Resolution on Concern 13: Science and technology for the people and development, and environmental protection
The chronic plunder of the world’s natural resources by monopoly capital, aggravated by the impacts of global warming and pollution, is devastating entire communities and countries and is disrupting the lives of billions, especially the world’s poorest and most vulnerable peoples.
Never has the global ecological crisis worsened to the massive proportions seen today. Profit-driven and market-oriented responses and false solutions to the crisis have predictably failed to stem the disasters, destruction, and deaths arising from the breakdown of the world’s ecosystems. In 1992, the Rio Summit attempted to respond to environmental and development issues. However, in practice these failed to engage. Poverty, social inequity, and imperialist control of natural resources persist today.. Since 1992, the annual Conferences of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change have become showcases to the brazen lack of accountability of the imperialist powers who are the world’s largest GHG emitters.
Science and technology under capitalism have failed to address the ecological crisis as it has failed to bring concrete benefits and real development for the majority of the world’s peoples. The present era has been characterized by advanced high technology on the one hand, and widespread suffering and dislocation on the other.
The world’s climate is being altered at a rate and degree devastating to the people. This is due to the massive emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the atmosphere by the world’s richest countries and transnational corporations. These are the same entities that have historically controlled most of the Earth’s natural resources, such as our forests, minerals, energy reserves, freshwater supplies, agricultural lands and marine areas. These are the same entities who have largely dictated the extraction, production, use, and consumption of such vast natural wealth in the pursuit of super-profits and wreaked wars of aggression in the world.
Now, the waves of disasters generated by the imperialist pursuit of super-profits threaten to tip the entire balance of life on the planet itself.
Imperialist Globalization: Root of the Worsening Ecological Crisis
The current ecological crisis is a direct result of the greatest inequities of our time: ever increasing
imperialist and local elite control of natural resources, technology, and knowledge in contrast to the steep decline of people’s access to the world’s natural resources and their benefits.
Monopoly capitalism concentrates productive capacity in the hands of a few and sacrifices the environment and people’s welfare in favor of super-profits. Since the start of the 20th century, monopoly capitalism and the crisis of overproduction has driven the major monopoly capitalist states to combine against each other in order to redivide the world and wage war over the control and access of its resources. While there have been new scientific, technological, and production advances presented by expanding agriculture, medicine, and telecommunication needs, these remained inaccessible to the people; almost completely dominated by monopoly capital; and oriented towards the ultimate objective of gaining immense profits through global trade and speculative finance.
Despite scientific breakthroughs in the field of basic utilities and health, most people still live without access to clean water and basic sanitation. Close to half of the population in developing countries are exposed to health risks and polluted water sources even as big businesses have turned the water industry into a lucrative USD 2 billion a year through privatization and imposing price hikes on consumers.
In the 1970’s, farmers worldwide have been subjected to the “green revolution” in grains production, altering self-reliant and ecological production systems ultimately destroying agro-biodiversity; and plunging millions of peasants tilling into dependence on chemical fertilizers and pesticides, debt, poverty, and landlessness. Green revolution is now replaced by genetic engineering, a ploy by monocapitalists to maintain control of the world’s agricultural production on the pretext of addressing food security, climate crisis, and world hunger.
On the other hand, the world’s remaining natural resources needed to maintain a stable ecosystem are fast being depleted and exploited, accelerating biodiversity loss and disasters. Nearly one half of forests that once covered the planet have been destroyed, including extensive forest areas in countries such as Brazil, Malaysia and Indonesia which have now become plantations or industrial enclaves. Most of the natural habitats in islands and in areas of high human population density have already been destroyed. Vast wetlands have already been lost due to land conversion. Rich coral reefs and marine waters are already in a critical state.
Much of this environmental destruction is directly caused by the relentless exploitation and extraction of natural resources for super-profits by imperialist countries and their local cohorts. These include commercial logging for export, exploitation of energy and fossil fuel reserves, and large-scale mining MNC operations in Asia-Pacific, Latin America and African countries endowed with extensive mineral deposits. Beginning during the Industrial Revolution in England and growing rapidly ever since, this large-scale exploitation of minerals, fossil fuels, and timber has led to massive environmental destruction and pollution, widespread landlessness and displacement, loss of livelihood, distortion destruction of local culture, and rampant human right violations to the peoples of these regions. The indigenous peoples’ land and resources are increasingly targeted for false solutions to climate change while their collective rights to self-determination is continuously unrecognized and disrespected.
The contamination of air, water and land brought about by products and production processes mainly from the industrial and manufacturing plants of MNCs continues. These have dumped obsolete technologies and increasing amounts of significant pollutants, such as toxic and hazardous wastes, harmful to the environment and human health into under-developed countries. These relentlessly extract raw materials while leaving their pollution and emissions in the host communities and countries. Disasters that affect wide swathes of land and sea, such as the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010, are directly attributable to the irresponsible use and exploitation of monopoly capital of the environment for their profit.
