The IPCC Leaks Bring Us to the Possible Declaration of a World Civil War
ENVIRONMENT, 25 Oct 2021
24 Oct 2021 – Last June’s leaks of the next IPCC report by the scientific community responsible for writing it could pave the way for the most transcendental political act, on an international scale, at least since the end of the Second World War. If you think this may be a bit of an exaggeration, then please take a minute to consider what will happen once the official version of this report is published. Despite there having been some leaks on previous reports, the implications of what has been revealed on this occasion and the speed at which the news has spread through the media (making them very difficult to dismiss) leaves us facing an uncertain outcome which, once the AR6 is published, implies an historic crossroads.
Basically, when the various parts which make up the aforementioned Sixth Assessment Report come to light, during the Summer 2022, two things could happen. One would be that the final versions, and the “Synthesis Report” in particular, would still retain the message which has leaked from Working Groups II (Impacts of Climate Change, of which the résumé was leaked) and III (Mitigation, up till now only one chapter of this part of the report has been leaked). The said message tells us that in order to prevent a climate chaos which brings about the extinction of our species (or a large part of it) it is imperative to abandon the current social-economic system which forces the continuous growth of our economies. In other words, put an end to Capitalism. Let’s call this possible scenario Integrity. The other scenario (Censorship) will occur if the IPCC people who have the final say in the wording of this concluding report – the one with real relevance for policies and the media) – opt for leaning towards the most optimistic opinions and give the summary a makeover which ensures the necessary unanimous approval of all the governments. Or they may directly edit out the most uncomfortable conclusions in such a way as to hide, eliminate or dilute the message, thereby reprieving the capitalist system and its addiction to growth. The leaks which have occurred specifically seek to prevent such a scenario, where the radical new content in the current versions of the AR6 is toned down; content which numerous media outlets have emphasized (France Presse, Ctxt, The Guardian, LaSexta TV, Al Jazeera, Der Spiegel).
What happened to previous reports is evidence enough to know that governmental pressures on the aforementioned Summaries for Policymakers exist, and that the only way to obstruct them is through having prior public knowledge of the original documents prepared by the scientists. The scientists explain: “We leaked the report because governments –pressured and bribed by fossil fuel and other industries, protecting their failed ideology and avoiding accountability– have edited the conclusions before official reports were released in the past. We leaked it to show that scientists are willing to disobey and take personal risk to inform the public.” The second wave of leaks, coming from Greenpeace UK and revealed by BBC, shows that this fear was fully justified: nothing less than 32,000 requirements by governments and big companies were already trying to water down the harsh conclusions which were unearthed in the first leaks.
In the case of the IPCC submitting to these lobbying pressures and publishing next year something clearly different from what the scientific authors have leaked, rubbing out the mention of stopping growth and abandoning capitalism, the short term consequences in the political field might seem slight. It would provide the governments of the world the relief of having a kind of green light to carry on doing the same as usual, that is to say, at a practical level… nothing at all – or at least nothing that is actually needed to slow down our demented journey towards the climatic abyss.
Nevertheless, having created this situation, it would caused irreparable damage: the scandal would permanently destroy the credibility of the IPCC as the entity in charge of defining the road to salvation for our species in the face of the climate change we ourselves have provoked. If the members of the group in charge of writing the final synthesis report for our society and the governments, or the economists in Working Group III (Mitigation), who largely belong to the hegemonic neoclassical school (and as such, are not scientists), choose to trim down this uncomfortable scientific message revealed previously by the greatest climate experts, they will have de facto declared full scale war on the human species to which they also belong. They will also have done so with the highest degree of responsibility and consent of the governments which put them in charge of the said reports and had already been exposed pressuring the IPCC.
Alternatively, if the people responsible for writing the version of the Sixth Report aimed at our general knowledge decide to faithfully complete their mission, save their credibility (and Humanity along the way) and, if their hands don’t shake in fear of the political consequences that this may bring in its wake, if they retain the forcefulness and clarity of the death sentence, which the scientists have planned to include in this report against Capitalism and its cancerous biocide functioning, then we will find ourselves looking at a second decisive junction of our immediate future. Having got to this point it may be that the diverse governments accept the verdict and demonstrate that the survival of their citizens is more important to them than the survival of Capitalism (scenario Integrity → Responsibility). Or perhaps they refuse to take notice, with any of the usual excuses in these cases (“we need to study this in more depth… we need more data… there is not a final consensus…”) or some newly-coined blagging in order to keep on with their murderous procrastination. If this last happens (Integrity → Betrayal), then they will have become complicit in our destruction and against our future.
Those responsible for the original leaks have summarized the crucial message whose official transmission to society hangs in the balance during the year ahead: “We must abandon economic growth, which is the basis of capitalism”. They explain the fact that “thousands of scientists”, most of whom are privileged, older and moderate, “agree on something so apparently radical demonstrates the severity of the present moment”. They accuse those who are in power of being the true extremists, guided by the “death cult” of the neoliberal economy. “They will plunder the Earth until it is but fire and ash, unless we stop them.”
