Three major challenges face humanity today: poverty, war and the destruction of the environment.
Some climate change is now unavoidable, but, with preparation and adaptation, the worst of the disaster can still be averted. We need to implement methods of farming that do not add to global warming and find strategies for food production that will stand up to more extreme weather patterns.
Sea defences must be built and populations that are at risk of losing their homes relocated. Most urgently of all, we need to establish energy sources that don’t emit carbon.
While most of the green lobby is agreed that alternatives such as wind, solar, tide, hydroelectric etc could be part of the solution, an inability to separate science itself from the way that science is utilised by any individual or class means that many greens refuse to consider the possibility that both nuclear and renewable research could prove useful.
Nuclear science is in its infancy and still poses problems of waste, leakage etc, and under capitalism the health and safety of the population at large is not a priority, but none of that means that the science itself is somehow ‘wrong’ or that the problems of safety, waste disposal etc could never be solved if solving them were made a priority.
In the short term, we also need to look at the way we live. How much of the energy we use is really needed? How much is wasted? How could we economise? Can we find a better system of transportation than individual, wasteful, carbon-intensive cars?
Profits and vested interests
None of these problems can be solved, however, so long as the production of the necessities of life (food, shelter, clothing and so on) is governed by the profit motive.
After decades of bitter experience, it is now obvious to all that the multinational corporations and the billionaires who control them will always put profit before safeguarding the environment. To do otherwise would be to lose out in the battle of competition and face oblivion through bankruptcy.
This monopoly capitalist class rules our society and dictates its terms to governments. Neither it nor the governments it controls are about to invest in advancing new technology for providing pollution-free energy only because it will have some long-term benefit for humanity.
Saving the planet tomorrow is no compensation for going out of business today, and the ruthless law of competition means that capitalists not only have to make a profit, but must constantly strive to make the maximum profit or be driven out of business by their more cut-throat rivals.
As an individual, this or that billionaire might be perfectly convinced of the need to act now to preserve humanity from catastrophe, but as the owner of a capitalist enterprise, s/he can only be guided by the bottom line.
To this general inability of the capitalist class to act, must be added the specific fact that some of the world’s biggest and most powerful corporations have a direct interest in opposing any concerted effort to halt carbon emissions. These are the oil giants, the armaments and car monopolies, whose products run on oil, and the big financiers, who have a powerful stake in all three.
So long as the means of producing the necessities of life are the private property of the rich, the whole purpose of production will be profit. Things will continue to be produced, regardless of the consequences, if there is a greater profit to be made that way.
Red vs ‘green’ solutions
The only possible alternative to private profiteering at the expense of the planet is communism. All means of production are taken over and run by the state, which puts them to work not for profit but directly to satisfy the needs of the masses of the people. People have as much need to preserve the planet as they do for food and shelter, so there is no question of a communist society leaving ecological questions unaddressed.
Being unwilling to face the harsh truth that only communism can save our planet, many organisations are frantically casting around for ways in which it might be possible to preserve capitalism while at the same time reining in some of its most disastrous consequences.
The greens tell us that each of us individually must learn to make the ‘right’ ‘consumer choices’. In reality, however, the vast majority of humanity do not have any choice about how the food they eat or the energy they consume is produced.
Nor are we able to ‘opt out’ of the wars that our imperialist ruling class is forever waging for profit and domination. As the world’s wealth is ‘relocated’ into the pockets of a handful of finance capitalists, it is all most people on the planet can do to make ends meet, and, while imperialism is in charge, the education that will make people aware of the problems is not about to be delivered.
The way forward
The hard truth is that if we are serious about saving humanity from cataclysmic climate change, we need to redouble our efforts to organise the working class to smash imperialism. Only socialism will be able to organise production and direct scientific and technological research on a society-wide basis in order that the problems facing us can be solved.
Capitalism has unlocked the productive capacity of humankind and brought within our reach the technical possibility of every person on the planet living a decent and fulfilling life. To realise this potential, however, these productive forces must be brought under the conscious control of the working class and used, not to enrich the barons of finance capital but to enrich the whole of humanity.
It should also be noted that while socialism will expand the productive forces in order to do away with poverty and satisfy the needs of the people, it will also do away with much of the obscenely wasteful production that takes place under capitalism, where goods are produced and never sold and goods produced and sold that are never needed! Consumption will cease to be an end in itself and the earth’s resources will be valued and respected, since on them depends not only our present but also our future.
Imperialism has proved itself incapable of addressing the problem of climate change, and so it stands helpless at the gates of its own destruction.
Under socialism, on the other hand, as soon as human need becomes the motive force for production, it will be not only possible but absolutely necessary to combine the long-term needs of the people with the satisfaction of their short-term wants. If culture changes are required in order that we don’t waste materials and energy on pointless activity, such culture changes will surely be effected.
Save humanity – overthrow imperialism!