Saturday, April 18, 2015

Complex problems have simple solutions

Governments agree that it is an imminent environmental crisis yet they are unwilling to act in an effective manner that shows that they have taken the facts on board. Inaction is attractive when polluters do not care about the impacted and refuse to accept the fact that ultimately everyone on planet Earth is vulnerable. Politicians commit large amounts of money to climate research yet pay scant attention to its science. Negotiations to tackle climate change have remained largely political lipservice. There is no longer any talk of binding commitment to emissions reduction by nations and instead proposals for vague voluntary self-monitoring action. The further away the target dates for measures are, the easier it is for political leaders to agree to such plans. The nearer the implementation of these dates is, the less enthusiastic support for them. The urgency of the climate crisis demands that the world decarbonises urgently. No one can predict the outcome of the December Paris climate summit, but few expect the measures it may endorse to be tough enough to keep future increases in global temperatures below two degrees Celsius, the maximum amount most scientists believe the planet can absorb without incurring climate disasters far beyond anything seen to date. We cannot allow politicians to intentionally refuse to act now and shift responsibility for action to generations yet unborn. No. We must not allow that.

The World Bank and the International Energy Agency as well as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have acknowledged that substantial percentage of known reserves of fossil fuels must not be burned, that is, they must be left underground if catastrophic temperature increase is to be avoided. This reality now makes it urgent for nations to close their fossil shops and for corporations to shift their attention to clean energy and other forms of production. A large-scale wind, water and solar energy system can reliably supply the world’s needs, significantly benefitting climate, air quality, water quality, ecology and energy security.  Is that what we see? No. The obstacles are political, not technical. Rather than work on urgent transition from fossil fuels, nations and corporations are embarking on more extreme and reckless modes of exploration and extraction of fossil fuels, including fracking and deep seas drilling. Rather than shifting to safer and cleaner energy forms, many countries, including many on the African continent, are celebrating new oil and gas finds. They are delirious with joy and getting set to enjoy the pyrrhic bounties that the sector promises. Without the new finds, it was already estimated that the value of fossils to be left underground topped 22 trillion dollars. Those fuels -- oil, natural gas, and coal -- will, of course, continue to dominate the energy landscape for years to come, adding billions of tons of heat-trapping carbon to the atmosphere. Not surprisingly, the oil states and those energy corporations continue to dream of a future in which they will play a dominant role. The fact that such fossils to be left underground are often referred to as stranded resources suggests that corporations and governments will don the garb of saviour to rescue the resources from being stranded!

False solutions such as agro-fuels (ethanol) and REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) have already had serious negative impacts on our peoples. Geo-engineering experiments have failed spectacularly, and even if they were to succeed, all scenarios reviewed by scientists and by the ETC (Erosion, Technology and Concentration) Group show that Africa would suffer severe negative impacts from such moves. As one highly regarded physicist told a recent meeting, “geo-engineering experiments have shown that it is totally useless.” It is a silver bullet that permits polluters to keep polluting and cannot deliver on its promise to suck released carbon from the atmosphere. The climate crisis can be tackled by working with nature and not against it. We have to halt activities that have known negative impacts, including dependence on industrial agriculture and its litany of artificial and chemical inputs. We have to say yes to life and no to mining. It may be inconveniencing, but the pleasures and so-called easy life of today cannot justify a knowing condemnation of the planet and peoples to unacceptable future. We must all stand up, speak and act against climate crimes.

Individual mass movements must all coalesce in the global space to demand the urgent change of this present mode of production and halt the intentional crimes to the environment.  “The cost of doing business.” That’s what corporations call it then they claim a deduction from their taxes for the damage they’ve done to people and the planet. It’s a cost of doing business all right; a cost to us, of doing business with them the way we currently do it, and it’s just one of the reasons so many people are calling for a whole new system.

BP’s Deepwater Horizon kept spewing oil into the Gulf of Mexico for 87 days while the media was warned off and the company told the public lies. BP was been found guilty of gross negligence and misconduct. They’ve been slapped with $42 billion in fines and damages. But the BP not only threatening politicians they’ll pull out of the Gulf entirely if their fines aren’t reduced, they’re claiming a lot of that money back, thanks to a tax loophole that will enable BP to claim as much as 80 percent of the damages they've paid out so far as an ordinary business expense.

It’s not just BP either. Car makers, chemical companies, mine owners and those notorious banksters routinely deduct part of their court ordered payouts from their taxes. Which means that means we the people who sustain the damage, are also the ones subsidizing the damages. Big Business has too much power and that’s dangerous for people and the planet. That is why some of us are seeking an alternative system: not just renewable energy, not nationalization of energy companies but an entirely new social and economic system. Some in the green movement offer a utopia of small is beautiful with local businesses and co-ops. It is utopian because capitalism grows anew out of all commodity production; a utopia of small enterprises can only be the prelude to the return of competitive cut-throat capitalism.

There’s a revolution going on right now. Don’t take the detours and don’t accept the delays. Right now, we live in terrible times. Horrific wars in the Middle East seem endless, with atrocities committed by all the participants. The future of our planet is in doubt because of the destructive, wasteful and polluting logic of capitalism. In most societies, sexism, racism and xenophobia are widespread, and prospects for many cannot but be worrying and depressing. The Socialist Party does not believe we are born racist or sexist – we are made so by the social conditions we live in. We are confident in our ability to persuade the majority.

The Socialist Party is are not in the business of falsifying reality. We are not a religious sect that seeks to isolate its members from reality. There are no capitalist solutions to climate change. We reject the idea that national interest can be fully defeated under capitalism. On the contrary, we argue that the system relies on divide and rule, that commercial rivalries are the natural by-products of the prevailing economic order. No amount of carbon taxation or emission capping agreements will succeed. A wind, water and solar energy plan gives the world a new, clean, efficient energy system rather than an old, dirty, inefficient one. Is it feasible to transform the world’s energy systems? Could it be accomplished in a short time? Only through socialism is the answer. We are revolutionaries not reformists. We are for revolutionary change as the only way to combat climate change.