From a World to Win News Service
Hurricanes, Climate Change, and Global Warming
Part 5: The Future Is at Stake
Revolution #037, March 5, 2006, posted at revcom.us
November 28, 2005. A World to Win News Service. While the U.S. government has insisted that global warming doesn’t exist, most scientists are convinced otherwise. Some researchers say global warming was a major factor in the deadly series of hurricanes (as the violent tropical storms or cyclones that hit the Americas are called) that struck the Caribbean, Central America, and the U.S. recently. At the Montreal international summit on climate change, the first such meeting since the 1997 Kyoto summit, the U.S. continued to refuse to recognize the dangers or even the existence of global warming, which an attending UK scientist declared is as perilous to the future of humanity as weapons of mass destruction. Observers at the opening of the Montreal meeting of 190 countries had little hope that it would make real progress in achieving international agreements to limit greenhouse gas emissions, the main factor in the rapid rise in world temperatures. Even though the targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions agreed to at Kyoto are criminally inadequate (the goal is to reduce emissions to 5 percent below the 1990 level by 2012), so far actual emissions have increased, not decreased, and even the European Union, which supported Kyoto, has failed to meet its target.
What is the link between global warming and tropical storms? What are the causes of global warming? To what extent is global warming caused by human activity, and what can be done about it? How dangerous is global warming? Why do the rulers of the U.S. and other major powers refuse to take serious action even as disaster stares mankind in the face? These questions are addressed in this article, which is being run in five parts. See earlier issues at revcom.us for:
This brings us to the third aspect of this situation: dealing with this kind of potential catastrophe will require the experience, thinking, creativity, efforts and sometimes sacrifice of the human race as a whole in all its billions around the world. No one could argue that such a thing is even conceivable under the present economic, social and political global system.
Development and greenhouse gases do not have to be synonymous. Many scientists and environmental activists have explored the concept of sustainable development—an economy that can increasingly meet human needs without destroying the planet we live on. If society—eventually all of human society worldwide—were run not according to the principles of capitalism but those of socialism, why couldn’t a planned economy in which the highest goal was the emancipation and welfare of humanity and its environment create an economy to serve these ends? Why would humanity have to put up any more with the wastefulness and destruction imposed by capitalism? And what would prevent such a society from devoting the necessary resources to prevent or at least lessen the impact of natural catastrophes?
About the time when capitalism was first putting humanity on the road to the risk of global warming we face today, Karl Marx and Fredrick Engels wrote in the Communist Manifesto, "Modern bourgeois society with its relations of production, of exchange and of property, a society that has conjured up such gigantic means of production and of exchange, is like a sorcerer who is no longer able to control the powers of the nether world whom he has called up by his spells."
Nature may bring predictable and unpredictable catastrophes of all magnitudes at all levels in the course of human interaction with nature. Disasters strike socialist societies just as they do capitalist. Some may be due to destructive forces of nature; others may be caused by human activities. However, socialist society can curb and/or cope with the impact of disasters far better than capitalism. It is certain that future socialist societies will face very serious environmental challenges. But conscious decisions made collectively at the societal level, and as soon as possible at the global level, rather than decisions made behind the closed doors of corporate boardrooms and a handful of capitalist state bureaucracies, are much more effective in minimizing and combating natural calamities. The recent events of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita hitting the heart of the U.S. Gulf states is a case in point. The American capitalist system headed by the world’s most powerful capitalist state bureaucracy and war machine failed to take the most elementary precautions, which could have greatly reduced human suffering. Even worse, when the masses of poor people in New Orleans and other places did try to cope with the situation collectively, the state, instead of helping, sent the police and National Guard to point guns at them, turning a natural catastrophe into a crime of tremendous proportions. How can anyone deny that a social system based on the needs of the world’s people could do a lot better than that right from the beginning?
One hundred fifty years ago Karl Marx wrote in Capital, "From the standpoint of higher economic forms of society [socialism and communism], private ownership of the globe by single individuals will appear quite as absurd as private ownership of one man by another. Even a whole society, a nation, or even all simultaneously existing societies taken together, are not owners of the globe. They are only its possessors’ they must hand it down to succeeding generations in an improved condition."
In short, while we need to fight every possible battle to force companies and especially governments to implement measures that can make a big difference, nothing short of making revolution in every country when the opportunity arises and overthrowing the global imperialist system can fully unleash the powers of humanity to face this problem. The magnitude of global warming crosses all geographic, national, cultural and social boundaries, and the solution lies in a radical political and social rupture with the world as it is now organised.
The challenge is great, and so is the potential strength of the 6 billion people whose future is at stake. We the masses of people of the Earth must step forward to overthrow this imperialist madness and its unnecessary destruction of the environment and create a new world free from exploitation and oppression and the reckless destruction of the environment that is their result.