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Big business puts profits before environment
The world is heating up - this is now beyond argument. A report from the UN has now backed the 97% of climate scientists who believe human activity to be the main cause.
The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) - set up by the United Nations and the World Meteorological Organisation in 1988 - was produced by 34 scientists from 15 countries. Their conclusion? Climate change, brought about by human activity, is already happening. The only argument is over the scale of the catastrophe.
The IPCC concludes that since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, glaciers and the polar ice-caps have shrunk, the sea level has risen, and the concentrations of 'greenhouse gases' methane and carbon dioxide have increased. The rate of sea level rise since the mid-19th century has been greater than in the last 2,000 years. Erratic and disastrous weather events - hurricanes, floods and drought - increase as the world's weather patterns are disrupted.
The report concludes that human influence has been the main cause of warming since the mid-20th century. Continuing to burn 'fossil fuels' - oil, coal and natural gas - along with rising deforestation, will cause further warming and changes in every aspect of the world's climate.
It states: "Most aspects of climate change will persist for many centuries even if emissions of carbon dioxide are stopped... Limiting climate change will require substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions." However, the report cautiously holds back from discussing the human consequences of climate change - droughts, food shortages, rising sea levels - which have been detailed even in mainstream media like the National Geographic magazine. Nor does it make any suggestions for action that governments should take.
So what has been the response? Around the world, government reactions range from outright refusal to accept scientific fact (Tony Abbott, newly elected Australian PM) to wringing hands but refusing to act (Barack Obama). In the UK, the Con-Dems, who once claimed to be the 'greenest government ever', now back the environmentally damaging process of 'fracking' while cutting support for renewables - wind, tidal and solar power.
Ironically, for those who argue that anything we do would be futile while China continues to build coal-fired power stations, China not only manufactures 80% of the world's solar panels, but is installing renewable energy faster than any other country.
For workers in Britain, energy company Centrica's cancellation of plans to expand gas storage capacity because the Con-Dems failed to provide enough subsidy shows exactly who calls the shots. Big energy companies, interested only in profits, will always go the 'quick and dirty' route. The only way forward, not just for British workers, but for the future of the planet, is the democratic renationalisation of the big energy companies.
Workers internationally must join together in demanding a programme for the reduction and final elimination of fossil fuel energy generation world-wide, coupled with a programme to help those communities - mainly in the poorest areas of the world - damaged by climate change and rising sea levels.
In The Socialist 2 October 2013:
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