Climate Change; Delusion and Hypocrisy

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There no longer remains any doubt that climate change has been caused by the activities of humans. The resulting problems of flash flood, more severe droughts, hurricanes etc alongside increased resource and water wars will have drastic economic, social and political consequences right across the globe. For many people both in the richer developed north and the global south, the ensuing climate chaos will only further exasperate their already precarious lives and livelihoods.Whilst governments like our own make almost daily pronouncements about ‘tackling’ climate change, and the media have weekly reports of increasing chaotic and unpredictable weather conditions, both have carefully avoided talking about its main cause. The one thing that historically has caused and continues to perpetuate the effects of climate change is putting private profit before public welfare.

It has been left to environmental activists and communities that suffer the consequences of climatic instability to speak up and act on the core of the problem, most recently at the Climate Camp in London. At the heart of climate change are the structures of power that make up capitalism. Capitalist thinking has always been deluded and hypocritical. Hidden in the language of economic growth in this ‘globalised’ world are the daily hardships of exploitation, inequality, war and poverty that touch people in each and every country on the planet.

Now we can add increasing climatic instability as an end product of societies controlled by a rich few. Modern day capitalism is founded on the use of fossil fuels. The linkages between governments and the petro-chemical industry are well known, and it is the petrochemical industries that have funded political parties in the West, as well as funding ‘research groups’ that have been at the forefront of disputing and downplaying the reality of climate change.

Unending economic growth based on fossil fuels is impossible on a planet with finite resources. A 10 year old kid can grasp the logic of this fact. When you realise that so much of our ‘economic growth’ is based on an addiction to fuels like coal, gas and oil which pump out carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases it seems like madness to not radically change the way our energy is produced. What does our government suggest? That we change our lightbulbs and turn down our heating.

This makes sense if we accept the individualised, consumer notion of ourselves that capitalism needs to exist. In the face of an overwhelming problem perhaps its best to do our bit and let the government and business sort it out for us. But the fact is neither big business nor our governments have real interest in taking the necessary steps to reduce the impact that climate chaos is already having across the globe.

To radically alter the way we create energy so as to make it not just sustainable, but to ensure it is not based on the same methods of human exploitation, political corruption and social and environmental decay, will require the dismantling of the power stuctures that support these practices today.In Ireland one only has to look at the violence visited upon the community at Rossport. Here we see very clearly that justice and climate change play second fiddle to private profit in to the hands of the already rich. Despite the police beatings and media spin, it is grassroots and community activity that gives voice to other ways.

Whilst as individuals we all have a part to play, and per-haps the role we play as consumers is a good place to start,we also need to tackle head on the forces that resist meaningful and radical changes. We need to put voices to the truth and not be fooled by the greenwash of the fossil fuel industry or our politicians.

We were born more than consumers, much as our ‘leaders’ would like us to forget. Like in most struggles for democratic and just control of our world, it is when we see ourselves collectively, as communities and real participants in society, that we are likely to have most success in achieving our aims.

For billions across the globe, and for future generations to come, the sooner we move to sustainable forms of energy production the better, and the impetus needs to come from ‘ordinary people’. The ruling class are in no rush to change to sustainability, so if we want to see real change we will have to bring real pressure to bear.

In the next edition of Workers Solidarity, we will look at how the fossil fuel industry and governments are conning us with notion of carbon trading and carbon offsetting, whilst also opposing genuine attempts to reduce the effects of climate change


From Workers Solidarity 99, September October 2007

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