By Gary McDonald
The current situation in Australia is a frightening glimpse of our future. The catastrophic effects of climate change that scientists have been warning about for decades are coming to fruition right before our very eyes.
Beginning unusually early in September 2019, this bushfire season has marked the ushering-in of a whole new terrifying climate reality particularly for the people of Australia but also for the rest of the world. As clearly demonstrated in the imagery that has been circulating throughout the globe on social media, these bushfires are unprecedented in the country’s history. Having now already been raging for months, they’re still blazing across the whole of the country with the end of the fire season not due in sight until the end of March. Nowhere has been safe from the extreme heat with every state in the country recording blistering temperatures over 40°C. Heat in the major cities of Sydney and Perth peaked at an astonishing 48.9°C.
Ecological and human catastrophe
As we go to print the bushfires have already claimed the lives of 24 people and roughly 500 million animals, and destroyed about 2,000 homes. Wildlife and ecosystems have been devastated. The intensity of the fires has been producing incredible freak weather phenomena. Stunning videos have emerged online displaying what have been described as ‘fire tornadoes’ and ‘fire thunderstorms’ generated by the obscene temperatures of the fires.
Already over 63,000 square kilometres have been claimed by the blaze. Firefighters are overstretched and are beginning to buckle under the immense pressure and consistent intensity of battling the fires. They are woefully under-funded and ill-equipped to deal with the situation from years of cutbacks from government austerity.
This is no random ‘natural disaster.’ This is the direct result of policies that have been taken by governments and businesses around the world, to sacrifice the resources and the environmental health of the planet’s ecosystem in order to bolster the already-insane levels of profit of the 1%. They live in the lap of luxury at our expense, while the rest of us suffer and burn.
Beholden to coal industry
The Australian government has been consistently denying the existence of climate change. This should be no shock considering Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his government are and always have been bought and paid-for talking heads of the coal industry. The complete lack of action taken by the Australian government to curb fossil fuel emissions is mirrored by the complete inaction of governments around the world. This is no mere coincidence but the inevitable product of the capitalist system. All of these countries operate under the capitalist system which puts the greed of the wealthy before the needs of ordinary working-class people and that of our planet.
A recent study commissioned by the Canadian Center for Climate Modeling & Analysis (CCCMA), a Canadian government body, has shown that if fossil fuel companies continue unchallenged with “business as usual,” increasing levels of emissions, the planet will reach a guaranteed civilisation-ending 8°C increase by 2100. This demonstrates how it is becoming abundantly clear that the capitalist class and their puppets in government will drive humanity into an unprecedented disaster.
Break with capitalism
The working class is the force that powers and moves society. We must organise collectively as a class in order to rip power from the hands of the capitalist class.
Only by seizing the key aspects of the economy such as energy, food and transport and by placing them into democratic public ownership and democratically planning can we begin an immediate transition away from fossil fuels towards renewable energy and towards a zero-carbon economy. This task can be achieved by building an international movement of workers and young people based around socialist ideas. Time is of the essence – join the movement for Socialism now.