Sunday, October 31, 2021

The New Normal

 The World Meteorological Organisation in its 'The State of the Climate report for 2021' highlights a world that is "changing before our eyes" where extreme weather events - including powerful heat waves and devastating floods - are now the new normal.

The study finds that the past seven years including this one are likely to be the warmest on record as greenhouse gases reached record concentrations in the atmosphere. The accompanying rise in temperatures is propelling the planet into "uncharted territory" says the report, with increasing impacts across the planet.

WMO's Prof Taalas detailed some of the extreme events that have been experienced around the world this year.

  • It rained - rather than snowed - for the first time on record at the peak of the Greenland ice sheet
  • A heat wave in Canada and adjacent parts of the USA pushed temperatures to nearly 50C in a village in British Columbia
  • Death Valley, California reached 54.4C during one of multiple heat waves in the south-western USA
  • Months' worth of rainfall fell in the space of hours in an area of China
  • Parts of Europe saw severe flooding, leading to dozens of casualties and billions in economic losses
  • A second successive year of drought in sub-tropical South America reduced the flow of river basins and hit agriculture, transport and energy production

Another worrying development, according to the WMO study, has been the rise in global sea levels.

"Sea levels are rising faster now than at any other time in the last two millennia," said Prof Jonathan Bomber, Director of the Bristol Glaciology Centre. "If we continue on our current trajectory, that rise could exceed 2 metres by 2100 displacing some 630 million people worldwide. The consequences of that are unimaginable."

 UN Secretary-General António Guterres, said, "From the ocean depths to mountain tops, from melting glaciers to relentless extreme weather events, ecosystems and communities around the globe are being devastated. COP26 must be a turning point for people and planet."

Climate change: Extreme weather events are 'the new norm' - BBC News

If the world's people are at a crossroads, which route will they take? The World Socialist Movement suggests there is only one wise choice to make - to build a world cooperative commonwealth of common ownership. 

Everything is connected


The environmental crises are shaking the very foundation of capitalism. Misery prevails everywhere. Socialism was a necessity long before global warming and the promise of renewable energy. Because of the climate crises socialism is incalculably more urgent now because the only fate under capitalism is death or barbarism for much of the population of our planet.

While capitalism has provided the knowledge and the technology which are necessary for a socialist reorganisation of society, it long ago ceased to provide for the simple wants and needs of the working people who wish prosperity and peace instead of bloodshed and destruction. We want security, not insecurity. We want decent lives for ourselves and our families,  plentiful homes, hospitals and schools for our communities. We seek democracy and freedom rather than a totalitarian bureaucracy. Despite its huge industries, intricate technology and abundant natural resources, capitalism is unable to provide us with these basic needs. It is unable to avoid wars nor racial and religious conflicts. Under capitalism, a handful of oligarchs and plutocrats control the wealth and power of the planet. To protect the vested interests they possess the power of life and death over the rest of us.

The insanity of this system of capitalism is that it creates inequality and poverty when it is capable of producing an abundance in relation to human needs that can be shared by all. Capitalists are united against the workers and they are in competition against each other and against their foreign commercial counterparts.  In business, the bigger, stronger and richer swallow up the weak and small. They all try to under-cut and out-sell each other on the market because the mainspring of capitalist production is profit, not production for peoples use.

That is why the World Socialist Movement says socialism is a necessity. As long as capitalism endures, the climate crises will only be accentuated. There will be greater and wider environmental damage. The benefits of new technology, artificial intelligence and robotics cannot be distributed to mankind within the capitalist system other than for negative purposes such as unmanned fighting drones. Meantime, more wealth becomes polarised at one end, and poverty at the other.

We see the phenomenon of poverty in the midst of plenty. A few countries become a capitalist colossus, while other countries are reduced to penury, not prosperity. It has produced privation and totalitarianism in most of the world. The impending consequences of climate change will continue to make the rich richer, and the poor poorer. It will continue to divert more and more resources, to protect the monopoly of the wealth of the few. 

