The Climate Crisis. The Time to Act is Now!  

Deadly wildfires in Portugal in the worst European drought for 500 years. Product of capitalist –induced planetary pollution
 

At the time of writing this article, people in Britain are waking up to the reality that the energy cap is being increased by 80%, raising an average energy bill from to £1,971.00 to £3,549.00, with worse yet to come with energy caps being raised in January and April of next year. National Energy Action have projected that 8.9 million people in the UK will be in fuel poverty by October of this year.[1] While the zombie led government has gone AWOL, the Tory hopefuls Sunak and Truss continue to take lumps out of each other in an attempt to woo their rabid UKIP reactionary base. Part of this courtship display entails blaming everyone else, which includes Russia for a crisis that was already developing last year, before any military interventions into Ukraine were on the horizon. While wholesale sanctions by the West have exacerbated the problem, the crisis was already developing. France was freezing its gas and oil prices last September, allowing electricity to rise by no more than 4%, with this continuing until the end of 2022.

The world was coming out a global pandemic with issues around the supply chain and opening up an economy that had effectively been shut down. This opening up increased demand causing economic stress, in Britain this has been exaggerated with the disastrous isolationist decision-making around leaving the EU. Britain’s economic shock is set to cause a deep recession more than other developed nations, it is projected to be the worst performing out of the G20 [2], apart from Russia which is the midst of fighting against a proxy war financed overwhelmingly by the US and saddled by the heaviest sanctions placed upon any state by the West. UK exports dropped £20 billion for 2021 as it decided to put in place trade barriers with its biggest trading partner 21 miles across the Channel.

COP26 held in Glasgow last autumn seems an eternity ago when Johnson announced in his ‘James Bond’ speech/address at the COP26 opening ceremony to world leaders, the urgency of embracing newer ‘green’ technologies and reducing our reliance on fossil fuels. However, these platitudes from disaster capitalist politicians are just noise with no real intent. Ashok Sharma, who hosted COP26, had previously received donations from the business tycoon, Ravi Kumar Mehrotra, the executive chairman of Foresight Group International [3]. Foresight Group is a multi-billion dollar, UK based global conglomerate, which has interests in offshore and onshore oil drilling, port and gas infrastructure, and shipping. The company has close business relationships with partners involved in climate science denial and pro-carbon lobbying, such as ExxonMobil.  Putting wolves into a sheep pen is what these companies do best.

Corporate Climate Change Denial

During the 1980s ExxonMobil employed climate scientists in a research programme to understand the changes in the earth’s climate, which it would inform the company and enable it to make future business decisions based on ethical responsibility. The scientists involved believed that Exxon’s objective was to be at the forefront of solving the problem and offering alternatives. However, the company had a deeper programme of understanding the science to form a strategy of forming arguments against climate change, employing climate deniers to enable the company to continue business as usual [4]. Ensuring that profits could remain unabated by becoming one of the biggest climate deniers by providing counter arguments to seed doubt not only with politicians but also the public. Climate scientists were deliberately targeted by the heavy weight of these conglomerates in attempt to discredit, often with terrible consequences.

Sewage discharged onto UK beaches: End product of privatisation.
 

When this argument eventually became unviable due to the overwhelming scientific evidence available, and the environmental impacts being played out in real life, the defence of their continuance of murdering the planet, has now become one of economic scale and necessity, playing on people’s fears of poverty and disruption of their way of life. Through creating fog, the argument of job losses and the impacts upon the economy have enabled them to get away literally with murder and enable their lackeys in government to not take correct decisions in serving the public that they supposedly represent.  

This is the dilemma that the British government now finds itself in as the UK economy crashes. Its short termism can only look at the here and now as it desperately attempts to seek out growth and profit. Concessions will be made to ensure that the dangers of civil unrest and the development of revolutionary consciousness associated around that unrest, is curtailed. These often come in the form of hand outs, such as the energy payments being paid out to families. These are basically a subsidy passed onto businesses who are already profiteering, and on the other hand the introduction of legislation ensuring that the state has the necessary ‘legal’ apparatus to stamp on any potential protests. These concessions are being swallowed up and will not solve the crisis that the government finds itself in, and does not address how companies such as ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell and Total are able to report profits of $51 billion in the second quarter of this year and get away with it while others struggle [5]. These profits are without BP, who were set to report later.

