|Santa Rosa California.|
By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired
I just returned from a short walk today which is something I try to do to keep myself alive. It was shorter than normal because although I live here in the Bay Area, some 70 or so miles from much of the area further north where the fires are, the air is full of smoke and being out in it is unpleasant. As I write here inside, the smell and taste of smoke is still with me. It’s unnerving for me as we were the victims of a house fire a few years ago and escaped with our lives.
The fires that are raging to the north of me in Sonoma and Napa counties are some of the worst fires in California history. The pain and suffering these fires have caused is truly tragic. There are some 17 dead as I know so far with over 100 missing and the expectation that the death toll will increase. People fled their homes in the middle of the night in their pajamas, reports say.
“At least 20,000 have been evacuated, 115,000 acres charred and 2000 homes and businesses destroyed.”, the Wall Street Journal reported this morning. What’s different as well is that these fires have burned urban areas once felt safe. One fire reached one mile in to the town of Santa Rosa.
No doubt the right wing and their religious elements will blame gays, abortion, transgender people and the lack of good Christian teachings in school and society. God is angry and punishing us for this bad behavior.
But those of us that haven’t descended in to the world of the occult know better. The cause of this catastrophe and those that preceded it, hurricanes, Harvey, Irma, Maria are the result of climate change and global warming and these phenomena are the product of capitalism, of irrational unplanned industrial production of food, children, housing, the necessities of life. In the capitalist mode of production, the rapacious quest for profit comes first.
Compounding this is the development and over building of communities in rural heavily forested areas. Officials claim tmore than 175,000 homes in the Napa and Santa Rosa area are at risk. Like the devastation in Texas, the housing industry is a for profit industry and those who profit from it bribe politicians and legislators in the two capitalist parties to ensure there is either no regulation or limited regulation. Even in “liberal” California, capital reigns. It is a one party state some say, where the Democrats rule. That confirms why workers cannot rely on this party to resolve our problems and the problems facing society in general. This is not the only state of emergency leading to evacuations that we have had recently. We had the crisis at the Oroville Dam and also in Porter Ranch in Sothern California were residents were evacuated due to a gas leak.
State officials admit that longer fire seasons combined with increased development in to wilderness areas are the cause of added destruction. The developers (not really developers at all but destroyers) aren’t restrained by such obstacles as weather conditions, the return on investment must be met. It’s not as if we don’t know global warming exists despite the Predator in Chief Trump’s claims to the contrary.
A recent study from UC Merced found that, “ …. the fire season in the western U.S. was more than 80 days longer, on average, between 2003 and 2012 than it was between 1973 and 1982, because the climate has grown hotter.” Capitalism is the cause. WSJ 10-11-17
The urban damage has come as a complete shock as residents considered themselves safe. James Gore, a Sonoma Country supervisor told the WSJ of a Santa Rosa neighborhood, Coffey Park that, “….had been around as long as he could remember, and had never previously been touched by wildfires.” Coffey Park was now completely gone except for “chimneys, wheelbarrows and barbecues, many of which ended up in the street after the propane tanks exploded.”
“It’s full-court urban and suburban devastation” says Mr. Gore.
Unfortunately, supervisot Gore is reluctant to be definitive about the cause, “Whether you call it climate change or just a bad mix of elements, we are in a brave new world,”, he tells the WSJ. It is a bad mix of elements and we should be specific, its climate change and global warming and the cause of this is capitalism.
I do not expect capitalist politicians like Mr. Gore or their mass media to suggest capitalism as the cause. It is rare for them to even admit that there is such a system of production called capitalism. When they are forced to admit that a crisis is a crisis of capitalism they are more definitive, that is “crony” capitalism. Capitalism is OK, “crony capitalism” is the problem.
In fact if we look at just the history of this state we can see that capitalism is incapable of developing society in a humane way, a society that nurtures humanity and produces the needs of society in harmony with the natural world rather than raping it. Rivers are poisoned, dammed. Soil is full of poisons in order to produce crops that are profitable in a climate and soil that is not natural to them. Human beings are crammed in to urban centers that are dehumanizing and crowded.
Let’s not be duped any longer. The capitalist system is behind the increasing catastrophic disasters. Environmental destruction is the most important issue facing the human species today. Capitalism is poisoning the earth, it cannot develop society, it cannot develop humanity, it will, if allowed to continue, destroy life as we know it. It is a system where the forces of production are only set in motion if profit can be made. It cannot operate any other way. Regulation can slow its march to oblivion but it cannot stop it; it cannot be reformed.
Society needs new managers.