How can we trust this system of capitalism? How can we place faith in its politicians to develop the planet’s bountiful productive power for the welfare of mankind? Capitalism produces more and consumes more leading towards perhaps not the extinction of our human species but most probably to the possible collapse of civilisation.

 Governments have gathered together experts from all over the world, internationalised science, and failed to provide any resolution to the ecological emergency. Without the object of profits as its central aim, socialism can come up with some practical and pragmatic global policies to implement. It is only by socialist planning in a world society that we have any real success in combating the problems of climate change and the destruction of our environment.

Socialism, and only socialism, will create a true world society, a world without national barriers, without international rivalries, without master and slave and, hence, a world where we can live in harmony with nature.  Socialism can guarantee cooperation and collaboration and coordination without compromise or concessions to any government’s or corporation’s vested interest. Socialism will end the root causes of the inequities and evils of modern capitalist society, by abolishing the private ownership of the means of production, the factories, mines, machinery and land, which produce the necessities of life. With socialism, production will become the property of society, owned in common, producing for use, for the general well-being of the people as a whole. With the abolition of the private ownership of the means of life and with it the factor of profit as the primary motivation of production, the sharp divisions of society between humanity and nature will disappear.

Then, and only then, will society be in a position to become a world of abundance and plenty for all, for socialism will create a new world of genuine solidarity between the peoples of the Earth? 

A socialist system will change the form and type of governments that exist today to one that are administrative bodies regulating production and consumption. They will not be the instruments of the capitalist class to advance the economic rule of big businesses and their profits. Socialism will not concern itself with profits but with providing decent lives for all the people around the world. World socialism will assess the industrial potential of the world, determine its resources, the needs of the people and plan production with the aim of increasing the standards of living for people, creating abundance, increasing leisure and opportunity for cultural enjoyment while all the time maintaining that such developments remain sustainable and in harmony with the requirements of the natural world.

 Today, we possess all the requirements necessary for socialism to deliver the good things of life. Mankind has developed marvellous technology. The discovery and control of renewable energy have not only made it more possible for mankind to control our effect upon the environment but also to create a fruitful life of abundance. Only socialism can place science where it properly belongs: in the service of the people and not serving the needs of the stock market and shareholders.

  Humanity is at a crossroads. We can continue down the road of capitalism where the destination is chaos, conflict, poverty and barbarism, or we can take the socialist path toward true freedom, prosperity, peace and security, toward a society of plenty for all which would end the exploitation of man by man for all time.




Bad Diet

 90 percent of Americans fail to meet the government's nutritional guidelines. 

 60 percent of the calories Americans consume now come from processed food products providing loads of calories—along with huge profits for the few—but virtually no nutrition.

 On average, Americans each consume twice the recommended level of sugar, mostly invisible in processed products. The industry has learned that some foods—especially sugars—can be even more addictive than drugs, tobacco, or alcohol. Our bodies are hard-wired for sweets so food manufacturers have deployed fifty-six types of sugar to add to their products.

Food is increasingly implicated in such major killers as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, stroke, and certain cancers

Worldwide, poor diet is now the greatest contributor to early death—with red meat and sugary beverages among foods implicated in over a fifth of global mortality, reports the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. 

The US unhealthy diets are responsible for as much as nearly half of all deaths from heart disease and metabolic disorders. 

One such disorder is diabetes, which has become our seventh leading cause of death as well as the number one cause of kidney failure, lower-limb amputations, and adult blindness. Nearly half of American adults now are "pre-diabetic"—meaning we're on our way—or are suffering from full-blown diabetes. In the US, in just two decades the number of adults with diabetes has more than doubled. Over 90 percent of them suffer from "type 2" diabetes, in which the body is unable to keep blood sugar at normal levels.

Medical experts tell us it is up to us to behave: Lose extra weight, exercise, and eat less fat and sugar, while getting "plenty of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. It's also a good idea to limit red meat, and avoid processed meats," says the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

But why aren't our healthcare professionals also forcefully calling out the food industry itself for pushing unhealthy, ultra-processed food products and meat? 