Climate change already aggravates the other social, economic, and environmental problems that communities have to face as a result of globalization’s ever increasing destruction of our ecology. It is no longer a question that human activity has produced dangerous climate interference. The goal now should be to avoid stop catastrophic effects that could affect more than half of the world’s population that are most vulnerable to climate change.
Global warming impacts and the rapid destruction of the environment seen in the past decades are all a direct result of the rapid, unchecked appropriation of the world’s knowledge, resources, and technologies for the benefit of a few. Advances have been made in information technology, robotics, genetics, agriculture, and medicine, yet are not being applied towards judiciously solving fundamental problems of humankind. such as the breakdown of health systems, famine and hunger, ecological destruction, and social decay and disintegration. The poor, who are most vulnerable, are subjected to these environmental impacts while trying to provide subsistence level production for themselves.
The ongoing crisis of our world’s ecological systems and of the people’s access to the benefits of natural resources and scientific or technological advances will not be resolved under the current system of monopoly capitalism. Monopoly capitalism, especially under the United States, has triggered and exacerbated the crisis due to its objectives of seeking the cheapest labor and raw materials, keeping nations underdeveloped to serve as dumping grounds for goods and recycled surplus capital, and controlling science and technology to pursue profit at all costs.
Meanwhile, the U.S. wars of aggression, with the participation of the other imperialist countries, further aggravate the precarious situation of the world’s ecology. These genocidal wars, apart from killing people and destroying life-supporting infrastructures, have directly and indirectly worsened greenhouse gas emissions, environmental pollution, and biodiversity annihilation.
People’s Struggles and the Future
The world’s natural resources and science and technology best thrive in a social set-up committed to the people’s interests, in a society which views development, growth and production in the context of the people’s requirements, needs, and participation.
The global movement to protect the environment, assert the people’s rights over their natural resources, and resist imperialist plunder continues to grow stronger and bigger. In the Conference of Parties in Denmark last 2007, hundreds of thousands of people gathered and protested in the streets of Copenhagen to denounce the manipulation and sabotage of the climate change negotiations by imperialist countries led by the US and big transnational corporations (TNCs). In 2010, 30,000 participants, mainly from Bolivia and Latin America together with environmentalists from all over the world, gathered in a conference in Cochabamba to resist imperialist plunder. It was resolved that either capitalism ends the existence of mother Earth, or the people end capitalism.
There is fragile unity among developing countries to demand and require industrialized countries to immediately and significantly cut their carbon emissions and stop their export of deadly technologies to 3rd world countries. An essential backbone to this movement is the highly-organized international working class exploited through toxic and destructive work conditions and affected by all sides of the global environmental crisis.
Solidarity and campaigns against projects such as nuclear power plants around the world are gaining strength. Millions of people condemned the Japanese government’s cover up and toleration of corporate irresponsibility during the recent Fukushima nuclear disaster. Moreso, different solidarity actions were done throughout the world to oppose nuclear power plant projects.
At the grassroots level, communities and peoples’ organization in India, Nepal, Indonesia, Philippines, Guatemala, Ecuador, Argentina, Germany, Japan, and different parts of the world have sustained their struggles against globalization projects such as large dams, coal power plants, large-scale mining, oil and gas extraction, nuclear power plants and biofuel plantations. Different forms of struggle – from legislative advocacy and street protests to armed resistance—are being employed by the people to stop or delay projects and policies of imperialist countries, international financial institutions, TNCs and oppressive national government.
Poverty, exploitation, underdevelopment, and the degradation of the environment will intensify for as long as monopoly capitalism control and dictate the use of natural resources and science and technology worldwide. In these days of globalization, humanity’s greatest and continuing challenge is how to consciously oppose monopoly capitalism and redirect progress (to, for , with, and by) the benefit of the people.
In spite these gains; there remains an immense sector of the global population that needs to be made aware of the roots of the ecological crisis, as well as the options that ultimately lie on the broadest unity to bring down imperialism to advance the environmental and social justice cause. This challenge is magnified with attempts of the imperialist powers to overwhelm people with their monopoly of resources and technologies.
We resolve to:
Mobilize and hold parallel events and worldwide simultaneous activities to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), UN climate change Conference of Parties meetings;
Hold campaigns, education and international day of actions against nuclear power plants, coal fired power plants and other destructive technologies immediately and globally;
Conduct a joint one-year campaign with ICOR and hold international days of action to stop the construction, operation, export and import of all nuclear power plants
Join and support the People’s Permanent Tribunal to indict and prosecute Agrochemical TNCs for the gross and widespread violations of 6 TNCs;
Actively recruit members, set up mechanisms using the internet, new media and other new technologies to strengthen the commission to respond to the challenges of education, organizing and mobilization of ILPS members on the issues of Commission 13.