Climate Change Action Would Kill Imperialism


Climate Change Action Would Kill Imperialism

Climate change action would kill imperialism, and that is why we can’t have it in America.

American political power is based on fossil fuels, and the US military is the engine that consumes those fuels to produce that power. So long as there is an American political elite that craves lucrative personal prestige and the ability to dominate internationally, the US economy will be fossil-fueled capitalism that maintains the military colossus that enables and protects those elite ambitions.

US military-enabled imperial power is of two varieties:

first: the hard power that overtly invades and seeks to control territory to impose American capitalist domination, as for example capturing pipeline routes south through Afghanistan and Pakistan – away from China – out of Central Asian oil fields; the guarding of sea lanes crucial for petroleum transport west, as at Suez and the Strait of Hormuz, and east to Japan, Korea and Australia (if they behave); and the securing of scarce metal ore and rare earth deposits in Afghanistan and Africa (for elements used in solid state electronics); and

second: the soft power of buying compliance to US hegemony from client states by gifting them with arms sales that enable them to exercise their own mini-imperialistic ambitions, as with Israel’s threat-projection in the Levant that is consistent with US aims of regional control, and Zionism’s own manifest destiny colonialist mania of persecuting the occupied Palestinians and shrinking their reservations; and with arms sales to Saudi Arabia enabling its genocidal war against Yemen, and giving the U.S. leverage to induce the opulent Saudi royalty to keep oil production high and oil prices low on the world market, so as to grease Western capitalism and also undercut the revenue streams supporting Venezuelan socialism and Iranian economic development.

Because of the fracking (oil shale) boom of the last two decades, the U.S. now produces as much oil as Saudi Arabia and is energy independent as a fossil fueled economy, but hegemonic ambition compels it to seek global control of petroleum distribution because to control the flow of oil around the globe is to throttle the imperial ambitions and economic development plans of all others.

American imperialism, mediated by its military, is intrinsically fossil fueled. It is impossible to power the trucks, tanks, gun-carriages, helicopters, airplanes, missiles, drones, ships and submarines of the US military with solar and wind power; only fossil fuels will do. Nuclear power – also based on a fossil fuel, fissile uranium – is used to propel particularly large destruction-projection platforms, specifically missile-carrying submarines and aircraft carriers. Military vehicles require high energy-density fuels, to provide a high amount of energy at a high rate of delivery from relatively small volumes of fuel-matter, in order to propel them quickly (and inefficiently) despite the weight of their armaments.

“Green” forms of energy – solar, wind, hydroelectric – are intrinsically of low energy-density; they are spread out over large areas from which they are collected rather slowly, rather than being chemically concentrated into relatively compact masses, like coal, petroleum, natural gas and fissile uranium, which can be ignited to release their stored energy explosively.

Local sources of “green” electrical energy can power civilian infrastructure almost anywhere, because solar, wind and even hydro power are widely available around the globe. All that is required is investment in and installation of appropriate energy collection technology, and a local area distribution network for electrical power. Green energy is intrinsically a socialist form of powering civilization, because the energy to be used locally can be collected locally, which frustrates the capitalist impulse to monopolize narrowly-defined sites of high energy-density fuel deposits – like coal and uranium mines, and oil and gas wells – and tightly confined electrical generation plants that meter out their electrical power through a web of long distance transmission lines.

The United States can only address the existential threat of global climate change by disavowing the imperialistic and self-aggrandizing ambitions of its political and corporate elite. That means deflating American militarism and its vast war industries complex by abandoning capitalism, which is exclusionary (privatized, extractive) fossil-fueled and speculation-dominated economics, and transforming the US economy to nationally and rationally planned green energy socialism: people over profits, an equalizing domestic solidarity over classist international gamesmanship.

Transforming the American political economy to green energy socialism would be very good for the American people, but it would be the death of American fossil-fueled capitalism, and thus of America’s rulers’ ambitions and privileges.

What we know today is that America’s political and corporate elite would rather see humanity end within a century than disavow its imperialistic and self-aggrandizing ambitions. Their obsession is to rule to the bitter end, a bitter end hastened by their obsession to remain in control. America does not have a robust permanent national commitment to contain, ameliorate and possibly reverse climate change and ecological deterioration because that would necessarily require the overthrow of Imperial America’s capitalist elite and its classist and racist mentality.

The revolution necessary to overthrow American capitalism and enable a national response to the climate change crisis would first require an amazing degree of popular consensus, psychological and intellectual maturity, moral courage, popular solidarity and personal commitment throughout the public, to sustain it through whatever struggle would be necessary to overpower its ruling capitalist paradigm.

Will this ever be possible?, or would any popular American eco-socialist uprising be snuffed out as pitilessly as was the Syrian Revolution? Regardless, is CO2-propelled climate change now so far advanced that it is beyond any human ability to stop? No one can really say.

We are each left with a choice between: defeatist acquiescence to capitalist-dominated climapocalypse, or the dignity of rebellious aspiration and activism for green socialism, regardless of whether or not it will ever be realized politically, and even if it is now precluded by Nature’s implacable geophysical forces that humanity’s blind self-absorption has set into karmic motion.


6 thoughts on “Climate Change Action Would Kill Imperialism

  1. Some readers of the article (at asked questions that I replied to; and those comments are given here, slightly edited.


    Philip Dabague:
    Having read and liked your piece on Climate change, I checked out your other one on America’s changing population. Isn’t the very high population fertility of Mexicans here in the States or in Mexico (as well in Brasil, Middle East, etc…) a major factor contributing to global warming, through consumption of goods and services ? Why do lefties in general never address the problem of overpopulation, or deforestation to feed the population explosions in developing countries and elsewhere that contribute to global climate destruction in a major way ?

