We live in precarious times. Consider these two announcements over the last week:
1. The Bank for International Settlements (the international organisation of the world's central banks) warned that a severe global economic downturn seems impending.
"The facts suggest that the magnitude of problems to be faced could be much greater than many now perceive ... while difficult to predict, their interaction does appear to point to a deeper and more protracted global downturn than the consensus view seems to expect", it warned on June 30.
2. Professor Ross Garnaut's 600-page draft report on climate change, delivered on July 4, repeats what we already should know: time is running out to act on global warming.
"Without early and strong action, some time before 2020 we will realise we have indelibly surrendered to forces that have moved beyond our control", the report warns.
Yet it pitifully pins all hopes for the necessary changes in Australia to come though a discredited market mechanism — carbon emissions trading. Powerful interest groups are already moving to block the needed changes, and Garnaut has admitted that there is only a "slender chance" that the world will take the necessary steps to avert dangerous climate change.
If these two items don't chill you, they should.
Some Green Left Weekly readers might be tempted to celebrate the prospect of the chickens coming home to roost for those Wall Street speculators. But a severe world recession is going to inflict a terrible cost on the world's poorest and most oppressed. It will also inflict unimaginable devastation on the environment.
For example, the financial crisis has spilled over into crazy speculative activity that has accelerated the fuel price rise (by up to 60%, according to the global speculator George Soros). This has dramatic consequences for the estimated 1 billion people starving or suffering malnutrition, and for several embattled political regimes around the world.
Recent dramatic rises in world food prices have added an estimated 100 million more people to the ranks of the starving, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation. Further fuel price rises will cause food prices to rise even further.
If the price of crude oil, now around US$143 a barrel, was to rise to $250 next year the price of food will double again. Most economists expect severe recessions in the US and other major economies which will prevent oil from reaching that price. However, by last December, financial institutions had bought 3008 options to buy oil at $250 or more in 2009.
Experience tells us that capitalism can survive any economic crisis, no matter how severe, if it can force the majority of people to bear the burden. We will suffer the consequences unless we build up the movements and organisations that are needed to liberate humanity from this corporate profits-at-all-cost system.
In precarious times, you cannot afford to be politically paralysed or passive. Build the movement for system change by buying a GLW subscription for a workmate, friend or relative, and dig deep for a donation to our Fighting Fund at Greenleft, Commonwealth Bank, BSB 062-006, Account No. 901992. Alternatively, ring in your donation by credit card on the toll-free line at 1800 634 206 (within Australia only), send us a cheque or money order to PO Box 515, Broadway NSW 2007, or donate online through Secure Pay at http://www.greenleft.org.au/donate.php.
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