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latest news

Chile
Up to 2 million march against pensions robbery

24/08/2016: General strike threatened for 4 November as protests grow

  Chile

Quebec
Montreal workers strike for $15 an hour

22/08/2016: "Company totally underestimated workers’ determination"

  Quebec

 Video
Militant, Liverpool and Trotskyism today

22/08/2016: Russia Today covers historic Liverpool battle, led by the CWI in Britain

  Trotsky, Video

US
Build a new party of the 99%

21/08/2016: Support Jill Stein

  US

Middle East
ISIS’ waning “caliphate”

20/08/2016: Imperialist solutions are no solution at all

  Middle East

Russia
Twenty fifth anniversary of attempted coup

19/08/2016: Attempted Stalinist counter-revolution speeds up capitalist counter-revolution

  Russia

US
Trump in trouble

17/08/2016: Political polarisation deepens

  US

Philippines
Is Duterte following in Marcos’ footsteps?

16/08/2016: New president threatens martial law while leaning on ‘left’ parties for support

  Philippines

Britain
The Corbyn insurgency 2.0

15/08/2016: Now let’s finish the job

  Britain

 Video
Socialist Party general secretary Peter Taaffe on Channel 4

14/08/2016: Socialist party media coverage amid accusations of Trotskyist "entryism"

  Video

 Video
CWI around the world

13/08/2016: Video shown at the CWI Summer school of some sections’ activities

  CWI, Video

Quebec
World Social Forum 2016

13/08/2016: Tens of thousands of activists from around the world gather WSF in Montreal, 9-14 August

  Canada, Quebec

Hong Kong
Multinational MTR takes socialist Sally Tang Mei-ching to court

12/08/2016: Political motives behind ‘David versus Goliath’ trial

  Hong Kong

Britain
#KeepCorbyn - stand firm for socialism

10/08/2016: The fight for a Labour Party for the working class

  Britain

South Africa
Local elections a thunderous rebuke for ANC

09/08/2016: ANC polls less than 60% for first time since end of apartheid

  Africa, South Africa

Zimbabwe
Mugabe must fall!

05/08/2016: Mass revolt shakes the regime to its foundations

  Zimbabwe

The Olympics, big business and dictatorship

04/08/2016: A short history of the Olympics:

  History

 CWI Summer school
Brazil

04/08/2016: New cycle of struggle following right-wing parliamentary coup

  Brazil, CWI

 CWI Summer School
Economic instability, inter-imperialist tensions, workers struggles’ and political earthquakes

03/08/2016: Report of the discussion on world perspectives at the recent CWI Summer School

  CWI, Turkey

 CWI Summer School 2016
Fighting racism and the far right 

02/08/2016: Capitalist crisis and anti-immigrant reaction

  CWI

Germany
‘Brexit’ and the German Left

30/07/2016: Reject the bosses’ EU! For a Europe of working people - a voluntary socialist federation

  Germany

US
Most contentious Democratic Convention since 1968

29/07/2016: We need a new party of the 99% to defeat the billionaire class

  US

 Cameroon
Free jailed Buea activists!

28/07/2016: 100 protest outside the court demanding release of the 15

  Cameroon, Solidarity

Cote d’Ivoire
Protests against electricity prices

28/07/2016: The straw that broke the camel’s back!

  Ivory Coast

US
A call to action

27/07/2016: Walk out from the Democratic National Convention!

  US

Chile
One million protest against private pension fund

26/07/2016: After student protests, working class returns to streets

  Chile

 CWI Summer School
Europe in the aftermath of the Brexit shock

26/07/2016: Continent enters new phase of political and economic crises

  CWI

Britain
Westminster renews Trident weapons of mass destruction

25/07/2016: Debate exposes Labour as two parties

  Britain

Belgium
Brutal repression against Hong Kong socialist at Brussels Airport

18/07/2016: Chinese methods against Marxists copied by Belgian authorities

  Belgium

Turkey
Attempted coup failed

16/07/2016: No to military rule, no to Erdogan’s rule! For a workers’ alternative!