    Read about the Human Development Index (a UN and international measure of overall standard of living and quality of life). In brief, the energy consumption per capita in less developed and 3rd world countries is far below that of the U.S.A., and so each American is many times more wasteful (in kilowatt-hours/year and CO2 emissions per capita) than the average Mexican or Bangladeshi. Europeans and the Japanese are twice as efficient as Americans, despite their relatively high HDI and energy-CO2 use (nobody beats us Americans on thermodynamic waste, except maybe the Saudi royal family and similar potentates in the Persian Gulf States). Chinese per capita use-waste is a fraction of that of the U.S., but there are a lot of Chinese, and they are all striving for “more.” It is morally indefensible to tell poorer people to use less, and be less (i.e., fertility), when we are so overwhelmingly more gluttonous with all resources and energy, and mega-belchers of CO2. Such “poorer” people can justifiably ask: “Why don’t you hoggish Americans adopt our frugal life-styles so there will be much more to go around with less threat of climate change?” I once calculated that were all of Earth’s people to use resources at American levels, equaling our standard of living and consuming practices, that we would need 12 Planet Earths to satisfy the resource needs. 


    Greg Stewart:
    Excellent article! Only one point missing and that is the strength of the dollar and its essential connection to oil trading. Along those lines, if we stopped burning oil tomorrow (which we must) we would have economic chaos on a global scale. That being said, we will have economic chaos when artificial intelligence replaces 70% of the work force (if not more) when workers can no longer trade their labor for money. So what to do?

    I think of the US dollar as a currency backed by the full faith and credit of the US military to be able to produce instant holocausts anywhere at any time. The whole world believes that, and also in the productive efficiency of our Treasury Department printing presses, so they have confidence investing in US bonds (interest income!), and financially propping up our import-consuming economy (without really expecting the U.S. to ever pay off its trade imbalances). A bit of chaos in transitioning to green energy socialism seems preferable to capitalist-preserving climapocalytic extinction. AI could be administered as a publicly owned utility that provided equally available relief from work drudgery, while providing us all equally with the dividends: nice living pensions and continuous vacations.


    Greg Stewart:
    The worlds militaries and their supporting manufacturing infrastructure could be tasked with massive carbon sequestration. Literally, declare war on greenhouse gases by extracting them from the atmosphere. The military industrial complex would be happy as it could make and install large-scale CO2 extractors, because lets face it, they never saw a cost plus contract they didn’t love. Put those soldiers, sailors, and airmen to work planting trees, require farmers to switch to agro-ecological farming, the list goes on. But one thing this approach wouldn’t do is disrupt the odious Imperium.

    Linda Jansen, with Extinction Rebellion:
    The Government must enact legally-binding policies to reduce carbon emissions in the UK to net zero by 2025 and take further action to remove the excess of atmospheric greenhouse gases.  

    Scientifically, I do not think it is feasible to remove CO2 from the atmosphere at a quicker rate than – or anywhere near the quantity that – would happen naturally (by photosynthesis and rainout into carbonic acid in the oceans); so preservation of forests and jungles (and seaweed and kelp forests), and massive reforestation are the best CO2 reabsorption “technologies” I can think of. Mechanical and “high-tech” schemes some suggest would seem to me to require more energy-per-molecule of CO2, for removal and then some kind of storage, than Nature could accomplish more efficiently. And, energy to power such high-tech removal gizmos would either be generated by fossil fuel power (counterproductively issuing more CO2), or else by solar power, slowly and with low energy efficiency (but still a much better alternative). So I think our best course is to work with Nature instead of imagining we can quickly outsmart it – but it will take the time it takes, which could be long.


  2. On 26 November 2018, I was interviewed by Dr. Wilmer Leon (political scientist), the host of the radio show “The Critical Hour,” which is broadcast by Sputnik News, the international news service of the Russian government (similar to the U.S.’s Voice of America). The topic was climate change action (reasons for the lack of it), as described in my recent (21 November 2018) article published by CounterPunch (this publication was cited on air by Wilmer Leon). Here is a web-link to an audio file for the hour-long show. My segment occupies the times between 18:50-38:50 (minutes:seconds). The title of the show is taken from the topic of the leading segment. Descriptions of the four segments and five guests for this particular episode are given at the web-site for the episode. This was an interesting experience for me. If you want to hear me yammer on climate change action, green energy, military power, global warming, Trump and capitalist hypocrisy about acknowledging climate change, and free electricity, this is your chance. Links to my article are also given below.

    Shareholders vs Workers: GM to Layoff 14k Workers and Close Five US Plants
    27 November 2018
    [18:50 – 38:50]


    [Introduction to segment with MG,Jr.]
    In the wake of some of the most powerful hurricanes on record and historic wildfires in California, the Trump administration’s strategy on climate has been to try to bury its own scientific report on global warming. The Trump White House, which has defined itself by a willingness to dismiss scientific findings and propose its own facts, on Friday issued a scientific report that directly contradicts its own climate change policies. What’s going here? The 1,656-page National Climate Assessment, which is required by Congress, is the most comprehensive scientific study to date detailing the effects of global warming on the United States economy, public health, coastlines and infrastructure. It describes in precise detail how the warming planet will wreak hundreds of billions of dollars of damage in coming decades. President Trump has often questioned or mocked the basic science of human-caused climate change and is now working aggressively to encourage the burning of coal and the increase of greenhouse gas pollution. Your thoughts first of all on the science behind the discussion of climate change or global warming.

    Climate Change Action Would Kill Imperialism
    18 November 2018

    Climate Change Action Would Kill Imperialism
    21 November 2018

  3. Here is a stand-alone audio “movie” of the 19:16 long radio interview/discussion on climate change, between Wilmer Leon and me (you’ll see a nice photo of mine).

    Climate Change Action Would Kill Imperialism
    27 November 2018

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