As many countries face the difficulties of food shortages and higher prices,
Global capitalism’s reaction to so-called natural disasters shows the system in its true colours—greedy gold and bloody red. The profit system proves woefully inadequate to deal humanely and effectively with such situations. These misfortunes are presented as unavoidable natural disasters. To some extent, this is true. But it ignores the difficult-to-quantify consequences of the deliberate pursuit of profit at the expense of environmental protection and conservation—the emission of poisonous gases, the destruction of forests and so on. The severity of the disasters is compounded by the fact that capitalism’s priority is to preserve and enhance the profit system, not to preserve and enhance human life. How would the consequences of natural disasters be dealt with in a socialist world? The frequency and severity of such events would be minimised by not damaging the environment in the pursuit of profit and not forcing people to live in areas that are prone to really unavoidable natural disasters. When a hurricane, earthquake or whatever did occur, help would be organised directly and immediately to meet the needs of the victims. No waiting around for funds to be set up, relief costs to be authorised, etc. No question of debt moratorium or cancellation to be considered—not debts would be created. Just the simple meeting of human needs. Is that too complex and unthinkable an idea to understand and act on?
The problem of evil in the world, the existence of wars, poverty, unemployment, crime, crises, etc., made it clear that no Supreme Being existed. Nor could it be claimed that evil, cruelty and barbarity are just man made, for barbarity exists among the animals. The cat plays with a mouse until it has been slowly tortured to death and the jungles are filled with ferocious beasts who live by tearing to pieces smaller and weaker animals. If God could make herbivore animals why not make them all like that instead of creating carnivorous ones. Everywhere the law of the jungle dominated human life under capitalism. It is possible to trace the evolution of the idea of God in primitive society, and now that we know the origin of the God idea, this cuts the ground from under the feet of the theist. The heavens no longer proclaim the glory Of God, nor does the firmament show his handiwork. God who could reveal himself at any moment has now to be searched for. The time has come to conduct God to the frontiers, thank him for his services, and ask him not to call again and trouble us with his diversions, as we wish to change the economic basis of society, and for this purpose do not need spirits, spooks or spectres (whether holy or otherwise). Instead of God creating man in his image, man had created his God or gods and always in his own image. The gods of the African tribes were black, with short black curly hair, and the gods of the Eskimos were fat and covered with thick furs.
Fired clay roofing tiles fired! Then walls tumble,
Consumers consumed, mall maladjusted
By special air delivery, busted
Businesses ignite, implode and crumble.
Strewn over fractured glass from blown shop fronts,
Manikins shattered, riven and disarmed,
A single stall standing charmed and unharmed
Amidst smoking rubble. Politicians’ punt
And everyone loses, even all those
Just taking orders, integrity
At knock down prices along with free
Offers of capitulation. War shows
The gloss of commerce and competition
Sells death on credit, simple addition.
Asparagus in winter, pears from Argentina, Peruvian blueberries and Californian almonds — these are just a few of the several thousand products shoppers can buy when they enter a supermarket.
It's something our ancestors a century ago likely never imagined, but we've become used to this bounty of choice when we select our food.
"It is truly peculiar to walk into a Carrefour Marche in France or Wal Mart here in the United States and see what's on offer," says Janet Chrzan, a nutritional anthropologist from the University of Pennsylvania. "We are living in a food environment which is unlike anything our species has ever encountered."
German supermarkets carry more than 10,000 products on their shelves. In the US, it is more than 30,000. Climate scientists say change, including moderating our diets, is exactly what's needed to bring down greenhouse gas emissions from food. That means eating less red meat and more plant-based foods. Opting for seasonal produce rather than buying, say, strawberries in winter can also make a difference.
Food production accounts for around a quarter of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. Most of that comes from meat and dairy, which contribute almost 15% of global emissions. Producing food also causes other problems, such as pollution, biodiversity loss, contamination of soils and water shortages.
Food consumption has been increasing worldwide for decades. High-income countries, including the US and Germany, take in the most calories per capita. At the same time, the UN estimates that households globally throw away 11% of the total food available for consumption, although this statistic does not include low-income countries.
