Monday, December 15, 2014

California Dreamin': But an environmental nightmare looms

by Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

I wonder if at times,  some of my FB friends might get a little exasperated at the amount of short videos I put up on the site from my hikes here in the San Francisco Bay Area. I feel I am very fortunate to live in such a beautiful place.  In many metropolitan areas one might have to travel some distance to be in the heart of nature, rural nature anyway.  But here, it's ten minutes from the heart of the city.  Yesterday, I drove out to the coast, about one hour, and hiked north from Bolinas in Marin, to the Alamere falls in Point Reyes  This is a beautiful hike with the Pacific Ocean as a backdrop.  There are many times I have walked or camped here thinking that some people save all their lives to visit some of these places.

So I thought I'd share this short video from yesterday.  I never considered myself an environmentalist but in a sense we are all environmentalists, just sometimes unconscious ones.

In the past, both the labor movement and socialists did not give this issue the attention it deserves.  But while we struggle for the basic necessities and so many people are being denied them, or having them taken away,  it is important in my opinion to recognize that the environmental issue, the catastrophic effect the capitalist mode of production has on the natural world and humans are included in that, is the most critical issue we face as a species. 

We can all still enjoy the beauty of nature. As I watched the mighty Pacific brush California's shores yesterday the reality that the Ocean is the world's largest garbage dump escaped me for a moment, it's not easy to cloud moments of pleasure with the larger reality.   But we must not bury our heads in the sand on this issue.

The Pacific I wondered at yesterday and that looks so pristine on the surface, is in a crisis.  The world's oceans are in crisis. There is the huge mass of floating garbage in the pacific described in this clip.  Plastics are a major source of contamination and deaths of marine life of all kinds.

The 1%, big business, the capitalist class, whatever we want to call  them, will not eradicate this problem, cannot direct the necessary resources at it. Capitalism cannot even manage it or halt it to any significant degree. Their mass media will not alert us as to the real dangers or the level of damage other than not to litter.   It's not an issue of individual behavior. The millions of gallons of oil that was spilled in to the Gulf of Mexico has caused untold lasting damage that we may not understand fully at this time.  The capitalist class thinks short term, of immediate profits, and even if they knew the full extent of market driven pollution, what we would be told would only be half the story.

Some have said the mass deaths of marine life like the 200 Sea Lions found on a beach in Peru are connected to the Fukushima catastrophe. I cannot imagine the damage that disaster has done to the world's oceans and will continue to do.  The effects of it are unknown really, they will become more understood as they manifest themselves.  And back in 2012, just one year after Fukushima, hundreds of dead dolphins were found along another beach in Peru, also without explanation. "Each of these events is still technically under investigation, though any consideration of Fukushima is apparently off the table as government authorities attempt to blame other less likely factors.", environmental experts say. As I wrote in a previous commentary: Who would put a three nuclear reactors, in an area known as the Ring of Fire due to its seismic activity and next to the ocean in a country whose official language gives us the word Tsunami?  Not people living next to them we know that. It was a business decision.

So none of us can escape what will become a catastrophe of historic proportions if we do not act.  The capitalist solutions, living green, recycling bottles, will not solve the problem. The issue is how we produce things, and how we interact with nature to reproduce life. Driving a Prius might make one feel good but it won't stop humanity from falling in to the abyss.  I compare it at times to the small farmer at a bend a mile down river from a hog factory. Every day he's out there scooping out the garbage, keeping his bend in the river clean.  But to no avail, in the end he has to get control of that factory. It's the only long-term solution.

The environmental crisis is a crisis of capitalism, yet capitalism cannot solve it.  Capitalism will destroy life as we know it on this planet.  I do not believe we have reached the point of no return but we will if something is not done. We have reached a point where whole swathes of the earth's surface  are becoming uninhabitable. The rivers of places like Bangladesh are cess pools.  The ocean and it's marine life which is an important source of food as well as an influence on the weather is becoming overwhelmed with trash.

We want a future for our children, but there is no future if the present social system, an unplanned system of production based on profit, is not transformed and replaced by a democratic socialist system, collectively managed and in which production is set in motion not in the rapacious quest for profits, but based on social need.

An excellent site dealing with this issue is Climate and Capitalism which is on this blogs list of links also. The reader will find a lot of very useful information and sources about the capitalist environmental crisis and how only a democratic socialist society can provide the answer.

1 comment:

wendy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.