Social change not climate change

The disastrous effects of global warming are being felt world-wide...

Submitted by libcom on January 11, 2006

Rising sea levels are leading to floods and landslides, increasing storm activity is causing widespread death, homelessness, and destruction, and long and sustained droughts are severely damaging food production. Ultimately, millions will die, and there will be massive ecological destruction, if we do not act.

Global warming is caused by road and air traffic, fossil-fuelled manufacturing and industrial agriculture (together 85%), and fossil-fuelled electricity production (15%). The twin vampires of corporations and governments are responsible for the mess we're in, relying on ever-expanding production and consumption to provide them with their life blood - profits and power.

Admitting that any real change would be “politically unrealistic”, politicians and their corporate sponsors are keen on “technical fixes”- new technologies that don't address the causes of climate change. Nuclear power is the current favourite of Blair and his spin doctors, claiming it doesn’t produce carbon dioxide. However, as a technology it is very dangerous. It relies heavily on dwindling supplies of uranium, is still so costly that it needs massive government subsidies, is vulnerable to terrorism, fuels nuclear weapons production, and produces volumes of toxic waste with no safe storage solution. In addition, it has an unprecedented record of accidents, near disasters and health risks. And, the power stations themselves release unknown quantities of greenhouse gases that are more powerful than CO2. In any case, it would take about 2000 new nuclear power stations of 1000 megawatt capacity to produce a noticeable reduction in global carbon dioxide emissions.

The road and air traffic lobby is massively powerful, ensuring that alternatives are not developed. The government's response to increased demand for transport is to build more roads that immediately become congested and to expand and build more airports. Meanwhile, privatised buses and trains are run for profit, making public transport often a more expensive and unusable option, forcing people to rely on their cars. Schemes such as the congestion charge are about ensuring that traffic (transport for profit) keeps flowing, rather than creating transport for human need. The idea of a 'green car' is as sensible as a chocolate frying pan.

Since companies and governments can't and won't act, it is up to us to do something. As individuals we should do what we can - minimise car and air travel, insulate our homes, minimise waste and maximise recycling etc. Ultimately, however, we can only reverse global warming by challenging the system that has brought the planet to the brink of disaster. In particular, we need to organise against the State’s plans to resurrect Frankenstein’s monster of nuclear power, challenge new road and airport plans and oppose Agribusiness with their use of chemicals, production of GM crops and factory farming. We can only do this by getting together with our neighbours and workmates, organising and acting collectively, without politicians and leaders, and taking direct action. This maximises our power, and avoids us being “sold out” as leaders always end up in bed with the powerful.

We want renewable energy - solar, wind, tidal and hydro-electric, geo-thermal etc, different sources deployed as appropriate to the locality. It should be small-scale, generating electricity for local needs (rather than for the centralised national grid), and genuinely community controlled. And, we need to question the whole logic of capitalist growth that has chained us to work and consumption, producing increased quantities of goods whilst the quality of our lives deteriorates.

It's our world – let's take it back.

By the Anarchist Federation

Read our Everyday Manifesto on the Environment: