Monday, February 17, 2014

Floods and Storms - the Shape of Things to Come

Floods and Storms– the shape of things to come

Editorial in Irish Socialist Worker  (18/2/2014)

The exceptional storms and floods that have hit Ireland over the last month have devastated the homes and livelihoods of thousands of people especially in Cork, Limerick and Galway.

It has been the same in Britain with much of Somerset under water all this year.

As always in these disasters the response of the government and the system is grossly inadequate. This is because for politicians like Enda Kenny or Phil Hogan, or Cameron in Britain, their priority is profit not the needs of ordinary people.

The Irish government has announced a fund of €70 million to deal with flood damage which can sound a lot till you remember that its roughly one thousandth of the money they raised for the bank bail – outs and less than one fiftieth of the personal fortune of Denis O’Brien.

Meanwhile thousands will be left with damaged and uninsurable houses, because insurance also puts profit before people.

But actually the situation is even more disastrous than this. This because the storms and floods that have hit Ireland and Britain are symptoms of the deeper problem of global climate change and the deadly threat of climate chaos.

 It is not coincidence that they have come as America experienced both an ultra-cold ‘polar vortex’ and record drought and heat in California, while there was the terrible Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines and temperatures over 50 degrees C in Australia. That is what climate change means: not just gradual warming but more and more extreme weather events – more storms, floods, fires and disasters.

Some people will there is no direct link between climate change and a particular disaster but this misses the point. The point is that climate change, especially warmer oceans, increases both the frequency and the intensity of weather catastrophes. That is why these floods are the shape of things to come – as Bob Dylan put it ‘A hard rain’s a-gonna fall’.

Our rulers and the giant corporations like Exxon, Shell and BP, know this only too well but they do nothing because they and the capitalist system as a whole have a huge vested interest in the use of fossil fuels which cause climate change. As always they put profit first and literally ‘fiddle while Rome burns’ doing nothing to reduce global carbon emissions.

Unless, in the years and decades to come, we seriously challenge the priorities of capitalism the future for humanity will be bleak indeed.

John Molyneux