Capitalism is completely ill equipped to provide for the basic needs of society in ordinary times, never mind when dealing with a disaster.
At the same time as Hurricane Harvey was wreaking havoc on Texas, and Irma was laying its trail of destruction through the Caribbean, another crisis was unfolding across South Asia. The region has been hit with one of the most severe monsoon seasons in the past 30 years. 1,400 have been killed in the floods; millions of livelihoods are threatened.
Extreme weather events like these are occurring at six times the rate they were in 1980, according to an analysis by insurer Munich Re. If the current warming trend continues, we can expect this to increase even further in the years and decades ahead.
The danger posed by this situation doesn’t lie just in the direct impact of the events themselves, but in the way they are used by those in power to further their extreme economic agenda at the cost of workers and the poor. As Naomi Klein put it in an article for the Intercept:
“The right will waste no time exploiting Harvey … to peddle ruinous false solutions, such as militarised police, more oil and gas infrastructure, and privatised services. Which means there is a moral imperative for informed, caring people to name the real root cause behind this crisis – connecting the dots between climate pollution, systemic racism, underfunding of social services, and overfunding of police.”
In addition to connecting the dots, we need to offer an alternative. The alternative is socialism – a system built on human need, not private profit, in which our collective resources could be fully mobilised not only to respond to disasters like this, but to build a society on the basis of genuine democracy, equality and sustainability.