Peter Montague’s “Rachel’s Democracy & Health News” is a good window on the left wing of the environmental movement, and that’s where I picked up on historian David Noble’s “The Corporate Climate Coup” and its companion piece, Denis Rancourt’s “Global Warming: Truth or Dare?”, both originally housed at Rancourt’s blog Activist Teacher.

They’re enormously long; fortunately Rancourt’s a good summarizer:

“I argue: (1) that global warming (climate change, climate chaos, etc.) will not become humankind’s greatest threat until the sun has its next hiccup in a billion years or more (in the very unlikely scenario that we are still around), (2) that global warming is presently nowhere near being the planet’s most deadly environmental scourge, and (3) that government action and political will cannot measurably or significantly ameliorate global climate in the present world….

“By far the most destructive force on the planet is power-driven financiers and profit-driven corporations and their cartels backed by military might; and…the global warming myth is a red herring that contributes to hiding this truth. In my opinion, activists who, using any justification, feed the global warming myth have effectively been co-opted, or at best neutralized.”

Noble elaborates:

“If the corporate climate change campaign has fuelled a fevered popular preoccupation with global warming, it has also accomplished much more. Having arisen in the midst of the world-wide global justice movement, it has restored confidence in those very faiths and forces which that movement had worked so hard to expose and challenge: globe-straddling profit-maximizing corporations end their myriad agencies and agendas; the unquestioned authority of science and the corollary belief in deliverance through technology, and the beneficence of the self-regulating market.”

Rancourt and Noble do draw on some right-wing denialist material, and the underlying logic is eerily similar: since the commonly proposed solutions to climate change don’t involve undoing world capitalism ASAP, then the problem must not exist. (The right-wingers reach the same conclusion from the opposite worry, that the commonly proposed solutions might indeed undo world capitalism.)

Quite aside from some factual questions — did Al Gore really just prevent a “world-wide global justice movement” from taking power? — Rancourt and Noble have the same problem that has bedeviled the left since the collapse (first moral, then physical) of any credible alternative to capitalism. No matter how bad the current system is, what goes in its place? One of the commenters on Rancourt’s article gave a revealing answer to this question:

“If I were the benevolent dictator of planet Earth, I would remove all subsidies to the polluting industries, make towns and cities responsible for their own energy and food production, take from the rich to give to the poor equalizing wealth among all peoples, make it illegal for anyone to earn 7 times the amount the most poorly paid person makes, give Aboriginal peoples ten times the land they have now and a huge apology for the injustices done to them, only allow democratic free presses to operate, implement a 1-child per couple law, ensure all farm animals are well-treated and can roam freely, reforest the planet, reuse metals instead of mining, and so on. What a beautiful world it could be!”

Uh huh. No such utopia could exist without a centralized power that would make previous totalitarianisms look wimpy. Better the capitalist devil I know, thank you.