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latest news

China
New US President’s approach to China

21/01/2017: Outbursts raise fears of confrontation

  China

Russian Revolution Centenary
New site celebrates and defends October socialist revolution

20/01/2017: 1917revolution.org brings rich lessons of 100 years ago to wide audience

  History

Kazakhstan
Regime increases repression

20/01/2017: Citizens forced to register with police at all times

  Kazakhstan

US
Global resistance against Trump’s inauguration

20/01/2017: CWI organizes protests as millions prepare to fight Trump’s agenda

  US

Portugal
Purge in the Left Bloc

20/01/2017: 6 CWI members expelled in undemocratic attack

  Portugal

Ireland North
Snap elections called to Stormont Assembly

17/01/2017: Build a socialist alternative to the ‘Orange’ versus ‘Green’ headcount

  Ireland North

Spain
What kind of Podemos do workers and youth need?

17/01/2017: Debate within leadership touches on fundamental issues for future of party

  Spain

India
Struggle against land grab in Pune

16/01/2017: Socialists and villagers wage tireless battle

  India

Book Reviews
Trotsky and February 1917

16/01/2017: Preparing for revolution

  Russian Revolution

US
Seattle activists win $29 million for house building

13/01/2017: Important precedent for using city bonding authority to build homes

  US

Palestine/Israel
Everyday life under occupation

12/01/2017: Discussion at Socialism conference in Tel Aviv

  Israel / Palestine

Mexico
Mass movement against “gasolinazo”

10/01/2017: Towards a general strike against the Nieto government!

  Mexico

US
Growing calls to “take back” Democratic Party

10/01/2017: Workers need for own party, independent of corporate cash

  US

Ireland South
Apollo House occupation taps into mood of anger over homelessness

09/01/2017: Far-reaching radical measures necessary to resolve housing crisis

  Ireland Republic

Book Review
‘A Very British Ending’

07/01/2017: Novelisation of attempts to undermine and overthrow Wilson’s Labour government

  Britain

Ireland North
'Cash for ash' scandal rocks power-sharing Executive

06/01/2017: Need for non-sectarian, socialist politics

  Ireland North

Chile
The state is murdering Machi Francisca Linconao

05/01/2017: Solidarity appeal for messages of protest

  Chile

US
Trump prepares vicious attacks

05/01/2017: Mass resistance needed!

  US

Hong Kong
CY Leung forced out!

04/01/2017: Now let’s change the whole corrupt system!

  Hong Kong

Sri Lanka
Island Nation - hell in 'paradise'

03/01/2017: Review of play called 'The Island Nation'

  Sri Lanka

Russian Revolution centenary

02/01/2017: Defending the legacy in a new era

  History

2017
Upheaval and fightback will continue

01/01/2017: Everything to play for in 2017

  CWI Comment And Analysis

Iranian “election”

30/12/2016: Crisis continues; infighting escalates

  Iran

Review
The Iron Heel

26/12/2016: Jack London’s timeless classic

  Review

Britain
Labour's nuclear conflict

24/12/2016: During the second leadership campaign, Jeremy Corbyn spoke of his ambition to have ministers for peace and disarmament in a future Labour government...

  Britain

Germany
Berlin Christmas market tragedy

23/12/2016: Commiserations must not be exploited for racism

  Germany

US
Inaugurate the resistance

23/12/2016: Inauguration protests can serve as a launching pad for a massive grassroots resistance to Donald Trump’s new administration

  US

Austria
Victory & defeat for everyone & noone

23/12/2016: Presidential elections

  Austria

 Yemen
Three employees found killed, as workers demand unpaid wages

22/12/2016: Solidarity with workers and their families! Justice for the slain employees!

  Solidarity

Britain's shifting political contours

22/12/2016: Capitalist establishment in disarray

  Britain

Romania
New government, old policies

20/12/2016: The need for a socialist alternative

  Romania

Kazakhstan
Fifth anniversary of Zhanaozen massacre

19/12/2016: Letters to embassies worldwide demanding end to dictatorshi

  Kazakhstan

Solidarity
Global days of protest to #ResistTrump

19/12/2016: Protest around the world on Trump’s inauguration, January 20 and 21

  US

Britain
Establishment EU crisis deepens

17/12/2016: Fight for a socialist Brexit

  Britain

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

Russian Revolution Centenary: New site celebrates and defends October socialist revolution
20/01/2017, socialistworld.net :
1917revolution.org brings rich lessons of 100 years ago to wide audience

