Climate Crisis: Capitalism Will Never Let Us Fix The Problem
At present, life on planet earth is facing serious climate crisis caused by capitalism. It is a catastrophe in the making with an unprecedented ecological breakdown threatening our future. Due to the rise in global temperature and sea levels across the world, life on planet is at a serious risk. The climate bomb is ticking.
Greta Thunberg is a 16-year-old climate activist. She said in her speech, “You say you love your children above all else, and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes… We cannot solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis… If solutions within the system are so impossible to find, then we should change the system itself”.
We need to understand that we are at the brink of disaster. It is crisis, and we cannot solve it under this existing capitalist political-economic structure, as it is based on ‘interest motive’. It is the capitalist system which exploits human labour and expropriates the nature.
The nature cannot be conquered. Whenever mankind has tried to dominate nature, it has come back to haunt us. Let’s obey the nature and its laws. As Francis Bacon put it, “nature is only overcome by obeying her.”
The recent heat wave in Europe has shocked the world. France recorded its hottest temperature in history and fire in forests of Spain were catastrophic. It was the hottest June in Europe and temperature will continue increasing in future. Breathing smoke is normalised in Pacific Northwest due to wildfires – and it is toxic. Can one imagine that fresh air could be commercialised in future and only those able to afford would buy oxygen? Just imagine. Clean water is already commoditised.
Due to the rampant industrialisation and emission of Greenhouse gases, global average temperature has already risen by 1°C since the pre-industrial times. Situation is worsening by the emission of other greenhouse gases, including methane and nitrous oxide. If serious action is not taken, by 2050 global temperature will have risen by 2°C. It will be a nightmare. It will be worst in Asia due to the rise in sea-level, as the glaciers are melting faster than before. Many coastal cities will be submerged.
Pakistan is the 6th most vulnerable country to climate crisis. Recent floods in Chitral, sea intrusion, heat waves, water scarcity, smog, droughts and diseases are affecting the lives of Pakistanis adversely. It is not that easy. Government of Pakistan needs to declare climate emergency as time is running out.
On 27th June, a long march started from Kharo Chan, coastal belt, to Thattha, Sindh. It took them seven days walking in the scorching heat, pleading for water. People love sea, they enjoy, but these parched marchers of coastal belt of Sindh are afraid of it as it is engulfing their lands, homes, graveyards and memories. Memories of their best days are gone. Now they have the memories of tragedies and traumas as thousands of families have migrated and those who are left are dying of hunger, thirst and diseases.
Indus delta is dying as the required amount of water is not being released from Kotri downstream. Since 1833, almost 92% of Indus Delta has been destroyed. As fresh water is not entering the sea, it is eating up lands. More than 2.5 million acres of land of Thattha, Sujawal and Badin are invaded by salt water. According to reports, by 2050 Thattha, Badin, and Sujawal will be under water if effective action is not taken.
In these critical circumstances, capitalists are further exacerbating climate crisis as the system itself is based on profit and all corporations are in competition, and it inherently lacks the ability to deal with the climate crisis. In order to sustain status quo, capitalists introduce eco-modernism. It is simply fighting the climate crisis by not challenging the structure. It introduces technological fixes with continuing growth of production and keeping the material relations unchanged. It requires change in technology and doesn’t challenge the capitalistic accumulation. The technological change is nothing but a way to create consent for the ongoing system with reformist aims. It may bring some relief but climate crisis will continue.
Alain Badiou writes in ‘Capitalism, The Sole Culprit of the Destructive Exploitation of Nature’ that Capitalism is the contemporary form of the Neolithic, and its enslavement of technologies by competition, profit, and the concentration of Capital only brings to their apex the monstrous inequalities, social absurdities, wars, massacres and deleterious ideologies which have always accompanied the deployment of new technologies under the historical reign of class hierarchy.
When it is said that “Climate Crisis is human-made”, it is cent per cent true. But, the question is, who are those humans? Are those the 99% of us or the 1 % elite? It is 1% elite, which only seeks vested interests, brings disaster to the world with nuclear weapons and productions which are not eco-friendly.
George Orwell says, “In times of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act”. And the truth is “Cancer cannot be cured with disprin” The climate crisis needs radical eco-socialist revolutionary struggle. Eco-socialism is the combination of changing the capitalist system and bringing the ecological-socialist alternative. It needs to change social relations in order to have a sustainable future. The whole system needs to be transformed so that there can be ecological equilibrium.
The language on climate is changing; it is now, ‘climate crises’ or ‘climate emergency’ and in some cases ‘climate breakdown’. People of the world are now seeking an alternative to capitalism, as it has brought the world at the brink of destruction. On March 15, thousands of students, all around the world protested against the climate crisis and with Bernie Senders in the US and Jeremy Corbyn in England, this all brings a ray of hope.
The author is M.Phil in International Relations form Karachi University.