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From: The Socialist issue 1042, 15 May 2019: Take the wealth off the super-rich

Search site for keywords: Environment - Profit system - Profit - Global - Workers - Socialist - Capitalism - Global warming

Profit system rapidly destroying environment

One million species face extinction in the next decades, like this extinct frog, photo by Brian Gratwicke/CC

One million species face extinction in the next decades, like this extinct frog, photo by Brian Gratwicke/CC   (Click to enlarge)

Dan Gilmore, Newcastle Socialist Party

On 6 May, one of the most ambitious reports into climate change ever undertaken - the United Nation's Global Assessment Report on biodiversity - was released.

It paints a damning picture of the failures of global capitalism and its destruction of our planet in pursuit of profits, with some alarming statistics about the scale of the destruction and the time we have left to reverse course.

Almost one million animals are under threat of extinction in the next few decades, with almost one in four plant and animal species at risk. In some regions there are 75% fewer insects than 25 years ago, dealing a massive blow to crop yields and increasing starvation risks.

Unsustainable farming and fishing, as well as rampant deforestation and pollution, are to blame - with the profits derived from the exploitation of workers and the environment going straight into the pockets of the billionaire bosses.

Here, as in the rest of the world, we also see a massive increase in flooding caused by the increasingly frequent extreme weather events, in turn the result of unsustainable global warming.

By 2100 we could see a global rise in temperature of up to 4C, which would demand an extra 1 billion a year of flood defence investment in England alone.

The Tory government is contributing to this growing crisis having given the green light to companies to frack for oil and gas, despite massive public opposition.

But government rules that pause fracking drilling operations - if they cause earthquakes - are too restrictive for tax-avoiding, multibillionaire boss Jim Ratcliffe of petrochemical company Ineos who wants the limits on tremors lifted.

Missed targets

Even after these stark warnings by the UN, governments around the world have failed to even meet the modest targets put forward in 2011, with 13 of the 20 'Aichi' biodiversity targets not being met, especially around sustainable production.

We cannot wait for the bosses and their political representatives to act against their own self-interest.

Even the UN report itself agrees, saying that these targets can "only be achieved through transformative changes across economic, social, political and technological factors".

The recent student strikes and actions by Extinction Rebellion show there is anger and a realisation that climate change is a growing threat. It's possible to reverse course.

However, we must demand socialist change to achieve this turnaround.

This requires the nationalisation of giant agribusinesses, 'big energy' and public transport, under the democratic control of the workers in those industries. Fossil fuels could then be quickly replaced by green energy and sustainable production as part of a planned economy.

The trade unions should be stepping up their demands for a massive expansion of jobs in environmentally friendly technologies to replace employment in the fossil fuel industries.

A united struggle of students and workers organised around a socialist programme could break the toxic grip of capitalism on our planet and secure a better future for all.

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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