  Turkey

Global warming

Needed: a socialist plan for the environment

www.socialistworld.net, 01/06/2012
website of the committee for a workers' international, CWI

To avoid the worst effects of climate change, decisive action needs to be taken now, but it’s not going to come from the capitalists or their politicians.

Pete Dickenson

Global warming is the overriding environmental issue facing the world. 20 years have passed since the United Nations’ (UN) ’Earth Summit’ in Rio de Janeiro highlighted the problem. However, the output of greenhouse gases that cause climate change has continued to escalate to a critical level that threatens environmental catastrophe. As emissions have rocketed, the gap between the green rhetoric of governments in the industrialised capitalist countries and their feeble policy response has become a chasm.

Global warming: threat critical

The devastating floods in Pakistan in 2010 and Hurricane Katrina in the USA in 2005 highlighted the possibility that climate change, manifested in extreme weather events, is with us now. This shattered any remaining complacency that it is a problem just for future generations. Meteorologist and former hurricane hunter Dr Jeff Masters argues that "it is quite possible that 2010 was the most extreme weather year globally since 1816".

Although some think these were isolated events unconnected to environmental changes, research after Katrina in particular made a strong case that the warming of the ocean was leading to more severe hurricanes. There is now sufficient evidence for climate scientists to call for extreme weather events to be considered as related to global warming until proved otherwise, rather than the other way round.

There is a wide range of predictions of possible temperature rises linked to global warming, because estimations depend on assumed sensitivity of the earth to rises in greenhouse gas concentrations. Sensitivity to greenhouse gases is not yet fully understood, but if the upper end of estimates, 13.3°C, proves to be true, it will be difficult for life to be sustained on the planet. Although this extreme outcome is statistically unlikely to happen, it is nevertheless a warning of the profound dangers we face. A recent lower prediction that is much more likely, which would nevertheless still be devastating, is for a rise of 4°C by 2055 made by the UK Met Office, a leading authority in climate science.

The Stern Report into climate change, commissioned by the former New Labour government and then ignored, assuming a 2-3°C rise, also predicted more frequent droughts and floods. In addition, Stern warned of declining crop yields and fish stocks and from tens to hundreds of millions flooded out of their homes. Climate change will also increase deaths from malnutrition, heat stress and diseases such as malaria and dengue fever. In a nutshell, the effects of global warming will be devastating and borne mainly by the poor.

Apart from global warming, the other significant dangers we face are pollution linked to nuclear power generation as well as from many other sources. Deforestation and desertification threaten the environment and the lives of the poorest on the planet, both phenomena being linked to global warming, as is accelerating species extinction. The oceans and the living organisms in them are under attack from many directions. This includes fish destruction and toxic pollution from various sources, not least oil spills, highlighted by the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

The danger of nuclear power

When the scale nine earthquake struck just off the coast of the Japanese city of Sendai on Friday 11 March 2011, the seismic shock was immediately registered by the sensors at the Fukushima 1 nuclear plant, which is situated on the coast, south of the epicentre of the quake. The reactors were shut down as a ’precautionary measure’. Dozens of pro-nuclear experts then kept assuring TV viewers that ’everything was under control’. Unfortunately, the earthquake was followed by a tsunami, which easily overcame the coastal defences around the plant and inundated the reactor buildings, putting the diesel generators out of action.

Fukushima 1 had six reactors, three of which were operational at the time of the earthquake. There was a meltdown of the nuclear fuel in reactors 1, 2 and 3. The buildings housing the reactors 1 and 3 were destroyed by hydrogen explosions, as steam was vented into these areas from the containment vessels. The resulting radioactive fallout was the worst since the 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe.

There was a scandalous lack of data made available by the private operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Company. This organisation had, in the late 1980s and 1990s, been found to have systematically falsified records of safety problems at its nuclear reactors. It also admitted being unaware that its Kashiwazaki Kariwa facility was built immediately above an active fault line, where four tectonic plates converged. When an earthquake hit that nuclear plant in 2007 it was put out of action for two years.

Nine months after the Fukushima disaster, the Japanese government finally announced that significant radioactive leakages had been stopped, although it would take 40 years to clean up and decommission the plant.

