after the inauguration by a dismissive expression of contempt for all of the careful, peer-reviewed work by the Environmental Protection Agency scientists who had presented for his review the plain facts about the dangers of the climate crisis. 'I read the report put out by the bureaucracy,' Bush responded when reporters asked him in the Oval Office about the report."(21)

. He also points out that "Wealthy right-wing ideologues have joined with the most cynical and irresponsible companies in the oil, coal, and mining industries to contribute large sums of money to finance pseudoscientific front groups that special in sowing confusion in the public's mind about global warming." He compares their methods to those "pioneered years earlier by the tobacco industry in its long campaign to create uncertainty in the public's mind about the health risks caused by tobacco smoke." And he particularly discusses the role of ExxonMobil. (22)

. This continues the point he made in An Inconvenient Truth that

"The truth about global warming is especially inconvenient and unwelcome to some powerful people and companies making enormous sums of money from activities they know full well will have to change dramatically in order to ensure the planet's livability.
. "These people--especially those at a few multinational companies with the most at stake--have been spending many millions of dollars every year in figuring out ways of sowing public confusion about global warming."(23)

. But he is silent about the many failures of the market methods he advocates. Gore may denounce ExxonMobil and some other unnamed corporations, but he goes out of his way to present the corporations and financiers as a force for environmental progress. He writes that "there is also a big change underway in the investment community, led by investors who have become dissatisfied with the 'short-term' in the financial markets and want to adopt a more realistic view of how businesses build up and retain their value. . . . These investors are taking the environment and other factors into account . . ."(24) Thus he closes his eyes to the free-market is actually doing, and assures one and all that the corporations and the market have changed. He has nothing in any of his books and statements on the disasters caused by corporations running to make profits on biofuels. And he is silent about the failure to reach the targets set in the Kyoto Protocol.

Fighting global warming requires
comprehensive economic planning

. Gore writes, as we have seen, that the corporate global warming deniers are "making enormous sums of money from activities they know full well will have to change dramatically in order to ensure the planet's livability." But he pretends that this only means that a few naughty corporations, like ExxonMobil, will have to shift from oil to some other fuels. In line with this view, he has taken part is dismantling the environmental planning process, when in reality planning has to be extended further than ever before.

. The looming biofuel catastrophe is one example of the necessity of overall environmental planning. It isn't sufficient to simply judge whether burning some biofuel emits less greenhouse gases than burning gasoline. It is also necessary to judge how the biofuel is produced, and what effect this has on the environment. It is necessary to consider whether the land can sustain the growth of this biofuel year after year, and what devoting so much land to biofuel will mean to food supplies. Moreover, it is necessary to consider what changes in agriculture will have to be made to maintain production in a period of changing climate.

. But what happens when "market incentives" are given to encourage the development of corn ethanol or some other biofuel? The result is that some firms and big agribusiness make "enormous sums of money", but they produce without regard to the overall environmental impact of what they are doing. It's not their concern. Their concern is to make a profit, and not to judge what is happening elsewhere in the economy. And their concern is to make a profit today, and let tomorrow take care of itself. And they can and do fund campaigns to present what they are doing in a good light, just as the tobacco firms have done, just as even the oil companies are doing today.

. The result is that biofuels become, not a modest part of the solution, but a major disaster. This is a result of the corporate interests, at every step of the way, fighting against overall environmental planning.

. It is not marketplace economics, but comprehensive planning that is required in order to protect the environment. The accomplishments of past decades in various countries, the cleaning up to some extent of the rivers and air and workplace hazards, resulted from the direct regulation of production. As direct regulation was replaced with pollution-trading and cap-and-trade schemes, the progress slowed. The Montreal Protocol that dealt with the danger of chlorofluorocarbons destroying the ozone layer, although weak and requiring constant revision, still aimed at the direct regulation of the offending chemicals, and so far it has been relatively successful. The Kyoto Protocol for greenhouse gases, based on carbon trading and carbon offsets, has been a failure -- the progress towards alternative energy sources has been too slow, so that overall the danger has increased.

