Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/775/17171

From The Socialist newspaper, 31 July 2013

Climate change accelerates... but capitalism sets the agenda

Pete Dickenson

The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the main cause of global warming, has reached a critical level.

Carbon dioxide is released by the burning of coal, gas and oil, so called fossil fuels.

The recent measurement of the concentration of the gas at the Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii shows it has reached 400 parts per million (ppm) in the atmosphere for the first time since human beings inhabited the planet.

As the evidence on climate change has grown, governments have nevertheless refused to take any meaningful measures to address the problem.

Their paralysis in facing this emergency has become almost total since the financial crisis of 2008.

The graph below from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in the USA, shows how the situation is now out of control.

Scripps Institution of Oceanography in the USA graph of Carbon Dioxide concentrations

Scripps Institution of Oceanography in the USA graph of Carbon Dioxide concentrations   (Click to enlarge)

Going back nearly a million years, carbon dioxide concentrations have risen and fallen but were never high enough to destabilise global temperatures.

This changed dramatically 30 years ago with a very rapid increase to 400 ppm. The earth has experienced this concentration before, tens of millions of years ago, and it was then associated with sea level rises of between 5 and 40 metres (16 to 131ft) and average global temperatures rose by 3-4 degrees. This could be repeated with devastating consequences.

Also, the earlier rise to 400ppm concentration took place over thousands, or tens of thousands of years, allowing time for life to adapt.

The present increase has happened in three decades and is accelerating all the time, making the future even more dangerous.

Global warming is not just a threat to future generations, the effects of climate change exist now in the form of extreme weather events.

The drought in the USA last year, combined with droughts and floods elsewhere, pushed up world food prices, which not only worsened world hunger but had more general economic effects.

In Britain inflation was expected to fall rapidly due to austerity, but didn't, partly because of sharply rising food prices.

As a result, take-home wages after allowing for inflation have continued to fall, prolonging the 'Great Recession'.

In the USA, the cost of Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy that devastated the Wall Street finance district last year has been put at over $100 billion.

The evidence linking the extreme weather events the earth is experiencing to global temperature rise is increasing all the time, yet despite the huge human and economic costs already incurred, there has been no significant action taken by capitalist governments on global warming.

The opposite is in fact the case, with attempts to agree a new treaty to replace the ineffective Kyoto agreement being abandoned and a new drive launched to step up fossil fuel production in the USA, UK and elsewhere.

This is linked to producing gas from shale rock where there are enormous potential reserves which will add a vicious twist to spiralling global temperatures.

Fracking

Gas from shale, made by a process called fracking, could be even more deadly than conventional gas production.

This is because methane gas is released, which is far more damaging to the environment than carbon dioxide.

Fracking has also caused localised earthquakes and can lead to contamination of ground water.

Despite this George Osborne has just announced that he wants to create the world's most generous shale tax (dodging) regime to stimulate production. He intends to cut the tax paid by shale gas manufacturers from 62% to 30%.

One justification given for this policy is that a shale industry will create thousands of new jobs, but a programme to develop renewable energy like wind, wave and solar would generate far more employment.

Osborne's preference for fossil fuels over renewables is showing once again that what matters to the capitalist class is short-term profit and nothing must be allowed to stand in the way of this goal, even potential environmental destruction.

Competition between the main imperialist powers, whose governments primarily represent the multinational companies based inside their borders, has prevented any agreement being reached to tackle climate change.

The financial crisis of 2008 squeezed profits and made any agreement even less likely.

This deadlock clearly points to the need to remove the profit-based economic system and replace it with socialism that will create the conditions where environmental problems can be solved.

The main technical elements of a socialist programme will be:

To put this programme into effect will need the democratic public ownership of the energy and transport industries.

The industrial sectors to be nationalised, or renationalised, will be the energy generating and distribution companies, vehicle manufacturers and bus and rail service providers.

Another key aspect in achieving environmental sustainability will be to increase the efficiency of the production of all manufactured goods and housing.

In fact, the need to reduce the intensity of energy use includes nearly all areas of the output of goods and services, so it will be essential to efficiently integrate the different sectors of the economy into a democratically determined plan of production, which will have environmental needs at its centre.

