Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Young People's Action On Climate Change Is A Key To Fight Against Pandemics


Written by: Ned K. on 3 January 2022

In the last few years, young people across the globe have led the people's struggle for decisive action by governments and big business on climate change. 

Media outlets owned by the likes of the Murdoch empire have ridiculed these young people, as have reactionary political leaders like Prime Minister Morrison. 

The lockdowns due to Covid-19 decreased the number of mass demonstrations temporarily. However growing evidence from naturalists and ecologists is that there is a definite between climate change and pandemics such as the current Covid-19.

During the Covid-19 outbreak over the last couple of years, well known naturalists, ecologists and other critics of capitalism such as Chomsky have spoken out about the link between climate change and Covid-19 in support of young people. Their proposed solutions are not always the same but all say the current growth for growth's sake imperative is the root cause of the problem.

Attenborough in his book Life On Our Planet says that in 1937 when he was 11 years old, remaining wilderness made up 66% of the world's land area. In 2020, remaining wilderness made up just 35% of the total land area. Carbon in the atmosphere during this period of his life had risen from 280 parts per million in the atmosphere to 415 parts per million in 2020.

Chomsky adds to Attenborough's observations in saying that during this same period of environmental destruction, there has also been a concerted effort by global capitalism to wipe out mass working class organization, the very force capable of forcing major changes on governments. Chomsky stops short of calling for complete change from capitalism to socialism and settles for what he considers the more immediate task of a "Green New Deal".

He is not alone in promoting a Green New Deal, as some capitalists think this is their only hope of maintaining ruling class power in the face of the climate change crisis.

What have these ideas got to do with Covid-19?

An ecologist from the Scandinavian countries, Andreas Malm, says that the deforestation rate has led to a spill-over of viruses from animals to humans such as the pangolins sold in Wuhan markets. He also points out that dependence of mega cities and advanced capitalist countries in Europe on food from other regions of the world will further accelerate deforestation. Germany, for example, imports 80% of its land based food resources. Malm also points out that coupled with deforestation in regions where cash crops to feed the West are grown, is increasing extremes of climate including severe drought.

The dependence on transportation of food resources across the globe has added to another major cause of carbon pollution of the atmosphere and also transmission of viruses like Covid-19. 

The polluters he refers to are transportation by air and sea. Aeroplane travel by the rich business class in particular are the worst offenders.

He doubts whether pandemics will disappear as long as the system of capitalism continues on its destructive way. He sees the solution as a form of ecological “war communism”.

He is sympathetic to the hope of capitalist social democracy advocates such as Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders, but says the problems cannot be solved by mere reform of capitalism due to the latter's inbuilt destruction of nature in search of growth.

The important point about the ideas expressed so widely by people like Attenborough, Chomsky and Malm (who also writes for Jacobin magazine), is that young people read them and that the likes of the Murdoch press do not have the monopoly of ideas when it comes to how young people in particular think and act.
Mao said “Once the correct ideas characteristic of the advanced class are grasped by the masses, these ideas turn into a material force which changes society and changes the world.”

The ideas about climate change and pandemics have moved past describing their impact  and on to people discussing solutions and organising action. 

Young people taking to the streets in their hundreds of millions across the globe over climate change contain the working class leaders of today and tomorrow. That is what scares the likes of Murdoch the most.


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