. The direct regulation of production puts emphasis on the physical measurement of threats to the environment, and it encourages attention to the material changes in the world around us. The various carbon trading schemes and marketplace methods give rise to emphasis on financial goals; they put the making of "enormous sums of money" ahead of the issue of achieving environmental goals. They don't necessarily prevent all progress in developing alternative energy sources and carrying out other environmental reforms, but they slow it down, and they also result in monstrous mistakes which do incredible harm. The financial mentality fostered by carbon trading becomes so pervasive that it affects well-intentioned scientists who have played a positive role in increasing public consciousness. Timothy Flannery, for example, is a respected naturalist who has become an environmental activist, and his book about global warming, The Weather Makers, is well worth reading. Yet in his book he judges carbon trading schemes on whether they create a thriving marketplace, while ignoring their material results. He wrote "the use of emission trading as a tool to reduce pollution has a good track record. . . . It proved enormously successful . . . For example, the Chicago Climate Exchange, a voluntary trading scheme involved in the development of sulphur dioxide markets, traded over 1 million tons of CO2 in its first six months of carbon trading (to July 1, 2004)." Well, that may be a lot of trading, but was there any reduction in carbon dioxide emissions? What measures, if any, to reduce these emissions were taken as a result of this trading? Would this be more or less than the measures that would have been taken without this scheme? And would these measures include such dubious steps as the use of corn ethanol or, much worse, the use of palm oil biodiesel? Flannery didn't say, and probably didn't know, as it's not clear if there is any way to find out. But how then is anyone to judge whether this scheme was really a success? Apparently Flannery just accepted the word of the neo-liberal economists that, with all that trading, there must be good results. (25)

. The direct regulation of production also at least raises the possibility that there might be some consideration of how to maintain production in the face of future climatic changes. The change in temperatures, the prospective shortages of fresh water, rising sea levels, and severe weather events, will not only put stress on farm land, but endanger housing, pipelines and transmission cables, energy supplies, trade patterns, and so on. Preparation for this cannot be achieved by carbon trading, but requires overall planning.

Mass participation

. But present-day government planning is planning that is subordinated to the profit-making of the bourgeoisie. Even in times of crisis, when the masses are told to pull in their belts and sacrifice, the largest capitalist interests generally make out like bandits. But the fight against global warming will repeatedly require going against the opposition of powerful corporations and capitalist interests. This means that the fight against global warming will be connected with the fight for democratic planning that takes place with the direct participation of the masses.

. The carbon trading, carbon offset, and other marketplace schemes promoted by Gore and other corporate environmentalists result in all decisions being taken behind closed doors. One may learn the price that carbon certificates sell at, and how many certificates were sold, but anything else remains a commercial secret. It is as hard to figure out the relationship of the carbon markets to actual measures concerning the environment, as it is to figure out the ups and downs of the stock market. This secrecy not only allows the proliferation of a thousand and one scandals, whereby corporations find ways to evade needed changes, but it allows the most dubious ways of meeting environmental goals to be adopted. Gore may pontificate all he wants about "democracy in the balance" in The Assault on Reason, but the neo-liberal environmentalism he champions is designed to ensure that the real decisions are always made in secrecy.

. But only if there is mass supervision can the capitalist resistance to environmental measures be overcome. From workers ensuring that environmental measures really are being applied at their workplace, to mass participation in formulating the overall environmental plan, it is only the weight of the working majority that can place some limits on the constant tendency of the invisible hand of the capitalist market to sacrifice the overall interests of humanity in favor of immediate profit. This is not a matter of a few periods for public comment before regulations come into effect, or of whether political candidates issue a few more campaign promises to the people. Instead it is going to require mass struggles against the diehard obstruction of the different corporate interests and the heavy hand of the capitalist governments, and the development of militant organizations of the working people.

. Gore stresses over and over again that environmentalism should provide "new opportunities for profit". He and Clinton dreamed of an environmentalism that doesn't affect profit-making, the stock market, and the GDP. Business-as-usual was to go ahead: indeed, he advised American business that it could grow and stay on the top of the world by being a leader in providing environmental equipment. But what happens if the ocean really does reclaim various seaboard cities, as Gore himself correctly raises as a real danger in An Inconvenient Truth? Gore talks about inconvenient truths, but blithely believes that the present-day economy will continue without being greatly affected. In particular, he believes that nothing will interrupt the ever-greater accumulation of wealth in the hands of the privileged and powerful, and his environmental plans are subordinated to insuring this. They are directed to looking for opportunities for profit.

