Socialist Appeal - the Marxist voice of Labour and youth.

Capitalism is damaging the very planet we live on. But those affected most by climate change are not those who cause it. The working class and poor across the world once again are forced to pay for the crises that capitalism causes. Rob Dransfield of the Edinburgh Marxists discusses the impacts of capitalism on the environment and the lives of those effected by these changes.

August's weather in Britain was a once in a decade event, with glorious sunshine accompanied by impressive thunder storms. Now cast your mind back to our last few winters and you will remember how Britain's weather has really changed. We see that the climate has not become warmer and drier in the UK, but more energetic and unpredictable. Scientists today don't stick to the line of simple uniform global warming. Now the talk of the town is of "global weirding".

The science goes as follows: as more energy energy is trapped by our increasingly greenhouse like atmosphere, the more our weather systems become powerful and chaotic. The extra energy allows for faster winds, heavier snow and rain, and longer spells of drought. In Britain this amounts to a few more inches of snow (which is no joke for our economy), more floods and more irregular rain patterns.

But who will be the benefactors and victims of these changes to our climate? We are seeing seeing the insurance companies refuse to pay out for damage to people's homes in the worst hit areas. The worst hit are those who have worked all their lives and invested much time and effort into their homes as a security for their future. This future is now at risk, a risk the insurance companies are not willing to take without extortionate rates that only the rich can pay. Others will be affected indirectly by the rises to rent that will accompany this ever more chaotic world.

Meanwhile big companies and savvy investors will begin stockpiling water at the expense of the working class. We already see the price of water rising to massively inflated prices. As the century progresses great dams and water defences will have to be built to protect our coastal cities; London will be hit most severely, but cities like Edinburgh are not immune to climate change. Nor will these changes be limited to our own country - the developing world will be affected terribly also. The working class, peasants and urban poor of Asia and Africa, already suffering as they are, will feel the full brunt of drought, flood and crop destruction.

Never has there been a greater need for a planned and workers' controlled economy to benefit the vast majority of society, and to protect the planet and nature in general; an economy owned and managed by the workers in the interest of workers; a planned system that could combat and prevent the dramatic changes that we are facing. Under capitalism, a system that only acts in the short term interests of making profit, there is no solution for the environment questions facing society today. The bold steps need to transition from fossil fuels to green energy cannot be facilitated by the sluggish so-called 'free market', which will have us hooked on carbon heavy energy until the last penny of profit is made.

Now we see with the discovery of shale gas that the UK's energy needs seem more secure than ever before. Surely we will see prices fall as supply is increased? Well what can we expect from a Tory-led expansion of these assets? We will see a private-led exploitation of these resources. This will be the same model as used for our already existing coal, oil and gas resources, where a tax is levied on the profits made. These common resources should be owned collectively, as part of an intergrated and planned energy supply system.

We say:

  • No to private profit of public resources!
  • Yes to a publically owned green energy supply system, with low cost electricity for ordinary people!
  • Yes to nationalisation and workers democratic control of production over the major levers of energy, transport, and industry!
  • For the socialist transformation of society, to guarantee the protection of our environment and our planet for future generations!
  • For the international socialist revolution!

See also:

A transitional programme for the environment

Global warming: a Marxist perspective