Ecosocialism versus “green” capitalism – Socialist Freedom Party

London, March 15, 2019. Young people around the world have come out in force for several global climate strikes. PHOTO: Garry Knight

The global environmental crisis may seem abstract to some, unless they are fleeing deadly fires or ferocious storms. These disasters appear to be local and can be difficult to relate to one another.

But scientists around the world, in overwhelming numbers, say that the use of fossil fuels and other unregulated industrial productions are causing disastrous and intensifying global warming, deforestation and pollution. Millions of species have been eradicated and human settlements have come too close to wild animal populations. The global spread of Covid-19 is just the latest result of all this.

The crisis is existential and urgent. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported in 2018 that we only have about 12 years to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial era, in order to avoid the most catastrophic damage. It was a call for radical change.

Millions of people around the world have mobilized around this issue, including a series of global climate strikes in 2019 that more than 6 million people joined. Yet government action has been minimal and the greenhouse gases that drive climate change continue to rise. The question we need to answer is how do we achieve the action that people want and need? How can we navigate our way to the solutions the situation demands?

“Green” capitalism? The environmental movement has primarily focused on fighting fossil fuels and building sustainable energy. Big companies, even in the most polluting industries, spend a lot of money on advertising to promote their “green” initiatives. And because capitalists have discovered that green energy can be profitable, they’re pumping trillions of dollars into it, with leaders from major environmental groups like 350.org and the Sierra Club as their cheerleaders. There is so much more to do, and fast.

The recent movie planet of humans (see August 2020 freedom socialist review) correctly describes the crisis and the fact that current green energy solutions (biomass, solar, wind) require as much planetary damage to produce them as the benefits they provide.

In fact, the depletion of natural resources and the increase in greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated. An example is that the tree cover loss rate was 2.8% higher in 2019 than in 2018, the equivalent of a football pitch every 6 seconds for the entire year. Among other things, trees absorb and store carbon dioxide, and when forests are cut down, greenhouse gases in the atmosphere increase.

This ruin of the planet is rooted in the laws of capitalism. The system is fundamentally anarchic, needs constant growth, and puts profit above all else. It dominates nature and ignores social costs. The damage done to the planet since the beginning of industrialization is the result of the capitalist economic system. To expect the beneficiaries of the same system that got us into this mess to get us out of it is irrational.

Ecosocialism — the practical solution. While planet of humans describes well the urgency of the problem and suggests that capitalism could be a “problem”, it offers no concrete solution. This suggests that all technology is bad. And he makes vague and disturbing comments about the problem of overpopulation without addressing the racist arguments that scapegoat people of color and poor countries.

In Ecosocialism: The Solution to Survival on Planet Earth, Steve Hoffman outlines the Freedom Socialist Party’s clear, ambitious and necessary plan to effect the transition. Socialism places ownership of industries and natural resources in public hands, completely suppressing the pursuit of profit. Workers of all types – production, technical and scientific – democratically control all aspects of the manufacture and provision of goods and services for human needs. Gone is the chaos, overproduction and spectacular waste of the capitalist economy. We no longer need to hope that “the market” will reach a high enough level of profitability for change to occur.

In a socialist economy centered on human needs, environmental racism can be eradicated because people of color have led the movement for change. Closing and cleaning up toxic production and storage facilities can be prioritized, workers transferred to safe jobs, and families have access to fantastic housing and schools. And with full economic and social power for all, women take control of their own reproduction, which has been shown to reduce family size.

The energy industry must first be nationalized, to quickly switch from destructive forms of energy. Fossil fuel and mining industries even hide behind “sustainable” energy, such as the planned obsolescence of shoddy solar power and continued reliance on polluting forms of backup power. Until we reap the benefits of energy production we cannot select the right technologies, but in a socialist economy we have the power to make the best choices.

All sectors of the transport industry – automobiles, airlines and railways – must be nationalized and integrated transport systems designed to eliminate the need for individual transport and allow cities and towns to be redesigned.

Capitalism consumes so much energy for useless purposes that it is difficult to know what the real need is. An example is the military. The US military alone is the largest user of petroleum products in the world. In addition to stopping its murderous exploits, its closure would significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

We must immediately begin massive reforestation. Deforestation is the second largest contributor to global warming and also has the effect of releasing pathogens from nature into society. We need to move away from industrial agriculture such as monoculture production and the unregulated raising of meat animals. These are the main drivers of deforestation.

A planet to save. The problems we face are urgent, difficult and complex, and we will not solve them by falling back on the past. It will take a united effort of workers, Indigenous communities and the young leaders of today’s environmental movement. While many argue that we don’t have time to wait for a socialist revolution, it’s not a matter of choosing between one or the other. We must fight for reforms while building for the only realistic solution. We don’t have time to delay. Our house is literally burning.

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