The Labour opposition are just as woeful as not only do they refuse to endorse striking workers who are demanding a pay to combat rising inflation predominately fuelled by energy costs, but have rowed back on nationalisation of utilities, something that Starmer supported during his own leadership election campaign. He wants to bail out energy companies by providing a package to ‘protect’ consumers by handing over anything between £29-£60 billion back to the energy providers after taking a windfall tax of £8.1 billion from them. In stark contrast it is estimated that it would cost only £2.8 billion to take these same companies back into public ownership. But it is not only energy that is pushing up inflation. The increase in food prices increased by 2.3% between June and July this year, immigration controls post-Brexit according to the NFU has resulted in £60 million in UK crops rotting in farmers’ fields [6]. As a country that is not food secure, the UK imports around 50% of its food needs, this is suicidal. Climate change is already having huge impacts on crop yields with drought and soil erosion and having a policy that seeks to increase its air miles disguised as ‘global Britain’, is flawed as other countries experience climate breakdown.

Contrary to what the British government announced at COP26, Johnson and both the contenders to his crown have signalled in their husting debates what their dystopian future for Britain lies ahead. This includes the approval and opening up of new oil and gas fields in the North Sea [7], removal of the green levy on energy [8], encouraging more investment into new fossil fuel extraction and pressing for fast-track applications for this to take place [9]. This is hand in hand with looking at new legislation to outlaw ‘militant’ trade unions, ‘eco-extremists’ and to place anyone ‘expressing a hatred’ of Britain into the Prevent programme as radicalised political extremists [10][11].

A colour-coded tale of two heatwaves, 46 years apart, from a global perspectives. The worsening of global heating is evident.

It looks increasingly likely that Truss will be the winner of the Tories toxic leadership contest and while some of the comments on the environment coming out of the mouths of both leadership contenders have been warm, in practice they are meaningless without any detail offered and a record of inaction. During Truss’ tenure as Environment Secretary in 2014 she was responsible for cutting £235 million from the Environment Agency budget, which has now resulted in the huge increase of river and sea pollution [12]. The UK is facing a serious crisis in water supply with water infrastructure at bursting point. Billions of litres of water are being wasted every day and raw sewage dumped into rivers, lakes and beaches with huge impacts on biodiversity and the destruction of wildlife and water quality. To put our faith into the hands of the very people who are blatantly responsible for where we find ourselves is criminally negligent.

On a global level it goes beyond this, the technology for greener energy requires critical minerals, minerals that require an increase in mining. This requires opening up of mines in pristine environments, which in turn requires increasing our carbon footprint in the initial stages to open up mines and develop the infrastructure around that extraction. It also includes the pollution associated with mining and the runoff into watercourses. Australia has some of the world’s largest recoverable resources of several critical minerals, including cobalt, lithium, manganese, tungsten and vanadium. The country is the world’s top producer of lithium, rutile and the second largest producer of zircon and rare earth elements and has potential for more undiscovered minerals with 80 % of Australia remaining largely under-explored [13].

Climate Militarism

The US has taken a keen interest in Australia and for good reason [14]. The rhetoric coming out of both Canberra and Washington takes aim at China with both governments seeing China as an economic threat. They counter that by threatening China military via AUKUS. Securing the world’s resources, which includes critical minerals, is part of the imperialist strategy of ensuring US hegemony, either directly or indirectly through its Anglo-Saxon partnership including Britain. The problem with this is that not only does climate breakdown require a global response but it also increases the likelihood of conflict and societal breakdown, which potentially could lead to nuclear exchange with isolationist geopolitics. The Australian government already sees this as potential for a new economic ‘gold rush’ and to secure its own future, when the future of the whole of humanity is at stake. Seeking economic leverage over others is what has led us down this nihilistic path to self-destruction. The irony is that new data has shown that Australian wildfires have destroyed part of the protective ozone layer above [15]. A study led by Lilly Damany-Pearce, a researcher at the University of Exeter in England, suggests that a sudden and unexpected warming of the global stratosphere was detected in early 2020; reaching up to 3 degrees Celsius around Australia and about 0.7 degrees Celsius globally. Adding to this without addressing the overriding environmental concerns does nothing to alleviate climate breakdown.

Since the early 80s the evidence has been clear on the trajectory that governments were taking us to, each time they have clearly failed us, instead relying on ‘the market’ to save us from certain extinction.  Each year we see records broken, 2022 being no different. Last year saw extreme floods hit China severely, this year drought with the Yangste river and its tributaries drying. China is experiencing the hottest summer on record with a heat wave that has so far lasted 70 days [16]. This has resulted in a drought in half of the country resulting in hydro power shortages, electricity rationing and a drop in crop yields as much as 50%. China with a population of 1.4 billion is not only the factory of the world but also is one of the world’s largest agricultural exporters, this will inevitably have an effect not only on food supply but also price increases in an already fragile global economic outlook.