When faced with an abundance of choice in the grocery store, consumers tend to make decisions that are quick and based on habit. Our consumer behavior is notoriously difficult to change because food choices and eating patterns are so embedded in the way we live.
Stefan Wahlen, a food sociologist at the University of Giessen in Germany, says despite small blips, people tend to eat the same food 95% of the time.
"You live in your routines, and even though you might be trying some new foodstuff, there's little variation in what we actually eat," he says, adding that these routines help us in "coping with the complexity of our daily lives."
Two-thirds of consumers in the study by the Brussels-based European Consumer Organization said they were open to changing their eating habits for environmental reasons, with many willing to reduce food waste at home, buy more seasonal fruit and veggies and eat more plant-based foods. But only one in five were willing to spend more money for sustainable food.
It can also be complicated for consumers to know which foods are ecologically sustainable, given that most products don't display their carbon footprints or how much land and water went into producing them.
306,887 civilians are estimated to have been killed in Syria between March 1, 2011 and March 31, 2021 because of the conflict.
The figures released by the UN do not include soldiers and fighters killed in the conflict; their numbers are believed to be in the tens of thousands. The numbers also do not include people who were killed and buried by their families without notifying authorities.
Record-breaking floods in the north-eastern region of the country of Bangladesh have wreaked havoc as an estimated 7.2 million people have been affected and are in desperate need of shelter and emergency relief.
The highest amount of rainfall in decades has led to the overflowing of large river systems running between India and Bangladesh and completely swallowing surrounding areas.
The G-7 leaders have promised Ukraine over $31.6 billion in budgetary and humanitarian support.
Yet despite the ever-growing global hunger crisis, intensified by fallout from the war, the G7 said it would provide only an additional $4.5 billion, amounting to a total of over $14bn for hunger relief.
"The $4.5 billion pledged is far too little to end the global food crisis and prevent people from continuing to go hungry," Charlotte Becker, advocacy and campaign director at Oxfam, said in a statement. "At least an additional $28 billion is needed to end hunger and fund the United Nations' appeals for help."
It failed to include any debt relief for affected low- and middle-income countries. For every dollar of aid money, two dollars would have to be paid to creditors.
The Supreme Court has been throwing its weight around lately. Not content with sabotaging legislative attempts to restrict access to mass-murder weapons, it has now overturned Roe v. Wade (1973), which established a legal right to abortion.
The population of England and Wales has hit a historic high of 59,597,300, an 6.3% increase on the 2011 figure of 56,075,912 – an extra 3.5 million people. It means the wider UK population is almost 67 million, once census results published last month for Northern Ireland, showing a population of 1.9 million, and the latest estimate for Scotland, of 5.47 million, are added in.
The total is on course to break the 70 million mark in the next five years, but population growth has decreased slightly over the last decade. Under-15s make up a declining proportion of the population, and at 10.4 million have been overtaken in numbers by the over-65s in the last decade.
With 434 residents per square kilometre, England now ranks as the second-most densely populated country in Europe after the Netherlands (507 persons per sq km).
Present and projected increases in the population only pose a problem under the conditions imposed by capitalist society—the laws of profit first and can’t pay, can’t have.
Capitalism is not only a system of artificial scarcity, it is also a system of organised waste. Countless millions of workers are to be found in the armed forces, many more in the security and law and order business, with many times that number employed in the field of commerce and finance.
The problem becomes not one of feeding the growing population, but of organising production and distribution on a rational basis. While we can expect the Malthusian prophets of doom to remind us that every new child means an extra mouth to feed, they will neglect to add that it also means an extra pair of hands, an extra brain, capable of contributing to the common good. It is no state secret that production is not primarily produced to satisfy needs. It is produced for the market and with a view to making profits.
Socialist society will ensure that the resources of the Earth are used in a manner that ensures every man, woman and child is adequately fed, cared for and housed—something capitalism has never been capable of overseeing.
