Monday, January 10, 2022

Dead zones: how chemical pollution is suffocating the sea

Richard Mellor

Afscme Local 444, retired


This is a very informative video from the Economist, one of the most important journals of capitalism globally. It reflects the concerns that sections of the capitalist class have about the real dangers of climate catastrophe.


Unfortunately, as is always the case, there is no viable solution offered only stop gap measures, experiments on a local scale that are supposed to infuse us with confidence that capitalism will solve this problem but it can’t.


It shares the example of the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico that is a result of the fertilizers and poisons that run off farmland as far away as Minnesota in to the Mississippi and for there the Gulf. The UN has some project going to reduce or lessen this problem a massive area where there is hardly any aquatic life due to a lack of oxygen. But the UN is a capitalist club and the looing environmental catastrophe that is the result of capitalist agriculture and industrial production cannot solve its own crisis.


Causes are the chemical pollutions from power plants, runoff from urban centers, raw sewage flowing in to the oceans and the fossil fuel industry. The vast majority of the fertilizers used on Mid-West farmland is for crops grown to feed livestock. There were 101 million head of cattle and calves on U.S. farms as of July 1, 2021, and the US population consumed 27.3 billion pounds of beef from 2002 to 2019. When we add the consumption of chickens, pork and other meats the numbers are staggering.


I was traveling up in Butte County Ca not long ago and there were numerous signs put up by the meat industry urging people to eat more meat. The US body politic is surrounded by thousands upon thousands of lobbyists who bribe politicians to vote for public money to flow to their industry and to pass legislation favorable to it. In an interview with Steven Greenhouse in today’s US Guardian Bernie Sanders pointed out that the, “US, pharmaceutical industry has 1,500 lobbyists in Washington” , some chance of getting that gang to save the planet.


The Economist and its readers, the cause of the crisis, have no qualms being open about the dangerous level of it and the dire consequences. The “consequences are severe” says one scientist and that of such a scale that it “requires global action”.

A global community of separate nations states with three or so dominating global production and military power global action is not possible under such a set up. The response to the pandemic proves that as we are witnessing pandemic imperialism before our very eyes.


As for the Gulf of Mexico and the poison flowing in to it, “how to convince upstream people to care about those downstream” is the issue.


The small attempt to get farmers in Minnesota to participate in the experiment to change farming practices and make them more sustainable involves only 1.6% of farms.


The revolutionaries that led the English Revolution wanted reforms; wanted to petition the King to give them a political voice. They were limited though by their own consciousness, what the English historian Christopher Hill called, “The stop in the mind” But they believed the dominant ideology of the day that the king was king by Divine Right, by God’s will. We know the peasants never thought that one up.


So the reformers could only go so far; it’s hard to attack God’s representative on earth. Cromwell came along and suggested they cut of his head and see what happens.  A new day was born. *


The scientist in the video is clear about the solution, We know what to do she says and that is to “prevent the problem to start with.” She is absolutely right about that but following in the reformers’ tradition she can go no further; she can only state the symptoms of capitalist production but not the cure. She is wedded to the so-called free market as the answer to all things, capitalism is the only social system that can work, there is no alternative as Thatcher stated (TINA).


There’s a lesson from Cromwell here and many others in history that overcame the “stop in the mid”; capitalism has to be beheaded. Agriculture, food production, transportation and energy, all the needs of society as a whole has to be taken under public ownership, has to planned in a rational way that is in harmony with nature not hostile to it.


That’s why these documentaries can be depressing, in one way or another we know their solutions don’t work; they’re not designed to.


*Christopher Hill: The English Revolution 1603 to 1714


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