Americans have been warned that processed meat—sausage, bologna, hot dogs, etc.—was in 2015 deemed a carcinogen by the World Health Organization.

Processed meat still accounts for over a fifth of the meat Americans eat.  

Opinion | America's Killer Diet | Frances Moore Lappé (

Capitalism has no answers


William Hawes begins his essay "Capitalism is Not Your Friend" on the Dissident Voice website with a reminder of what Malcolm X said about reformism:

"If you stick a knife in my back nine inches and pull it out six inches, there’s no progress. If you pull it all the way out that’s not progress. Progress is healing the wound that the blow made. And they haven’t pulled the knife out, much less healed the wound. They won’t even admit the knife is there."

Hawes in his article makes some pertinent points about the capitalist system.

1) Capitalism Is Unsustainable

2) Capitalism Creates Unjustifiable Hierarchies

3) Capitalism Is Inherently Exploitative and Alienating

4) Capitalism Is Extremely Volatile

Conclusion: Capitalism Can’t Deliver the Goods

Capitalism is Not Your Friend | Dissident Voice

what's good for humanity is good for the planet (and vice versa)


Much to the displeasure of some environmentalists, the World Socialist Movement shamelessly says that socialism will involve increases in personal consumption for three-quarters or more of the world's population. We describe socialism in terms of abundance. Impossible, rebukes these Green activists, declaring such growth would exceed the Earth's carrying capacity and make environmental destruction even more assured. Not so, we answer.

There are those in the ecology movement who interpret socialism as a society of ever-increasing consumerism, of people seeking to acquire more and more material goods. But our reply is human wants are socially-determined and limited. Humans can only use so much food, for instance, and only wish to accumulate more and more material goods in a society of economic insecurity like capitalism. In socialism where people could be sure that what they required to satisfy their needs because goods would always be available then we would soon settle down to only taking what we needed and no more.

This is all we meant by talking of socialism as a "society of abundance": that enough food, housing and other material goods can be produced to permit everyone in society to satisfy their likely material needs. It was not a reference to some orgy of over-indulgence, but simply to the fact that it is technically possible to produce (more than) enough to satisfy everyone's material needs, thanks, we might add, to industrialisation. Despite many Greens’ claim to the contrary, industry and technology  are not in themselves the cause of pollution and environmental destruction; it is their application under capitalism in the pursuit by separate, competing businesses and nations of relatively short-term monetary profit that
is the cause.

The error in the eco-activists thinking is to confuse consumption per head with what individuals actually consume. To arrive at a figure for consumption per head, what the statisticians do is to take total energy output or whatever and then divide it by the total population. But this doesn't give a figure for what people consume as, in addition to personal it includes what industry, the government and the military consume. It a grossly misleading to equate consumption per head with personal consumption since it ignores the fact that consumption per head can be reduced without reducing personal consumption and that this is in fact compatible with an increase in personal consumption.

What the World Socialist Movement propose is to eliminate the waste of capitalism, not just the obvious as the resources devoted to armaments and armies but to the far wider overhead costs involved in buying and selling. It has been estimated that, at the very least, half of the workforce is engaged in such socially-useless, non-productive activity (some estimates go higher). In a socialist society all this waste will be eliminated, so drastically reducing consumption per head.

This will allow room for the personal consumption of those who need it to be increased to a decent level. Diverting resources to do this — and ensuring that every human on the planet does have a decent standard of living will be the primary, the initial aim of socialism — will put up consumption per head again, but to nowhere near the level now obtained under capitalism.


 After clearing up the damage and harm inherited from capitalism, then both consumption and production can be expected to level off and something approaching a "steady-state economy" reached. In a society geared to meeting human needs, once those needs are being met there is no need to go on producing more. It is true that this assumes that population levels will stabilise too. This is a reasonable assumption and is already beginning to happen, even under capitalism, wherein the vast majority of countries, fertility rates and family sizes are falling. Some neo-Malthusians disagree with us. But they offer no answer to the problem since being against increasing personal consumption levels as in their view this would overload the Earth's carrying capacity. But, unless the personal consumption of the people in the poorer parts of the world is increased, then population growth there won't slow down. If you reject socialism all that is left is to envisage either compulsory sterilisation or letting poverty and pestilence take their course. The World Socialist Movement rejects such a misanthropic anti-human world view.  We embrace a human-centred approach that a balanced relationship with our eco-systems is something that humans should try to achieve.  It is in our interest that the biosphere should function properly.