In the long term, storing the toxic waste produced by nuclear power generation is even more of a problem than coping with a disaster like Fukushima. This is because the waste will be radioactive for 100,000 years and no completely safe method of storing it has yet been devised.

Non-nuclear toxic contamination

Thousands of toxic substances produced by the world’s chemical industries are released every year, which threaten the earth’s air, land and sea. Some discharges hit the headlines, like oil spills or the leaks of radioactivity at Fukushima. However, the volume of contaminants released in less dramatic circumstances far exceeds these high profile cases and overall more damage is probably caused. These cases include industrial discharges, sea dumping, spillages and the effects of pesticides and synthetic fertilisers.

The release of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) must also be added to the list of potentially dangerous contaminants. Genetic engineering has the possibility to transform medicine and other aspects of our lives for the better, but its main application to date has been driven by agribusiness to generate quick returns. Since the long term effects when this happens are still not clear, they should not be deployed in agriculture until there is sufficient scientific knowledge to permit their safe use.

Polar bear on sea ice, photo by NASA

Degradation of the natural world

Deforestation, destruction of sea life and species depletion are examples of the accelerating degradation of the natural world. The Amazonian rainforest has shrunk by 15%, the Indonesian rainforest 72%, caused by the encroachment of agricultural land for cattle grazing and particularly for soya and palm oil production.

It has been claimed that the biggest single threat to the marine ecosystem is from over-fishing. Modern factory ships, using sonar technology to detect shoals and massive trawling equipment that can reach the sea floor, are destroying whole populations of fish. 90% of large fish such as tuna, cod and halibut have been wiped out, which is causing a shift in the ocean ecosystem to one in which small plankton eating animals predominate, such as jelly-fish. Tens if not hundreds of thousands of jobs have been lost as the Newfoundland, North Sea and Baltic Sea fisheries have largely collapsed.

The attention of the big companies has now turned to the Pacific, the only remaining area not yet fished out, but the same fate awaits this region as befell the North Sea, if the present profit driven approach is not fundamentally changed. Unless this happens, all that will remain on the menu before long may be jelly-fish and chips!

Deforestation and fisheries depletion are part of a wider picture of habitat destruction that is driving the reduction in biodiversity. 20,000 species a year are being lost according to Douglas Crawford-Browne, director of the Cambridge Centre for Climate Change Mitigation. He and most environmentalists blame this situation on ’human action’, but in fact it is a very particular form of ’human action’ that is in the dock: the pursuit of profit in a capitalist market economy.

The vast majority of the problems discussed here can be traced back to the detrimental activities of big business, particularly multinational corporations and their agents.

How green will the capitalists go?

Like many previous summits, the 2011 UN sponsored climate change conference in Durban, South Africa, abjectly failed to reach an agreement to tackle global warming. The conference ended with just a hope that a new and as yet unspecified agreement to replace the Kyoto climate reduction treaty, which ends in 2012, would come into operation by the earliest in 2020. That is, no new deal will be in place before then.

But 2020 is also the deadline given by climate science for cutting greenhouse gases by 40% to avert a potential catastrophe. The wording agreed to form a legally binding basis for a future treaty was so vague as to be worthless. Recent follow-up talks in Bonn ended on 25 May with more disagreements and backtracking, putting even a vague treaty in doubt.

The failures of the Durban summit and its predecessor at Copenhagen in 2009, gatherings that were meant to correct the failings of Kyoto, showed the inability of the capitalist class to tackle global warming. In advance, the UN had called the Copenhagen conference the last chance to avoid catastrophic global warming. In the event it just revealed the deeply antagonistic relations between the big powers preventing agreement on climate change.

Directly applied carbon taxes, as many Greens advocate, could have a bigger impact than a Kyoto type system on greenhouse gas reductions. However carbon taxes would hit the poorest sections of society, since the poor spend a greater proportion of their incomes on fuel. This would especially be the case if taxes were implemented on a scale intended to have a serious impact on emissions. Such regressive measures should be opposed by socialists.

