[pdf http://184.108.40.206/cpgb-ml/wp-content/mediaclimate_20061104.pdf 700 800]Three major challenges face humanity today – poverty, war and the destruction of the environment.
A certain amount of climate change is already unavoidable, but with preparation and adaptation, the worst of the disaster could still be averted. We need to implement methods of farming that do not add to global warming, for example, and to find strategies for food production that can stand up to more extreme weather patterns. Sea defences must be built and populations that are at risk of losing their homes relocated. Most urgently of all, we need to establish energy sources that don’t emit carbon.
While most of the green lobby is agreed that alternatives such as wind, solar, tide, hydroelectric and clean coal could be part of the solution, an inability to separate science itself from the way that science is utilised by any individual or class means that many greens refuse to consider the possibility that both nuclear and renewable research could prove useful. Nuclear science is in its infancy and still poses problems of waste, leakage etc, and under capitalism the health and safety of the population at large is not a priority, but none of that means that the science itself is somehow ‘wrong’ or that the problems of safety, waste disposal etc could never be solved if solving them were made a priority.
In the immediate short term, we also need to take some painful decisions about the way we live. How much of our energy is really needed? How much is wasted? How could we economise? Can we find a better system of transportation than cars, which are individual, wasteful and extremely carbon intensive?
Profit margins and vested interests
None of these problems can be solved, however, so long as the production of the necessities of life (food, shelter, clothing and so on) is governed by the profit motive.
It is today obvious to all – after decades of bitter experience – that the multinational corporations and the billionaires who control them will invariably put profit before the safeguarding of the environment. To do otherwise would be to lose out in the battle of competition and face oblivion if not bankruptcy.
This monopoly capitalist (imperialist) class rules our society and dictates its terms to our governments. Neither it nor the governments it controls are about to invest in advancing new technology for providing pollution-free energy just because it will have some long-term benefit for humanity. Saving the planet tomorrow is no compensation for going out of business today, and the ruthless law of competition means that capitalists not only have to make a profit, but must constantly strive to make the maximum profit or be driven out of business by their more cut-throat rivals. As an individual, this or that member of the billionaire bourgeoisie might be perfectly convinced of the need to act now to preserve humanity from catastrophe, but as the owner of a capitalist enterprise, s/he can only be guided by the bottom line, and maximum profits come from minimising outlay.
To this general inability of the capitalist/imperialist class to act, must be added the specific situation in the world today, whereby some of the biggest and most powerful corporations in the world – corporations that dictate policies to national governments – have a direct interest in opposing any kind of concerted effort to halt carbon emissions. These are the oil giants, the armaments and car monopolies, whose products run on oil, and the big financiers, which have a powerful stake in all three.
So long as the means of producing the necessities of life are the private property of the rich (owned by them personally or through corporations they control), this necessarily implies that the whole purpose of production will be profit. Things will continue to be produced, regardless of pollution and ecological destruction, if there is a greater profit to be made that way.
Communist vs ‘green’ solutions
The only possible alternative to private profiteering at the expense of the planet is communism. All means of production are taken over and run by the state, which puts them to work not for profit but directly to satisfy the needs of the masses of the people. People have as much need to preserve the planet as they do for food and shelter, so there is no question of a communist society leaving ecological questions unaddressed.
Being unwilling to face the harsh truth that only communism can save our planet, any number of organisations are frantically casting around for ways in which it might be possible to preserve capitalism while at the same time reining in some of its most disastrous consequences.
The greens tell us that each of us individually must learn to make the ‘right’ ‘consumer choices’. In reality, however, the vast masses of the humanity do not have any choice about how the food they eat or the energy they consume is produced. Nor are we able to ‘opt out’ of the wars that our capitalist/imperialist ruling class is forever waging in the interests of the profits of multinational corporations and finance houses. As the world’s wealth is ‘relocated’ into the pockets of a handful of finance capitalists, it is all most people on the planet can do to make ends meet and, while imperialism is in charge, the education required to make people aware of the problems is not about to be delivered.
The way forward
The hard truth is that if we are serious about saving humanity from cataclysmic climate change, we need to redouble our efforts to organise the working class to smash imperialism. Only socialism will be able to organise production and direct scientific and technological research on a society-wide basis in order that the problems facing us can be solved.
Capitalism has unlocked the productive capacity of humankind and brought within our reach the technical possibility of every person on the planet living a decent and fulfilling life. To realise this potential, however, these productive forces must be brought under the conscious control of the working class and used, not to make profits, but to satisfy human needs; not to enrich the barons of finance capital but to enrich the whole of humanity.
It should also be noted that while socialism will expand the productive forces in order to do away with poverty and satisfy the needs of the people, it will at the same time instantly do away with much of the obscenely wasteful production that takes place under capitalism, where goods are produced and never sold and goods produced and sold that are never needed! Consumption will cease to be an end in itself and the earth’s resources valued and respected, since on them depends not only our present but also our future.
Imperialism has proved itself incapable of addressing even so vital a problem as the one that now stands before us, and so it stands helpless at the gates of its own destruction.
Under socialism, on the other hand, as soon as human need becomes the motive force for production, it will be not only possible but absolutely necessary to combine the long-term needs of the people with the satisfaction of their short-term wants. If culture changes are required in order that we don’t waste materials and energy on pointless activity, such culture changes will surely be effected.
Save humanity – overthrow imperialism!