ITHACA, NY—Author Matthew T. Huber led a discussion last week on the economic risks and impacts of climate change, focusing on which approach he believes is the best way to combat the current crisis.
About 40 people attended the event, organized by the Ithaca Democratic Socialists of America Chapter, in which Huber outlined 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 again defined as your relationship to the means of production,” Huber said. “And while that might sound a bit old-fashioned, the fight for the climate is ultimately about it. It’s about industrial production. It’s about how we produce food, energy and everything we depend on in the world. It’s not just how we produce energy, but […] basically, industrial production itself is the largest source of emissions.
Huber said he believed the capitalist class was responsible for the climate crisis, while the professional class led the defense of climate policies and was at the center of the movement against climate change.
“And then there is the working class, which has both power and numbers as the majority of society and the strategic ability to shape the energy transition itself through labor and union organizing,” said Huber said.
Overall, Huber said he thinks making more use of climate policy for the working class, which represents the majority of society, would 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 the class struggle over how we produce our lives and the struggle to take some social control over production from the capitalists to control it for profit, that’s a bit what I’m trying to get people thinking about,” Huber said after the event.
Huber said he had lectured on the books in Syracuse and Detroit before, 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 the number of people here,” Huber said. “At DSA events, it’s always hard to attract people.” After Huber’s presentation, the group broke into small discussions for 15 minutes before the end of the event. Beswick reminded the group of some of the DSA’s upcoming events, including a climate change rally held downtown June 15 and the ongoing Starbucks boycott in support of Starbucks Workers United.