Rather than backing the market-type system discussed at Copenhagen, many activists, seeing the urgency of the situation, are now calling for direct measures to be implemented to reduce greenhouse gases. These measures could include laws to establish a ceiling in emissions by a certain date, with any breach dealt with using criminal sanctions.

However, if the world’s ruling classes opposed the largely cosmetic measures proposed at Copenhagen any new approach with real teeth would meet with even more determined resistance. The evidence is now clear that despite their protestations to the contrary, governments in Britain and internationally do not intend to take any meaningful action to tackle climate change.

The financial and economic crisis that began in 2007 has made it likely that even token measures, like the Kyoto treaty, will be opposed by most states. For instance the USA, the second highest emitter of carbon dioxide behind China, categorically refused to participate in an international treaty to reduce greenhouse gases, even when it was offered a system at Copenhagen that was full of loopholes. Environmental activists should join with socialists to fight the inaction of the capitalists and their governments. Political lessons must also be drawn from the 20 years that have been wasted by the capitalists in the battle against climate change.

Sustainable economic growth on a capitalist basis is not feasible, partly because the methods employed to achieve this are inadequate and flawed, but mainly because imperialist rivalry between nation states prevents the international cooperation needed.

The socialist approach

At one level, addressing global warming is simple; no technological breakthrough is required. All that is called for is the wider adoption and further development of existing technology, such as wind, wave and solar power.

The key technical elements are:

• Rapid conversion to the use of renewable energy sources, such as wind, wave and solar power

• Big expansion of public transport

• Development of the rail network so that short and medium haul air travel can be reduced and then replaced

• Conversion of the car industry to using renewable energy sources

• More research into renewable energy, such as clean coal technology, and using materials not based on oil products

But only by eliminating the power of the big corporations can this programme be realised. This means nationalising the main industries that dominate the economy. This will need to be done throughout the world, encompassing the 147 multinational corporations that recent research has shown dominate the globe.

Since the operation of competitive markets degrades the environment, rejecting the market system is essential to tackle global warming. Doing this will require an alternative approach to organising production. Rational democratic planning is not just a viable alternative, it has huge inherent advantages over the market from the point of view of saving energy. For example, it could avoid the duplication of resources, planned obsolescence, and wide-scale destruction followed by rebuilding of factories, plant and machinery in the capitalist slump/boom cycle.

Two related factors underlie nearly all environmental threats. They are the quest for profit by big corporations and at a more fundamental level, the inevitable tendency of competitive markets to degrade the environment. The task is urgent. It must involve the political re-armament of the workers’ movement in Britain and internationally with a socialist programme.

As a first step, this will require the creation of new mass workers’ parties to replace the discredited former workers’ organisations. These parties, such as the Labour Party in Britain, have totally failed over decades to implement programmes to reverse the degradation of the planet.

By taking no meaningful action for the past 20 years, the representatives of the capitalist market system have created a situation where some of the effects of global warming are irreversible. Regardless of future events, this is a historical indictment, in its consequences possibly ranking alongside capitalism’s greatest crimes, such as the imperialist wars of the 20th century.

To avoid the worst effects of climate change, decisive action needs to be taken now, but there is no sign of this happening due to the rivalries between the main industrial powers. It falls on the shoulders of the international workers’ movement to implement a programme that can tackle climate change - replacing capitalism with a democratic socialist system.

________________________________________

Planning for the planet - How Socialism Could Save the Environment

A new book by Pete Dickenson

£9.95. Special limited offer for readers of the Socialist: £7 including postage

Order from: Socialist Books, PO Box 24697, London E11 1YD

020 8988 8789

or see: www.socialistbooks.co.uk

Cheques payable to Socialist Publications Ltd



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NEWS

Pakistan: Vindictive management suspend and transfer Sindh teachers
24/08/2016, CWI Reporters, Sindh :
Solidarity protests needed!

