“Humanity Has Opened the Gates of Hell”

A climate Hades awaits us!

By Chris Kinder

These ominous words (in quotes above) from the UN Secretary General António Guterres ring true, as climate change has shown in just the last few years that it is no longer just a threat—it is a reality. It is creating a dangerous new era for all living things on this planet.

But Guterres errs in blaming humanity for this looming disaster.

The drastic climate change situation that the world faces today has been created by a capitalist dominated human population which at first did not know what it was doing. That was then. Now, however, the ruling class and much of the oppressed and exploited population knows exactly what is happening, and many know exactly who is at fault—the profit-fixated lords of big capital.

A world divided by class

The capitalist class, chiefly its fossil fuels related corporations, is literally waging a war on Earth for its profit. Masses of people want something to be done about it, and protests are getting larger and louder. But government officials are just wagging their fingers at the corrupt capitalist criminals—the ones who hired them—and pleading with the perpetrators to reform. But the crime of an era goes on.

The consequences facing the planet and nearly all of its living beings are showing up now at an unexpectedly high rate—rapid rise of global temperatures in both land and sea causing deadly heat waves. And ferocious storms are creating a deluge of flooding in places matched with increasing droughts, melting glaciers, lowering levels of ground water, and raging fires. This, along with human deforestation is threatening forests everywhere, and at a rate unknown to Earth since the last major extinction wiped out the dinosaurs 66 million years ago.

No one knows for sure what the future holds, but given that fossil fuels are vomiting CO2 into the atmosphere with no end in sight, the 2000s are a giving us an ugly peek at a looming and very big change for the world. It’s too much to review all this in one article, but here’s a brief outline.

Deadly heat

The global average temperatures hovered around 13.73 degrees Celsius (56.71 Fahrenheit) in the 1880s through to the 1910s but grew more quickly since the 1980s. Temperatures reached 14.51 degrees Celsius (58.12 F) in the 2000s (2000 – 2009.) But these figures are an average of both land and ocean temperatures, and air over land has historically warmed faster than that of the oceans, which represent 70 percent of the planet, and they also vary over different regions at different times.

The Northern Hemisphere has warmed faster than the Southern Hemisphere, and the entire Arctic has warmed faster than anywhere else in the world. Near the North Pole, the mean annual temperature in the first decade of the 2000s was 1.8 degrees Celsius (3.24 F) above the average temperature there for 1951 to 1980. Overall, the planet had its hottest week ever in July and is entering “uncharted territory,” the World Meteorological Organization declared.1

At first glance, these numbers may not seem to be so bad, but calling it a “warming” of the planet is just too nice sounding. Heat stress that is already a threat to life is getting worse, particularly where people must work outside. Twenty-one of the past 22 years have been the hottest on record in the United States, and in places like Arizona, Texas, and all along the border with Mexico, temperatures have hovered around 100 degrees—higher in Summer and into the Fall. Workers in agriculture, construction, and other outdoor jobs are dying of heat exhaustion as they work for some of the wealthiest corporations in the world. Meanwhile, executives relax in their air-conditioned offices and count their money.

Workers’ heat stress

Amazon and UPS workers and truck drivers are also notably affected working in big indoor warehouses and other facilities without air-conditioning. Overall, workers in these jobs experience more than 100,000 heat related injuries a year, facing possible damages to the brain, heart, liver, and kidneys.

It’s not just the heat itself that is the problem. The same system that is causing the heat to rise is refusing to deal with the conditions it caused. Workers are forced to keep working regular eight- or ten-hour days regardless of the heat. One Amazon warehouse in Pennsylvania got so hot that the company positioned some ambulances outside to deal with workers who were dropping from dehydration and heat-stress. At one point the temperature there reached 114 degrees. But does the company consider installing fans or air conditioners? Not a chance. That would interfere with their profit flow. Investors would be furious.

No concern of the government

The government is almost as bad as the corporations on heat stress. While California has some poorly enforced regulations to protect workers from excessive heat, other states do not. Texas is one of the worst, having recently passed a state law that rolled back, or blocked heat regulations passed by local governments. Austin was one of the cities that had a heat regulation for workers. With the new state law banning regulations passed, Texas Governor Abbott’s office crowed that, “Nothing in Texas or federal law prohibits employers from allowing workers to take water breaks in hot weather.”2 Nothing in government law prohibited plantation owners from owning slaves at one time either.

