The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

The Capitalists Fiddle, while the Earth Burns and Floods

Oct 26, 2020

California and the entire U.S. West Coast have seen over 8 million acres consumed in wildfires so far this year. Cities up and down the coast saw eery red skies, while residents choked on the dust and ash thrown into the air. Forty three people have lost their lives.

Australia has also had tremendous fires in February of this year, while Siberia, Russia’s polar region, is experiencing some of its largest fires on record as well.

This summer, we saw more ice melt in the Arctic than any other year save one. Glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica are melting. More melting means higher sea levels, threatening coastal communities the world over.

This summer, Louisiana’s gulf coast attempted to recover from Hurricane Delta, just six weeks after taking a beating from Hurricane Laura. This year saw so many Atlantic storms that they ran out of names for them, and so are resorting to Greek letters. It’s only the second time this has happened.

A warmer atmosphere means, overall, more dry vegetation in climates like California—meaning more fuel and so larger and more frequent wildfires. A warmer atmosphere also means warmer oceans. More warmth in the surface layers of the Atlantic means more “fuel” for hurricanes, which can then have higher winds, grow larger, and carry more rain. Global Warming has been driving climate change—to more and more disastrous effect.

The basic science is not new—computer models of global temperature going back to the 1970s predicted today’s global average temperature—fifty years ago. The International Panel on Climate Change has been pointing up the risks for over thirty years now—with steadily increasing urgency.

And what has been the response of the ruling class—the bourgeoisie that controls the wealthy countries? They may have funded the science, allowed these reports to come out—but they have done ... nothing. Nothing, at any rate, that rises anywhere close to addressing the problem as it is posed.

The eight U.S. presidents prior to Trump—from Nixon through Obama—all gave speeches about the necessity of massive investment in so-called “alternative energy.” And all eight, five Republicans, three Democrats, stopped there—with empty words. They did nothing serious.

Why? Because developing new technology would threaten the profits of capitalists, who are heavily invested in the current, fossil fuel burning technology: with the oil companies foremost, followed by auto, plane manufacturers, airlines, trucking companies, utilities.... Their capital is tied up in technologies that produce greenhouse gases—and they want to wring all the profit they can out of their investment.

What is necessary? We would need a lot of money—tens of billions—to develop new technologies to produce energy and transportation without contributing to global warming. The U.S. government did that in World War II, to develop the atomic bomb. They did it again in the 1960’s, to fund the moon landing—to win the “Space Race.” That was a great scientific and technical achievement—one they were only willing to fund because it was part of their Cold War. In service of war, the capitalists will spend whatever it takes. To save our existence—they do nothing.

It is not too late. Climate scientists think we have one or two decades to avert the worst. The working class must take control out of this society out of the hands of the capitalists. Leaving them in power means watching them fiddle, while the world burns and cities drown.