This in turn will require the public ownership of the approximately 150 big corporations that presently dominate British society.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 31 July 2013:


Socialist Party NHS news and analysis

NHS: cuts ration care

National Health Service in crisis!


Socialist Party news and analysis

Miliband's 'Clause Four moment'

Unite "at a turning point"

Benefits shock: London family on state handouts avoids the benefit cap and bedroom tax

Them & Us


Climate change

Climate change accelerates... but capitalism sets the agenda


International socialist news and analysis

The capitalist world in turmoil

Tunisia: Political assassination provokes renewed workers' struggles

Neither the military nor Morsi... for a workers' government


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Anti-bedroom tax campaigning

Lambeth byelection: TUSC beats Ukip and Tories

Zero hours contract scandal

Atos misery: scrap work capability assessments!

Tamil Solidarity links with RMT

Building the Socialist Party

The Socialist summer schedule


Socialist Party workplace news

Strike to stop Royal Mail sell-off

Two weeks of strike action by Churchill cleaners

One Housing support workers - more determined than ever!

Workplace In brief


Socialist Party review

Book review: Karl Marx - How to change the world


 

Home   |   The Socialist 31 July 2013   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Climate change:

triangleExtreme weather events and global warming

triangleHurricane Harvey: A tragedy made far worse by capitalism

triangleYoung people are searching for an alternative - find it at Socialism 2017

triangleTrump and the fossil fuel corporations - a lethal combination for the planet

triangleFight for a socialist Brexit

Capitalism:

triangleConference on state spies: who's watching who?

triangleCan you donate to the Socialism 2017 appeal?

triangleOctober 1917 reviews: 'More bright than any heaven'

triangleRussia, October 1917: When workers took power

Gas:

triangleAnti-fracking campaigners' legal fight

triangleHundreds evacuated after Labour council dismisses cracks in tower blocks

triangleGMB union should support anti-fracking campaigners in Fylde

Global:

triangleGlobal finance: Are those storm clouds ahead?

triangleCaerphilly Socialist Party: Global socialism - Report from CWI school

Energy:

triangleCorbyn's manifesto: An important step in the right direction

Carbon:

triangle47,000 kids exposed to illegal toxic air

Global warming:

triangleVictory at Standing Rock: US authorities agree to re-route oil pipeline

Fracking:

triangleGMB conference: angry mood from delegates

Kyoto Agreement:

triangleThe Kyoto agreement

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis

19/10/17

Refugees

Hundreds of torture victims wrongly detained

18/10/17

Brexit

Tories torn - bin them now

18/10/17

What we saw

What we saw

18/10/17

Food

Obesity epidemic: end food market anarchy

18/10/17

NHS

Tories scrap the NHS pay cap: now fight for real-terms pay rises!

18/10/17

Debt

Young people being strangled by debts

13/10/17

Labour

The end of the Tories?

11/10/17

Tories

Nasty party imploding...drive out the Tories

11/10/17

Black history

The fight against racial discrimination is tied to fighting against capitalist austerity

11/10/17

Housing

Housing crisis: Corbyn's positive measures blanked by Labour's right

11/10/17

Universal Credit

Major attacks 'Universal Credit', half a million more face poverty

11/10/17

Them & Us

Them & Us

11/10/17

NHS

NHS meltdown - fight the Tory cuts

11/10/17

IMF

IMF helps cause inequality it slams

4/10/17

NHS

Tories wreck our NHS

triangleMore News and socialist analysis articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle19 Oct Arriva North West bus drivers strike over pay

triangle18 Oct Russia, October 1917: When workers took power

triangle18 Oct Tories torn - bin them now

triangle18 Oct Royal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers

triangle18 Oct Balloting members on the pay cap

triangle13 Oct The end of the Tories?

triangle11 Oct Nasty party imploding...drive out the Tories

More ...

triangle21 Oct Birmingham: NSSN Solidarity Forum

triangle23 Oct Chesterfield Socialist Party: The continuing struggle for abortion rights

triangle24 Oct Liverpool Socialist Party: The October Russian Revolution 100 years ago to the day

triangle25 Oct Salford Socialist Party: The October 1917 Russian revolution

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2