Hot air against global warming

31 October 2006

On Monday, the gloom and doom prospects on the environment - due to global warming - were officially adopted by Blair's government. All the news programmes and papers accordingly devoted enormous space to it.

The main point made by Stern, the ex-World Bank economist, who wrote the government's report, was that things are so bad that they "have to" tax people as a result. And there is an all-party consensus on this. But these will be "green taxes" which hit the poor much more than the rich, when they do not actually let wealthy companies right off the hook, by the carbon-trading fiddle! And a company like Asda can put a windmill on its roof while keeping its lorries thundering up and down the motorway, to "offset" its contribution to global warming!

One might ask why such minimal measures are being proposed, only aiming for a 70% reduction of greenhouse gases by 2050, when Blair himself told us that the consequences of unhindered global warming will be "disastrous".

Because there is no doubt that the anarchy of capitalist production has turned the whole planet into a mess. But it is not just global warming which is a hypothetical long term consequence of this.

Contaminating whole regions

What about the entire regions which have been turned into sterile and even toxic dumps, in which nothing can grow and where no-one can live?

There are countless examples - like the Niger Delta in Africa, where oil exploitation by companies like Shell and BP has already partly destroyed a whole area - and continues its devastation! And just this August, dozens of inhabitants were killed and made seriously ill by poisonous industrial waste dropped in the middle of the city of Abidjan in Ivory Coast by a Dutch oil company.

It was 22 years ago, in 1984, that a gas leak at the pesticide factory in Bhopal, India, owned by Union Carbide, led to the worst industrial disaster of the century, killing 15,000 and affecting up to 600,000. Union Carbide never fully compensated the victims, let alone cleaned up the area which remains seriously contaminated with toxins.

But even closer to home, and before that, in 1976, the Seveso accident in Italy poisoned 2,000 with dioxin and contaminated ten square miles of land and vegetation. In both these cases the companies were trying to save money and therefore cut corners on safety.

These were catastrophes which were recognised at the time and yet this has not prevented history from repeating itself, over and over again, particularly in the poor countries.

Pro-business means turning a blind eye

The point of all of this is that no government in this society has ever had the political will to exercise any serious control over the criminal cost-savings of capitalist companies. And this "cost-saving" policy, practised by almost all companies, no matter what the risk, has always been - and will always be - the worst killer and polluter of all.

Nor does Blair have any intention of enforcing control when it comes to carbon pollution. While businesses produce 78% of greenhouse gases, consumers pay 52% of the "green taxes" already in existence. Anyway, even if companies have to pay more for their carbon emissions, as Brown threatens, they will just pass on their extra costs to consumers. As to the other forms of far more deadly pollution - like poisonous chemicals and toxic waste which are a constant threat to life and limb - these will not be affected in the least.

A champion of disaster

The irony is that this government promotes itself as the champion of the world environment and of mankind's future. Blair himself seems set on jumping back onto the world stage as saviour of the planet, after having helped to destroy the environment, the livelihoods and wiping out the future of the population of two whole regions - Iraq and Afghanistan.

And just what can it be like to live in place already ruined by war, today? When your home is reduced to rubble or is a prison you dare not leave in case you are shot? Where your electricity only comes on for a few hours a day, if you are lucky? Where you do not have clean water to drink, three years after the invasion? Where you dread illness or injury(which is very likely), because the few staff left at the hospital have almost no medicines or equipment? Where your children cannot play outside because of the cluster bombs, minefields and shells of war which are everywhere?

Yet someone like Blair, who is responsible for this ongoing death and destruction in the Middle East, dares to declare himself a champion of mankind 's future? Is it possible to get any more hypocritical than that?