Sunday, August 25, 2019

The Folly of Bolsonaro

The fires ravaging massive areas of the Amazon, the vital rainforest is nearing a “tipping point” in which a third of its ecosystem could be irreversibly decimated, experts have warned. 

Professor Thomas Lovejoy of George Mason University, who has studied the Amazon since 1965, told The Independent there are signs it is on course for further extensive deforestation which will soon stretch beyond human control.

His colleague Carlos Nobre indicates further razing could break the Amazon’s hydrological cycle, whereby it generates half its own rainfall. If a critical amount of trees are felled, the ecosystem will degrade to the point of being unable to support the rainforest.

Such devastation could spell catastrophe for the planet due to the implications for climate change. Not only would it result in the eradication of species, many of which are yet to be studied, but would also unleash vast amounts of stored carbon.

Professor Lovejoy said things have since become much worse.
When we were first worried about it, the amount of deforestation was small,” he said. “But then these other things started to interact – the impact of deforestation and the effects of climate change became apparent, and the extent of the use of fire [for clearing land] became apparent.

The reason we believe the tipping point is so close is because we’re seeing historic droughts in 2005, 2010, and 2016. And satellite images in the north central Amazon also show forests remote from everything are beginning to convert into grassland. That’s yet another symptom. These are not little droughts – boats cannot get up some of the river’s tributaries, because they’re so dry.” Professor Lovejoy said such a conversion from rainforest to savannah and scrubland would be the wider effect if a tipping point is reached. “You’d have extensive parts of the southern and eastern Amazon and parts of the central converting to savannah, and maybe to even drier conditions.”

Professor Lovejoy said losing swathes of the Amazon would result in a huge loss in the planet’s biodiversity.
People don’t really grasp that the biodiversity in one part of the Amazon is very different to that in other parts,” he said. “So if you have regional loss, you’ve having actual total loss of that biodiversity. It’s the largest terrestrial repository of biodiversity on the planet, so all that will impact the future of Brazil, the economy, for the future of the world, vanishes.

He added: “We tend to live in the delusion we don’t depend on the biology of the planet, but we do. Agriculture, forestry, medicine, all of that has a major biological base. Scientists are revealing new potential all the time. But you can’t do that if the species isn’t there to study. It’s like book burning on a very grand scale. The standing forest is absorbing carbon on an annual basis, but its even greater importance is in the total amount of carbon stored in the forest itself. Tropical rainforests store more carbon per unit area than basically any other kind of habitat. So it’s folly in the end.”
Today, humanity faces the unprecedented threat of an ever worsening series of catastrophes, caused by the interlocked economic and environmental crises brought about by our current economic system, driven by the crude imperative to accumulate capital. The Socialist Party recognises the inherent instability and brutality of capitalism and that the ecological balance that makes all life possible is now being menaced by its continued existence. Capitalism has always been ecologically damaging, but now, in our lifetimes, the destructive assaults upon the planet have accelerated. Ecological devastation, resulting from the insatiable need to increase profits, is not an accidental feature of capitalism: it is built into the system’s DNA and cannot be reformed away by regulatory legislation. Capitalism is totally incompatible with the healthy maintenance of our ecosystem through its ruthless exploitation of ever-scarcer natural resources, its pollution of the environment, the growing loss of biological and agricultural diversity.

The Socialist Party does not believe that any form of ‘business as usual’ is an option. It will be necessary to radically reorganise industry and transport. What is required are dramatic changes in the ways in which we generate the energy we use, the ways we build, heat and cool our homes, the ways in which we travel and the ways in which we produce our food.

Study the statements of the experts and scientific community and it becomes obvious that a lot of faith is put into international agreements in order to build a fairer world, but something that is particularly naive considering how nations and global organisations were created to serve the interests of capitalists this still remains the case. Most conferences and summits producing protocols aimed at controlling climate change are hamstrung by the pressures of the governments and corporations who must appease the requirements of capitalist economics. Yet these are the vehicles which many in the environmentalist movement think will save the world. It is a damning indictment of many of those who boast a Dr. before their name.

There is no such thing as overpopulation yet alarmists still regard population growth as the main contributor to the climate crisis and they persist to insist on rationing, family planning, and other constrictive, totalitarian measures. "Overpopulation" is indeed the result of resource scarcity - and while sometimes such scarcity is the result of variables outside our control, in most occasions, it is the result of avoidable pitfalls such as our exploitative and acquisitive social system. When international environmentalist bodies begin demanding that the people pay the price for the “burdens” of "overpopulation," it is a condemnation of their own incompetence and inability to understand the basic causes of the poverty and inequality facing the society. They fail to recognise that they require to struggle against the capitalist system.

The alternative to socialism is literally destruction. As socialists we are aware of how very far down the road to making the planet uninhabitable for humans capitalism is, and how many humans have already suffered and are already suffering from the damage the profit system has done to our planet. We possibly have one more generation before it is too late. There won’t be any socialists, there won’t be any socialism, when nobody can breathe. Climate change is real and it’s as urgent as it gets that we make radical changes if we want a future on this planet.

The environmental crisis tends to manifest itself either in the form of local outrages (polluted rivers) or vast global problems (CO2 emissions), and it's not surprising that eco-activists are overwhelmingly tugged in one direction or another. The former leads towards a case-by-case guerilla warfare against specific environmental damage. The latter involves an engagement with various organisations that “hold” the power to do “something" — government departments, international bodies and NGOs, even increasingly, the “greener” corporations, themselves. Yet all the time it means people are distracted away from a revolutionary perspective. What is at stake in the political discussion will focus will be subordinated the overall interests of capitalism. Once this is truly grasped by environmentalists then they have no choice but to seriously measure their present ideas against the concepts of socialist politics.

The slogan "Think globally, act locally" has the direct implication that each and every local initiative in recycling, economising on water and energy use and cutting waste can, summed together, make a critical difference. Decades of thinking globally and acting locally, while yielding a host of small victories, has not been able to reverse any major trend in environmental degradation. That's because it offers no pathway from the local to the global, no feasible strategy for making local action begin to count globally. This is all the more true because the local is hardly ever purely local, but linked to national and international webs of production, trade and investment shaped by the national and international division of labour. The "local" is forged by an increasingly global capitalism, which protects its interests through national and international state and semi-state bodies.

The concerned environmentalist has a choice between socialism or capitalism. We cannot reform capitalism but we can replace it. The future of our planet depends on building a socialist movement powerful enough to displace capitalism and creating a livable environment for us all.

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