And so, as much in the Censorship scenario as in the Integrity → Betrayal, we would be facing up to the unofficial declaration of Capitalist global war against Life (all life, not just human). A war which, in reality, has been developing in an undeclared manner since decades ago. On the other hand, if it happens that things move along the road we have called Integrity → Responsibility, we would be witnessing another historic moment but of a completely different character, something resembling an armistice between human civilization and the biosphere. It would be confirmation of the end of Capitalism – which was actually doomed since at least the 1970s, although its advocates did not want to admit it – and as a consequence, would mark the inspiring beginning of a transition phase to a different systemic plurality. A plurality of social-economic models integrated with the limits of planet Earth and, ideally, much more just and fair. Without a doubt, the most important and admirable challenge which our societies could conceive of.
The final phase of this historic and crucial time opened up by the IPCC-leaks should lead to the immediate implementation of a new type of economy. An economy which could might be termed a transition or exception economy (war economy would be inappropriate due to the pacific meaning of what I have just explained), a downscaling economy implemented and managed by the States, with a high level of public control and intervention. We have seen that this is perfectly possible not only during war periods, but also when a threat emerges such as the COVID-19 pandemic (and clearly, climate chaos is a much greater threat to our survival). This would allow the controlled shrinking of the economies but without crashing them. However, if it doesn’t happen this way, what will be irreparably broken is the social contract which binds those who govern and the governed. From that time onwards the citizens who are aware of those most serious acts (and here the media will play a critical role) would have the legitimate right to self-defence, to rebellion and disobedience. The right to refuse to collaborate in their own extermination with a government which would have declared itself their enemy, which would have exercised a coup d’état against posterity in order to become the armed extension of the suicidal elites prepared to cling onto their power so they can hover above all the shit among the flames of a devastated biosphere.
Of course, we cannot be so naïve as to hope that those elites would willingly accept the only scenario which would be positive for the species, that of Integrity → Responsibility, given that it would take us to a new type of society where they would necessarily have to lose power to a greater or lesser degree, and where they would have nothing more to gain than their survival and the absolution of History. But neither can they hope that civil society remains impassive when we hear about (and I say it again: if the media fulfills its vital role in telling the facts) the declaration of war implied by any other type of scenario. It would inevitably leave us with a situation which could only be described as global civil war, a mad war of aggression by a human minority of the present time against the entire biosphere and, above all, against our future. And our politicians, caught in the middle, but with enough key means within their control to be able to declare a real climate emergency, with all the consequences. One which carries an emergency metabolic thinning down that would save the population and, at the same time, ensure their current and future basic needs. (And this would only be possible through some kind of planned economy, something along the lines of an eco-socialist economy). The politicians are certain to suddenly run into the most decisive moment of their lives, thanks to some heretical documents leaked by a handful of scientists. Having arrived at this point, each and every one of those people who form part of a government in any part of the world, will feel obliged to demonstrate, beyond all doubt, their final loyalty: to Life and the hard reality show by Science, or to capitalist denial, ecocide and genocide. Over the months ahead until this decisive moment, we have the chance to move all the right pieces in order to prevent this war. And, if in the end we find it inevitable, to draw governments, political parties, media, unions, religious groups and all kinds of social agents, nearer to our movement. In this way we can co-ordinate the resistance on an international scale.
The COP26 which is due to take place this November in Glasgow promises to reveal which of these political scenarios described will be the most likely and what position each one is taking on the road to D day when the definitive Sixth Report and its defining Summary for Policymakers is published. Because, without a doubt, the second half of 2022 will mark the most critical period which our generation will live through, and possibly the most important in the entire History of our species. August 2021 has marked the beginning of the turn-around and has placed all the actors in this planetary drama in the spotlight. The beginning of the script has already been written by a handful of brave scientists from Scientist Rebellion, and now it is our turn to keep on writing for all of society, for the capitalist elites and their media, for our governments and public services, including the remaining members of the IPCC.
Wherever the plot of this story leads to it will determine what will be the final unraveling: our survival in extremis or our most tragic self-destruction.
Manuel Casal-Lodeiro is a father, activist and popularizer of scientific information. Author of La izquierda ante el colapso de la civilización industrial [The left in the face of the collapse of industrial civilization] and We, the detritivores. Coordinator of the Guia para el descenso energético [Guide for the energy descent], of the magazine 15/15\15 for a new civilization and of the Instituto Resiliencia, part of RCE-Galiza officially acknowledged by United Nations University.
First published in Spanish in Ctxt.es. Translated by Amelia Burke, reviewed by Mark Burton and updated by the author.
Tags: COP26, Climate Change, Environment, Global warming, IPCC, Paris Climate Agreement
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 25 Oct 2021.
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