The Socialist 6 March 2019 |
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Wildfires hit Europe - build for 15 March student climate strikes
Student climate strikers blocking the road at Parliament Square, photo James Ivens (Click to enlarge)
Theo Sharieff, Socialist Students national organiser
Fire crews were battling gorse and grass fires across England, Wales and Scotland on 26 February.
Wildfires such as these are common in the spring and summer months, when warmer and dryer conditions increase the risk. But for this number to break out during winter is virtually unheard of.
They came during one of the hottest Februarys on record in Britain, but also all of Europe - where the occurrence of wildfires had already reached 480 across the continent by 1 March. The average number by this point in the year between 2008 and 2018 was just 21.
This news will no doubt upset and anger the tens of thousands of school and college students who walked out on 15 February to protest against the government's complete inaction and incompetence in the face of climate change.
In London, chants filled the streets around Westminster demanding that Theresa May and the Tory government be kicked out.
Socialist Students will be taking the campaign to the schools and colleges over the coming days to help students organise and build for the next round of walkouts on 15 March.
The wildfires underscore the incredibly urgent need for action against climate change. But what is the solution? And how can young people and workers best fight to achieve it?
Since 1988, 100 multinationals have been responsible for 71% of all greenhouse emissions globally, according to the 2017 Carbon Majors Report. And it is the system of capitalism which compels these companies to pollute our planet as a by-product of their pursuit of profits.
Many students who spoke on the Socialist Students open mic on 15 February in London observed that the system of capitalism compels these companies to pollute our planet as a by-product of their pursuit of profits. Socialist Students agrees.
We think we need therefore to fight for a clear alternative to capitalism. A socialist alternative, where the companies responsible for climate change, as well as the banks and top 150 companies which control around 80% of the British economy, are publicly owned under the democratic control and management of workers and young people.
Then it would be possible to not only rapidly halt pollution, but also fund and democratically plan mass investment into green technologies. Capitalism is incapable of this on the scale we need, as it stubbornly prioritises profits above everything else.
'Extinction Rebellion' events have popularised the tactic of small direct actions, such as blocking roads and bridges, to call attention to the problems of climate change.
But Socialist Students believes we also need to mobilise mass, collective action - specifically strike action, the main weapon of the working class - to shut down not only the roads, but the whole capitalist economy.
That's why Socialist Students will be going to the schools and colleges. Not only to helping students organise for the 15 March walkouts. But also to campaign for the trade unions - starting with the National Education Union and the University and College Union - to link up in struggle with striking students, to fight for a socialist future as the only means to save our planet.