. Gore to the contrary, the climatic crisis will upset the economy, and there will be tremendous dislocations, as well as millions upon millions of environmental refugees. The lives and living conditions of working people around the world will be threatened. So environmental planning has to be measured, not by whether it preserves the present stock markets and financial balance sheets, but by whether it can preserve food, clothing, education, housing and all the means of life for the working majority. The people's interests won't be protected by emission trading and carbon markets; it will require massive planning -- and redirection of the economy according to that planning -- to ensure people's livelihoods.

. The heartlessness of the bourgeoisie won't simply devastate the masses, while preserving the environment. It will not be possible to protect the land, air, and water, but let the population suffer. There will be no successful environmental planning that doesn't regard protection of the population as an integral part of its task. It will require the mass action of the workers around the world if the needs of the future, which will no doubt involve major rebuilding of the world's economic infrastructure, will be met. It will require a work force that is more technically conscious and socially aware than ever before. It will require mass pressure for the resistance of the entrenched capitalist interests to environmental reforms to be overcome. But only when the working majority sees that the overall planning takes account of its needs, will it cooperate with this planning.

Environmentalism and the class struggle

. But capitalism is based on the exploitation and suppression of the working class, not its independent action. So the struggle to achieve democratic planning, planning that takes account of mass interests, can only obtain partial victories. And these victories will be unstable, as the bourgeoisie strives to take them back, just as it sought to take back the accomplishments of a certain regulation of the environment through introducing the various pollution trading schemes.

. Today the working class is disorganized, and the prospect of it having a major influence on the environmental decisions of the future and exercising a certain supervision of the economy may seem far-fetched. But the climatic crisis is beginning, and is only going to get worse. The working majority of the world is going to be called on to sacrifice more and more, and to work harder and harder to make up for all the devastation. The struggle over who is to benefit from these sacrifices, and what measures will be taken to protect the environment, and whether this will include measures to protect the working population, will be one of the main currents of the class struggle. Alongside it will be a series of economic and political crises, for the increasing seriousness of the environmental crisis will not make the ills of capitalism, such as imperialism, racism and exploitation, go away, but will aggravate them. In the midst of these conflicts, the working class will organize itself. There will be twists and turns in this struggle. For example, the conservative bourgeoisie will try to rally people behind it by blaming the disasters of corporate environmentalism on environmentalism itself. But through it all, the different factions of the bourgeoisie will increasingly discredit themselves; and the working class will gradually rise again as a revolutionary force. Sooner or later, this will lead to the socialist revolution that casts aside the capitalist system that has ravaged the environment as well as impoverished so much of the world's population.

. Gore's Nobel Prize was a recognition from the world bourgeoisie that Gore is one of the leading voices of neoliberal environmentalism. In this capacity, he has set forward some of the facts concerning the crisis that is upon us, and helped spread awareness of global warming. But he has also hid other facts, concerning the failure of corporate environmentalism, and called for the continuation of the policies that have led to these failures. Al Gore's neo-liberal environmentalism is leading the world to new disasters. The fate of the environment is linked, not to Al Gore's path of "using market capitalism as an ally", but to the development of the class struggle. <>


(1) "The Nobel Peace Prize for 2007", Press Release from the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Oslo, 12 October 2007, (Return to text)

(2) Richard Machey, "This drought may never break" in the Sydney Morning Herald for Jan. 4, 2008, citing the statement of the David Jones, head of the Climate Analysis section of the Bureau of Metereology, au/news/environment/this-drought-may-never-break/2008/01/03/1198949986473.html. (Text)

(3) Brian Skoloff, "Many states seen facing water shortages", AP, October 26, 2007. (Text)

(4) See (Text)

(5) See "The coming of the environmental crisis, the failure of the free market, and the fear of a carbon dictatorship" in the January 2007 issue of Commmunist Voice. There is not only a further explanation of how carbon trading is supposed to work, but of the various ways in which it works in practice. There are some statistics on the failure of various countries to meet their Kyoto goals, as well as the discussion of the fact that, among countries that did reduce their carbon emissions, the reason was often economic slowdown or other factors with little relation to carbon trading. (Text)

