A recent US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) report shows CO2 emissions rising for the second highest time on record in 2012. While largely caused by the expansion of coal-fuelled power plants in the developing world, it won’t have been helped much by US and UK plans to expand shale gas extraction.
Another factor is the lowered absorption of CO2 by the world’s oceans, which normally absorb between 30 and 50 per cent of all atmospheric CO2, as a consequence of global temperature rises. This produces a feedback loop, where increased temperatures make further increases easier. The impact of climate change in the form of extreme weather patterns such as droughts, floods and blizzards can’t be understated.
The 2009 Kyoto Protocol aimed to keep global temperatures within 2ºC of pre-industrial levels. But current estimates for the next few decades point towards a 2.5 to 4.5ºC rise. From transportation to electricity production, society needs a revolution in how we interact with our planet.
High efficiency, integrated mass transportation involving trains and local bus and tram services would reduce the need for mass private car ownership. Investment in renewable energy sources and mass conversion from gas to electric domestic heating would significantly reduce pollution. We could also abandon the waste of disposable commodities, and produce goods that are efficient, environmentally friendly and long lasting.
But we cannot undo the damage that capitalism has done to our planet without overcoming the market, which only values short-term profit and simply cannot plan on the timescales that the protection of natural systems needs. It will take a planned economy under democratic workers’ control to ensure a future for ourselves and our children.
If you agree with this article join Red Flag, the revolutionary socialist tendency