Washington is indeed in line with Texas. No federal heat standard exists, though it was recommended 50 years ago by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA). Hordes of Corporate lobbyists work hard to keep regulations off the table, through organizations like the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), which is financed in part by the remaining Koch brother.

Migrants targeted by heat and imperialism

Migrants fleeing worsening living conditions in lands to the south of both the U.S. and Europe are also victims of excessive heat. As if that wasn’t enough, they are also victimized as they try to cross borders. European countries are increasingly complaining about how they are overloaded with migrants. Poland built a razor wire fence on its southern border after Germany said it was letting too many migrants through.

The U.S., which brutally exploits and ruins migrant’s Central and South American countries to the point at which there is no possible life left for them in their homelands, then brutalizes them again at the U.S.-Mexico border. Texas is taking Poland’s lead by constructing razor wire barriers in the Rio Grande. The first victims are getting sliced up as they try to cross the river as of this writing.

Migrants who do make it across the river and manage to avoid the border guards by heading into the southwestern desert in 100-degree temperatures are frequently found dead, with empty water bottles. Activists try to get water to people in the desert, but there is only so much they can do.


Destroying forests is a prime driver of the climate change we are experiencing now. Human beings have been deforesting the planet for millennia, but the rate of forest loss accelerated rapidly in the last few centuries. Half of global forest loss occurred between 8,000 BC and 1900, the other half was lost in the last century alone.

The problem is that human tampering with forests, even if they are only partially disturbed with roads and partial cut downs, can turn them from carbon sinks into carbon emitters. This is exactly what has happened to the eastern parts of the Amazon rainforest, which is suffering the most from human disturbance. Setting fires in order to seize land for agriculture and raising cattle threatens the whole 1.5 million square miles of the forest that is in Brazil.

When will the Amazon rainforest be gone?

Since 1988 an average of 10,000 acres of the Amazon has been destroyed every day, equal to an area the size of California. In 2021 alone around 4.8 million acres of rainforest were destroyed. If deforestation continues at its current rate, we could see the demise of the Amazon rainforest by 2064, particularly in the southern and eastern areas. By this point, periods of severe drought will prevent recovery and destroy native wildlife.

Attacks on forests such as these impact water supply as well. Through a process known as transpiration, the Amazon expels large amounts of water into the atmosphere. This water then falls as rain, providing around half of the region’s rainfall. Clearing the rainforest’s cover interferes with this process and alters the ecosystem.3

Borneo is another example (among many others.) The lowlands there are home to the richest rainforest in the world. The climate provides an ideal growing environment for approximately 10,000 species of plants (more than in the whole continent of Africa.) But there is an ongoing threat of demolition of the forest to replant and produce palm oil and other products.

Ferocious wildfires terrorize
the world

Climate change has made wildfires more explosive, more rapid, and long lasting, and thus more dangerous. The more than 5,800 fires raging across northern Canada were ignited by extreme heat conditions, a record drought, and ceaseless lightning storms. The Arctic has been warming four times faster than the rest of the world, altering the jet streams and causing wild fluctuations of temperature such as what Canada has experienced. Thousands of people have been forced to evacuate their homes, and millions have been choking on the smoke from these fires.

Montreal had the worst air quality in the world in August, but nothing is more frightening than a fast-moving fire headed your way, and climate change has ramped up their numbers. One of the worst was the wind-driven inferno that engulfed the beautiful town of Lahaina in Hawaii’s island of Maui.

The wind-driven fire roared in so fast that people there had very little time to escape. Running to their cars, many got stuck in traffic, and had to run for their lives. Some ran down to the waterfront being chased all the way into the water by flames. As of September 26th, the death toll is an estimated 97, with eight bodies still unidentified and 22 people missing. It took some seven weeks since August searching through the remains of totally destroyed homes to find bodies so thoroughly burned that they could only be identified by matching their DNA with relatives. And only then have survivors been allowed back in to examine what’s left of their homes.