(6) "Post-Kyoto pact: shaping the successor" published online, 7 June 2007, on the website of Nature Reports: Climate Change, a publication of Britain's NERC (Natural Environment Research Council). See 2007.12.html. NERC is a major source of funding for British environmental research, with a budget of about 370 million pounds a year (that almost three-quarters of a billion US dollars), and describes itself as a "non-departmental governmental public body, funded mainly by the government", but "independent" of it. (See (Text)

(7) George Monbiot, Heat: How to Stop the Planet from Burning, 2007, p. 158. (Text)

(8) A gallon of 100% ethanol only has about 69% of the energy of a gallon of gasoline. So it takes about 1. 45 gallons of ethanol to drive a car the same distance it would go on one gallon of gasoline. Now suppose ethanol had a 33% "energy gain" over the energy needed to produce it (and this is a very optimistic estimate); this would mean that 75% of the energy contained in ethanol had to be redirected back into its production. Thus, out of every four gallons of ethanol, three of them would have to replace energy used up in the production of these four gallons, and only one gallon would represent a net gain that could be used to replace the previous use of petrochemicals. (That one gallon of ethanol represents 33% of the three gallons of ethanol which contain the energy necessary to produce these four gallons, hence the "energy gain" of 33%. ) Under these assumptions, it would take 4 x 1. 45 = 5. 8, or almost six gallons of ethanol to achieve a reduction in carbon emissions equal to the amount of emissions from burning a gallon of gasoline.

. To put it another way, if all transport that now used gas were converted to ethanol, there would only be a 25% reduction in carbon emissions in transport. And even that reduction would only take place if the optimistic estimates of ethanol energy gain were true; the actual reduction, given present farming methods, might be only 10% or less, or there might even be an increase in greenhouse gas emissions. Now, a 25% reduction, if obtained without harming the possibility of adopting other measures as well, would be impressive. But a 25% reduction, if that reduction depends on turning agriculture upside down, is a fiasco. Moreover, we need a greater reduction than 25% in emissions from transport, and this would require replacing the ethanol in turn by something else.

. Now, the various claims about the energy gain of corn ethanol are only rough estimates. The actual energy gain or loss depends sharply on the farming methods, on whether there were corn products produced alongside the ethanol (the remnants of corn from the ethanol distilleries can be made into an animal feed that has some use), and some other factors. It also depends on the assumption that American farming can just continue as at present, while multiplying its output many times; it thus assumes, for example, that finding additional water is no problem, and that the added load of fertilizers on the environment are no problem. The present growing water shortages alone cast doubt on such assumptions. (Text)

(9) US ethanol production has been steadily increasing since 1980. 0. 5% of the corn crop went to ethanol in 1980; 4. 4% in 1990; 6. 3% in 2000; and then it took off dramatically, reaching 20. 0% in 2006, and still rising. Actually, the amount of corn used for ethanol has gone up even faster than the percentages, since the corn crop itself has gone up 61% since 1980, some of that representing a shift from soybean production. (See the "Data files for Distillery Demand for Grain to Fuel Cars Vastly Understated" by the Earth Policy Institute at www. earth-policy. org/Updates/2007/Update63_data2. htm. See the article itself for the comparison to exports: htm) The production capacity of American distilleries reached 5. 6 billion gallons per year in February 2007, which was a major increase from the year before. (See "Ethanol Reshapes the Corn Market" in the May 2007 issue of Amber Waves,a journal of the US Department of Agriculture, at From this and other statistics, perhaps about 5 billion gallons of ethanol were produced in 2006, and it would have an energy content about equal to 3.5 billion gallons of gas (5 billion x .69). By way of comparison, the US currently uses approximately 145 billion gallons of gasoline a year. Now, making a rough and ready calculation, it would seem to take 14 billion gallons of ethanol or so to mix with the gasoline to form E10 (gasohol); this would be almost three times the actual production of ethanol in 2006, and it would take about 40 times more ethanol (146/3. 5=41.7) than was produced in 2006 to replace gasoline altogether. And this underestimates the problem; as was pointed out in the discussion of energy gain, it takes gasoline and other petrochemicals to produce ethanol, so in fact it would take several times more than 40 times more ethanol to replace the current consumption of gasoline. Where is all that corn to come from? (Text)

