The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

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

Global Warming:
A Crisis Only the Working Class Can Solve

Jul 23, 2023

Much of the Earth is experiencing record-breaking heat. June was the hottest month since record-keeping began in 1850, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Arizona has been 110 degrees and hotter for over two weeks. And it’s not just hot here in the U.S., it is hot in Mexico, Southern Europe, China and India. All of these areas are having sky-high, triple-digit temperatures lasting multiple consecutive days.

The recent high temperatures are an indication that the earth is warming faster. The resulting disasters appear every day in newspapers around the world. We see heat waves, choking forest fires, devastating floods, and vicious tornados.

The planet has warmed about two degrees Fahrenheit since the Industrial Revolution. This may not sound like such a big deal, but this is an average global temperature. And it has already translated into sea-level rise and the extreme weather conditions we are experiencing today.

Extreme heat is very dangerous. It can raise the core body temperature which will kill if it reaches 106 degrees. Heat is the number-one weather-related killer in the world. Over 62,000 people died last year in Europe’s summer heat wave. In the U.S., over 700 people die each year from the heat, plus it causes over 67,000 visits to emergency rooms, and over 9,000 hospitalizations.

It is not rich people who suffer when it is too hot. Maybe they can’t play golf at their country club for a day or two. No. It’s us. It’s workers. We suffer. We are the ones broiling in warehouses and factories that are not air-conditioned. Our children and our children’s teachers sizzle in schools that aren’t air-conditioned. Our elderly parents are more at risk for dying from heat.

Texas governor, Greg Abbott, just got rid of heat-rest breaks for construction workers who spend their days wearing hard hats and other protective clothing while laying down hot asphalt. And he signed this new bill when temperatures were over 100 degrees in Texas! And if workers follow this new rule, some will surely die.

Another solution bosses have to the heat: night work. Have construction workers build at night. Farmers can work at night. And so on. Anyone who works or has worked night-shift knows that is no solution because night work comes with its own dangers and health risks.

It is apparent to most people that the most important cause of global warming is the burning of fossil fuels in industry and transportation which emit gases. These gases trap the heat from the sun, turning the Earth into a giant greenhouse. This has an obvious conclusion. But the majority of the population is not in a position to decide together what to make and how to make it while taking into account the impact on the earth and life into the future.

Those in power today are acting as if nothing is happening. They continue to process and consume fossil fuels at breakneck speeds. Hundreds of millions of people still need to rely on cars to get around. The list is endless, but they have a common cause. Society is controlled by the big bosses and the big banks who only care about making bigger and bigger profits.

Moreover, they are in a life and death struggle with each other across nations. They continue to produce weapons which will inevitably be used on a massive scale with no attention to what this will mean for the planet.

Waiting for various governments to fix the problem won’t work because they are at the beck and call of the corporations. The only thing you can expect from governments is a lot of talk about making things greener and giving the bosses subsidies to pretend that they are making real changes.

Ending climate change means totally reorganizing society on a totally different basis—not to maximize profit but to meet human needs. This is do-able because the seeds for a new society already exist in this one. The working class of the world produces all the goods and services collectively already. Yes, today we are the ones who are victimized by global warming and the bosses’ drive for profit. But, and more importantly, we are exactly the ones, the working class, who have the power to change gears to turn things around and run the world for everyone’s benefit instead of for just a few wealthy parasites.