IPCC Report: What it actually says is not what the media interprets it to mean

10 August, 2021

Working Group 1. They elaborated this IPCC Report.
Working Group 1. They elaborated this IPCC Report.

The IPCC released yesterday the first part of its sixth report: 3949 pages of accurate and detailed scientific information showing that the origin of climate change is “human activity” and associating with varying degrees of probability the relationship between the global phenomenon and its most worrying manifestations. However, a good part of the global media do not seem to have read the IPCC report but rather something else.

Table of Contents

The IPCC report indicates a historic change, the media “blames” Humanity

IPCC report: Historical series of observed and reconstructed temperatures for the last two millennia (left) and comparison between observed data and simulation models including or not the effect of pollution (right). Around the second half of the 10s of the 20th century there is an abrupt trend change with the previous historical series.
IPCC report: Historical series of observed and reconstructed temperatures of the last two millennia (left) and comparison between observed data and simulation models including or not the effect of pollution (right). Around the second half of the 10s of the 20th century there is a sharp reversal with the previous historical series.

The New York Times ambiguously asserts that “humans have already warmed the planet by about 1.1°”. The use of the third person of the plural to refer to our species is striking. El País goes further and headlines that the IPCC report “holds Humanity responsible”. And The Guardian, shamelessly says that the report is a “guilty verdict against Humanity” for its “climate crimes”.

But our species has been around since at least some 315,000 years ago, and as we can see from the graph above, the abrupt change in temperature trends occurs as recently as the second half of the 1910s.

What happened a century ago of such magnitude as to impact climate? In that same period, capitalism went into decadence, it concentrates and centralizes around the state, radically exacerbating the tendencies that had already been present in the previous decades and which we know as imperialism. The extreme concentration and centralization of capital transforms the geographic distribution and technological options of industry, deforming the development of all sectors and technologies from agriculture to microprocessors via antibiotic production.

Since then, the requirements in order to foster what the bourgeoisie calls “economic development” – which is nothing more than the accumulation of capital – are increasingly antagonistic to those of human development. It was immediately obvious with militarism and the outbreak of wars that were for the first time global, with the reinforcement of frontiers and migration controls, reactionary in a way that was obvious even to bourgeois liberals like Stephan Zweig.

We see it today with the gratuitous slaughter into which the current pandemic has drifted, part of a growing contradiction since then between health and capitalism. But we see it also in the culture, the suicide boom and heinous crimes and even in interpersonal relationships.

Climate change as described by the IPCC report can only be understood in that overall context that cuts across all facets of the relationship between human beings with each other and with the environment we inhabit. The cause of climate change is not “Humanity”, climate change is an environmental expression of the inability of the system to generate human development during its historical decline.

The “sacred climate union”, the IPCC report and the ruling class’ discourse

The IPCC report released yesterday
The IPCC report released yesterday

Reading the IPCC report and blaming Humanity as if this were its logical conclusion is not innocent. And neither is it simply to invisibilize the great meat grinder that capitalism has become. Just look at the consequences drawn by the media cited above, not to mention the specialist media.

It’s all about peddling the Green Deal to us by using the idea of a climate emergency in order to impose a sacred climate union leading us to accept without further ado as a necessary and urgent sacrifice what is nothing but the biggest transfer of income from workers to capital since the world wars. Moreover, as of today, what the bourgeoisie is seeking is the acceleration of its implementation in Europe and in the USA and its imperative extension to the rest of the world.

The media discourse on the IPCC report takes on Christian religious overtones all over the place. Climate change would be little less than the story of a deicide; and environmental disasters as the inevitable and deserved punishment upon a Humanity guilty of a crime against the Nature from which it is born.

The interesting thing here is that in this story, which has nothing to do with the IPCC report, the ruling class, which does not hesitate to present itself cynically as the “creator of wealth”, that is, as the necessary mediator between Nature and Humanity, does not appear to be responsible for anything either, it goes without saying.

Now they are masquerading as ancient priests in order to hold the sacrifice required to appease Nature’s wrath: that of the already precarious living conditions of millions of workers. Sacrifice that, according to John Kerry himself, would create “the largest market ever known” and according to BlackRock’s chairman would yield “better dividends with tighter risks.”

It is inescapable, especially during these years, to notice the difference between that young capitalism which gave rise to the birth of Epidemiology, a discipline which clearly expressed the time when the bourgeoisie was able to think of the social as something which both coincided with its interests as the ruling class of society and generated human development. Then the bourgeoisie presented itself as a new Prometheus capable of liberating humanity, today it can only do so as the priest of a bloodthirsty and diseased god.