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Why Green issues are not an intellectual exercise.


The environment and so called “Green Issues” prove in microcosm why capitalism does not work and cannot be tinkered with as if somehow we can tame it.

Which is why I can’t fathom the obsession with Jeremy Corbyn. It’s a gift to the Tories as it means all the energy that could be expended fighting Union bashing laws, the destruction of the NHS and the 100’s of other fires the Tories have set since May has gone into a futile campaign.

My expulsion from the Labour Party has been a bit of a Road to Damascus experience for me and I am mightily relieved that I lost the Tranby election. I would have become part of the problem as I fully admit the money on offer was an issue and I can see how unwittingly councillors can get used to a considerable boost financially which can impinge on decision making. There are three shining examples in our region where this is as far from the case as you can imagine. These ladies are unsung and hardworking heroes but are unfortunately the exception.

Anyhoo…. Capitalism commodifies everything and this includes basic human needs such as water. Therefore the law of the market kicks in and those at the top crush those at the bottom in order to accrue valuable resources. “Water Wars” are and will increasingly replace wars over oil. According to a US State Department report dating from 2012 demand for water will out strip supply by 40% by 2030.

The UN and the OECD say this year that by 2030 47% of the world’s population will be living is so called “high stress” water areas. That’s about 3.8 billion people. The current figure is 785 million. And guess what? They live in areas which are already poor.

But capital’s attitude to water was summed up by Nestle CEO in 2013 when Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, said that “access to water is not a public right.” It’s a profit making opportunity pure and simple.

We have experienced Water Wars in the past starting with a scrap between the City states of Lagash and Umma over the Tigris/ Euphrates Basin in 4500 BC. The occupation of the Golan Heights by Israel in 1967 guarantees them control of water supplies in the area, vital for their illegal occupation of the West Bank and construction of a dam on the Nile is causing ructions with Egypt and her neighbours.

Feeding ourselves is a massive global problem. The UN tell us that 1 billion of our fellow souls live on less than $1 a day, 2.7 billion on less than $2 per day meaning that over 50% of the world’s population is living a hand to mouth existence with a huge number literally not knowing where their next meal is coming from.

Yet the food crisis is not about a lack of supply. Today’s Gruniard tells us that it is inequality and not income that causes 20,000 a day to die from poverty related issues because we chuck away 1.3 billion tonnes a year which equates to 30% of all the food produced on Earth. We bin 45% of all fruit and vegetables, 35% of fish and seafood, 30% of cereals, 20% of dairy products and 20% of meat. Meanwhile, 795 million people suffer from severe hunger and malnutrition.

If, according to the lads and lasses at the UN the amount of food wasted around the world were reduced by just 25% there would be enough food to feed everyone on the planet and we would not be replicating the daily numbers killed at Auschwitz in our own time.

But if we did that there would be nothing in it for the capitalists. No profit motive. The logical move for the food and water crisis to be resolved would to have a planned economy where people come before profit which is where Socialism comes in.

The money people say the Left is deluded, irrational and think with their hearts and not their heads when in fact it’s the other way around. Socialism looks at a problem and works out a solution based on the needs of everyone. Capitalism leaves it all to chance and whether or not a person at a screen dealing shares is feeling, “confident”. What if s/he has had a row or is hungover? They not “feel” confident about a particular company or share, the price goes down, money is leaked and jobs lost. That seems a crazy way to run things.

The challenge posed to modern life in the UK by climate change is bigger than almost any other we face. We must meet these challenges through the green economy. Not through choice but through imperative and politicians must not fiddle whist Rome burns as the very future of the planet is at stake. Green issues are not an intellectual exercise.

Food production is a central part of how we deal with climate change as it causes more CO2 emissions than transport. The meat industry has many critics on moral grounds, but on a practical level it is tremendously inefficient as 20 times more land and resources are required to produce meat and dairy than if we lived solely on a plant based vegan diet.

It should be a priority for the Left to plan for and encourage people to switch to a vegan diet over the next few decades. This would require a cultural sea change but given our obsession with food related telly educating people may not be that difficult. CO2 could be controlled better, but crucially we could produce food for 8.7 billion by eliminating meat and dairy. The health benefits are a secondary windfall but important none the less.

The only way to solve these problems is for Government, (local, national and international) to recognise that food, water and climate change cannot be left to the market to sort out. Capital looks for the quick buck and does not behave in a logical or scientific manner. That’s why we need a planned, accountable and democratic planned economy. The Labour Party is unable to deliver on these existential life and death issues because it doesn’t want to. It doesn’t matter who the leader is. It’s as relevant to the Left who leads Labour as to who leads the Tories or the Lib Dems.

With thanks to the Socialist Party who had a discussion in Hull on this issue.

Time for Change. Time for Socialism.


About dermotrathbone

Writer and co author "Through Red Lenses". Activist Unite the Union, Save Our NHS Hull. Fan of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, Hull FC, Munster and Ireland Rugby. Views are mine alone and may not reflect the organisations concerned.


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