Socialist Worker

Letters—‘Small steps’ won’t help stop the climate crisis, action can

Issue No. 2766

Climate change protesters march in Paris in 2018.

Climate change protesters march in Paris in 2018. (Pic: Jeanne Menjoulet/Flickr)


If strategies from Allegra Stratton, the prime minister’s spokesperson for the COP26 climate summit, are anything to go by then November’s meeting will do nothing to arrest environmental crisis.

The “small steps” solution to stopping ecological destruction is a discredited approach within the environmental movement.

It does nothing to challenge the true causes of the problem.

In the face of wildfires, floods and storms, not rinsing dishes before using a dishwasher—if you have one—is simply not enough.

Studies have shown that the cause of climate change rests with a numerically small, but economically powerful section of the economy.

Just 100 companies are responsible for 71 percent of emissions. Most of these are fossil fuel corporations.

Letters—Now the climate change horrors are coming home
Letters—Now the climate change horrors are coming home
  Read More

They, in the interest of profit, have obscured, undermined and confused debate and action on climate change. It is their behaviour that must be curtailed.

Freezing half a loaf of bread as Stratton suggests won’t do this.

I own a bamboo toothbrush. But this substitute isn’t going to save the world—even if everyone else bought one.

One of the corporate sponsors of the Glasgow COP is SSE, an energy company that runs the Peterhead power station.

According to Friends of the Earth, SSE is “Scotland’s single biggest polluter in 2019” because of the 1.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emitted at Peterhead in that year.

In the face of pollution on this scale, my bamboo toothbrush is worthless.

Dealing with the climate crisis means challenging the irrational and irresponsible quest for profit from fossil fuels. That is the sort of environmental politics we need, not a green-washing blame game aimed at ordinary individuals.

This is why we need to make sure that there is a massive presence on the streets during COP26 and afterwards. We must demand radical action on climate change and an end to fossil fuel capitalism.

Martin Empson, Manchester


­Olympics boost ­sexism

Last week we saw the Norwegian women’s Olympic beach handball team get fined £1,300 for wearing “improper attire”—shorts instead of bikini bottoms.

The male athletes wear vest tops and shorts. But women must wear bikini bottoms “with a close fit and cut on an upward angle towards the top of the leg”.

Letters—Why sexual harassment of young women is normalised
Letters—Why sexual harassment of young women is normalised
  Read More

The Olympics—and sport more broadly—has a long history of sexism and the sexualisation of women’s bodies.

Women were only allowed to participate in the Olympics for the first time in 1900. But only

2 percent of all athletes were women and they were forced to wear ankle length dresses with long sleeves and high necks.

This was so they didn’t “distract” the male athletes.

In 2012 Boris Johnson listed “20 reasons to feel cheerful about the Olympics”. One of his reasons was disgracefully the “semi-naked women playing beach volleyball”.

Sexism in the Olympics is endemic, it infects each sport. From attributing women’s success to their husbands or their male coaches, to not taking them seriously as athletes to sexually harassing and objectifying them.

It’s clear that the Olympics are not exempt from systemic sexism. The games have only shone a light on the injustices women face in sport.

Molly Docherty, Manchester


Lewontin obituary gets his ideas all wrong

In John Parrington’s obituary of Richard Lewontin, he writes that Lewontin enriched the ideas of Marx “with new ideas based on novel insights into how DNA functions as a ‘blueprint’.”

Parrington also wrote that Lewontin argued that society evolves “…in a way that has to some extent superseded biology”

But Lewontin did not hold this view.

He insisted life is the result of a complex interaction of genes, environment and the organism itself—a triple helix, the title of his book.

Parrington also writes, “A person’s possibility of realising their potential is far more affected by their position in class society than it is by their genetic make-up.”

But again Lewontin didn’t hold this view. He belittled it by labelling it “the empty bucket” metaphor.

There is much to learn from Lewontin’s ideas and studies but Parrington’s article is not at all clear on what this is.

Terry Sullivan, North London


Simone Biles–mental health matters

Simone Biles, probably the greatest gymnast of all time, withdrew from the US Olympic team during the Tokyo Games.

LETTERS—How medical monopolies wreck the lives of millions
LETTERS—How medical monopolies wreck the lives of millions
  Read More

She spoke about the importance of preserving her mental health and the need to “protect our minds and our bodies” adding, “We are people, at the end of the day.”

Biles’ decision drew praise from many supporters and fans.

But there were others who shamefully accused her of using mental health as an excuse for a below‑standard performance.

This inspired a whole number of gymnasts who spoke out in support of her courage, to stand up against the pressures to shut up and push themselves beyond what is mentally healthy.

Her withdrawal highlights how gymnastics and all professional sports are driven by companies who have no interest whatsoever in athletes’ wellbeing.

They create a toxic culture of bullying to win.

Simone admits that she has lost confidence in her abilities, lost self esteem and others have said they had felt suicidal.

These are classic symptoms of depression and it is clear that in the drive for gold, she has finished second to profit.

Dave Wyatt, Wolverhampton


Sport and alienation

Simone Biles’ departure from the Olympics shows how a system of exploitation causes mental distress.

Sport offers escapism for millions as it binds them to a certain community and helps to promote competition instead of unity.

But pressures placed on athletes by fans and national leaders alienates them from the love of the sport.

Nathan Johnston, Newcastle


Student solidarity

A vibrant UCU union march and rally took place in Chester last Saturday against planned redundancies by the University of Chester.

Strikers from UCU Liverpool and students joined the 150-strong protest.

Students and staff must continue to unite as the fight continues to oppose compulsory redundancies planned by management.

Laila Hassan, Bolton


Vaccine passports

Socialist Worker is right to say vaccine passports “will disproportionately affect black and Asian people”.

Due to the government’s incompetence the vaccine rollout programme hasn’t worked as effectively in poorer, diverse communities.

If people choose not to get vaccinated that outlines the rollout’s failures.

Passports will give the government a scapegoat to transfer their failures onto.

Hannah Lloyd, North Wales


GMB failed workers

British Gas workers have been let down by GMB, not surprising for a union that backed Lisa Nandy as Labour leader.

Muca, On Twitter

  • British Gas workers should pull out of the GMB and join a proper union like the IWGB or the UVW.

Chris Smith, On Twitter


Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'


Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.