Capitalism’s Heat Wave Cooks The World

June 2024 heatwave map of the continental United States. Image source: National Weather Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (via Ian Livingston/The Washington Post).

Much of the world has been facing an extreme heat wave. In the United States, over 100 million people were hit with extreme temperatures. Cities such as Las Vegas and Phoenix saw temperatures of over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, while cities like Philadelphia and Baltimore reached the high 90s. Workers in industries such as construction, logistics, retail and more have been forced to work in these inhumane conditions. Many working-class and poor people do not have access to air conditioning at home, forcing them to suffer through the intolerable.

The heat weighs on people all over the world. The recent heat wave coincided with the Hajj pilgrimage, in which Muslims all over the world are called upon to visit Mecca. According to Saudi Arabian authorities, more than 1,300 people died during this year’s Hajj due to heat stress. In Mexico, at least 48 people have been reported killed from the heat, with the city of El Cubil facing temperatures of 125 Fahrenheit. In India, hundreds have been reported killed by the heat. In Mali’s capitol of Bamako, 102 people were reported dead from the heatwave by the city’s hospital.

According to the World Meterological Association, extreme heat killed an estimated average of 489,000 people around the world between 2000 and 2019.

This is not to mention other extreme weather events that the world has faced over the recent period, with extreme floods in Spain, Colombia, China, Ivory Coast and Miami, as well as fires in New Mexico.

Last year, 2023, was the hottest year ever recorded and 2024 is on track to become the new hottest year. Global heating is not something in the future. This is a life and death question that we are facing right now!

In the face of this, what are the people in power doing to address the problem? Nothing! Even governments around the world that acknowledge that climate change needs to be addressed are backtracking on their minimal commitments to cut back on greenhouse gas emissions.

The capitalist system is inextricably linked to the infrastructure of the fossil fuel industry. The people in power have made it abundantly clear that they will not save us from pandemics, wars, recessions or ecological collapse. We must save ourselves. Working-class and poor people must take power away from them so that we can begin to reorganize society to bring about the changes that we need!