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Keep socialist blog En Passant going - donate now
If you want to keep a blog that makes the arguments every day against the ravages of capitalism going and keeps alive the flame of democracy and community, make a donation to help cover my costs. And of course keep reading the blog. To donate click here. Keep socialist blog En Passant going. More... (4)

Sprouting sh*t for almost nothing
You can prove my 2 ex-comrades wrong by donating to my blog En Passant at BSB: 062914 Account: 1067 5257, the Commonwealth Bank in Tuggeranong, ACT. More... (12)

My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. http://sharonfirebrace.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/18-2-14-john-passant-aust-national-university-g20-meeting-age-of-enttilement-engineers-attack-of-austerity-hardship-on-civilians.mp3 (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. http://sharonfirebrace.com/2014/02/11/john-passant-aust-national-university-canberra-2/ (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. http://sharonfirebrace.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/4-2-14-john-passant-aust-national-university-canberra-end-of-the-age-of-entitlement-for-the-needy-but-pandering-to-the-lusts-of-the-greedy.mp3 (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole
(0)

Sick kids and paying upfront

(0)

Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. http://sharonfirebrace.com/2013/12/03/john-passant-australian-national-university-8/ (0)

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Dump the system to save the planet

Politicians say “we” must change our ways to save the planet—but Sadie Robinson in Socialist Worker UK argues waste is built into capitalism

Recent storms [in the UK – JP] have put climate change centre stage. More people are rightly worried as the changing climate leads to more unpredictable, extreme weather.

Human action has generated the greenhouse gases that have caused climate change.

For some, this has led to despair about humanity as a whole. “People” are destroying the planet, they say, and “nature” is now taking its revenge.

Yet climate change isn’t an inevitable result of people acting on the environment. Nor is everyone equally responsible for it. Climate change flows from the logic of the system we live in—and those who benefit from that system are the most culpable.

One startling report published last November laid this bare. Richard Heede’s study estimated that just 90 firms produced nearly two thirds of the world’s carbon dioxide and methane emissions between 1751 and 2010.

He added that these estimates were “generally conservative”.

Some 83 of the firms produced oil, gas or coal and the remaining seven were cement manufacturers. The biggest emitter was Chevron USA, followed by ExxonMobil USA. BP in Britain came fourth.

Many of the most heavily polluting industries have been the most profitable ones—and the ones central to modern capitalism.

Fossil fuel companies have fought to create a system heavily reliant on their products. At times they have done this more blatantly than at others.

In 1940 General Motors, with help from Standard Oil and the Firestone tyre company, took over an electric rail firm in the US. It set about systematically destroying the tracks so that people would be more reliant on cars.

Powerful interests such as this shape the individual “choices” that we are able to make and are typically blamed for. And because polluting firms have so much invested in their products, their immediate incentive is to keep polluting.

So, Heede’s study reported that half the estimated emissions were produced in the last 25 years. That’s well after the impact on the planet had become clear.

The people responsible for climate change are the same everywhere—the rich and powerful, and those with vested interests in polluting industries. They are also responsible for allowing the problem to grow by refusing to take the action that could really tackle it.

Yet we are forever being told that it is down to individuals to make the right choices to cut down their “carbon footprints”.

Politicians tell us that we must recycle more, use energy more efficiently and eat less meat. And many people are keen to do whatever they can to help. But the problem is that the changes individuals can make go nowhere near bringing about the cuts in greenhouse gas emissions that we need.

So, government-run initiatives target consumers who they claim are wasting too much food. Yet it’s the big supermarkets and food producers that create enormous waste—both in what they throw away themselves and in what they sell just in time for it to go off.

The system doesn’t leave most people the time, money or energy to get an environmentally friendly diet, even if one was available.

People can try to cut down on car use, for example by trying to negotiate car shares to work. But to make a real difference would require the state to nationalise public transport in order to provide cheap, efficient travel.

And it’s unfair to tell people to save energy when landlords and housing policy have pushed them into badly-insulated homes that cost a ­fortune to heat.

Focusing on individuals ignores the fact that waste and inefficiency are built into capitalism.

Production isn’t planned in a rational way, but in a way that sees each firm trying to put its own profits first. Firms compete in the hope of undercutting other producers, leading to overproduction.

They create built-in obsolescence in as many products as they can get away with, so that electronic goods and fashionable clothes need to be replaced as often as possible.

