This article is reprinted from Catalyst: A Journal of Theory and Strategy, a publication from the Jacobin Foundation. Right now, you can subscribe to the print edition of Catalyst for just $20.

The climate and ecological crisis is dire and there’s little time to address it. In just over a generation (since 1988), we have emitted half of all historic emissions. In this same period the carbon load in the atmosphere has risen from around 350 parts per million to over 410 — the highest level in 800,000 years (the historic preindustrial average was around 278). Human civilization only emerged in a rare 12,000 year period of climate stability — this period of stability is ending fast.

The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report suggests we have a mere twelve years to drastically lower emissions to avoid 1.5 C warming — a level that will only dramatically increase the spikes in extreme superstorms, droughts, wildfires, and deadly heat waves (to say nothing of sea-level rise). New studies show changing rainfall patterns will threaten grain production like wheat, corn, and rice within twenty years. A series of three studies suggest as early as 2070, half a billion people will, “experience humid heat waves that will kill even healthy people in the shade within six hours.”

You don’t have to be a socialist to believe the time frame of the required changes will necessitate a revolution of sorts. The IPCC flatly said we must immediately institute “rapid, far-reaching, and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.” The noted climate scientist Kevin Anderson said, “ . . . when you really look at the numbers behind the report, look at the numbers the science comes out with, then we’re talking about a complete revolution in our energy system. And that is going to beg very fundamental questions about how we run our economies.”

[…]