Capitalism Reaches its Boiling Point

COP 28 is only a few months away and without a shadow of a doubt it will produce nothing but hollow promises and vague slogans of change, continuing the historical failure of previous conferences.

6 July 2023 saw the global average surface temperature reaching 17.08°C, making it the hottest July day ever recorded. Yet the record was not just broken on a single day; nearly the entire month of July was hotter than the previous record of 16.8°C – making July the world's hottest month on record overall. Based upon current trends, it is estimated global temperatures will breach the 1.5⁰C limit by 2027, above which millions more will be at risk of deadly heat waves and famine. The sole driving motivation of capitalism is to grow its profits as rapidly as possible and any death and misery brought by this is simply the cost of doing business. The vague hopes expressed at these conferences have no answers to the fact that, as shown time and time again, our little lives mean nothing in the face of capital expansion.

More terrifying still in this record-shattering period of the summer were the sea surface temperatures. On 4 August, sea surface temperatures hit 20.96°C, breaking the previous record from 2016. Such an unprecedented jump has not been seen in recent history; yet, this newly found record will likely be surpassed just as easily next year, and every year to follow as long as the capitalist mode of production continues to pursue business-as-usual.

A Catastrophe for Humanity and Nature

An increase of 1°C in sea temperature would cause a rise of 2.3 metres in sea levels, putting millions more at risk of displacement. And already as it stands 1.2 billion people are predicted to be forced to migrate by 2050 due to climate change and natural disasters. Floods alone have accounted for over 5,600 deaths just within the EU in the last 40 years, and flooding will continue due to the effect sea surface temperature increases have in increasing rainfall and storms. This however is just the start of the catastrophe that humanity faces. Estimates suggest 1.81 billion people worldwide are currently at risk of flooding.

And the climate crisis does not only affect human society, for the nature around us that we depend upon and that depends upon us is facing tremendous peril. Another study showed rising sea levels could cause over 10,000 islands rich in biodiversity to become swamped. Many of these islands contain much of the world's plants and wildlife in proportion to the area they take up. For example, the Overseas Territories of France account for only 0.08% of the Earth’s surface but contain 1.4% of plants, 3% of molluscs, 2% of fish, 0.6% of birds, etc. These islands are irreplaceable, yet are all at risk of the climate crisis which capitalism will not allow to be combatted; nature and wildlife not on just these islands but around the world, just like us, is in great peril.

We could write volumes talking of the heat waves that caused huge issues and shutdowns in Iran this year, the estimated 2 million deaths globally due to extreme weather over the past 50 years, the increased wildfires in parts of the US, Canada, Europe and Asia that cause further destruction to both humanity and nature, the possible million species that will all go extinct in the coming decades, and so on. This never-ending list is but a testament to the danger the planet finds itself in. If these trends continue – and we all know that, with capitalism’s inherent tendencies to put profit above all, they will – the situation is bound to only get worse.

The Working Class at the Centre of the Storm

Don’t think that everyone will suffer equally; the ruling class have the means to escape the worst of this crisis. The ones who will bear the full brunt of the ecological crisis are none other than the working class and the rural poor. But if the unbearable weight of such a system and its consequences lies heavy atop our shoulders, so too does our power to change it. It is time enough to throw off those shackles and consign this system to the wayside of history, to embark upon a new path towards a society in which humanity has truly reconciled its relationship with nature and other humans, a communist society.

The above article is taken from the current edition (No. 64) of Aurora, bulletin of the Communist Workers’ Organisation.

Monday, September 4, 2023

Aurora (en)

Aurora is the broadsheet of the ICT for the interventions amongst the working class. It is published and distributed in several countries and languages. So far it has been distributed in UK, France, Italy, Canada, USA, Colombia.