Editorial Note: The Climate Crisis and the Future of Socialist Politics

Last October, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world’s foremost authority on climate science, released a report with the innocuous-sounding title “Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C.” Like all of the IPCC’s previous reports, this one is filled with hundreds of pages of densely packed, jargon-filled scientific prose that will quickly make the average reader’s eyes glaze over. But this deeply technocratic document also carries within it a call for revolutionary change: “limiting global warming to 1.5°C” – the limit beyond which irreversible and destructive changes to our ecosystem would become inevitable – “would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.”

The alarming, yet ultimately hopeful, implications of the report have galvanized a rising tide of organizing and activism around climate politics. In just a matter of months the concept of a Green New Deal, which for years languished on the margins of political life, has become one of the leading issues of the 2020 presidential campaign. And within DSA, it seems clear that climate politics has rapidly become one of the most important concerns of our members, who will have to live with the dire results of ecological catastrophe if nothing is done to stop it now.

This second issue of Socialist Forum is dedicated to the climate question and its impact on socialist politics, theory, and strategy in the 21st century. It presents a wide array of views on these topics, and is intended to help initiate and frame an organization-wide discussion that will only become more important as our window to effectively address the climate crisis continues to close.