Governments could bring in measures to combat climate change in a way that individuals acting alone could never do. They could scrap the  ­multi-billion pound subsidies they pay to the nuclear firms and channel the money into renewable energy instead.

But they are constantly trying to find scapegoats for climate change to divert attention from the damage their system has done.

Commentators in the West routinely blame people in countries with much poorer populations for rising emissions—especially China.

It’s utter hypocrisy for any rulers to claim to care about the planet, particularly those in the developed countries that are responsible for most emissions historically.

Even in cases where poor people destroy the environment—such as poverty-stricken farmers who clear forests—it is because they are left no choice by a system that keeps them poor.

Capitalism and the way it has developed isn’t something that we are all equally responsible for. It has been driven by decisions taken by people at the top to meet their own ends—often in the teeth of resistance from ordinary people.

Take the enclosures in Britain. These handed swathes of common land to the rich and forced poor farmers to look for work elsewhere. The people driven into polluting factories had very little choice about it. Are they and their bosses really equally responsible for the pollution?

Capitalism is a class society based on competition. For the handful of rich and powerful bosses, accumulating profit comes before everything else.

This isn’t because they are individually greedy but because others could force them out of business if they don’t compete successfully.

To make money they exploit workers. They employ people to produce things, but pay them less than the value of what they produce. The bosses pocket the difference.

Climate change has sown some divisions within the ruling class. Some capitalists see that it threatens the very system they profit from. Others try to deny the problem—or cash in on it. Yet as long as capitalism remains, the short-term goal of making money will ultimately override all environmental concerns.

Our rulers want us to focus on individual solutions to divert attention from their unsustainable, wasteful system. But the only real solution lies in building a movement that can get rid of that system altogether

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Comments

Comment from Lorikeet
Time February 20, 2014 at 8:06 pm

As far as I’m concerned, the Climate Change Religion is a fraud being perpetrated on the masses to make them pay huge sums of money for electricity, gas, water and anything else money hungry corporates can profit from.

Like other destructive belief systems, this Carbon Religion trades off fear and guilt.

I have studied Social Psychology and Group Dynamics; and also Mind Control and Manipulation; as specifically related to destructive cults.

I recently asked a guy who says he is a Marxist Communist why both Greens and socialists support the Carbon Religion, but are opposed to corporates/capitalists.

He sat there looking dumbfounded. He is a clever man with a Ph. D. in Philosophy.

Pingback from Dump the system to save the planet | OzHouse
Time February 20, 2014 at 8:11 pm

[…] Feb 20 2014 by admin […]

Comment from Lorikeet
Time February 20, 2014 at 8:13 pm

One might also say that capitalists are in favour of rationing things like power and water, not to mention consumables used in Aged Care.

They charge a lot and give little in return, financially abusing workers.

Nature has always “taken its revenge” by way of floods, droughts, cyclones, volcanic eruptions, plagues and pestilences. There is nothing new about any of these things, except that instead of being considered Acts of God, they are now attributed to Mother Nature or the Pagan God, Gaia. Just ask Professor Tim Flannery.

They are just good excuses to charge the people more while giving them less.

And I do think they are individually as well as collectively greedy.

Comment from Ross
Time February 21, 2014 at 5:11 pm

Lorikeet you’re right on the money. George Bush’s New World Order is about a Corporate take over of the planet. With the acceleration of Robotics and high tech science, humans by the this elite are seen as redundant.

They can now breed a human super race and we are getting in their way.

The likes of George Bush don’t realise, is that the facilitators of this eugenics program will be victims themselves.

Comment from frank einstein
Time February 21, 2014 at 5:53 pm

so a mind controlling social psychologist knows better than 97% of climate scientists.its enough to boggle my mind

Comment from Lorikeet
Time February 21, 2014 at 8:04 pm

Just because someone has studied Mind Control doesn’t mean they practise it on others, but rather are trained to evaluate various indoctrination processes used by destructive cults.

When I look out into the sky, I have to wonder at the arrogance of anyone who thinks they can fully understand the planet and its functioning. More arrogant again would be the person who thinks they can control what happens on the planet.

Scientists would need hundreds if not thousands of years of records to come to any useful conclusions at all.

There are 100 different areas of expertise relating to the climate. Most climate scientists are unable to claim expertise in more than 2.

I suggest reading “My Country” by Dorothea Mackellar to begin to get a handle on the country in which we live.