8bn tonnes of ice are being lost every year and not replaced, with the lower level glaciers shrinking in height by 5 meters annually.
Prof Joerg Schaefer, from Columbia University and part of the research, said: “For the wellbeing of the people there, our results are of course the worst possible. But it is what it is, and now we have to prepare for that scenario. We have to worry a lot, because so many people are affected. To stop the temperature rises, we have to cool the planet,” he said. “We have to not only slow down greenhouse gas emissions, we have to reverse them. That is the challenge for the next 20 years.”
How many of us believe such an accomplishment is possible when report after report already inform us that the very moderate aim of 1.5 or 2.0 C are not going to be achieved at present ratesA report published in February found that at least a third of the ice in the Hindu Kush-Himalaya ranges was already doomed to melt by the end of the century, even if drastic action to cut emissions was taken immediately. Without action, two-thirds would go.
Philippus Wester, at the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, who led the February study said the new work was very convincing. “Increasingly uncertain and irregular water supplies will impact the 1 billion people living downstream from the Himalaya mountains in south Asia.”
Our Target: Capitalism
Capitalism is a many-headed monster. There is an increasing awareness in the environmental movement that capitalism is the enemy. Among activists there seems to be a genuine interest in searching for the deeper roots of the climate change problem. Many now recognise that climate change will exacerbate existing tensions within the world system. Governments are preparing to their military forces to face so called ‘resource wars’ and blockade the movements of millions of refugees. Global warming will force millions of people around the world to challenge the status quo and unfortunately those fleeing the effects of climate change will not automatically conclude that we need to radically change society.
The political parties are locked into the logic of the market – they cannot turn their rhetoric on the environment into policies that can prevent the destruction of the planet. If we believe that protesting and campaigning, appealing to the good will of financiers and industrialists and the humanitarian instincts of predatory elite politicians will change the situation for the better, we are creating illusions. To campaign for the common sense and self-interest of the capitalist class is to expect them to abandon the lucrative profits. Reliance on the corporations, on the banks, and the capitalist politicians brings no results. It is only the purposeful activity of the people themselves, when they intervene and threaten the system of capitalist exploitation and oppression, that can sweep away the polluters. While ecological necessity seeks sustainability, capitalism seeks growth. Capitalism holds no special virtue in conserving a resource, only in making profit. The powers that be have failed to solve the climate question. They are neither willing nor able to challenge the dominance of the accumulation of capital that is the driving force of both this economic system and global warming. Capital cannot tolerate barriers to its expansion, and politicians see it as their duty to keep the accumulation increasing, continual growth is in fact the necessary foundation of the capitalist system, so must the logic of endless material growth be continually imposed upon society. Any system capable of surviving the climate crisis must be socialist.
The Socialist Party has a clear political line to follow. Let the reformers call for new forms of re-structuring and regulation. Our job is to consistently press for the socialisation of the productive process, replacing private ownership with common ownership, directly controlled by communities. There now exists an opportunity, driven by a growing outrage against the lethargy of the politicians, for the anger be given a socialist content for purposes of instruction in the failing ways of capitalism.