The Only Solution Possible to the Environmental Crisis

The call made by Hervé  Kempf is far from being a lone voice in the dessert. Ears will always have to remain open to what Revolution leader Fidel Castro already said in 1992


The speech delivered by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez at the Copenhagen Summit in December made many notice the presence, among the special correspondents of media outlets, of a French writer and journalist that over the last few years has been publishing articles and books on the causes of environmental deterioration and the need tofind prompt solutions.

Chávez cited the introduction that Hervé  Kempf used for his book Cómo los ricos destruyen el planeta (How the Rich are Destroying the Earth), originally printed by Seuil Publishing House in 2007, and that has tens of thousands of copies translated into several languages: “We won’t be able to reduce material consumption on a global level if we don’t make the powerful take a few steps back, and if we don’t combat inequality; it’s necessary to add to the environmentalist principle of thinking globally and acting locally -so useful when aware-, the principle: consume less and distribute better.” The Venezuelan head of state commented intentionally, addressing those who did everything possible and even impossible to dilute the purposes of the Summit: “I think the piece of advice this French writer gives us is very good.”

Your browser may not support display of this image. In his reports for Le Monde newspaper on the Summit, Kempf regretted the limited openness of the final stage of the negotiation process; the lack of real commitment on the part of the main European leaders, more concerned about national political agendas than about clarifying the results of the meeting; and the postponement of the demands of social movements that expressed themselves parallel to the conference.

He concluded with unequivocal words: “During the meeting, Europe, in fact, aligned itself with the US policy,” but he drew attention to the increasing strength of the latter, in a way that it will be impossible to ignore.

If we follow Kempf’s career, we’ll immediately notice how over the last 20 years his stance has evolved from his appreciation toward environmentalist statements to a radical understanding of the link existing between the environmental crisis and imperial hegemony.

The book cited by Chávez was followed by an essay in 2009, which, from its title – Para salvar el planeta, salir del capitalismo (To Save the Planet, Leave Capitalism) – was extremely revealing.

When interviewed on the implications of this new contribution, the writer spoke clearly about the intrinsic relationship existing between the system, its mechanisms to exert the ideological hegemony and the environmental disaster we’re all heading for.

“The oligarchy maintains a cultural model of hyper-consumption, spread to society as a whole by way of television, advertising and films. That model has to change, but it’s so deeply rooted in the lifestyle of the oligarchy with its enormous accumulation of wealth that it opposes those changes. A millionaire will never accept riding a bicycle because his model, his power, his prestige, is an expensive car. If we want to reduce the ecological crisis, that’s the model we must break. It’s necessary to reduce material and energy consumption. Therefore, we’re in full confrontation between ecology and justice, on the one hand, and, on the other, a representation of the world completely maladjusted to the challenges of our time.”

The mere description of a deplorable state of affairs is insufficient for Kempf: he needed to underline how behind the evidence –the exponential growth of carbon emissions, the increase of desertification, the reduction of drinking water sources, the expansion of the hole in the ozone layer, the disappearance of endemic species, global warming and the narrowing of forest strips- there was a question of law: the very essence of capitalism.

We would have to recall how on June 12, 1992, a premonitory voice was raised in Rio de Janeiro during the so-called Earth Summit. It was that of Commander in Chief Fidel Castro, who made things crystal clear when the serious problem had not yet reached today’s magnitude and practically no one managed to delve with lucidity into an evil binding plot.

“An important biological species is in danger of disappearing due to the speedy and progressive liquidation of its natural living conditions: man. We now become aware of this problem when it’s almost too late to prevent it. It’s necessary to point out that consumer societies are mainly responsible for the atrocious destruction of the environment. They were born from the old colonial metropolises and imperial policies that, in turn, engendered the backward state and the poverty affecting the vast majority of humanity. Making up only 20% of the world population, they consume two thirds of the energy produced in the planet. They have poisoned the air, weakened and perforated the ozone layer, and saturated the atmosphere with gases changing climatic conditions, with the catastrophic effects we’re already beginning to suffer from.

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If we want to save mankind from that self-destruction, we have to make a better distribution of the riches and technologies available in the planet. Less luxury and waste in a few countries so there’s less poverty and hunger in most of the Earth. No more transfers to the Third World of lifestyles and habits of consumption ruining the environment. Let’s make human life more rational. Let’s implement a just international economic order. Let’s use all the science necessary for sustainable development without pollution. Let’s pay the ecological debt and not the foreign debt. Let’s make hunger, and not man, disappear.”

Fidel’s irrefutable truths and unavoidable demands are increasingly valid.

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