This Friday, school students across the world will leave classes to participate in climate strikes, asking that adults join in with them and that those politicians in power take action to counter the effects of global warming. They face a rapidly closing window of opportunity. Rather than “tinkering” with individual reforms and policies like a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system, we need wholesale structural change. What is a palatable palliative for the corporations is insufficient to change the course on the trajectory we are on.
Greta Thunberg and the climate strikers demand that politicians face facts. We hope that those participating in today's worldwide Strike4Climate also begin to accept some facts that they may be unaware of.
Naomi Klein writes, “The hard truth is that the answer to the question ‘What can I, as an individual, do to stop climate change?’ is: nothing.”
We are not going to achieve the levels of emission reductions that we need through voluntary lifestyle changes.
It’s apparent to everyone today that the world is going through an environmental crisis. Climate change is already impacting our lives. As it gets worse, we will be affected by more floods, forest-fires and droughts. Climate change is a result of an economic system — capitalism — in which profit-making takes precedence over the real needs of communities and their surroundings regardless of what the science tells us we should do. Capitalism is an economic system profoundly and irrevocably at odds with a sustainable planet, as it requires ever-increasing amounts material and energy to keep expanding. Capitalism of necessity exploits the land and the people and sacrifices the interests of both on the altar of profit. The contradiction between the environment and lust for profits is one that capitalism will be unable to overcome. A socialist society would not be bounded by the illogic of capitalism and would pursue clean energy because profits wouldn't be on the line. Nature and society, however, need not be seen as always in opposition but could co-develop with one another.
Changes in individual consumer behaviour and introduction to better technology can buy time but are insufficient to save the planet as long as “capitalism allows companies to continue polluting. The entire production system must be transformed; we must change the way society decides to allocate resources in the interdependent web of the world economy. Securing an environmentally sustainable production system will require fundamental political and social change on every scale and in every sphere. Human and environmental needs can be brought into sustainable balance only if production takes account of all environmental consequences. A sustainable economy requires a system in which production is owned by all and democratically planned and controlled by well-informed people.
If humanity is to have any chance of re-entering a sustainable relationship with nature, we need to stop the rot at its source: capitalism and class society must be gotten rid of. The current exploitative system must be replaced by one in which humans are not divorced from nature, but become the conscious aspect of nature. Doing that requires a revolution: we must get rid not only of the exploitation of nature, but also the exploitation of one human being by another. In order to prevent a future ecological nightmare and preserve our planet for generations to come; a sustainable society in which the working class empowers itself—a socialist society—is vitally necessary. Capitalism’s insatiable reliance on ever-expanding profits cannot be sustained on our finite planet. Capitalism engages in production to produce profit. This is the primary motive and the satisfaction of human needs is secondary to this. Because of the internal workings of the system there is a need for continual growth. Capitalism must grow or die. Our rulers are not in control of the system, they only respond to its demand for cheap raw materials and any means of keeping monetary costs down and profits up. This is the real reason why years of climate conferences have failed to halt the destruction of the planet. Our rulers measure their success by economic growth rates. The only way to halt the trashing of our planet is to end the capitalist system of production. The entire system of capitalist production needs to be ended before we can have any hope of reversing the dreadful damage capitalism has inflicted on the planet. The production for profit, and the system of wage labour which supports it, need to be replaced with social production. The productive forces need to become common property for the satisfaction of human needs. All attempts to reform capitalism and make our rulers see the error of their ways are a waste of effort. The choice today is engaging in the struggle for a socialist planet or seeing the ruin of civilisation.
The watchword for such a society will be:
“From each according to their ability to each according to their needs.”