ITHACA, N.Y.—Author Matthew T. Huber led a discussion last week regarding the economic risks and impacts of climate change, with an emphasis on the approach he believes is the best way to tackle the ongoing crisis.
About 40 people attended the event, organized by the Ithaca Democratic Socialists of America chapter, in which Huber expounded on ideas from his book “Climate Change as Class War: Building Socialism on a Warming Planet.” Huber is a professor of geography and environment at Syracuse University.
Huber broke down the three main class structures that are referenced throughout his book — capitalist, professional and working class — and their roles in climate change.
“Class is defined again as your relationship to the means of production,” Huber said. “And while that might sound a bit old-fashioned, the climate struggle is ultimately about this. It’s about industrial production. It’s about how we produce food, energy, and all the things in the world that we rely on. It’s not only how we produce energy, but […] basically, industrial production itself is the most significant source of emissions.”
Huber said he thinks the capitalist class is responsible for the climate crisis, while the professional class is driving climate policy advocacy and is a main focus of the climate change movement.
“And then there’s the working class, which has both power and numbers as the majority of society and strategic capacity to shape the energy transition itself through labor and union organizing,” Huber said.
Overall, Huber said he thinks that appealing climate politics more to the working class, who represent the majority of society, will help strengthen the fight against climate change. He said the main idea he wants people to take away from his book is the connection between social class structures and climate politics.
“If I can get more people to think about class struggle over how we produce our lives and in the struggle over taking some social control over production from capitalist to control it for profit, that’s kind of what I’m trying to get people to think about,” Huber said after the event.
Huber said he has already given book talks in Syracuse and Detroit, but was impressed by the number of people in attendance from the Ithaca DSA chapter. This was Ithaca DSA’s first in-person event since the coronavirus pandemic began.
“I was totally blown away by how many people are here,” Huber said. “At DSA events, it’s always a struggle to get people.”After Huber’s talk, the group broke up into small discussions for 15 minutes before the event wrapped up. Beswick reminded the group about a few of the DSA’s upcoming events, including a climate change rally that was held downtown June 15 and the ongoing Starbucks boycott in support of the Starbucks Workers United.