Sunday, April 05, 2020

Safeguarding the environment and protecting life

By John Maryon

Within the billions of galaxies that form our universe a vast range of environmental conditions will exist. In addition to great variations of temperature, with some worlds seeing rivers of molten iron whilst others are hidden under seas of liquid methane, large differences of pressure, gravity and solar radiation will occur. Within this divergency a number of habitats will exist where carbon based life forms are able to evolve and develop, some with a degree of conscious intelligence. The stable presence of water in liquid form over billions of years appears to be a prerequisite for the formation of life.
Human exploitation of natural resources beyond their limit of self-renewal along with pollution and destruction of the environment spells disaster – not only for ourselves but also all the other life forms for whom this is their home. The New Communist Party (NCP) shares these concerns and has strong policies designed to safeguard the environment and protect life.  Threats to human life itself also arise from disease, accidents, war and capitalist exploitation that causes physical pain and mental anxiety.
A serious and immediate threat to life is created by the deadly COVID-19, which could affect millions of people. Most organisms coexist with other life forms, often forming symbiotic relationships to their mutual advantage, others however, possess an ability to kill their host. Faced with the loss of almost half its hospital beds over the last 30 years, crippling Private Finance Initiative (PFI) schemes, costly outsourcing and cutbacks set against a background of an ageing population, the NHS and its staff struggle in normal times. Today the pressures on this vital service are immense.
Another major threat is from climate change caused by global warming.The build-up of carbon dioxide,  along with other gases, in the earth's atmosphere has increased the greenhouse effect. Heat radiated from Earth back into space is at a lower frequency than that received and is impeded by the polluted air mass causing global temperatures to rise. An additional hazard arises from the use of industrial chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons, which can destroy the ozone layer and so allow harmful  ultraviolet radiation to reach Earth.
The use and disposal of plastics is an important concern. Over 95 per cent of plastic use for packaging is an unnecessary aid for convenience of manufactures and image creation. Most of this material is not recycled and can harm wildlife or enter the food chain.
Conflicts of purpose and effect can occur. The creation of tidal barriers across the Wash and Bristol Channel could produce an abundance of green energy, but in doing so destroy the habitats of many birds and sea creatures. High-speed trains can provide fast, efficient low-carbon transport but construction would destroy thousands of acres of ancient woodland. Undoubtedly the use of solar power and wind turbines play a vital part in reducing emissions, but when the sun is hidden and there is no air movement they will not function. A backup will then be required that could be fossil fuel or nuclear powered.
Successful environmental protection involves much more than campaigns for action on specific issues. Marxists will realise that changes will affect other things that may also change. Responsible administrations should adopt an overall integrated strategy that embraces energy, transport, thermal insulation of homes, packaging limitations, planting of trees, prevention of pollution, and the creation of parks and wildlife habitat. It is necessary to oppose vested interests and challenge the selfish attitude of “yes – but not in my backyard!”.
For many years the generation of electricity was based upon a policy of CO CO NUKE (Coal, Conservation and Nuclear power). Britain had 700 years of proven coal reserves and over 70 per cent of electricity was produced using this strategic fuel. The future for coal was seen as using fluidised bed technology for greater efficiency and less pollution, combined with carbon entrapment. The early nuclear power stations heralded a brave new world. They were also able to produce fuel for nuclear weapons. A number of serious accidents over the years have shown that the risks were far greater than anticipated.

The key policies of the NCP in relation to all these issues are as follows

·       Our party views health care as an essential public service – not as a commodity for profit. We call for far greater public investment to provide more beds and the training additional doctors and nurses. The urgent need  for improved mental health care must be supported, and disabled people given greater help and support to become full and active members of society

·       We call for the immediate ending of all PFI schemes, all outsourced activities to be made in-house and a complete stop to private provision.

·       On environmental issues the NCP totally opposes the process of fracking, which can pollute the water table, cause earth subsidence and unlock fixed deposits of carbon.

·       We reject nuclear power on grounds of safety, leaks and health hazards from spent fuel, which could have a very long half-life. When decommissioning costs and fuel storage are taken into account, the process becomes uneconomic.

·       We call for a planned and integrated energy policy, faster development of renewable energy and the building of base power stations using carbon entrapment.

·       Nationalisation of the utilities, including the national grid, into a publicly owned and fully integrated industry.

·       We call for much needed investment into the railways with full public ownership. The great majority of freight to be transferred from road to rail.

·       The NCP also calls for all new homes, schools and public sector buildings to be zero carbon.

If we don't act to protect our environment and take steps to save and support our wonderful NHS then there will be times when our lives may be on a knife edge. Within capitalist society decisions are influenced by the market and the profit motive rather than being based upon science, experience and need. A socialist society on the other hand, free from the greed, contradictions and alienation of capitalism, will be better placed to ensure a safe and secure future for us all.
There can be no doubt that capitalism is bad for your health. Look no further than People's China and the way in which it has coped with the COVID-19 crisis and is now helping others. Comrade you have fallen – take my hand…

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