2010 is now thought to be the warmest year on record. Previously, the accelerated warming of the arctic was insufficiently taken into account by one of the main global temperature records. Now, new data paints a dramatic picture of our warming planet: due to a sharp rise in carbon dioxide output from industrial activity over the last two decades, the world is warming faster than we thought.
Yet dire warnings and conclusive scientific evidence has had no effect on capitalist governments wedded to their paymasters, in particular the major oil companies.
Today the effects of global warming are manifest in deadly floods and droughts of previously unimaginable proportions. Global emissions of CO2 increased by nearly 50% between 1990 and 2010, with a record breaking 5.8% increase in global CO2 emissions between 2009 and 2010.
So much heat was added to the globe that in 2010, sea levels, normally rising three millimetres a year as a result of thermal expansion and extra melt water, actually fell by five millimetres, as our hotter atmosphere draws up more moisture from the earth and releases it as a flood.
As a result, over 2010 and 2011, Pakistan, Australia, the USA and Thailand saw unprecedented flooding. Only last month the BBC reported that in Pakistan, where 18 million people were affected by two years of record floods, millions are still in dire need and facing the danger of malnutrition.
Meanwhile the drought and hosepipe ban in southern and eastern England is just a pale reflection of that faced by many in the neo-colonial world.
The Somali famine has thankfully been declared over, although more than two million people are still at a high risk of malnutrition and food insecurity.
Severe droughts in Mexico, Syria, Argentina and Portugal are the most recent, while an on-going drought in Texas, which experienced the lowest rainfall since 1917 in 2011, has hit food production badly.
The birthplace and resting home of climate change denial, the USA has suffered so much extreme weather, such as the March 2012 tornadoes which killed 39, that four out of five people live in an area that has been affected by weather-related disasters since 2006, a recent study found.
Not surprisingly then, despite the denialist propaganda of Fox News and other US TV channels, a growing majority in the USA now believe global warming is real, and a majority reject the oil-rich deniers’ claims that global warming is part of some as yet undiscovered natural cycle.
What’s the alternative?
A socialist plan of production could both remove the private profit motive which prevents capitalist industry from abandoning fossil fuels, and at the same time construct the necessary infrastructure to cope with our destabilised climate. Under capitalism, as always, the most vulnerable on the planet are left to suffer and die.