FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The World is a Gas Chamber

The world is a gas chamber, and not just in the general sense that the world’s a type of chamber (a vaulted space) filled with gas (nitrogen, oxygen, etc.). The world is (or, rather, since the industrial revolution, has become) a gas chamber in the particular sense of a space filled with poison gas, that kills people, animals, etc. Yes, although they’re most notorious for killing people with hydrogen cyanide, gas chambers are also known to use carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide to kill whatever happens to find itself trapped within their confines.

And, did you hear? The carbon dioxide-reading research stations of the planet, including those in Antarctica, now register (and are expected to continue to register for decades) concentrations exceeding 400 parts per million. A level not seen in 4 million years, incompatible with life as we know it, the gas chamber we’ve made of the planet has just reached a new degree of lethality.

Unlike the gas chambers of the Nazi genocide (or, closer to home, the constellation of gas chambers used to execute – often innocent – prisoners throughout the US), the gas chamber that the world has become is not being filled with poison gas for the purpose of killing people, and other animals.

Yet, in spite of this lack of intent, widespread harm and death is a completely foreseeable consequence of our particularly exploitative political-economic system. That is, though widespread killing (the sixth great extinction no less) may not be committed with the specific intention of killing, it is done entirely knowingly (a state of mind sufficient to confer criminal guilt). The causal relationship has been beyond all reasonable doubt for years.

Classified by the World Health Organization as a leading carcinogen, the very air we breathe is responsible for not only lung and bladder cancer but for conditions ranging from emphysema and heart disease to mental illness and cognitive decline. And let’s not overlook the fact that the pollution streaming from countless power plants, livestock lots, tailpipes, and other sources of poison, also produces the devastating heat waves killing so many worldwide.

Like the super storms straddling the barrier between norm and deviation, the changing climate is not a cause of harms but an effect of the toxic runoff of our global political-economy. Organized around the pursuit of exchange value (money), as opposed to use value, the global political economy not only poisons the air, water, soil, and bodies of the human and non-human animals of the world as a matter of business, it leads as well to such ecocidal phenomena as deforestation, desertification, and the expansion of oceanic dead zones.

Monstrous in itself, the devastation of these ecosystems’ forests and marine algae (responsible for converting so much carbon dioxide into oxygen) exponentially compounds the toxicity and volatility of the gas chamber of a planet in which we’re all confined – a gas chamber that cannot be meaningfully dismantled until the prison (i.e., systems and relations of domination), which it’s an adjunct to, and outgrowth of, is dismantled as well.

More articles by:

Elliot Sperber is a writer, attorney, and adjunct professor. He lives in New York City and can be reached at elliot.sperber@gmail.com and on twitter @elliot_sperber

Weekend Edition
April 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Ruling Class Operatives Say the Darndest Things: On Devils Known and Not
Conn Hallinan
The Great Game Comes to Syria
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mother of War
Andrew Levine
“How Come?” Questions
Doug Noble
A Tale of Two Atrocities: Douma and Gaza
Kenneth Surin
The Blight of Ukania
Howard Lisnoff
How James Comey Became the Strange New Hero of the Liberals
William Blum
Anti-Empire Report: Unseen Persons
Lawrence Davidson
Missiles Over Damascus
Patrick Cockburn
The Plight of the Yazidi of Afrin
Pete Dolack
Fooled Again? Trump Trade Policy Elevates Corporate Power
Stan Cox
For Climate Mobilization, Look to 1960s Vietnam Before Turning to 1940s America
William Hawes
Global Weirding
Dan Glazebrook
World War is Still in the Cards
Nick Pemberton
In Defense of Cardi B: Beyond Bourgeois PC Culture
Ishmael Reed
Hollywood’s Last Days?
Peter Certo
There Was Nothing Humanitarian About Our Strikes on Syria
Dean Baker
China’s “Currency Devaluation Game”
Ann Garrison
Why Don’t We All Vote to Commit International Crimes?
LEJ Rachell
The Baddest Black Power Artist You Never Heard Of
Lawrence Ware
All Hell Broke Out in Oklahoma
Franklin Lamb
Tehran’s Syria: Lebanon Colonization Project is Collapsing
Donny Swanson
Janus v. AFSCME: What’s It All About?
Will Podmore
Brexit and the Windrush Britons
Brian Saady
Boehner’s Marijuana Lobbying is Symptomatic of Special-Interest Problem
Julian Vigo
Google’s Delisting and Censorship of Information
Patrick Walker
Political Dynamite: Poor People’s Campaign and the Movement for a People’s Party
Fred Gardner
Medical Board to MDs: Emphasize Dangers of Marijuana
Rob Seimetz
We Must Stand In Solidarity With Eric Reid
Missy Comley Beattie
Remembering Barbara Bush
Wim Laven
Teaching Peace in a Time of Hate
Thomas Knapp
Freedom is Winning in the Encryption Arms Race
Mir Alikhan
There Won’t be Peace in Afghanistan Until There’s Peace in Kashmir
Robert Koehler
Playing War in Syria
Tamara Pearson
US Shootings: Gun Industry Killing More People Overseas
John Feffer
Trump’s Trade War is About Trump Not China
Morris Pearl
Why the Census Shouldn’t Ask About Citizenship
Ralph Nader
Bill Curry on the Move against Public Corruption
Josh Hoxie
Five Tax Myths Debunked
Leslie Mullin
Democratic Space in Adverse Times: Milestone at Haiti’s University of the Aristide Foundation
Louis Proyect
Syria and Neo-McCarthyism
Dean Baker
Finance 202 Meets Economics 101
Abel Cohen
Forget Gun Control, Try Bullet Control
Robert Fantina
“Damascus Time:” An Iranian Movie
David Yearsley
Bach and Taxes
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail