A reported 1.5 million students from schools, colleges and universities have taken to the streets across the world (#SchoolStrike4Climate) in 2083 places and 125 countries on all continents. More mobilisations are planned.

By Martin Ralph

Students recognise that the world is being destroyed by climate change and pollution, while workers see no future with precarious work and austerity. Women (and all workers who support them) continue to struggle against male chauvinism, sexual discrimination and harassment.

David Attenborough in his acclaimed “Blue Planet” television series graphically showed that glaciers are melting rapidly and seas and oceans have become a global garbage bin. The ozone volume is reducing, increasing the incidence of ultraviolet radiation with harmful damage to skin and DNA for billions of people. A sixth of all species are becoming extinct, the fastest recorded on our planet and 40% of mammal species have lost more than 80% of their population. Water and air are contaminated by chemical agents with adverse consequences for human and animal health.

The students are right there is a race against time for the survival of the human species, and others on this planet.

But this tragedy cannot be blamed on all humanity, where all are equally responsible. The capitalist system places responsibility with the industrial giants who prioritise profit over respect for the environment and life.

In recent years many companies have begun to hype their “green” credentials! McDonald’s is an emblematic case of the hypocrisy of multinationals: shouting about high-profile environmental campaigns such as removing plastic straws, while helping to destroy the Amazon rainforest to churn out meat.

Capitalism has always destroyed the environment by tearing up the earth for resources such as coal, uranium and gold while the processing of these resources has created enormous pollution and destroyed lives.

According to one study, since 1988 100 multinationals are responsible for 70% of greenhouse gas emissions, while the richest 10% of the world emits as much greenhouse gas as half of humanity.

Science under capitalism is not used primarily to understand the processes that production unleashes. It is used to maximise profit. What happens to waste products? It is not their concern unless workers’ and their supporters protest against the anarchic disposal of waste. Students are taking a lead by taking to the streets in opposition to what capitalism has brought about.

Profit system creates disaster

Profit is in the hands of the 1% that concentrates the vast majority of the planet’s wealth in its hands. The reality is that the frantic race for profit inevitably leads to disaster.

The nature of capitalist exploitation is to oppress, abuse and exploit. This has been the case for over 200 years. Just as capitalism produces for an “infinite market” it exploits nature as if the planet has infinite resistance.

We need a different type of society, one capable of learning nature’s laws, applying them correctly and learning from mistakes.

A few modest daily actions, conscientious and appreciable will not make the difference. The way to save the planet lies not in changing our habits, nor, above all, in the vain hope of convincing the bosses to become “green”.

Many politicians, who support the multi-nationals, praise the students’ strikes, but they are false friends and part of the problem. While Merkel recently hailed the climate mobilisations high school and college students in Germany reject their politicians.

Students are forming their own committees independent of politicians and their politics, we support that and call on them to be build an alliance with all who are striking against outsourcing, austerity and oppression.

Keeping trade union struggles separate from those against oppression and for protecting the environment serves no purpose for us, it only serves the capitalists to keep us divided.

Facing climate change means radically converting modes of production, transport and energy. It means establishing strict regulations that prioritise environmental conservation over the private benefit of large companies; investing in sustainable public transport and ending the fossil fuel industry including fracking.

No financial investment fund will willingly give up its multimillion benefits “for the good of the planet”, that is why specific anti-capitalist measures are needed, which address the root problem:

  • Reconversion of the industry, strict limitation on emissions of greenhouse gases. Nationalisation of the main industries.
  • Agriculture and local livestock under sustainable criteria.
  • Nationalisation of large energy companies.
  • Investment in renewable energies and energy saving measures.
  • Promoting an extensive public and sustainable transport network to reduce the use of private vehicles.
  • Nationalisation of banking to obtain financial resources for these plans. Without resources it is not possible to carry out concrete measures!
  • Democratic control by the workers of the different economic sectors. Let us produce according to the needs of the majority and not for the benefit of a few.

Today, more than ever, it is necessary and urgent to overthrow capitalism and place production under the control of the popular masses.

Only in this way can we turn the planetary clock back and lay the foundation for a life in harmony with the environment free of exploitation.

There is no way to solve the problem of climate change, without tearing down the capitalist system.

Source: Socialist Voice n. 35, International Socialist League (ISL), Britain