It seems that a warmer Earth is a far, far more likely future for the entire world than a bourgeois fantasy of equanimous technological serenity, or even of dystopian surveillance states. And who will bear the brunt of this pollution catastrophe? The poor and vulnerable nations of Earth. This is not to say that developed nations will never feel the effects of climate change, they will, and they will feel them strongly, but only much, much later than other countries. This is why, over the past two weeks, 147 world leaders have gathered in Paris, France to debate the use of fossil fuels and what can be done to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This is the largest gathering of world leaders ever, and so far, it seems largely futile.
While there are a huge number of countries attending this conference, there are only a few who really matter. They are, of course, not the ones most affected by rising sea levels, or who will experience the most devastating temperature changes (excepting Saudi Arabia), they are the countries which control most of the world’s capital, they are the countries which are deepest under the covers with Oil Companies, and they are, primarily, the United States. What they’re trying to do is both raise the level of “safe” warming which the world can sustain, make complying with these regulations voluntary, and avoid providing funds to developing countries which are dealing with the effects of climate change. This amounts to, as Kumi Naidoo of Greenpeace put it, “subliminal racism.” The climate deal which a US backed coalition is pushing for, a deal which allows for warming of 3-4༠C, effectively means that billions of lives and livelihoods all around the world in poor and developing nations do not matter. In 2009, in the last major Climate Conference, when world leaders agreed the global temperature rise of more than 2༠C was “dangerous,” African delegates marched through the halls and demanded that 2༠C was tantamount to a death warrant for thousands of people in Saharan Nations. Now, it seems, that the world’s capital powers cannot meet even that meager goal.
The United States is not alone in its deadly addiction to fossil fuels though. Joining it is Saudi Arabia, a country whose economy is almost entirely reliant on exporting oil, but which will become nearly “unlivable” in the next century due to extreme heat from Climate Change. It is helping the United States back plans which will make these extreme conditions a reality. And this, perhaps, is the strangest and most important things happening in Paris right now. It reveals (or confirms) that the economic system of capitalism fails, utterly, to see beyond its own limits. A system based on the acquisition of capital does not miraculously become a perfect system of living. What becomes exceedingly clear, not only from this deal, but from decades of climate inaction, is that the survival of billions of people, in Africa and around the globe, and ultimately the survival of humans as a species, is based on immediate and radical re-imagination of economic systems. How to do this? That may well be the great (though probably futile) task of Afrofuturism. But, surely no system has any hope of being re-imagined unless it hears the voices of the injustice it produces, the goal of any committed environmental movement cannot stand in a vacuum from other social movements. Environmentalism, Feminism, and Black Lives Matter are independent movements, but in order to halt irreparable damage, all of their most eloquent voices must be heard together. Unless the shadows of capitalism become a tangible force, there can be no true justice.