The effects of climate degradation have now come to the people of Europe, which has seen its worst drought in 500 years, leaving some of the most famous rivers on the continent almost dry [17]. This has also led to a sharp decrease in crop yields and electricity shortages. EDF had to reduce its nuclear energy output after the water temperature, which is used to cool the reactors, increased. This also shows the complexity of looking for other alternative forms of energy provision, particularly as nuclear reactors require huge amounts of water, something that needs to be taken into account with drought and rising sea levels. Wind farms have also seen a drop in energy production as the increase in warm air results in prolonged periods of high pressure leading to ‘wind drought’ [18]. The increased temperatures result in increased energy needs to keep cool and is no consolation from the energy crisis we now find ourselves in. Europe has also seen its share of wildfires with loss of life and property, even here in the UK where temperatures have reached 40 degrees Celsius. The increase in wildfires, apart from devastating people, wildlife and the environment on the ground, releases smoke particles into the stratosphere. Once there these particles cause continued heating and changes to the ozone through changes in atmospheric circulation and chemical reactions.

Founding of AUKUS—anti-Chinese Australia/UK/US militarist alliance—in 2021
 

We have had four decades of watching politicians and big corporations lie and absolve themselves from any responsibility of their contribution to this global catastrophe, which is only going to worsen. The Met Office’s Hadley Centre, has forecast that an average summer in central Europe will be more than 4 degrees Celsius hotter by the year 2100 [19].  The Climate Crisis Advisory Group (CCAG), which commissioned the research, are confident in their analysis because it aligns between recorded average temperatures since 1850 and the figures that were predicted by computer models. Even if governments were to substantially cut emissions with immediate effect this will not have any impact until decades down the line. This is criminal and must be treated as such, this is deliberate class warfare on a much serious scale than what the ruling class have subjected workers to previously. This has the potential to end all life on earth and as such as far worse than the crimes of Hitler himself. We must take action now for every year is another year wasted, we have already wasted the last 25-40 years while the ruling class deliberate on how to get out of the mess of their own making. We should be demanding action and if they are incapable of making that change, pushing them out of the way and subjecting them to revolutionary justice. This crisis will only be resolved through global socialist planning and co-operation and not any form of national isolationism.

[1] https://www.nea.org.uk/energy-crisis/

[2] https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/oecd-economy-zero-growth-forecast-g20-b2096438.html

[3] https://bylinetimes.com/2021/10/28/cop26-president-received-funding-from-billionaire-fossil-fuel-investor-tied-to-exxonmobil/

[4] https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/exxon-knew-about-climate-change-almost-40-years-ago/

[5] https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/big-oils-q2-profits-hit-record-50-bln-with-bp-yet-come-2022-07-29/

[6] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/aug/15/pounds-60m-in-uk-crops-left-to-rot-lack-of-workers-nfu-farming

[7] https://www.thenational.scot/news/19908141.cop26-posturing-ends-tories-set-green-light-six-oil-gas-fields/

[8] https://www.energymonitor.ai/policy/opinion-truss-and-sunak-promise-climate-regression

[9] https://www.agcc.co.uk/news-article/six-new-oil-and-gas-fields-to-be-fired-up-as-sunak-takes-action

[10] https://inews.co.uk/news/liz-truss-heckled-by-environmental-protestors-during-tory-leadership-hustings-1782589

[11] https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/rishi-sunak-extremism-terrorism-prevent-b2137158.html

[12] https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2022/aug/22/liz-truss-environment-agency-cuts-sewage-water-pollution

[13] https://www.globalaustralia.gov.au/industries/critical-minerals

[14] https://www.mining-technology.com/analysis/the-pentagon-sets-it-sights-on-australias-critical-minerals/

[15] https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.abm5611

[16] https://www.climatechangenews.com/2022/08/23/china-hit-by-longest-and-strongest-heatwave-on-record/

[17] https://www.carbonbrief.org/daily-brief/europes-drought-the-worst-in-500-years-report/

[18] https://www.newscientist.com/article/2174262-weird-wind-drought-means-britains-turbines-are-at-a-standstill/

[19] https://www.independent.co.uk/independentpremium/uk-news/met-office-uk-heatwave-summer-record-b2155043.html

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.