Chile: Up to 2 million march against pensions robbery
24/08/2016, Socialismo Revolucionario (CWI in Chile) reporters:
General strike threatened for 4 November as protests grow

Britain: Answer right’s attacks with firm socialist programme
23/08/2016, Editorial from the Socialist, paper of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
#KeepCorbyn

Quebec: Montreal workers strike for $15 an hour
22/08/2016, Interview with Jacques Fontaine, a striking worker at the Old Port of Montreal:
"Company totally underestimated workers’ determination"

Video: Militant, Liverpool and Trotskyism today
22/08/2016, socialistworld.net:
Russia Today covers historic Liverpool battle, led by the CWI in Britain

US: Build a new party of the 99%
21/08/2016, Joshua Koritz, Socialist Alternative, USA:
Support Jill Stein

Philippines: Is Duterte following in Marcos’ footsteps?
16/08/2016, Vincent Kolo (CWI) interviews Philippines-based socialist, Gabriel:
New president threatens martial law while leaning on ‘left’ parties for support

Video: Socialist Party general secretary Peter Taaffe on Channel 4
14/08/2016, Socialistworld.net:
Socialist party media coverage amid accusations of Trotskyist "entryism"

Video: CWI around the world
13/08/2016, socialistworld.net:
Video shown at the CWI Summer school of some sections’ activities

Quebec: World Social Forum 2016
13/08/2016, socialistworld.net:
Tens of thousands of activists from around the world gather WSF in Montreal, 9-14 August

Hong Kong: Multinational MTR takes socialist Sally Tang Mei-ching to court
12/08/2016, Socialist Action reporters (CWI in Hong Kong):
Political motives behind ‘David versus Goliath’ trial

Britain: #KeepCorbyn - stand firm for socialism
10/08/2016, Editorial from the Socialist, paper of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
The fight for a Labour Party for the working class

South Africa: Local elections a thunderous rebuke for ANC
09/08/2016, Weizmann Hamilton, Workers and Socialist Party (CWI in South Africa):
ANC polls less than 60% for first time since end of apartheid

Ireland: Non-payment of water bills rises to 73%
09/08/2016, Katia Hancke, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland):
Abolish the charges now

Zimbabwe: Mugabe must fall!
05/08/2016, Statement by the Executive Committee of the Workers and Socialist Party (CWI in South Africa):
Mass revolt shakes the regime to its foundations

The Olympics, big business and dictatorship
04/08/2016, Vincent Kolo, chinaworker.info:
A short history of the Olympics:

CWI Summer school: Brazil
04/08/2016, Michael O’Brien, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland):
New cycle of struggle following right-wing parliamentary coup

CWI Summer School 2016: Fighting racism and the far right 
02/08/2016, Scott Jones, Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
Capitalist crisis and anti-immigrant reaction

Germany: Media seizes on violent attacks to whip up Islamophobia
01/08/2016, Sascha Stanicic, Sozialistische Alternative (CWI in Germany):
No security under capitalism

US: Most contentious Democratic Convention since 1968
29/07/2016, Patrick Ayers, Socialist Alternative (US):
We need a new party of the 99% to defeat the billionaire class

Cameroon: Free jailed Buea activists!
28/07/2016, CWI reporters:
100 protest outside the court demanding release of the 15

Cote d’Ivoire: Protests against electricity prices
28/07/2016, CWI in Cote d’Ivoire:
The straw that broke the camel’s back!

Britain: No compromise with Labour right wing
28/07/2016, Editorial of the Socialist, newspaper of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
#Keep Corbyn

Chile: One million protest against private pension fund
26/07/2016, Celso Calfullan and Patricio Guzman Socialism Revolucionario (CIT/CWI Chile):
After student protests, working class returns to streets

Britain: Westminster renews Trident weapons of mass destruction
25/07/2016, Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales) Reporters:
Debate exposes Labour as two parties

Belgium: Brutal repression against Hong Kong socialist at Brussels Airport
18/07/2016, CWI reporters :
Chinese methods against Marxists copied by Belgian authorities

CWI Comment and Analysis

ANALYSIS

Middle East: ISIS’ waning “caliphate”
20/08/2016, Serge Jordan, CWI:
Imperialist solutions are no solution at all

Russia: Twenty fifth anniversary of attempted coup
19/08/2016, Clare Doyle, International Secretariat of the CWI:
Attempted Stalinist counter-revolution speeds up capitalist counter-revolution

