Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/417/4743
Climate change: Big business destroying the planet
RAPID CLIMATE change, caused by pumping 'greenhouse gases' into the atmosphere resulting in global warming, is one of the greatest threats to our environment.
Man-made emissions of greenhouse gases are likely to lead to increases in global average temperatures of between 1.5C and 5.8C this century. The effects of this climate change will be catastrophic.
Ahead of the forthcoming United Nations Montreal conference on climate change, environmental scientists have published their findings in the journal Nature.
They predict that there will be a increase in both flooding (especially coastal sea surges) and in droughts. The availability of clean water will decline (Peru has already suffered a 25% reduction in water supplies over the past 30 years), infectious diseases and respiratory illnesses will increase.
The World Health Organisation estimates that climate change is already causing about 5 million extra cases of severe illness a year and more than 150,000 extra deaths.
Fish stocks, already strained to the limit through overfishing and pollution, are likely to dwindle further as temperatures rise and oxygen levels in seas and rivers decline.
The scientists also concluded that the countries most likely to be affected by global warming were the least able to combat its effects, whereas those (rich) countries who contribute most to climate change (eg the USA) are those that suffer the least.
The main culprits in producing greenhouse gases are the large Western energy giants and the big industrial, agro-chemical multinationals. Companies like ExxonMobil - who backed George Bush in his refusal to sign the weak Kyoto protocols on restricting greenhouse gases - have actually increased their emissions.
Tony Blair, who is also beholden to the interests of big business, writing in The Independent (10/11/05), admits that carbon dioxide emissions in the UK since signing up to Kyoto have actually increased. However, in his trademark sanctimonious style he berates us all for climate change.
But we're not equally responsible. What Blair fails to point out, for example, is that the greenhouse gases caused by the burning of oil flare-offs in Nigeria by just one Western oil company is greater than that caused by the production of all the electricity used in every household in Britain!
To leave the issue at the level of recycling one's personal rubbish etc., lets the real culprits off the hook.
Blair's 'market-led' prescription to solve environmental problems has already failed and will continue to do so. Capitalism with its national based, profit driven system of industrial production is unsustainable. In fact, Blair inadvertently stumbles onto this when he writes: "No single country is able to tackle climate change. All major countries need to act, if we are to tackle it effectively."
But this is utopian on the basis of capitalism. For it to come about requires socialist governments co-operating internationally, and democratically agreeing a plan of production. That is why to save the planet from environmental catastrophe we need to build the forces of socialism throughout the world to challenge capitalism.
Action on climate change
Saturday 3 December.
Assemble 12noon at Lincoln's Inn Fields, London WC2. (Holborn Tube)
(called by Campaign against Climate Change)
Supported by the socialist youth organisation International Socialist Resistance (ISR), Socialist Students and the Socialist Party
In The Socialist 24 November 2005: