Capitalism is destroying the planet. Climate scientist Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber (Director of Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research) estimated that for a 67% chance of avoiding a catastrophic 2 degree Centigrade temperature rise (would you board a plane if it had a 33% chance of crashing?) In 2005 an international conference called "Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change: A Scientific Symposium on Stabilisation of Greenhouse Gases" changed the odds to a 50% (so now would you get on a plane that had a 50-50 chance of crashing?) The clear warnings from scientists are being ignored because of the lobbying power of “business as usual” and fossil fuel vested interests. The capitalist establishment has failed to act. Capitalism – that brought us wars and genocides – has been unable or unwilling to address man-made climate change and indeed now threatens a climate genocide in which 10 billion people are set to die this century. Science is clearly indicating socialism as our one and only solution for Spaceship Earth. Unless emissions are substantially reduced and then stopped altogether, the quantitative changes could lead to qualitative changes in the earth’s atmosphere, resulting in earth becoming uninhabitable for humankind and the other life forms inhabiting the planet. Unfortunately this truth has not been understood by most political figures.
In its world-wide rush for profit and power, capitalism has ravaged the resources and environment of Earth, widespread pollution of the air, soil, rivers, lakes and seas is but one of the consequences. Global warming and its ‘greenhouse effect’ threatens climatic instability, crop failure and both drought and flooding. Destruction of the rainforests is driving plant and animal species to extinction. Ozone depletion, acid rain, deforestation and desertification present the world’s peoples with new and additional dangers. We must move towards an overall system of production in which waste products are either eliminated or reduced to an absolute minimum. The atmosphere, the oceans and the land can no longer be treated as a dustbin. This applies as much as to agriculture as to industry. The change to a system of waste-free production is incompatible with the existence of an unplanned capitalist economy. The drive for maximum and short-term profit takes precedence over the long-term consequences for the environment. The drive for capitalist profit is an in-built obstacle to greater environmental protection. ‘Green’ policies are a drain on potential profits and dividends. Capitalism itself leads to the wasteful levels of consumption of raw materials seen today.
Compared with what is possible, capitalist production relations are today a barrier to the development of society’s productive forces and their use by human beings for the full, free and beneficial development of all. Replacing private ownership of the means of production (land, workplaces, power, machinery, raw materials, etc) with common ownership will not only put an end to exploitation. It will also ensure that production takes place in order to meet society’s needs, not in order to maximise private profit. The democratic planning of production would enable the full use of scientific and technological advances to eradicate poverty, raise living standards and put an end to the massive inequalities of wealth and power. The guiding principle of socialism would be: ‘from each according to their ability to each according to their needs’. Socialism would make possible the creation of genuine democracy and participation in all areas of society, allowing people to fulfil their potential free not only from economic and social pressures, but from all forms of prejudice and discrimination. It also provides the only hope of saving our planet’s ecological balance from irreparable damage.