If last year Portugal was news in worldwide press due to the fires it suffered, this year, Greece and Sweden lead the headlines for the worst reason: fires. There are reports on the Azores High, climatic changes, government investments, and the need of a common European policy for Civil Protection. However, is the discussion complete? We believe not. The discussion on the cause of the problem is still pending: why these climatic changes take place. The reason for everyone to avoid the discussion has a name: capitalism.

By: Em Luta – Portugal

The Paris Agreement: a capitalist agreement

In Paris, December 2015, over 180 delegations of several countries signed an agreement attempting to decrease the emissions of carbon dioxide. Its increase in concentration in the atmosphere increases the greenhouse effect, which implies an increase in temperature.

This summit resulted in the signing of the Paris Agreement. The governments of several countries compromised not to increase the average temperature of the planet over 2 °C, taking as a reference the temperature data from the pre-industrial epoch (1850). Currently, with the increase of average temperature that has been verified, there is only 1°C over the compromise left, as we may verify in the following graph.

According to the graph, we may verify that the increase in average temperature begun in the late 1970s. Certainly, the entrance of China in the world capitalist market and the neoliberal acceleration of Thatcher-Reagan contributed for this. It was the beginning of capitalist recovery, which rode over fierce attacks on the workers (miners and dock workers in England, air traffic controllers in the USA, etc.), and led the way to super profits in the 1990s. In other words, globalization as we know it today.

Will the solution be the Paris Agreement? No. One degree over, we already have temperatures and irregularities, typhoons, floods and catastrophic fires around the world. The increase of one more degree reserves us a little promising future. Specialists state that although it is possible to live in an extreme climate, human health and wellbeing will suffer serious impacts.

Bourgeois sectors deny the climatic changes. Amen.

The Paris Agreement became an issue again in June 2017, when Trump declared the USA would establish an Agreement for “the well-being of American enterprises”. Also, some days ago, Bolsonaro –the Brazilian Trump, running for president in the next elections – said he is in favor of Brazil leaving this Agreement. The very bourgeois governments dispute among themselves, in a protectionist view of economy.

This year, Sweden was news due to several fires, a situation that had previously taken place. More worrying is that eleven of these fires took place within the region defined as the Artic Polar Circle, a region of vital equilibrium for the planet due to the ice present.

Scientists studied the increase in temperature in progress. They state that it generates – particularly in this region – more storms, where lightening serve as ignition for fire in territories already dried due to the high temperatures it is suffering. This phenomenon increased year after year in the past decades and it is already the main cause of fires in this low population density region (which decreases other causes for fires).

Beyond Sweden, Russia, Alaska and Canada, all North American Boreal Forest has witnessed Dantesque fires that not only destroy forests, but they emit even more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, through the burning of their own frozen soil (tundra). They open way to more vegetation and consequently to disequilibrium in the ecosystem.

In Greece, the fires have catastrophic dimensions again. Many journalists and columnists speak of the similarity with the fires in Portugal last year. However, the cause for such devastation cannot be solely the deep climatic disorder the planet is going through. The European Union attacks Greece and Portugal in their budgets. It conditions their investments in several areas, and in this particular case, in the preparation of the Civil Protection to prevent and fight the natural and social calamities.

It does not suffice to invest

The policy of taking responsibility from the governments is evident. On one hand, underinvestment. On the other, privatization of means and infrastructure. This policy is opposite to the needs of aid in these growingly frequent catastrophes.

The fires last year in Portugal generated over one billion euros in damages. Just in the June fires, according to the government, there were almost 497 million euros. In the same month, still according to this report, the National Authority of Civil Protection spent 4.5 million just in means mobilization, an incomprehensible amount.

Great and perverse business continue to take place with Civil Protection. The most disseminated – the SIRESP, communications system or combat aircrafts – are the lack of responsibility of the State in order to guarantee the private profits. Therefore, it is essential to revert concessions, privatizations and associations with the private sector as a way to make operations more successful.

Regularization this month of 610 workers in precarious conditions in the Civil Protection (between firemen and rescue teams) or the news of record planting of eucalyptus in 2017 are examples that show the lack of seriousness with which this government continues to approach the subject.

Catastrophes like fires always existed, but what we are saying here today is not just that we must have more helicopters, we are speaking of something much deeper, which is the destruction capitalism imposes on our planet. If we do not stop capitalism, we will continue in the path to barbarism.

  • All solidarity and help to Greece and Sweden.
  • For the end of concessions and associations with the private sectors.
  • Direct hiring of workers of Civil Protection and for the hiring of more workers.
  • For more investment in means and infrastructure.
  • For a state plan of soil management, including cleaning and energetic seizing, and the resulting job generation.