There is in fact no antagonism between the interest of humanity and the interest of the environment. We say that the ecologically-unbalanced behaviour that humans at present engage in is due to the socio-economic system under which we live, namely capitalism. We call for a change in the social system. We want a socialist society because it will be good for humanity. It will also be good for the planet but, then, what is good for the planet is also good for humans. 

Climate Policy in South-East Asia

 The Southeast Asia region is facing rising sea levels, heatwaves, droughts and increasingly intense rainstorms.

"Recent studies estimate that up to 96% of the ASEAN region is likely to be affected by drought, and up to 64% affected by extreme drought," Benjamin P. Horton, director of the Earth Observatory of Singapore at Nanyang Technological University, explained. "Future sea-level rise will affect populations, economies and infrastructure of every coastal nation," he added.

During last year alone, almost 5 million people were affected when Typhoon Vamco battered the Philippines and Vietnam in November 2020 while 289 people died in the floods caused by tropical storm Linfa in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam just a month earlier.

While climate change has repeatedly been identified at ASEAN summits and meetings as a critical regional challenge, concrete action is still lacking.

Indonesia, Southeast Asia's largest economy and the world's eighth-biggest greenhouse gas emitter, aims to attain net-zero emissions by 2060. Though the country — the world's top exporter of thermal or steam coal, used to generate electricity — has plans to phase out fossil fuel for electricity generation by 2056 and has pledged not to commission any additional coal power plants, it is still 60% powered by coal.

Thailand pledged in 2015 to reduce its emissions by 20% by 2030 with newly announced proposals to achieve carbon neutrality by 2065 to 2070. But even if it achieves those targets, the country would still be 15 to 20 years behind the timeline set by the UN, including reaching zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Vietnam has not yet set a net-zero target, but it is looking at boosting its sources of renewable energy and increasing legislation restricting use of coal to reduce emissions

Singapore has also not set a target date for achieving net-zero emissions.

Climate Action Tracker has said that while Southeast Asian countries have varying degrees of commitment to tackle global warming, none are sufficiently acting on pledges made under the Paris climate deal.

"The Climate Action Tracker ranked Indonesia's and Vietnam's overall NDC update as highly insufficient. Meanwhile, Singapore is critically inadequate," said Martinus. "Clearly, those countries should have raised more ambitious targets to help the world limit global heating to well below 2 degrees Celsius," she added.

Are Southeast Asian nations meeting their climate commitments? | Asia | An in-depth look at news from across the continent | DW | 30.10.2021

North Sea Oil Tax-free

 While the G-20 at its Rome conference agreed to a minimum tax rate for the global corporations of 15%, something they all still have to get passed through their individual parliaments, (and in the case of Biden, with his present budget impasse, that is unlikely),  Shell and BP, have not paid any corporation tax on oil and gas production in the North Sea for the last three years by benefiting from billions of pounds of tax breaks and reliefs for oil and gas production.

Shell and BP paid no corporation tax or production levies on North Sea oil operations between 2018 and 2020, and claimed tax rebates of nearly £400m.  Over the same three-year period, they paid shareholders more than £44bn in dividends.

Shell and BP, which together produce more than 1.7bn tonnes of greenhouse gases a year and have an annual global footprint of greenhouse gases more than five times bigger than Britain’s.

The North Sea is now one of the most profitable areas in the world for oil and gas production, after tax cuts by the government to encourage production. A petroleum revenue tax of 35% was effectively scrapped by the then chancellor, George Osborne, in 2016 and oil giants can claim billions of pounds in taxpayer handouts for decommissioning rigs. There are about 180 oil rigs in the North Sea. The UK Treasury will foot a bill of more than £18bn for the decommissioning of the oil and gas infrastructure in the North Sea up to 2065 – made up of tax repayments and a reduction in offshore corporation tax.

