Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/458/5511
Dave Nellist's global warning
IN 1972, David Bowie sang: "News had just come over... Earth was really dying". He was wrong, we're still here. But for how long? NASA scientists now say the Earth is warmer than at any time for the last 10,000 years.
By Dave Nellist, Socialist Party councillor in Coventry and a former Labour MP
Over the past 30 years, average surface temperatures have risen 0.2C a decade. But some areas (especially higher and more northern latitudes) are warming even faster. Another 10 years of "business as usual" carbon emissions, reports NASA, could trigger runaway climate change.
If that happens, New Scientist describes how in the northern tundra (Siberia, northern Canada and Alaska) huge amounts of methane could be released from thawing peat in melting permafrost.
Methane is 23 times more powerful a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Global warming could accelerate in what is called positive feedback.
The Met Office's Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research predicts that climate change could lead to a massive extension of drought and deserts, as global warming changes rainfall patterns.
Extreme drought, where agriculture is impossible, could affect almost one-third of the planet by 2100. Hundreds of millions of people could be forced to flee before then from hunger and thirst.
In November a UN conference will propose a replacement for the weak Kyoto treaty which set targets (not being met!) for states and businesses to limit greenhouse gases. Left to big business, will those targets be met in time?
Drax in Yorkshire, Europe's largest coal fired power station, is Britain's biggest producer of greenhouse gases. Last year Drax produced nearly 21m tonnes of carbon dioxide. The owners predict that figure will be worse this year. They claim that's because they're not given enough financial incentives to burn biofuels, although Drax doubled its profits to £317 million in the first six months of the year!
With earnings like these, what's the incentive for shareholders to forego such profits? A serious plan to radically reduce carbon dioxide must start with public ownership and the removal of the role of profit. Climate change is too serious to leave to capitalist politicians and big business.
Climate change demo
Saturday 4 November, 12noon
March from US embassy, Grosvenor Square, to Trafalgar Square, London.
In The Socialist 12 October 2006:
Socialist Party NHS campaign
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news