“… we, with flesh, blood and brain belong to nature and exist in its midst, and … all of our mastery of it consists in the fact that we have the advantage of all other creatures of being able to learn its laws and apply them correctly.”
Karl Marx: Collected Works, vol 25, 499-501
Stern said 2° temperature rise above pre-industrial levels…
0.7-4.4 billion people face growing water shortages.
Falling crop yields.
15-40% of species disappearing.
7m sea level rise.
CO 2 and other greenhouse gases
Need to stabilise at 450 parts for every million parts of atmosphere
550ppm CO 2 e gives 77-99% chance of 2° global temperature rise or worse.
Stern recommends this because it would cost 1% of global GNP.
Antarctica and CO 2
Ice cores show more CO 2 and methane than in last 650 000 years.
Levels rising faster in last century than in previous 20 000 years.
Human action is only means.
Clearing forests, burning oil, coal and gas.
China, citizens and emissions
China - 2.7 tonnes CO 2
UK - 9.5 tonnes CO 2
USA - 20 tonnes CO 2
Questions for sceptics
Does the atmosphere contain CO 2 ?
Does it raise the average global temperature?
Will more CO 2 raise the temperature?
Does our activity emit CO 2 ?
Scientific organisations accept this
Science Academies in USA, Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, India, Italy, Sweden
What’s happening now?
Alaska and Siberia permafrost melting.
WHO says 150 000 people a year dying from climate related diseases.
Parts of Amazon becoming savannah.
IPPC estimate 1.8-4.0° rise this century
Melting glaciers in Andes and Himalayas = water shortages in Pakistan, western China, Central Asia, Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia.
Droughts in Africa, Australia and Mediterranean.
Crop production losses.
Gulf Stream flips.
Marxism and ecology
In 20 th century Marxism productivism trumped ecology.
Analysis focussed on logic of capitalism.
Environmental catastrophe was distant nightmare.
Marx, Engels and ecology
Geography and geology part of the conditions of production.
Humans are natural and social beings.
Humans transform nature through labour.
Metabolism in Capital
Labour is a process through which we mediate, regulate and control between ourselves and nature.
Large scale agriculture destroys the soil and requires industry to replace nutrients.
Capitalist agriculture is not self sustaining.
Marx, Engels and sustainability
“ In London alone a great quantity of manure…is poured away into the sea”. Engels.
Marx said human waste should be returned to the soil. Capital vol. 3.
In capitalism nature has no value.
For Marx real wealth is use value.
Labour and nature
Creation of value is transformation of labour-power into labour.
Labour-power is nature’s material in human form.
Humans transform nature through labour.
Utilisation of the refuse of production ( Capital vol. 3)
Stressed need for planning.
Integration of industry and agriculture.
Restore soil and recycle nutrients.
The worker and nature
Dispossession of peasantry.
Capitalism dissolves the link between the worker and the earth.
Primitive accumulation of capital requires it.
“ The need to tackle climate change must not become an excuse for central planning.”
George Monbiot – Heat p.xxv
Service industries employ 80% in USA
The social life of information: John Seely Brown, Harvard Business school .
between 1995 and 2006 employee productivity exceeded the growth of real wages by 340%
Between 2001 and 2006 this has increased to 779%
Intensive use of information technology, punitive work regimes that keep wages at poverty levels
Wal Mart and doctors
41% more productive than competitors but get $4 an hour less.
In the US health industry case managers without medical training decide whether or not to pay for treatment using “enterprise software”.
Doctors see up to 70 patients per day
Doctors feel that 25-30 is the outer limit.
Patients treated in this way have worse outcomes.
The firms turn higher profits.
A counter-revolution against the gains of the workers’ movement in the post-war world.
It wrecks the health and lives of millions of the working class and the middle class.
It consigns them to the treadmill of insecurity and endless work, and increasingly to a poverty-stricken old age.
Capitalism is about…
Generating ever larger amounts of profits .
Requires ever larger numbers of commodities and ever larger inputs of labour to exploit.
Much production under capitalism is socially useless, and either redundant or directly harmful.
Some products – like cars - harm the environment directly.
Others are useless and just use up huge amounts of the planet’s resources .
Morbid phase of capitalism
Increasing amounts of surveillance, violence, war and torture.
the threat of environmental catastrophe
Class and gender
The poor will pay the price for environmental disaster.
Particularly women and children.
Children because they are more vulnerable to disease, and less able to defend themselves from violence.
Women because they have the main responsibility for childcare and child raising in nearly all poor societies – urban and rural, third world and first world.
In the third world, it will be overwhelmingly women who have to try to find water, firewood and food for families.
Inequality, power and wealth cannot be addressed in the advanced countries without a revolution in the nature of what is produced and how it is produced.
A human society which defends the environment is incompatible with capitalism.
Strategy and the fightback
Environmentalism without class, without anti-capitalism, has massive limitations which invalidate it as a long-term strategy.
We aim to elaborate a new Marxism for the 21st century which builds on Marx’s understanding of a materialist approach to the environment in order to meet the challenge of climate change
It is the decisive force on a world scale for anti-capitalist struggle.
A central fight for Marxists is to win the workers’ movement to an environmentalist (eco-socialist) perspective.
A massive aid to this is the example of environmentally friendly mobilisations and policies of Cuba, and to some extent, Venezuela
We maintain our orientation towards the creation of a broad anti-capitalist, ecosocialist party to the left of Labour.
This is a first step towards resolving the crisis of leadership of the working class.
We need to develop an action programme of immediate and transitional demands which incorporate the centrality of the fight to save the environment.
Conclusions for Socialist Resistance
We will need to examine:
The overall priority we accord to Respect
The profile of Socialist Resistance, including for example perhaps the name of the paper.
The milieus in which we attempt to find and develop recruits.