Ecology and Socialism + Human Intelligence and the Environment

Program #WILC002-CHON209.

First Program: Chris Williams - Ecology and Socialism

Fifty years ago Rachel Carson wrote “Silent Spring.” It gave birth to the environmental movement. Within a few years there was Earth Day, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act and the Environmental Protection Agency. Those were heady days but that was then. Today, around the world the threat to our environment is acute and growing. The majority of solutions on offer, from driving a hybrid, to recycling plastic, to using efficient light bulbs, focus on individual lifestyle choices of mostly privileged people. Yet the scale of the crisis requires a far deeper and fundamental transformation. As global warming accelerates, carbon-fueled industrial capitalism is systemically incapable of making the necessary radical changes to protect the planet. Its insatiable appetite for profits precludes it from doing so. It is time to think about a different economic system.

Second Program: Noam Chomsky - Human Intelligence and the Environment

As a species we humans are unique because of our intelligence. At the same time we have the capacity to defer, deny and ignore unpleasant realities. To wit: the environmental crisis. The signs of climate change are clearly evident. Glaciers are melting at an astonishing rate. Floods, fires, drought, tornadoes and hurricanes are occurring with greater frequency and intensity. Rising sea levels are putting millions at risk. 2010 was the hottest year the earth has yet recorded. Conferences on mitigating global warming are held from Montreal to Copenhagen, to Cancun. But they have produced little more than hot air. The sense of urgency is just not there with the big industrial countries, responsible for most of the carbon emissions. They engage in compromises and non-binding deals leaving the basic systems and structures intact. Yet with all of the mounting evidence of the damage being done to the planet, we continue to dilly-dally. The clock is ticking.

Speaker(s):

Chris Williams (click to view archive)

Chris Williams is a longtime environmental activist, professor of physics and chemistry at Pace University, and chair of the science department at Packer Collegiate Institute. He is the author of Ecology and Socialism.
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