And in other news…the CEO of the oil company seeking to build a pipeline between Edmonton and Vancouver says COVID-19 offers the very best time to start the building work, because protests of more than 15 people are outlawed! I admit to a growing sense of pent-up anger. Must be Lockdown fatigue.
You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to understand that profiteers and gangsters use any and every crisis in order to plunder profit out of human misery. Indeed, since the time of Kissinger and the USA’s war in Vietnam, imperialists as the most dominant Capitalists have recognised the profits that can be made from actively creating crises for which they have already manufactured the most convenient, immediate and lucrative solution.
War makes big money for big business. So can ill health. Make it so.
As an example, the entire class of owners of industries and natural resources are in a frenzy looking at how to use the global pandemic to make more money. Of course, the primary focus may be on the creation of a cure, a vaccine that can be sold to hundreds of millions at a profit. Big money returns require that the Big Pharma provider can set its own price, as opposed to State regulated health services that can set a ceiling enforced by Law.
Little wonder that Bill Gates is investing big-style to capture the private health market worldwide, or that the Chief Adviser to the UK Prime Minister, Dominic Cumming’s visit to Barnard Castle appears suspect when the site is best known as the headquarters of the Big-Fraud-Big-Pharma company, GlaxoSmithKline. The self-aggrandising Corporate State came of age some time ago.
But the crisis caused by COVID-19 is also allowing for a great deal of corruption elsewhere, as well as the obfuscation of “most other news” including wars and plane crashes, but especially in relation to global heating.
A number of records for the Earth’s climate were set in 2019: It was the warmest year without a major El Niño event ever recorded at surface temperature, and the warmest year on record for ocean heat content, which increased markedly between 2018 and 2019. Last year also saw record lows in sea ice extent and volume in the Arctic and Antarctic for much of the period between April and August, while global sea levels and atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations reached new record highs in 2019 and the world’s glaciers continued to melt at accelerating rates.
I’m writing this in a continuing heatwave across Britain, our local reservoirs extremely low although we’re not even at the end of May. Yet there have been snow storms in Eastern Turkey and record temperature rises in the Arctic. Cyclone Amphan destroyed the ecologically fragile region of the India-Bangladesh border, the record sea temperatures of the Bay of Bengal sweeping the super-typhoon inland through the mangrove forest last preserves of the Bengal tigers and destroying towns and homes, displacing at least 3 million people.
So when Alberta’s energy minister, appropriately called Sonya Savage, tells oil-drilling contractors to celebrate, I can’t help my anger. The recommencement of pipeline construction is the hallmark of Business as Usual. The Old Normal.
COVID Lockdown has not reduced C02 levels increasing in the atmosphere because there’s a significant time lag between close-downs of emissions and reduction in global warming gases. The pandemic has shown us, however, that human societies can change behaviours overnight; massively reducing oil use from Internal Combustion Engines, planes and cruise liners; finding thousands of billions of pounds to invest in infrastructure and people. That’s worth reading twice.
Here we are at the centre of the most gross contradictions. One global crisis proving we can change and adapt, the other even more perilous crisis being neglected and denied by Governments and Businesses. All the time the poorer peoples of the less developed economies and the Global South face mounting immiserisation, displacement into crowded and vast refugee camps, trapping them in discomfort and disease and a life shortened and degraded to a greater extent than any virus can do on its own.
It is the Capitalist mode of production that has caused the Pandemic, as predicted, and the Capitalist System’s deep and obsessive reliance upon fossil fuels that has caused this climate catastrophe. It is still the case that we face human extinction within two or three generations because temperatures are rising towards 6 degrees above pre-industrial norms. And it is the case that we will soon see more viruses to live and die by.
As the lockdown evaporates before its time in order for the Capitalists to resume their quest for profit growth rather than human survival, those of us who care about climate and people are re-emerging from our caves. My experience of countless Zoom meetings and web-based social messages is currently all consuming. With the manifestos for Green New Deals across the world identifying how a New Normal, a low-emission, Just and inclusive global economy is now possible, we should enjoy a surge hope and excitement.
The growing Climate Movement, briefly stalled but still with the millions who protested through 2019, is ready once more. Yet I am pessimistic. I’ve probably been indoors too long. All the discussions and debates I’m reading and engaging with state the solutions large and small, on a grand scale and in minutiae. But precious few activists are even beginning to state what needs to be done for it to be achieved, and no-one, apart from the Savages of this world, are recognising that protest is now illegal.
I find it frustrating. How do we achieve the New Normal? Governments worldwide are pushing back human protections and returning to an even deeper and more offensive exploitation of people and Planet as I write. New and draconian laws have been put in place under the excuse of Pandemic but to be maintained to prevent a return to mass mobilisation. And the buzz of oil-guzzling traffic is once again drowning out the new-found songs of wild birds.
I’m tired of talking about what could be. I’m disillusioned with the individual actions to limit plastics, recycle cardboard, collect litter and rewild the verges of paths and roadways. The destruction of life, both the day-to-day enjoyability of living and the extinction of entire species, is escalating exponentially. My conscience cannot be salved through symbolic actions.
What will it take to raise the level of political, economic and social revolution required to beat back the savages and achieve the New Normal? Nothing less than revolutionary leadership, coordinated and general strike actions against the centres of production, and a renewed mass class consciousness and realisation that we are experiencing escalating barbarity that will only consume humanity unless we achieve global system change. This is the fight for life.