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Editorial: Stop the cuts – save the planet

IN PREVIOUS editorials we have argued for a strategy to beat the cuts, centring on the need to win the unions to an all out general strike to smash the austerity programme and kick out Cameron and Clegg. This month I want to use this editorial to discuss something not covered in the rest of the paper but which will affect us all if we do not take action.

Recent reports about the pace of climate change are cause for concern. Despite repeated promises that CO2 emissions will be cut 2010 actually saw an increase in emissions – with the greatest amount yet recorded. If this continues then major climate change and extreme weather events will cause devastation across large parts of the world.

The UN predicts millions of climate refugees by 2020, with many more by 2050. The maps that we are used to looking at from school will change permanently as sea levels will rise and shift coastlines inwards. Countries like Britain would be particularly badly hit.

Life in the oceans is also being destroyed by climate change, over fishing and pollution. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s report in June stated that our oceans are degrading at a faster capacity than anyone predicted and some of the indicators have exceeded even the worst-case scenario put forward by climate scientists.

They predict extinction of many species of fish, both large and small, and a dramatic unbalancing of the eco-system as coral reefs perish and the entire ecosystems that rely on them to survive are wiped out. The waters are heating up, the acidity levels have increased and more of the oceans are becoming anoxia zones or dead zones where no fish can live.

Urgency of the situation
Many people will think ‘yes clearly this is important – but isn’t the fight against the cuts more urgent? Can’t we turn to the environment later?’ I think this is the wrong way of looking at it. The issue that faces us is that all the struggles, both to save the planet and to stop the Coalition’s austerity programme and save our jobs and communities, are very immediate. The Tories are ramming through the cuts before many people even know what is happening, often before the powerful but painfully slow organisations of the labour movement can roll into action.

The danger is that the longer-term problems get lost as we deal with what is right in front of us. The annual protests against climate change in Britain remain stubbornly small – around 10,000 people or less. Opinion polls show millions are worried about the planet, but few people are mobilised to take action.

But it is the same government and the same companies that are causing both the social crisis and the environmental crisis. It is the same class of fat cats that are making money from privatisation and bank bailouts whilst also polluting our planet. In tackling them we are tacking the source of all our problems.
Each of our struggles can become something more – it can become part of a movement to build a new society where there are jobs for all (for life!), a reduced working week, production for human need and not greed and we can work together, collectively, to reduce fossil fuel emissions and rely more on renewable energies.

This is not just a social struggle – it is a political one – one aimed not just at changing the government, though that would be a start, but at changing the state and the class that rules through it. If we do not do this we will leave the levers of power in the hands of the exploiters and the polluters. We need to coordinate all our forces into a new anticapitalist political party; one that can bring about revolutionary change – abolishing poverty and pollution creating a decent life for all in a restored natural environment.

To expropriate the major corporations and banks and take them under the control of the workers means bringing down the Bullingdon Boys and replacing them with a government of working people. Such a revolutionary act will give us the best hope – indeed the only real hope ­– of organising society in such a way that we are not killing the planet through greedy, profit driven cost cutting, unsafe pollution and carbon emitting energy production.

But all this requires political action, political organisation, and a party that organises both nationally and internationally to fight for socialism.

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