The Social Roots of Climate Change
By Jack Rollins, from the Cyborg Farmer Blog at FareMarket
There aren't too many electric cars in low-resource communities, and the same goes for organic food and solar panels. Can we afford for that to continue with an overwhelming number of climate scientists telling us 2030 is the last year to stop climate change? That's less than 9 years.
The assumption that what currently exists must necessarily exist is the acid that corrodes all visionary thinking. —Murray Bookchin
One of the best things about capitalism is its ability to make enough for everybody. That's so obvious at this point that, to maintain prices and the illusion of scarcity, companies destroy their products in mass quantities.
Food is not the exception. In the United States, where 1 in 9 are food insecure—including 11 million children—around 40 percent of our food ends up in landfills, and another 30 percent never leaves the farm.
You can’t have climate change without sacrifice zones, and you can’t have sacrifice zones without disposable people, and you can't have disposable people without racism.
- Hop Hopkins, Sierra Club
Poisoning the air in poor communities is an acceptable business practice. And so is selling poisoned food. Capitalism depends on it. Diabetes, high cholesterol, cancer, and obesity plague communities of color, and these illnesses pay dividends to wealthy business owners.
As a rule of thumb, health foods stores and farmers' markets don’t set up shop in poor neighborhoods. The local food movement, more often than not, engages in the same "redlining" as grocery store chains, deeming certain communities either unprofitable or unsafe.
At the same time, major corporations are allowed to confiscate entire low-resource communities, privatize public utilities, evade taxes, and cheat their workers.
In the 1990s, the wealthiest Americans collected 45 percent of all new income, a number that rose to 65 percent during the second Bush administration. Today, as calls to defund police departments are met with riot gear, teargas, rubber bullets, and other forms of violence, a handful of billionaires receive 93 percent of all new income.
It is significant that, during the same period, from 1998 to 2014, military equipment purchases by police departments in the United States rose from $9.4 million to $796.8 million. Police departments came about for three reasons: to suppress striking workers, control enslaved Africans, and to defend against attacks from the indigenous population.
It’s an old story. The primary function of law enforcement is to protect the interests of the people responsible for the destruction of our planet: the ruling class. While police invested in military-grade equipment, the One Percent invested in elections.
It was an early tactic of white colonists to “clear old-growth forests and plow the prairies," effectively destroying the ecosystems people of color had relied on for their survival for millennia.
Today, as the struggle for Black lives plays out in our streets, weather patterns across the globe grow increasingly erratic, leading to mass migrations of people of color and an alarming recent rise of new authoritarian regimes throughout the world.
Cooperation is our only alternative. In 2030, the world moves past the point of no return. If we want our lineage to inherit something other than lost hope and the permanent reality of climate chaos and destruction, regular people like us have to exercise our power, organize, and cooperate.
We must work together to establish as many new community-controlled enterprises as possible. The creation of grassroots institutions that foster community power is the most important task of our time, and the businesses in our communities need to bow to this new social contract, as FareMarket demonstrates by helping to develop Sprout.
FareMarket is more than willing to be one of the first companies to bow to community jurisdiction. That’s why their member fees are paid directly to Sprout. At 1,000 members paying $14.99 per month, Sprout will generate $169 thousand per year that can be invested in new community-owned businesses.
Member-owner dues are not revenue. They are the future. We're working toward establishing grassroots organizational structures. We can grow community power, protect ourselves from poisoned food, pollution, and police brutality, and build an economy that works with nature instead of destroying it.
Cooperation is how we save the planet and build wealth for everyone, not just a handful of billionaires. It’s our duty to find a peaceful solution to inequality and, by association, climate change, and we can do it quickly if we do it together.
With cooperation, we have the ability to make the end of the era of capitalism a happy one.