Philip Evans, oil and gas campaigner for Greenpeace UK, said: “It’s outrageous that as the UK prepares to host global climate talks in Glasgow, we still have one of the lowest effective tax rates in the world for oil extraction. We’re giving tax breaks worth billions of pounds to companies that have been fuelling the climate emergency for decades.”

The UK has some of the lowest oil tax rates in the world. An analysis found the UK is now the most profitable country in the world for the development of oil and gas “mega-projects”. A report published last week by Friends of the Earth and the New Economics Foundation found that the oil and gas industry is preparing to seek approval for 30 offshore projects by 2025.

Gabrielle Jeliazkov, a campaigner at Platform, a UK group that investigates the social and environmental effects of the global oil industry and is supporting the legal case, said: “The government has spent too long backing oil giants through tax breaks and subsidies. It has had devastating consequences for the climate.”

Shell and BP paid zero tax on North Sea gas and oil for three years | Oil and gas companies | The Guardian

Saturday, October 30, 2021

We Can Change the World


Modern bourgeois society, with its relations of production, of exchange and of property, a society that has conjured up such gigantic means of production and of exchange, is like the sorcerer who is no longer able to control the powers of the nether world whom he has called up by his spells. - Communist Manifesto

 COP26 has now formally begun. The Socialist Party comes to Glasgow with no great expectations nor hopes that it will offer any permanent solutions. We hold that the reason behind the politicians' inability to act on environmental issues is their continued adherence to the capitalist economic system. Despite many fine words spoken and written, COP26 will result in little difference to the world’s worsening environmental condition. COP26 will not provide genuine solutions but merely stop-gap measures to plug the breaches in capitalism, a fresh new coat of paint upon a corroding world. Capitalist 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.


The poorest people on the planet are paying the highest price for the inaction of the politicians. Finding environmental answers to climate change based on free-market mechanisms or state intervention has proven ineffectual. The utter failure of world leaders to take action on climate change is rooted in an economic system that can only see the natural world as a source of materials for the production process, or a land-fill for its waste. The socialist critique of capitalism acknowledges its inherent environmental destructiveness. The World Socialist Movement must campaign without concession or compromise, without condescension, without forlorn hope or false illusions, and without any dogmatism. Ours is a worldwide fight to protect communities and the planet from capitalism’s march towards environmental catastrophe. 

Our task remains aspirational, to inspire others. Many in the environmentalist movement are genuinely disapproving of the destructive way capitalism functions and are seeking an alternative. However, some critics of capitalist economics hold a dismissive attitude towards socialism. Marx and Engels are often depicted as being “out of date” because they wrote more than a century ago. What isn’t grasped about their descriptions of early capitalism is even more relevant today it encompasses virtually the whole world.

We wish to show that ignoring socialist ideas is mistaken and misguided. Our future can only be based on a steady-state, zero-growth economy that provides for need rather than capital accumulation, an impossibility under a system based on a relentless drive for profits by competition. Capitalism has created world markets and world industries. Multinational corporations can only survive in competition with one another through expansion and growth. We cannot ward off the dangers climate change poses to the whole of humanity by trying to do as little as possible. If we wish to avoid the vast consequences upon the very conditions for human life, we have to dismantle the system. We need a revolution to preserve what is worth having.

Climate change will exacerbate existing tensions around the world. Exactly how this will play out is not yet clear. However, climate change and its implications for security are major preoccupations of many nations’ military. Having identified the potential social and economic impact of climate change, governments are preparing to adapt their military forces to deal with so-called resource wars and the movement of millions of displaced refugees.

 The only solution for the World Socialist Movement is to find ways to raise and popularise our case for socialism. We may not instantly win large numbers of new friends, but we might forestall the strengthening of a potential enemy. In peace, as in war, your masters will make to order, as friends or foes, workers of other lands so to divide you. The world over, irrespective of geographical boundaries, poverty is the lot of working people. The answer is world socialism, the creation of the cooperative commonwealth.