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Too Little Too Late

That’s the most that will ever be done under capitalism about the problems that global warming will bring.

The way the capitalist system works rules out the effective action at world level that is needed to begin tackling the problem. It even encourages economic activities that contribute to it.

Capitalism is based on production being controlled by profit-seeking enterprises which, supported by governments, compete on the market to buy resources and sell products. This competitive pursuit of profits is the essence of capitalism. It’s what capitalism is all about and what prevents any effective action to deal with climate change.

Nobody can deny that global warming is taking place. Nor that, if it continues unchecked, it would have disastrous consequences – such as rising sea-levels and increased desertification – through its effects on the climates of the different parts of the world. There can only be argument over what is causing it. Most scientists in the field take the view that it has mainly been caused by the increase in the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide in the atmosphere largely as a result of the burning of the fossil fuels, coal, oil and gas.

If this is the case, then one part of any solution has to be cut back on burning these fuels. But this is not happening. In fact, on a world scale, their use is increasing. This is because this is currently the cheapest way of generating the energy to drive industry – and the logic of capitalism compels the profit-seeking enterprises that control production to use the cheapest methods. If they don’t, their competitors will.

What is the solution? First, the competitive struggle for profits as the basis for production must be ended. This requires that the Earth’s natural and industrial resources become the common heritage of all humanity. On this basis, and on this basis alone, can an effective programme to deal with the problem be drawn up and implemented, because production would then be geared to serving human interests and no longer to make a profit for competing enterprises.

There will be those who say that we haven’t the time to wait for the coming into being of this, in their view, unlikely or long-distant solution, and that we must therefore do something now. In this age of apathy and cynicism when any large-scale change is dismissed, this may seem a plausible argument but it begs the question. It assumes that a solution can be implemented within capitalism. But if it can’t (as Socialists maintain), then concentrating on something now rather than on changing the basis of society and production will be a waste of valuable time while the situation gets worse.

---leaflet handed out at climate change events. Bulk copies are available on request and the cost of postage from: The Socialist Party, 52 Clapham High St, London SW4 7UN.