Climate change is the spark
for disaster

The Lahaina fire is thought to have possibly been triggered by a power line that crashed to the ground in the winds, but the climate change mark is all over this disaster. Wildfires used to be uncommon in Hawaii and were mainly ignited by lightning or volcanic eruptions. But Hawaii now has a lot less rainfall than it did a century ago and is much drier than it used to be. Hot, dry weather conditions have sucked moisture out of the vegetation. These conditions were severe around Lahaina due to parched land that had been abandoned by farms.

Hawaii’s Maui experienced other fires since the beginning of August besides Lahaina’s, for an overall death count of 106. According to the National Fire Protection Association, the Maui wildfires are in the top ten worst wildfires in the U.S., and the deadliest in the last century.

Fires and floods

Hawaii is not alone in this. As the Mediterranean sweltered through record temperatures, numerous European nations including Greece, Turkey, Croatia, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Cyprus, Algeria, and Tunisia have suffered hitherto unheard-of forest fires. Greece has suffered one of the largest impacts, with a number of wildfires lasting a couple of weeks in July and August. Nearly 80 wildfires were reported, causing at least 28 deaths and 75 injuries. Apparently, arsonists have had a hand in this, with 79 people detained by police for crimes. But climate change is the ultimate criminal in this line-up, as shown by the extreme heat figures of 41 degrees Celsius (105.8 F,) and forecasts for Rhodes to hit 45 degrees Celsius (113 F.)4

Greece, Turkey, and Bulgaria have also been struck by unusually massive rains and floods. Big storms causing flooding have drenched regions in these countries, causing at least 14 deaths along with destroying highways and forcing evacuations. As of September 30th, Greece was inundated with two heavy floods, one right after the other, caused by record rainfall in a storm dubbed Elias. Thousands of homes lost access to electricity and running water.

Flood disasters

Three people were confirmed dead in Greece from the flooding in one week in late September, and flooding in Turkey’s northwest claimed the lives of seven. Bulgarian officials also reported that four died in floodwaters on the country’s Black Sea coast.

A flood disaster in Libya in September that killed more than 6,000 people, with hundreds more still missing, illustrates how the ruling classes are paving the way for climate disasters. More than 16,000 children are displaced in eastern Libya, with many more affected due to lack of essential services such as health, schooling, and a safe water supply. The coastal city of Derna was the hardest hit of the several communities affected. The immediate cause was the collapse of two dams at the height of the downpour. But this disaster had two chief causes—the class division of humanity being the first.

“We came, we saw, he died.”

Libya had been a well-off country before a military intervention into its internal affairs by the U.S.-dominated NATO alliance, which resulted in the East-West division of the country into competing corrupt regimes and the gruesome murder of its populist former leader, Muammar Qaddafi, in 2011. “We came, we saw, he died.” was Hillary Clinton’s obnoxious laughing crack on his killing.

Now, 12 years later, Libya remains a divided failed state whose rulers ignored numerous warnings that these aging dams were ready to crumble and needed repairs. Libya was thus ripe for the climate change-enhanced disaster, the survivors of which can no longer drink the water in Derna.

Water issues: loss of ground water

For years now, dwindling freshwater resources have caused problems, and the continental U.S. has seen some contradictory manifestations of this. The story in California is an example. The winter of 2022-23 saw unusually massive rainstorms, and above average snow in the mountains, which have mostly filled the reservoirs and ended the three-year drought in the state. One might think that this reverses the effects of climate change, but that would be false.

The rainstorm did help with water shortage temporarily but didn’t change what has been a summer of climate hell around the world, including in California. The heating planet is resulting in more water being held in the clouds, resulting in bigger but less frequent storms. Most importantly the storms do nothing about the dangerously receding level of the underground aquifer.

The loss of ground water has been forcing farmers in the central valley to drill deeper and deeper for water for their crops for years now. Only the largest farmers can afford to do this, and in some areas, farming has become impossible even with the drilling.

Glacial melt

One of the critical issues affecting freshwater is glacier melt. Underground aquifers on our planet got there from the runoff of the last ice age, which began about 100,000 years ago and lasted until 25,000 years ago. This was in the Pleistocene Epoch which preceded the Holocene in which we now live. At the Ice Age’s peak, massive ice sheets stretched over North America and Eurasia. Now however, the last remnants of these massive glaciers are melting away—two thirds of the remaining glaciers are expected to be gone by 2100.