Kazakhstan: Regime increases repression
20/01/2017, Andrei Prigor from Campaign Kazakhstan:
Citizens forced to register with police at all times

US: Global resistance against Trump’s inauguration
20/01/2017, socialistworld.net :
CWI organizes protests as millions prepare to fight Trump’s agenda

Portugal: Purge in the Left Bloc
20/01/2017, Ysmail, Socialismo Revolucionário (CWI in Portugal):
6 CWI members expelled in undemocratic attack

India: Struggle against land grab in Pune
16/01/2017, Venkatesh Harale, New Socialist Alternative (CWI in India):
Socialists and villagers wage tireless battle

Book Reviews: Trotsky and February 1917
16/01/2017, Peter Taaffe, from the February 2017 issue of Socialism Today (monthly magazine of the Socialist Party – CWI England & Wales):
Preparing for revolution

Tunisia: Six years after the fall of Ben Ali, demands of revolution still to be realised
14/01/2017, Al-Badil al-Ishtiraki, CWI in Tunisia:
New revolts brewing

US: Seattle activists win $29 million for house building
13/01/2017, Adam Ziemkowski, Socialist Alternative:
Important precedent for using city bonding authority to build homes

Palestine/Israel: Everyday life under occupation
12/01/2017, Per-Åke Westerlund of Rattvisepartiet Socialisterna (CWI in Sweden) :
Discussion at Socialism conference in Tel Aviv

Mexico: Mass movement against “gasolinazo”
10/01/2017, David Lopez, Izquierda Revolucionaria, Mexico:
Towards a general strike against the Nieto government!

US: Growing calls to “take back” Democratic Party
10/01/2017, Calvin Priest, Socialist Alternative:
Workers need for own party, independent of corporate cash

Ireland South: Apollo House occupation taps into mood of anger over homelessness
09/01/2017, Councillor Michael O’Brien, Anti-Austerity Alliance and Socialist Party member:
Far-reaching radical measures necessary to resolve housing crisis

Book Review: ‘A Very British Ending’
07/01/2017, Review by Tony Saunois :
Novelisation of attempts to undermine and overthrow Wilson’s Labour government

Ireland North: 'Cash for ash' scandal rocks power-sharing Executive
06/01/2017, Dave Carr from The Socialist (weekly paper of the Socialist Party England & Wales):
Need for non-sectarian, socialist politics

Chile: The state is murdering Machi Francisca Linconao
05/01/2017, socialistworld.net :
Solidarity appeal for messages of protest

Hong Kong: CY Leung forced out!
04/01/2017, Socialist Action (CWI in Hong Kong) statement
:
Now let’s change the whole corrupt system!

Sri Lanka: Island Nation - hell in 'paradise'
03/01/2017, By Clare Doyle, carried on Tamil Solidarity Campaign web-site, November, 2016 :
Review of play called 'The Island Nation'

Iranian “election”
30/12/2016, P. Daryaban:
Crisis continues; infighting escalates

Review: The Iron Heel
26/12/2016, Jon Dale, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales)<br />
:
Jack London’s timeless classic

Britain: Labour's nuclear conflict
24/12/2016, Sarah Sachs-Eldridge, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) :
During the second leadership campaign, Jeremy Corbyn spoke of his ambition to have ministers for peace and disarmament in a future Labour government...

Germany: Berlin Christmas market tragedy
23/12/2016, by Michael Koschitzki, SAV (CWI in Germany) Berlin, initial reaction published on December 20, 2016 :
Commiserations must not be exploited for racism

US: Inaugurate the resistance
23/12/2016, Patrick Ayers, Socialist Alternative, US :
Inauguration protests can serve as a launching pad for a massive grassroots resistance to Donald Trump’s new administration

Austria: Victory & defeat for everyone & noone
23/12/2016, Tilman M. Ruster, SLP (CWI in Austria):
Presidential elections

Yemen: Three employees found killed, as workers demand unpaid wages
22/12/2016, Socialistworld.net :
Solidarity with workers and their families! Justice for the slain employees!

