From Socialist Worker: http://socialistworker.org/2011/08/04/sacrificing-the-earth-on-the-altar-of-politics
Chris Williams, author of Ecology and Socialism: Solutions to Capitalist Ecological Crisis
August 4, 2011
"It may seem impossible to imagine that a technologically advanced society could choose, in essence, to destroy itself, but that is what we are now in the process of doing."
-- Elizabeth Kolbert, Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature and Climate Change, 2006
MAROONED FROM the mainland United States, in June, the nuclear power plant at Fort Calhoun, Neb., became a small island. Sandbags were hurriedly deployed to prevent inundation from floodwaters as the Missouri river burst its banks, a consequence of the greatest flood in U.S. history.
Another nuclear facility, this time at Los Alamos in New Mexico, birthplace of atomic weapons, was threatened by an altogether different force of nature. Los Alamos was forced to evacuate as flames overran fire defenses and firefighters struggled to contain the largest wildfire in New Mexico history.
As the Las Conchas wildfire blazed out of control at the end of June, it consumed over 130,000 acres of forest. Large areas of land at Los Alamos are contaminated with radioactive waste from decades of nuclear research and testing. Scorched land increases water run-off and the danger from flash flooding. Thus, a further alarming side effect of the wildfire and Los Alamos's legacy of radioactive contamination is the likelihood that radioisotopes will spread, as happened when wildfires threatened the Hanford nuclear weapons plant in Washington state.
Extended drought and persistent wildfires saw the U.S. Department of Agriculture declare the entire state of Texas a natural disaster area, as more than 30 percent of crops have been lost due to severe water shortages. This follows a spring where the majority of counties in Texas were on fire as Texas experienced its eighth year out of the last twelve for "exceptional" drought.
Globally, 2010 saw massive and unprecedented flooding in Pakistan that displaced 20 million people. Worsening air quality caused by wildfires in Russia killed 56,000 people and floodwaters in Australia covered an area larger than France and Germany combined; along with commodity speculation, these events contributed to record increases in grain prices, driving many millions more into extreme poverty and starvation. Nineteen countries around the world set new temperature records in 2010.
Outside of the statistics, a despairing op-ed in the New York Times by Midwestern farmer Jack Hedin, a man who can trace his family's farming history back to before the Great Depression, commented on the desperate nature of his future, as well as identifying an aspect of the cause:
Continue reading at: http://socialistworker.org/2011/08/04/sacrificing-the-earth-on-the-altar-of-politics