Amid recent devastating floods in Europe, Allan Todd argues that the climate crisis demands immediate systemic change.


To misquote Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner:

“Water, water, every where,

Nor any… orange confetti to see!”

Floods in Europe

The Climate Crisis hits Europe

Leaving Coleridge’s sublime poetry aside, there was certainly no orange confetti on display in the recent floods which have hit – to mention but 2 places in Europe – the Midlands and Zaragosa (Spain). These floods – coming after recent ‘record-breaking’ heatwaves, prolonged droughts and crop failures in several places in Europe –

show that everyone (not just those in the Global South) is now on the Climate Crisis frontline.

The first week of July has provided plenty of evidence of that – at least for those “looking up.”  For those who still doubt we’re heading towards a Climate-Breakdown precipice, here are some recent news reports to read – and some short videos to watch:

For the Midlands:

As a result of the floods in the Midlands, the ‘Mostly Jazz, Funk & Soul Festival’ at Moseley Hall had to be cancelled – along with Severn Trent’s ‘Big Boost for Brum’ jobs’ fair. And a word of warning: no orange confetti was involved!

For Spain: Here are some reports about the floods in Zaragosa:

Yet again – not a single petal of orange confetti on view!

Fig. 2 – Damn those Just Stop Oil activists: they must have been throwing confetti again!

Rightwing ‘snowflakes’?

Bizarrely—or maybe not!—many of the UK’s news media outlets seem to have been more concerned with covering the temporary ‘disruption’ caused by Just Stop Oil climate activists paying brief visits to sporting events than these climate news items. This is particularly true of rightwing ‘news’ outlets, in particular GB News, the mouthpiece for and promoter of ‘creeping fascism’. This organisation seemed to have been particularly outraged by one person throwing HEALTH ALERT: The rest of this sentence may cause distress! confetti at, shock horror, a wedding! And this wedding, we should remember, was of a man who was considerably responsible for imposing austerity, which, leaving aside foodbanks and rough sleeping, resulted in 120,000+ austerity-related deaths.

Fig. 3 – If the photo on the L. disturbs you, & the one on the R. doesn’t…

This may seem unlikely, but have their constant waging of a ‘Culture War’ – against the ‘evils’ of ‘wokism’ and leftwing ‘snowflakes’ – actually rubbed off on the right? Has even Farage become a rightwing ‘snowflake’, trembling at the ‘disruptive’ sight of confetti at a wedding? Or… was it all faux outrage, based on the principle of ‘throwing a dead cat on the table’, designed to distract us from the really serious disruption being caused by their capitalist mates?

Capitalism’s metabolic rift

Certainly, a lot of distraction is going to be increasingly needed, as the capitalist ‘System’ – in its relentless pursuit of short-term profits -drives the planet to irreversible tipping points in the Earth System. Apart from the risk of the current and undeniable Climate Crisis turning into Climate Breakdown, because of the global heating caused by CO2 emissions, there’s also growing evidence of a real Ecological Crisis. This is graphically shown by the chart below:

Fig. 4 – If the photo on the left disturbs you, & the one on the right doesn’t…

If those predictions by climate experts worry you – and, remember, previous climate predictions have proved to be too conservative! – please note that the worst-case scenario ‘only’ assumes an increase in the average global temperature of just over 3C.

Unfortunately, those who have been “looking up” for sometime will recall that, in 2017, the investment campaign group Share Action revealed that oil giants Shell and BP were assessing the ‘resilience’ of their businesses against climate models in which global temperatures hot up by between 3°C and 5°C by the middle of this century!

Be under no illusion: a temperature rise of 5°C would be catastrophic for the planet.   For those not certain what a 5C hotter world would be like, here’s what Mark Lynas (Our Final Warning: Six Degrees of Climate Emergency) outlined in 2020:

• Global food crisis

• Amazon rainforests collapse

• Much of China & India uninhabitable

• Mountain glaciers gone

• Mass wipe-out of life

• Humans reduced to polar refugees

But don’t panic: climate scientist Kevin Anderson (see below) is’ only’ warning that, by continuing on our current carbon path, the temperature rise by the end of this century could be as ‘low’ as 3-4°C! However, just in case you were wondering, there is no historical precedent – in human history – for an average global temperature 3-4C hotter than it already is!

For quite some time, it’s been clear that Marx’s judgement – that capitalism creates a fatal ‘metabolic rift’ between humans and the rest of the natural world – was spot-on. We all need to remember that we are part of, and depend on, that natural world.

While the ultimate solution to these dangers is a ‘System Change’ to ecosocialism, right now we need to push for bold and rapid policy changes – from governments and from COP28.

One way to build the movement needed to force those changes is to help build the international campaign to plan a series of climate actions in September, just before COP28:

Fig. 5 – Time for full spectrum resistance – NOW!

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Allan Todd is Acting Organiser for Transform Politics Cumbria, a member of ACR’s Council and of Left Unity’s National Council, and an ecosocialist/environmental and anti-fascist activist. He is the author of Revolutions 1789-1917 and Trotsky: The Passionate Revolutionary – and the forthcoming Che Guevara: The Romantic Revolutionary (out May 2024)

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