A Year of Environmental Catastrophe

The level of environmental destruction caused by the system of capitalism is becoming more and more obvious to anyone reading the headlines. Last year in 2013, we saw some of the absolute worst disasters caused by climate change. This past year 20,000 people were killed in natural disasters – nearly twice as many as in 2012. And these numbers don’t include those who will die from hunger, disease, and exposure to the elements after their homes are destroyed. Here are some of the worst disasters from this past year:

  • In the Philippines, Typhoon Haiyan caused massive destruction. This typhoon is the largest in recorded history. It killed over 7,000 people and forced one million out of their homes.
  • Winter storms in Europe reached their highest levels in 60 years. Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, France, and the U.K. faced hurricane-force winds causing billions of dollars in damage.
  • In the U.S., the Midwest was battered by 74 tornadoes including a massive one in Moore, Oklahoma which killed 24 people and caused $3.5 billion in damage, making it the most expensive tornado in history.
  • In December, the polar weather system, disrupted by rising temperatures, sent cold air much further south than in recent years, resulting in temperatures below freezing across the U.S.  This cold spell, known as the “Polar Vortex,” has killed 21 people across the U.S.

These disasters are just the most extreme examples of the results of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a report this year that predicts famine due to temperature changes, farming to become impossible due to lack of water, ecosystems becoming uninhabitable for wildlife, along with more extreme storms, floods and temperatures.

The world’s most powerful countries, led by the U.S., are doing nothing to put a stop to any of this. In November, the United Nations held a climate conference in Warsaw, Poland, reporting that all efforts to regulate pollution have been a failure. Temperatures are rising at nearly double the rate the U.N. hoped to achieve by regulation. By the end of the 21st century, temperatures will increase by nearly five degrees celsius – an increase promising catastrophic environmental destruction. Just 90 corporations worldwide are the source of two-thirds of all greenhouse gases. These corporations and the governments who serve them have decided that their profits are worth more than our planet’s future. It’s up to us to change the story in the coming years by organizing to fight against the polluters and their system before it destroys all of us!