Glasgow, Climate Change & Capitalism: A true Halloween horror.
An article in today’s New York Times drives home the depth of the climate change crisis. It’s not that we can’t deal with it — yet — but there’s little chance we will be. Certainly not in time to avoid catastrophic consequences that will fall especially hard on those who are just young children today. The danger some parents fear in giving their kids the COVID vaccine pales by comparison to what these same kids will face in their 40s, 60s and 80s. Assuming they get there.
The UN has described the climate situation as already “a code red for humanity.” Extreme weather events that were once relatively rare are now increasingly routine, and accelerating. The Times article today discusses the prospects for the 12-day climate summit beginning in Glasgow, comparing this crisis with COVID.
The pandemic is important in another sense. It offers a grim lesson on the prospects for collective action. Countries turned inward to protect their own citizens, and sometimes their own pharmaceutical industries, resulting in a starkly inequitable distribution of vaccines. Half the world’s population remains unvaccinated, mainly in countries of the global south.
“We’ve just experienced the worst part of humanity’s response to a global crisis,” said Tasneem Essop, executive director of Climate Action Network, an activist group. “And if this is going to be the track record for addressing the global climate crisis, then we are in trouble. I’m hoping this is a moment of reflection and inflection.”
The wealthy industrialized capitalist countries of the world could have taken action by now to widely distribute the COVID vaccine across the planet. The vast majority of the world’s population could be partially or totally vaccinated today. It would have been expensive, but manageable. Not seeing any profit in doing so, however, the world remains at risk.
If the world’s capitalist leaders couldn’t collaborate on a global vaccination campaign at comparatively low cost, there is simply no way they will come forward now with united action on climate. They’ll balk at the immense cost, point fingers at each other, and push the climate burden as much as possible onto the backs of working people. A few examples include higher prices due to shortages and disruptions like we see now from the pandemic, job displacement without compensation in industries like coal, higher taxes, increased insurance premiums and denial of insurance.
Capitalists FiddlE While Earth Burns
Climate change and the pandemic offer stark proof that capitalism is not only incapable of addressing crises of global scale, it’s an impenetrable obstacle. Capitalism may literally be our death, ultimately. At best we’ll see the capitalist leaders in Glasgow and subsequent meetings rearrange a few deck chairs. They won’t get past the fact that each country is primarily concerned with its own wealth and power.
How Will It Be Better Under Socialism?
What actions will be undertaken under socialism to solve climate change? To be honest, I don’t know. Many factors will have to be considered, including the objective state of the ecosystem and society at such time as workers and farmers are able to take over. None of this can be known today. What we can know is that science will be looked at objectively without filter or constraint by a class system whose prime objective is defending a small ruling class at the top.
Society will be controlled by the majority in the interests of the majority, quite the opposite of today. Profit won’t dictate what actions are taken. Policies and actions will be based on the needs and best interests of humanity, nature and the planet.
Evidence backing this is the example of Cuba and its extensive international medical missions which I’ve detailed elsewhere. Almost immediately following its 1959 revolution, even as it worked to consolidate a new government and society, Cuba rushed to aid Chile when it suffered a 9.5 earthquake. Cuba was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2015 based on this internationalism. At the time of the nomination, over 325,000 Cuban medical volunteers had provided assistance to 158 countries — far exceeding services provided by any of the wealthy industrialized nations or even the World Health Organization (WHO).
This is the new morality and humanity that socialism will bring to bear against challenges like climate change. But energy consumption is just one side of the coin. On the flip side, close to a billion people have no option at all to consume energy for anything!
Socialism will deal with the dual challenge of curbing climate change while simultaneously bringing electricity and other needed modern utilities to over 940 million people — 13% of the world’s population — who still live in darkness… in 2021. You won’t hear mention of this in Glasgow, by Democrat politicians, or by the media. This is a challenge the working class under socialism will recognize and take on.
The Pew Research Center reports that two-thirds of Americans think the government should do more about climate change. I agree with that! But this government won’t be doing it. Working people need to take matters into their own hands. A place to start would be creation of a Labor Party based on the unions.
To think that a socialist revolution in the U.S. is not possible, you would have to believe not only that the ruling families of the imperialist countries and their economic wizards have found a way to manage capitalism. You would also have to close your eyes to the spreading imperialist wars, civil wars, and economic, financial, and social crises we are in the midst of.
– Mary-Alice Waters
Caracas, Venezuela, November 2007
Title image is in the Public Domain by NOAA.
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