Saturday, January 25, 2020

Fighting together for the future

The Davos economic forum has ended and once again it was the youth of the world such as Greta Thunberg and her frequently over-looked friends and allies who were making the headlines. They were endeavouring to shape the debate that should be taking place, obliging the global elite to follow a green script.

They were making it clear that enough was enough. That the World belongs to the people. But getting to the roots of the environment problem means we must examine how we live.

One commonly held but mistaken belief is that our growing  population is one of the greatest ecological problems. Many are convinced that the amount of land and resources used by humanity have already outstripped the carrying capacity of the planet. For sure, there appears to be some logic to the claim that high birth rates and population density are responsible for the shortages of resources and the impact upon our eco-systems. Yet it is the regions with the highest birth rates which use the least amount of the world's resources, while those with low birth rates in the "developed" parts of the World use the most. An odd paradox for the over-populationists to reconcile.

The present natural limits do not account for scarcity, poverty and hunger. There is more than enough food produced to sustain the current level of world population, plus more. Yet food somehow manages to miss the mouths of those who can't afford to pay the price, and instead being fed to livestock to increase profitability. While some over-consume the natural wealth of the planet, the poor get the blame.

We are declaring that the general idea of ecological limits is totally wrong. Population definitely plays an important role in determining the levels of resource use and environmental degradation. But it does not the most important part of the problem. What is ignored is the economic order we live under requires the destruction of the environment. If we expect new environmentally conscious values to make a difference, then we must also change the system. While solutions that focus primarily on individual lifestyles choices of green consumerism, instil a sense of environmental responsibility, they will not stem climate change, and have probably diverted attention away from the causes of global warming and pollution. The solution does not lie with individuals changing their individual consumer habits. If the environmentalists are to be successful, then they must identify the system of society as responsible for the climate crisis. History has demonstrated that individual behaviour have only been effective when part of collective actions.

The Socialist Party envisions a society consistent with our ecology and that is sustainable. It strives to explain  what is wrong with capitalism and why we have no control over our  lives. It explains why in a competitive market economy the minority of people with the political and economic power must pollute and damage the environment in order to survive. The socialist alternative is a desirable society democratically controlled and without a profit-driven economy that necessitates exploitation of nature and the oppression of people. In other words, a democratic form of society that produces what people need, not what gives the elite its power and profits. Such a society would, for the first time permit ecological sustainability which can stay within the limits of the ecological carrying capacity of the earth. Without capitalist corporations or bureaucracies ruling in their interest, we can safeguard the environment. Protecting the environment thus moves from an economic impracticality, a business cost to be minimised to where communities won't have to fight defensive battles time and again, here and there, putting out forest-fires. If a future socio-economic arrangement is to be sustainable it must socialist.

Socialism is humanistic but not anthropocentric, biocentric but not misanthropic.

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