Fertiliser - the key ingredient needed to help crops grow - is in short supply across the world. Global prices have also sky-rocketed in part because of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Russia, which is under Western sanctions, produces large amounts of potash, ammonia and urea. These are the three key ingredients needed to make chemical fertiliser. Russia exports around 20% of the world's nitrogen fertilisers and combined with its sanctioned ally Belarus, 40% of the world's exported potassium
The amount of fertiliser available globally has almost halved, while the cost of some types of fertilizer have nearly tripled over the past 12 months, according to the United Nations.
A significant proportion of the petrol and diesel which British drivers put into their cars comes from biofuels – these include vegetable oils from plants such as oilseed rape, wheat and sugar beet. The UK biofuel industry is an industry supplying 293 million litres in 2020.
A new report by thinktank Green Alliance has said ending biofuel use in the UK would free up space to grow food for 3.5 million people. The huge area of land used to grow crops which go to be vehicle fuel could return to food production instead. Plant biomass production uses nearly three-quarters as much land as the entire UK potato industry and is a “strong factor” in rising food prices in the UK due to increased competition for land.
Biofuels have previously been touted as a solution to the climate crisis, but the analysis said their emission-cutting impact "has proven minimal, and in some cases, even worse than fossil fuels". This is because burning biomass still produces greenhouse emissions in much the same way burning fossil fuels does. This is on top of the stored carbon released into the atmosphere when land is repurposed for biofuel production.
Almuth Ernsting, co-director of campaign group BiofuelWatch said, "Ending the use of food to make biofuels would immediately relieve food prices and protect millions from going without enough food..."
Axel Michaelowa, senior founding partner of German-based climate consultancy, Perspectives Climate Group, is the lead author of a report, released during last week's climate conference in Bonn, Germany, that highlights the need to better declare and account for military and conflict-related emissions. It shows that military operation emissions in peacetime and war are only partially known, and that no one is taking responsibility for them in the context of the UN climate goals.
"Given that military emissions can reach hundreds of million tonnes of CO2 per year," nations need to "address more transparently" the direct and indirect climate impacts of war, said Michaelowa.
The expected emissions from rebuilding cities destroyed in the Syrian war are equal to the annual greenhouse gas output of Switzerland, notes Michealowa.
Militaries around the world have for decades been concerned that a growing climate crisis will be the key trigger of future conflict, yet they have done little to address their role in exacerbating global heating through fossil fuel burning. Countries have shown little interest in reining in such outsized military emissions.
The European Union, which collectively has the second-largest armed force, only reports some emissions due to national security concerns — indirect emissions generated by the production of military equipment and weapons, for example, are not included. According to a 2021 report by The Conflict and Environment Observatory (CEOBS), a UK-based monitoring group, UK military emissions alone are at least three times higher than the 11 million tons of CO2 reported in 2018.
While the annual emissions from the US military, the world's largest, are higher than Sweden or Denmark when properly counted, researchers have said. Emitting around 23.5 thousand kilotons of CO2 in 2017, the US war machine is itself estimated to be the single biggest institutional consumer of hydrocarbons on the planet.
Doug Weir, research and policy director at The Conflict and Environment Observatory, refers to the way the conflict has exposed "energy insecurity" and dependence on fossil fuels. Weir noted that military budgets are also often focused on securing fossil fuel supplies, including in Libya where the decadelong conflict has slowed oil production to a trickle. Between 2018 and 2021, Italy, Spain and Germany have spent more than €4 billion on missions that aim to preserve oil and gas supply.
For Stuart Parkinson, a researcher at Scientists for Global Responsibility and a military emissions expert, any war spending is tied up with fossil fuels — including in Ukraine.
"Military spending is carbon intensive because of the fossil-fuel dependence of the military," he said, noting that Russia and Ukraine together accounted for around 3.5% of the $2.1 trillion global total military spend before the war, but that Ukraine has since been given $19 billion in military aid from the US alone. A least eight NATO countries are planning to increase military budgets due to the war, with Germany announcing a €100 billion increase, said Parkinson.
"The increase in military spending will impact on the total military carbon footprint on top of the massive emissions from the war directly," he said.
If compulsory accounting of military emissions could threaten a country's ability to meet its climate targets, "this could have a deterrent effect on aggression," said Axel Michaelowa. "If we have a world that is built on renewable, decentralized energy, there will be less funds for those who want to invade their neighbors,"