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30 September 2020

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Trump's failure over western US wildfires

Scientists have recently confirmed that human-induced global warming has led to a worldwide increase in the frequency and intensity of fire weather, increasing the risks of wildfires, alongside poor land management practices. This coincides with the worst wildfires in 18 years to have hit California. Jacob Aguillard, of the Independent Socialist Group, USA - co-thinkers of the Socialist Party - reports on this disaster and Trump's failure to prepare for and respond to it.
photo 80 trading 24/CC

photo 80 trading 24/CC   (Click to enlarge)

On 24 July, lightning sparked the first fires of what would become one of the worst wildfire seasons in US history. Two months later, almost 5,800,000 million acres have burned in California and the Pacific Northwest.

In the state of Oregon, half a million people have been given notice to evacuate or be prepared to leave at any moment.

Residents of California and Washington state are also facing a future where they have no homes, having to rebuild their lives from the homes of family members, hotel rooms, or homeless shelters.

The scale and suddenness of these disasters have been a shock to countless communities, but were no surprise to the leadership of the US Forest Service and California state fire agencies. The causes are known: in the preceding years, there had been a lack of controlled burns and clearing of fire fuel in the Western states.

And yet, as simple as the solution is, funds and resources have not been allocated to agencies that could have prevented this catastrophe.

On 14 September, President Trump had a briefing on the wildfires in which he congratulated himself on approving California's request for disaster status - making Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funds and services available - and remarked on how the combined forces of state and federal governments have 230 people 'fighting the August complex fire, and that's the largest fire in California. That's an insanely low number for the largest fires in California's history.

Since the fires started, only 30% of containment has been reached. According to Trump, there are 28,000 firefighters and first responders in the Pacific states handling the situation. But the results have been poor. Fire damage has been very costly and widespread due to the large conflagrations.

Missing funds

Furthermore, while Hurricanes Laura and Sally were flooding five coastal states, and wildfires immolated the west, FEMA was missing $44 billion in disaster relief funds because they were used for Trump's paltry and inadequate Covid-19 response (the CARES act), and not replenished.

The decision to withdraw those funds was made after the Trump administration had been repeatedly warned that climate change was going to cause unprecedented damages from storms and fires.

In the US, disasters are not prepared for, and government responses are criminally slow because of a lack of investment, and also because disaster is viewed as profitable by the capitalist class.

Without disasters like Hurricane Katrina, the capitalist class would not have had the opportunity to replace the property of New Orleans' residents with expensive condos, and the education system could not have been privatised using a charter school system.

As time goes on, disasters are only going to worsen, and many more regions will face similar fates to New Orleans and the American West.

Capitalism's reliance on short-term profit and infinite profit growth means that it will never meaningfully address climate change before it is far too late. This is why we can never trust any capitalist party, anywhere, to help fight climate change.

The only solution to capitalism's cycle of preventable disasters and tragedy is socialism. When working people have the power they will take care of themselves and each other, and not be subject to the profiteering of billionaires.

A socialist society would be able to coordinate on a global scale to combat climate change and prepare communities for natural disasters.

A socialist society would be able to break the power of the fossil fuel companies, take them under public ownership, and begin the necessary transition towards renewable energy.

A socialist society could plan and fund a socialist-green 'New Deal', putting millions back to work in good unionised jobs.

The working class must move society forward if we are to have a society at all!

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In The Socialist 30 September 2020:


News

Tory scheme won't halt mass unemployment: mobilise the unions!

Job Support Scheme - too little, too late

Under the microscope

News in brief


International news

Trump's failure over western US wildfires

US: Police escape justice over Breonna Taylor killing

South Africa: Working class unity to stop violence against women


What we think

Covid restrictions expose Tory splits


Students

Students trapped on Covid campuses speak out

Apprehension about Covid - anger at fees, costs and exploitation


Black History Month

Still crawling at 60: Capitalism has failed Nigeria


Workplace news

Trade unions must fight to put their stamp on events

Usdaw elections: Defend members' right to participate

PCS: No to DWP management's plans - Yes to action

NHS workers need 15% rise and full funding

Fight BT redundancies

Peterborough CWU have massively voted for strike action


Campaigns and party news

Why I joined the Socialist Party: Labour moved right and left me behind

71,522 raised: We've smashed our target again

Selling the Socialist

Newham: Closed and evicted

Campaign for new King George Hospital wing gets boost

Solidarity not charity


Readers' opinion

The Socialist Inbox


 

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Article dated 30 September 2020

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