What will be ignored throughout the next few days by ‘leaders’ like Leo Varadkar and those in mainstream media, is the political dimension to weather events like Hurricane Ophelia. It will be said that specific events cannot be directly attributed to climate change, global warming or economics. Which is true in many ways given the volatility of weather. However, climate scientists agree rising earth temperatures cause an intensification of weather events such as hurricanes, storms, droughts & floods.
2016 was the hottest year ever measured. The previous record was set in 2015; the one before in 2014. Fifteen of the 16 warmest years have occurred in the 21st century. A warmer atmosphere holds more water and more energy, providing the fuel for bigger and more intense storms. We are not used to storms like Ophelia in Ireland, but living with extreme and intensified weather events will become normality into the future unless there is a radical change from our current system.
However, this is a system that the main political parties and those that hold economic power in our society support – because they have a massive stake in it it. The corporations - whose interests the politicians ultimately serve - have a vested interest in the fossil fuel economy. We need to rapidly move away from a carbon economy, but there are trillions of dollars of historical investment that the capitalists don't want to lose. In their efforts to increase profits, corporations build obsolescence into the manufacturing process. Goods we buy have a short lifespan, rather than being designed to last as long as possible. We're encouraged to quickly replace everything from clothing to vehicles. The logic of the system sees nature as something to be exploited, not something to live in harmony with.
Leaders talk of climate change as if it is something that may or may not happen in the future – but the truth is it is happening now. It is generally not affecting the wealthy and powerful, but poorer communities - those least responsible for the problem. From the homeless on the streets of Cork, Dublin and Sligo this week, to the poor, black and Latino communities in America destroyed by Hurricane Katrina and Irma, to those devastated by severe flooding in Bangladesh.
We need a mass movement to challenge the rule of capitalism. An ecologically destructive system based on infinite growth on a finite planet, one that prioritises profit over the welfare of human beings. Local communities should have deeper democratic control over their natural resources and over how their energy, goods are produced and distributed. We need state led investment in sustainable energy, agriculture and public transport. We need a socialist-green economy that puts People Before Profit.
Nigel Gallagher - People Before Profit Sligo