The U.S. corporate-controlled media are concealing the climate crisis’s severity and breadth. Coverage of extremely destructive weather is so slanted, biased, and Eurocentric that people in the United States and Europe may not even realize how calamitous the situation is for the Global South.
Weeks of rain and snowstorms, a cyclone, and a tornado that slammed the West Coast of the U.S. were all over the headlines. The damage was horrific. There was extreme flooding from breached levees near Sacramento. Flooding and debris flow throughout the state.
A rare double-eyed cyclone attacked the Bay Area. Snow in the San Bernardino and Sierra Nevada mountains left 10-foot drifts. A tornado hit the Los Angeles area, leaving thousands without power and trapped in their homes. Dozens died.
Earth’s longest-lived tropical storm ever
There was no way to downplay what happened to the West Coast. But during March, the deadly tropical Cyclone Freddy slammed Malawi, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Mauritius, and Mozambique. Most U.S. media did not cover the immense death toll and damage to eastern Africa.
As of March 27, the Institute for African Studies reports, more than 700 people died, and almost an equal number are reported missing. Most of the deaths occurred in Malawi. Nearly 700,000 people in the region have been displaced. Floods have destroyed power structures, washed away infrastructure, and contaminated community wells. Mozambique and Malawi were already dealing with a cholera outbreak, and the case numbers are rising.
Cyclone Freddy was the longest-lasting storm ever and traveled a greater distance than any before. The energy equaled an average entire hurricane season in the North Atlantic. Winds blew for ten minutes straight at 140 mph. Its peak wind was 168 mph, mowing down wood-frame buildings as it moved. It hit Madagascar after crossing the entire Indian Ocean, then Mozambique and Zimbabwe a few days later. It headed out over the water and regained strength, only to return to land and carry out more destruction, then repeated that two more times.
Industrial capitalism has been the driver of global warming. The biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere today are the United States and Great Britain. Today on a per-capita basis, the United States is still the worst.
Global South nations are responsible for only a tiny fraction of carbon emissions. But after more than a century of wars, trade sanctions, and the theft of their natural resources at the hands of U.S., British, and French imperialism, they are far less able to recover.
‘A litany of broken climate promises’
Deep poverty, debt to the giant banks in the U.S., and the IMF’s debt-trap aid have left much of the world extremely vulnerable. At the most recent conference that took place in Egypt – COP27 – representatives from the Global South took a united stand. Finally, they forced the imperialist countries into an agreement for a “loss and damage fund” after decades of the U.S. and other imperialist countries resisting. But predictably, there are already delays in nominating members to a committee to carry it forward.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reacted to the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued on March 20, which followed the pattern of not naming the U.S. directly. In an April 4 Op-Ed in the Washington Post, Guterres described the report as “a litany of broken climate promises,” revealing a “yawning gap between climate pledges, and reality.”
Guterres wrote that high-emitting governments and corporations “are adding fuel to the flames by continuing to invest in climate-choking industries. Scientists warn that we are already perilously close to tipping points that could lead to cascading and irreversible climate effects.”
Since Biden’s whittled-down legislation that was supposed to be a big step toward mitigating global warming was finally passed, and promises were made to curtail fossil fuel production, the administration has done an about-face. Instead, their proxy war against Russia has escalated the lucrative exploitation of fossil fuels. The Willow project in Alaska – a gift to Conoco Phillips and a climate change bomb – is only the latest in a series of betrayals of the goals set at international conferences.
In this era of the “New World Order,” imperialist wars and punishing sanctions are not fought for victory alone. Even if U.S. troops pull out from a war as they did in Afghanistan, the destruction they leave behind continues the process of concentrating wealth and power in the hands of mega-corporations and banks. It strengthens them against workers at home as well. The climate crisis is a by-product of capitalism that adds to that process.
Contributing to a full-blown, cooperative, international effort to deal with climate change, fulfilling the “loss and damage fund,” helping the Global South recover as fast as possible, and ending the destructive exploitation of fossil fuels are simply not on the agenda of the U.S. ruling class. The climate crisis won’t be whittled away with a few reforms here and there. It has never been more evident than now. A militant and international workers’ movement for socialism and the end of imperialism is the only solution to keeping the planet habitable for the future.