Storm Ciaran. Photo: Public domain
Storm Ciaran. Photo: Public domain

Sam Morden, Newcastle Socialist Party

Though scientists have yet to study Storm Ciarán, which caused flooding and damage across the south of England, many factors that cause storms to form and be maintained are known to be likely to be affected by climate change. Warmer air holds more moisture, which increases the likelihood of severe weather events like Ciarán, as there is more ‘fuel’ for storms to form and intensify, as well as resulting in heavier downpours when storms do occur.

Capitalism – even if it was in the capitalists’ interest to do so – is entirely incapable of averting some of the worst effects of climate change. Even if greenhouse gas emissions were eliminated overnight, studies show that there is no way to avoid a temperature rise of 1.5°C given the lasting impact of greenhouse gases already emitted. And global emissions are still growing.

Destruction of natural habitats and ecosystems exacerbate the situation by reducing the land’s ability to contain floodwaters. Increased sewage in our waterways, and the flooding of landfills mean that floodwaters can contain dangerous pollution.

Capitalism = climate catastrophe

The capitalist system is based on competition between individual capitalist enterprises and between competing nation states, acting in the dominant interests of their own capitalist classes. This means cost-reduction and profits are prioritised at the cost of the environment, workers and communities. The level of collaboration and planning needed to stop climate change is impossible on this basis.

Even in the places where there are significant environmental regulations – for example, in some Scandinavian and European countries – this has only served to ‘export’ the pollution and emissions elsewhere as private industry relocates to places with lower environmental and industrial standards. You cannot control what you do not own. As such, these countries inevitably increase their reliance on cheap, heavily polluting imports that are not recorded in national emissions data.

Proper climate action would involve the nationalisation and democratic planning of the commanding heights of our economy, which would allow the transformation of the economy to provide a ‘green’ industrial base to provide for the planet and the people. What we need is socialist change across the world, to put to bed the destructive capitalist system and make sure workers don’t pay the price for climate catastrophe.