Socialist Worker

We have to act now to stop environmental devastation

by Jonathan Neale
Issue No. 2017

It is time to act. Over the last 20 years the scientists have organised themselves globally to sound the alarm.

They aren’t radical people by nature. But they can see what’s coming.

The environmental organisations have done fantastic work spreading the message. Now everyone knows. Even George Bush knows.

In the last year the reports in the scientific journals show that global warming is happening faster than most expected.

Studies in many parts of the world are now confirming that when the world warmed before, the change happened very quickly.

The last time, 10,660 years ago, most of the change was in three years. That means there is a tipping point, a time when feedback effects come together and the temperature jumps.

We don’t know when that will be. Can’t know, till it hits us.

Up to now, the scientists and the big environmental organisations have shouted, publicised, and lobbied governments.

But we need cuts of at least 80 percent in the carbon going into the air. The Kyoto agreement provided for about 7 percent, and George Bush has refused to sign it.

Real cuts in carbon mean massive government investment in transport, insulating houses, and building wind and solar power. They mean hundreds of millions of workers, all over the world, building things. They mean moving outside the market.

If that happens, everyone will say, if we can do that for the air, what about the hospitals? What about the schools? What about my pension?

Kyoto is weak because governments want to protect the idea that the only solution is the market. So we have to force the governments to act, and change them if they won’t.

The climate camp is one sign that people have begun to think in those terms.

And Al Gore and Arnold Schwarzenegger have gone ballistic on global warming - they want to get elected.

That’s important. Arnie is hard right. Gore in power did nothing for the planet. But now they think Americans will vote for them if they say they’ll act.

On 4 November there will be global demonstrations against climate change - including a demonstration outside the United Nations climate talks in Nairobi.

Last December we had action in 20 countries. There were 10,000 in London. It was much too small. Like the climate camp. But a beginning.

The marches in December will be bigger, in more countries. We will be back, year after year, growing in numbers, until we are tens of millions on the streets of the world.

In years to come the movement will need demonstrations, meetings, local direct action, strikes, blockades, and elections. It is not possible to predict the exact form. But it has to be done.

No one is going to save the planet but us, the ordinary people of the earth.

Jonathan Neale is the author of What’s Wrong With America available from Bookmarks

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Sat 9 Sep 2006, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 2017
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