Romania: New government, old policies
20/12/2016, Vladimir Bortun, Mana de Lucru (CWI supporters in Romania):
The need for a socialist alternative

Kazakhstan: Fifth anniversary of Zhanaozen massacre
19/12/2016, socialistworld.net :
Letters to embassies worldwide demanding end to dictatorshi

CWI Comment and Analysis

ANALYSIS

China: New US President’s approach to China
21/01/2017, Vincent Kolo, chinaworker.info :
Outbursts raise fears of confrontation

Ireland North: Snap elections called to Stormont Assembly
17/01/2017, Daniel Waldron, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland), Belfast :
Build a socialist alternative to the ‘Orange’ versus ‘Green’ headcount

Spain: What kind of Podemos do workers and youth need?
17/01/2017, Izquierda Revolucionaria, Spanish state, editorial :
Debate within leadership touches on fundamental issues for future of party

US: Trump prepares vicious attacks
05/01/2017, Philip Locker and Tom Crean, Socialist Alternative (US):
Mass resistance needed!

Russian Revolution centenary
02/01/2017, Editorial from Socialism Today, Dec/Jan 2017 edition:
Defending the legacy in a new era

2017:Upheaval and fightback will continue
01/01/2017, Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) general secretary :
Everything to play for in 2017

Britain's shifting political contours
22/12/2016, Hannah Sell, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) from Socialism Today Dec/Jan 2017 edition :
Capitalist establishment in disarray

CWI International Executive Committee: European capitalism “battered by events”
16/12/2016, Kevin Henry, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland) :
Report of discussion on Europe at CWI IEC meeting in November

CWI International Executive Committee: World shaken by seismic political events
14/12/2016, Kevin Parslow, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
Report of first session of the CWI International Executive Committee, discussing World Relations

World capitalism in deep crisis
08/12/2016, CWI :
Perspectives documents agreed by November CWI international meeting

Sudan: Three day nationwide strike shuts down the country, in unique defiance of Al-Bashir’s rule
30/11/2016, Serge Jordan, CWI:
Escalation of the struggle needed to overthrow repressive regime

US: Trump prepares attacks on working people,immigrants and women
27/11/2016, Tom Crean and Philip Locker, Socialist Alternative (USA):
We must prepare massive resistance!

Cuba: Fidel Castro, leader of 1959 revolution, dies at 90
26/11/2016, Tony Saunois, CWI :
Castro's life and the Cuban Revolution

China: New stage in power struggle
24/11/2016, chinaworker.info reporters:
Xi Jinping becomes “core leader”

Hong Kong: Government purges Legislative Council
17/11/2016, Dikang, Socialist Action (CWI in Hong Kong) :
“Nothing short of a coup”

Ireland: The Jobstown trial and the threat to democratic rights<br />

12/11/2016, Eddie McCabe, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland) :
Biggest political trial in decades, as Socialist Party & Anti Austerity Alliance MP and councillors face threat of lengthy prison sentences

History: Russia’s 1917 socialist revolution
07/11/2016, Clare Doyle, CWI :
November 7th anniversary of workers’ taking power

Capitalist system “on the edge of the volcano”
03/11/2016, International Secretariat of the CWI:
Draft documents for November CWI international meeting

Spain: PSOE leadership hands power to the PP
03/11/2016, Izquierda Revolucionaria editorial :
A new phase in the class struggle

Hungary: The political revolution of sixty years ago
23/10/2016, Clare Doyle, CWI :
When workers fought arms in hand to end Stalinist dictatorship

Britain: The fight for real democracy in the Labour Party
20/10/2016, Editorial of the Socialist, weekly paper of the Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
Defend Corbyn and transform Labour into a party acting for working class

Crisis of social democracy in Britain
19/10/2016, Peter Taaffe, from next issue of Socialism Today (monthly magazine of the Socialist Party England and Wales) :
Which way forward for the Left?

US: The disastrous failure of ‘lesser evilism’
18/10/2016, Patrick Ayers and Ty Moore, Socialist Alternative (originally published at CounterPunch.org) :
Change through mass struggle  - a new party should act as an organizing and for solidarity

Spain: Crisis in social democracy
17/10/2016, Juan Ignacio Ramos, Izquierda Revolucionaria general secretary, from Socialism Today (monthly magazine of the Socialist Party England and Wales) :
PSOE and the class struggle

Britain: Tories whip up division over Brexit
17/10/2016, Editorial from The Socialist (weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party, England & Wales):
Fight for a socialist, internationalist exit