US: Trump in trouble
17/08/2016, Tom Crean, Socialist Alternative, USA:
Political polarisation deepens

Britain: The Corbyn insurgency 2.0
15/08/2016, Hannah Sell, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
Now let’s finish the job

CWI Summer School: Economic instability, inter-imperialist tensions, workers struggles’ and political earthquakes
03/08/2016, James McCabe, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland):
Report of the discussion on world perspectives at the recent CWI Summer School

Germany: ‘Brexit’ and the German Left
30/07/2016, Sascha Stanicic, Sozialistische Alternative (CWI in Germany):
Reject the bosses’ EU! For a Europe of working people - a voluntary socialist federation

US: A call to action
27/07/2016, Kshama Sawant, Socialist Alternative (CWI in the US):
Walk out from the Democratic National Convention!

CWI Summer School: Europe in the aftermath of the Brexit shock
26/07/2016, Kevin Parslow, Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
Continent enters new phase of political and economic crises

US: Bernie Abandons 'the Revolution’
14/07/2016, Kshama Sawant, Socialist councillor Seattle City :
Time to back Green candidate Jill Stein

Australia: Close election result - A crisis for the establishment
08/07/2016, Socialist Party (CWI Australia) statement :
To fight anti-working class measures, we must build a socialist alternative

History: 1936 - Spain’s revolutionary promise
06/07/2016, Tony Saunois, from Socialism Today (July/August 2016):
Working class and peasants rose up against capitalist exploitation, poverty and fascism

US: Beyond Bernie
01/07/2016, Kshama Sawant, Socialist Alternative (CWI in the USA):
Still not with her

Britain: Referendum revolt
27/06/2016, Peter Taaffe, from Socialism Today (issue No.200, July-August 2016):
Capitalist establishment shattered

Asia: Conflict in the South China Sea
16/06/2016, This is an abridged version of an article by Vincent Kolo, originally published on chinaworker.info.:
Territorial disputes resemble pieces on a ‘geopolitical chessboard’ as the US and China struggle for hegemony in Asia

Middle East: ISIS under pressure on several fronts
15/06/2016, Niall Mulholland, CWI:
Working classes, through bitterest of experiences, will take to road of mass struggle again

EU: Left parties turning against bosses’ Europe
10/06/2016, Danny Byrne, CWI:
Progress in Portugal and Spain, confusion in Britain

Muhammad Ali: A fighter who inspired millions
09/06/2016, Hugo Pierre, Socialism Today (originally published in 2003):
Establishment forced to incorporate his legend into re-writing of history

Review: The working-class case against the EU
08/06/2016, Hannah Sell, article from Socialism Today, magazine of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
Review of ‘And The Weak Must Suffer What They Must?’ by Yanis Varoufakis

France: Fight against Valls/Hollande government intensifies
31/05/2016, Clare Doyle, CWI:
Gauche Revolutionnaire statement underlines vital need for political alternative

Austria: Only 31,026 votes prevent far right’s Hofer becoming president
24/05/2016, Sonja Grusch, SLP (the Austrian section of the CWI):
‘Breathing space’ offers chance to build a fighting, democratic left alternative

Britain: EU referendum exposes gaping political fault-lines
24/05/2016, Peter Taaffe, from Socialism Today (monthly magazine of the Socialist Party England & Wales):
New road can open up for labour movement if working class relies on its own forces

Brazil: Fall of President Dilma Rousseff unleashes offensive against working class
19/05/2016, André Ferrari, LSR (‘Freedom, Socialism and Revolution’ - CWI Brazil):
The impeachment process and historic crisis of the PT (Workers’ Party)

Ireland: ‘Jobstown trials’ to go ahead
18/05/2016, Kieran Mahon, Anti-Austerity Alliance / Socialist Party Councillor, Dublin:
Government loses battle on water charges but wages war on Left

Saudi Arabia: Gathering storms over the House of Saud
13/05/2016, Serge Jordan, CWI:
Collapse of oil prices expose fragile foundations of oil Gulf monarchies

France: New stage in battle over labour law
12/05/2016, Clare Doyle, CWI:
Hollande’s decision to over-rule parliament provokes another round of struggle