(10) "The end of cheap food: Rising food prices are a threat to many; they also present the world with an enormous opportunity," The Economist, Dec. 6, 2007, (Text)

(11) C. Ford Runge and Benjamin Senauer, "How biofuels starve the poor," Foreign Affairs, May/June 2007,, and Feike de Jong, "Prices spike for Mexican favorite -- tortillas", Fortune, htm. The Mexican government's price cap was showmanship rather than reality, as reported in Manual Roig-Franzia, "A Culinary and Cultural Staple in Crisis," Washington Post Foreign Service, January 27, 2007, html. (Text)

(12) No-till cultivation is now being promoted as both better for the soil and using less energy than the usual methods. The advantages of no-till are assumed in some of the more optimistic assessments of the "energy gain" of biofuels. And with cellulosic ethanol, the idea is also that stubble and other plant residue can be utilized for ethanol. But no-till cultivation requires a certain amount of plant residue and stubble to work, and in general, retaining the rich organic content of good soil requires plant residue too, or else one is forced back to utilizing more and more fertilizer of various types. Agriculturalists always had to worry about preserving soil fertility while removing the edible parts of parts; utilizing the entire plant makes the question of soil fertility even more pressing. Indeed it's possible that developing more environmentally-sound farming methods may contribute more to reducing greenhouse gas emissions than biofuels could; and trying to utilize these farming methods for producing an excessive amount of biofuel may undermine these methods by stripping the soil of organic matter. (Text)

(13) See US Department of Agriculture, "Oilseeds: World Markets and Trade/Palm Oil Continues to Dominate Global Consumption in 2006/2007", pdf. (Text)

(14) Fear Pearce, "Bog barons: Indonesia's carbon catastrophe", in New Scientist,December 1-7, 2007,

. Also see "Indonesia world's No. 3 greenhouse gas emitter: report", Reuters, June 4, 2007, The report is from the World Bank and Britain's Department for International Development. (Text)

(15) "Carbon trading, a critical conversation on climate change, privatisation and power", Development Journal, p. 48, Issue #48, September 2006 This journal is put out by the Dag Hammarskjold Foundation, and it is s available as a free download in pdf form at The quote gives some idea of the process of development of neo-liberal environmentalism. However, it exaggerates the difference between the European and American bourgeoisie, as the European bourgeoisie ended up embracing carbon trading with a vengeance. The EU bourgeoisie has also sought to implement free-market fundamentalism in general, being restricted mainly by mass resistance. In France, for example, over the years a number of big strikes paralyzed government proposals, while French voters recoiled from the neo-liberal provisions of the proposed EU Constitution and voted it down in the referendum of May 2005. (Text)

(16) Ibid. , p. 85. (Text)

(17) Bill Clinton, My Life, p. 767. (Text)

(18) Ibid. , p. 647. (Text)

(19) Al Gore, "Foreword: The Coming "Environment Decade", Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit, 2000, p. xviii. Back in 2000, the journalist Greg Palast pointed out that "Despite recent warnings from federal regulators, the Clinton-Gore administration has promoted California-style deregulation as a model for the nation." See Greg Palast, "States Deregulate Energy at Their Peril - from the New York Times", August 25, 2000, (Text)

(20) Al Gore,"The Carbon Exchange Market", An Inconvenient Truth, 2006, p. 252. (Text)

(21) Al Gore, "The Carbon Crisis", in The Assault on Reason, 2007, p. 194. (Text)

(22) Ibid. , pp. 199-202. (Text)

(23) An Inconvenient Truth, p. 284. (Text)

(24) "Using Market Capitalism as an Ally", An Inconvenient Truth, p. 270. (Text)

(25) Timothy Flannery, The Weather Makers: How Man Is Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth, 2005, p. 228-9. I comment on Flannery's dread of overall economic planning, which he regards as a "carbon dictatorship", in my article "The coming of the environmental crisis, the failure of the free market, and the fear of a carbon dictatorship", in Communist Voice #39, January 2007. See <>

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