The scientific evidence for something like a global Green New Deal is stacking up all the time. This is cutting away at the possibility of the maintenance of ‘business as usual’ over the long-term. The truth is that the latest crisis of capitalism might not lead to a new approach, but progressive groups can use the opportunity to push forward with assembling a positive agenda. The latest information supportive of an international transformation stems from an intervention by Professor Paul Ehrlich. With colleagues, Ehrlich has contended that the extinction rate is greater than most scientists thought. By studying vertebrates on the verge of disappearance, the team has argued that the collapse has profound implications for the sustainability of human life.
For Ehrlich et al., there is a strong connection between the prospects of humans and other animals. If animals become extinct then ecosystems lose resistance and resilience. This has direct consequences for people who live in diverse places around the world. The destruction of fauna therefore can impinge on everyone. Thus, a ‘sixth mass extinction’ should be viewed with the seriousness that is often reserved for the topic of climate change.
It must be conceded that Ehrlich has a record of making dramatic predictions. Over fifty years ago, the scientist caused widespread concern with a text about the impact associated with rapid population growth. Experts have agreed that not all of his controversial narrative became a reality, but they have had to accept that the rising population of the world has been one of the factors that has driven the emergence of the Anthropocene.
Obviously, Ehrlich himself might be sceptical about the value of a global Green New Deal. The point is that evidence and forecasts made by scientists can be used by a wide range of political actors in the ‘Global North’ and the ‘Global South’. The political affiliations of scientists are not always as important as the content of their research. The lesson for the left is that it must embrace science, whilst being aware of the philosophy of science. One of the fundamental weaknesses of the nationalist right is its failure to tolerate the expertise of the scientific community. This is a worry but it is also a cause for hope.