There is no doubt that the companies represented at the International Mining and Resource Conference (IMARC) are the biggest polluters on the planet. The profiteering of these big corporates is a massive contributor to the planetary climate crisis. This conference, taking place in Melbourne at the end of October, is a blight on our earth and must be opposed.
They have bulldozed not only the rocks and soil but the sovereign rights of First Nations and the human rights of workers in the industry. The Adani disgrace shows this starkly. The Wangan and Jagalingou people have been evicted from their land and their rights to it “extinguished.”
The workers will be Fly In, Fly Out specialist miners, disconnected from the local community. Their conditions will be on par with the rest of the mining workforce: poor and getting worse. Much of the mine’s operation will be automated, including the railway, the trucks, the conveyors, just about everything. It’s a sad irony that the absence of actual miners will spare people from the growing epidemic of black lung (silicosis) disease.
IMARC is about environmental racism, systematic oppression of workers and, of course, it is also about the wholesale destruction of the environment. It represents capitalism as a whole — the unplanned consumption of resources for one reason: the pursuit of profit for a tiny minority of the world’s people. This is the fundamental issue. People alienated from their land; workers alienated from the products of our labour; the entire global community alienated from control over our future. Women in particular bear the brunt of climate change. Which is why they are at the forefront of the movement to stop the unrelenting destruction. From Greta Thunberg to Autumn Peltier to the Indigenous women of Brazil, women are fighting back.
Another world is possible. Imagine a world where decisions about energy production and transportation are not governed by the imperative to maximise profits, but rather by what science tells us is best for reducing greenhouse gases and reviving our troubled Earth. Imagine an international planned economy without the jobs-versus-healthy-planet dilemma, one that puts the employees of shuttered oil refineries and abandoned coal mines to work developing alternative energy systems or restoring forests and waterways. Imagine a system that rests on democratic decision-making by the world’s working majority to resolve the key social and environmental challenges, like humanely relocating the climate refugees whose homes will be under water in another decade or two.
The answer is ecosocialism, which will achieve a resolution through the leadership of the working class — the only force capable of shutting down the machinery of capital and dislodging the profit-crazed lunatics who currently run the world. Ecosocialism unites the demands of working people — including the diminishing mining workforce — with those of the world’s First Peoples. It recognises that small farmers, though some of their methods are questionable, are also victims of the mega-companies that so dominate the global economy.
So, we know that the crisis is real, happening now, and not a problem of tomorrow. There have been two periods of sustained drought in the last 20 years. The state of our major river system is grim because of the corporate theft of water. We have experienced bushfires in an ancient rainforest at the beginning of spring. The Great Barrier Reef is under relentless, destructive pressure from ocean warming and acidification, agricultural pollution and the mining industry. And that’s just this continent. The Amazon rainforests, and those of Sub-Saharan Africa and Kalimantan are under sustained attack in the name of profit. These equatorial forests are indeed the lungs of the world, and their destruction only worsens atmospheric disruption.
Protest is great — but the answer is real change. Protest alone is not enough. We only need to look to the Occupy movement to see that this is true. Massive protests broke out in cities across the world. But it all fizzled out after a vicious crackdown by governments. Why did authorities so easily destroy this global protest? A lack of a clear vision and a clear strategy about what was meant to be achieved. That is, a lack of leadership and the organisation it enables. Tinkering around the edges never fixes the problem.
That problem is re-emerging, and we have to guard against it. Leadership and organisation — needed to rescue the environment — are not a burden on the movement. Both are sharp tools in achieving the aim: a world where we can all live free of pollution and poverty.
Here’s a few principles for what to do. Firstly, we need to identify our common goals and
organise to achieve them. We need to build a united front that is broad, democratic and allows for differences in ideas, but acts together where there is agreement. That is, when faced with a common foe, we must speak with one voice and strike with one fist. That does not mean random violence, but it does mean strong, disciplined and purposeful action.
Secondly, we need to put the needs of First Peoples and workers front and centre. Indigenous nations must have full say over what happens on their land. That is a given. Workers must have their rights protected, and training for other work, if it happens that technology or changing social priorities takes their jobs. That, too is a given. And communities in general must not be subjected to the whims of speculators and the decrees of unaccountable company boards and their tame politician-lobbyists. Nationalise the mining and energy sectors under Indigenous, worker and community control. Those affected by decisions must make those decisions.
Thirdly, make science, not profit, the basis for decisions about mining and energy. Give the new controllers of these sectors the information and communication tools they need to make informed decisions — and to coordinate them globally. It is a planetary crisis, which cannot be turned around by the actions of one individual, one community or one country.
The capitalist system is driven by profits, not by science and logic. Organising to change this system is the key to saving the planet. If you’d like to work with the Freedom Socialist Party to build for an ecosocialist future, we’d love to hear from you.