Monday, February 03, 2020

Hot Scots

Unless greenhouse gas emissions are cut substantially, researchers say every summer in Scotland could be like 2018 towards the end of the century. The report by researchers from Edinburgh and Oxford universities and Met Office staff analyses UK climate projections. They suggest there is a substantial increase in the likelihood of temperatures reaching 2018's levels between now and 2050.
The Met Office said 2018 was the joint hottest on record for the UK.
A heatwave saw temperatures reaching 30C in parts of Scotland during June and July.
The researchers say the warm weather led to an increase in "staycations" and boosted sales of garden furniture, fans and ice cream.
But they found there were a series of negative impacts which may have been under-reported at the time. They include:
  • Foreign holiday operators and indoor recreation businesses suffered
  • Fashion retailers reported a drop in profits due to lower sales of coats and jumpers
  • An increase in pests like wasps, jellyfish and mosquitoes
  • Lower yields of peas, broccoli, potatoes and cauliflower due to water shortages and pests
A 30% increase in water demand, putting pressure on the utility company
Other consequences of the heatwave include:
  • A lack of food and water had a significant impact on grouse numbers
  • A large number of wildfires damaged newly-planted trees and local biodiversity but could generally be contained
  • Whisky distilleries were closed longer than normal due to low stream flow in rivers used for cooling
  • Reports that the roof of the Glasgow Science Centre and asphalt on the roads "melted"
  • Buckling rails and signal faults caused rail disruption. Rails were painted white to reduce heating and trains had to run at a reduced speed.
Lead researcher Professor Simon Tett, of the University of Edinburgh's School of GeoSciences, said: "Despite its cool climate, Scotland must start to prepare now for the impact of high-temperature extremes. The bottom line is that heatwaves have become more likely because of human-induced climate change."

Environment activists are right to argue that the choice of technology should be a matter of public discussion and democratic social decision and not left to capitalist enterprises or government bureaucrats. Where many go wrong is in believing that this is possible within the framework of existing capitalist society. Decisions on the technology are constrained by the capitalist framework 

Capitalism is based on the ownership and control of the means of production by a minority, either privately or through the state. Under capitalism production is carried on to make a profit. Capitalist firms and states compete to sell their goods profitably. If an enterprise can produce its goods cheaper than its competitors it can make an extra profit until they too introduce the cheaper method. There is thus a stimulus under capitalism to continually introduce cheaper methods of production. One business or one nation can win a competitive edge over its rivals if it can cut down on the costs. Environmental considerations only enter marginally (to the extent that other capitalist interests might be harmed by the pollution) into decisions about which method to use. The prime consideration is cheapness, the competitive position and profits of enterprises. As long as capitalism continues this will happen, despite your protests, peaceful or otherwise. It is the logic of capitalism, its law of profit, which dictates this and which all governments must apply or risk hampering the competitiveness of goods produced in their countries.

Environment campaigns divert attention from the need to get rid of capitalism before anything meaningful can be done to tackle the problems of the environment. Our alternative is world Socialism. Already a number of writers on green issues understand that there are no national solutions to the problems of the environment, pollution and waste. The planet forms a single ecological system so it is only on a planetary scale that ecological problems can be solved. Unfortunately, this world consciousness does not go farther than demanding a world government or world bodies to deal with environmental problems, without changing the capitalist basis of society. This is why the solutions they propose can at best only be palliatives; they deal with effects while leaving the cause—the ownership of world resources by a section only of mankind and the production of goods to be sold with a view to profit—intact.

Only when freed from the vested interests of capitalism, can mankind deal rationally with the question of its relationship to the rest of nature. The production of wealth would then be under democratic social control and would be geared not only to satisfying, in accordance with the principle “from each according to abilities, to each according to needs”, mankind’s material needs but also to protecting the environment and sensibly conserving resources.

What could be done on the basis of the common ownership and democratic control of the world’s resources can be sketched (we emphasise that this is not in any way a blueprint). The burning of coal and oil could easily be phased out and, in addition to the development of clean alternative sources of energy such as water, winds, tides, the earth’s heat and the sun’s rays could be properly investigated.

Such a world plan presupposes that commercial and nation-State interests have been swept away and that all the world’s resources, man-made as well as natural, have become the common heritage of all mankind. In short, world Socialism. This is why we concentrate all our efforts towards the spread of socialist consciousness without which socialism cannot be established. Socialism can only be established when working people want and understand it and take the necessary democratic political action to achieve it. We feel that this is a much more worthwhile activity for you who are concerned about the environment than negative and ultimately futile protests at the effects of capitalism. We invite those of you who want to know more about our viewpoint to contact us.

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