Unfortunately for humans and other life forms, the fact is that while the massive glaciers during the Ice Age covered the continents and so drained into the soil, the ones that remain today—the Arctic ice cap, Antarctica, Greenland—drain mainly into the ocean, thus feeding sea rise. Glaciers that drain into rivers and resupply the ground water are generally much smaller, and thus likely to be the first to melt away. And that is bad news for life on the planet.

Threat of a mass extinction

There have been five mass extinctions of life forms on our planet, all of them due to sharp variations of living conditions due to big events such as ice ages and volcanic explosions. Four of them killed off some 70 to 86 percent of living things on the planet at the time except the third one, the end of the Permian 250 million years ago, which geologists agree was “the mother of all disasters.” It did away with 96 percent of all living things. The last one, the fifth, was unique in that it was caused by an asteroid that slammed into a south-eastern part of what is now Mexico 65 million years ago. It famously obliterated about 76 percent of species including the dinosaurs.5

One flying dinosaur survived and evolved into the many birds we have today. Mammals, who survived in the land of the dinosaurs by being small and nocturnal, were now able to evolve and grow, eventually producing us, the smartest, most prolific, and prosperous animal to have evolved thus far. Yet we have created a new extinction, over 60 million years since the last one.

So why are we creating a new mass extinction which threatens all animals, including us?

Back to the future

The Anthropocene that scientists generally agree we are in now (or are entering) is a new epoch in the geological history of Earth. This fact alone is way more significant than is generally recognized. It is the first such epochal shift-change since the Mesolithic period 11.5 thousand years ago, and only the second since the beginning of the Pleistocene almost two million years ago, which marked the beginning of our genus.6

It took a lot of evolution to produce the humans that we are today. And it took a lot of societal development to produce humans powerful enough to wreck the entire environment of the planet. The Anthropocene Extinction is proceeding faster than any other before now, by a rate of at least 1,000 times. Killing off five species per year is considered to be a “normal” rate based on earlier extinctions, but, “Currently, a dozen species disappear from our planet every day!” (See note 5)

Human beings will probably survive this disaster, but not without a century of mass migrations, chaos, wars, deaths, and many unimaginable other troubles.

Are we there yet?

We know that the big fossil fuels companies know that their products are causing the Earth to heat up drastically, because they said it would back in the 1960s—confirming what scientists were already saying. They even admitted that use of fossil fuels would eventually have to be curtailed. Then they shut up about this critical issue and continued drilling right up to now, despite the fact that the science on this issue is way more unanimously well-known than ever. Fossil fuels are killing the planet. So, why are they still drilling now? “It’s the market,” they say. It’s what the market “demands.”

We know that we have to stop this atrocity, but protests aren’t getting us there, and the UN and periodic international climate conferences are a joke, which is not funny. The temperature is still going up, and governments such as the U.S. under Biden for example are bought and paid for by the big corporations.

We need a revolution, but revolutionary leaderships are few and far between. Still, we must insist, we need a socialist revolution which will expropriate the corporations, overthrow the system, and build a government of, by, and for the international working class. Such an overturn would be too late to stop all the effects of climate change, but it is the best hope for adjusting humanity into the new epoch and minimizing its negative effects. Without this, capitalist imperialism will continue to divide, conquer, and drill as long as they can, all of which will make the climate problem worse. Nothing but revolution will do.

1 Temperature data from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, which compiles data from weather stations around the world. See “History of Changes in the Earth’s Temperature,” by Liz Osborn, For the World Meteorological Organization reference, see “We Cannot Escape What We’ve Done to the Planet,” a report in the New York Times Opinion pages, August 25, 2023.

2 “Workers are Dying of the Heat,” In These Times, October 2023, covers these issues at length.

3 See: Rachel Graham, Amazon Deforestation, at Sentient Media.

4 See Six Degrees: our future on a hotter planet, Mark Lynas, a National Geographic Society Publication, HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, 2008.

5 The Anthropocene: Age of Genocide,

6 Note here that there were many species of the Genus Homo that had to evolve before Homo Sapiens came on the scene. Two million years ago our genus was only slightly different from the latest of the Great Apes, one of who’s fossilized remains were named “Lucy.” Our Genus was fully upright walking from the beginning, but the brain size of first of our Homo ancestors was only slightly bigger than Lucy’s.