Brazil: Extreme weather phenomena and social injustice, this is Capitalism

By Socialist Revolution/PSOL, ISL-Brazil.

As we write this text, official information reports 49 people dead, more than 30 missing and around 3,500 homeless or evicted. The heavy rains that hit the northern coast of Sao Paulo have demonstrated, once again, the impact of climatic devastation caused by a system that pollutes, destroys and kills, the capitalist system.

Some disgusting information is also becoming known, according to the director of the National Center for Monitoring and Alerts of Natural Disasters (Cemaden), the Government of SP and the Municipality of San Sebastian were warned of the risk of disaster 2 days before. This is no surprise. However it is enraging. It confirms what we have always known, that governments give priority to capitalist profits and not to people’s lives, because otherwise they should have warned the population, canceled the Carnival festivities in the city and evacuated the area classified as “very high risk” of landslides, which means that indeed the catastrophe would occur.

“Extreme weather events” are the effect of capitalist environmental destruction.

The world is warming up due to the emission of greenhouse gasses, one of them generated by cattle, the star product of Brazilian agribusiness. Whoever travels on Brazilian roads can witness the sad reality of deforestation at the service of agribusiness occupation, where there used to be jungle, such as the rich Atlantic Forest, there is grass perfectly cut by cattle that grows like the product of an industrial factory now, or huge grain plantations that are exported abroad. These are called “commodities” and not food, and explains it all.

Food production is a business in capitalism. The demand is to obtain income, not to solve people’s hunger, let alone avoid environmental destruction. Everything is wrong, hunger grows along with deforestation and global warming, this model of food production only serves to increase the profits of 1% of society.

Deforestation in the Atlantic Forest, victim of capitalist destruction, has grown exponentially. According to a study by the SOS Mata Atlântica Foundation in partnership with the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), “Between 2020 and 2021, 21,642 hectares (ha) of the Atlantic Forest were deforested, an increase of 66% compared to that registered between 2019 and 2020 (13,053 ha) and 90% higher than between 2017 and 2018… “[1] In addition to the advance of deforestation in the Amazon and the Cerrado, which is also rampant and is causing a real environmental disaster.

Real estate speculation, motivated by profit, is advancing in areas of permanent environmental preservation, going against all attempts to curb deforestation in areas that need the forest to avoid those “extreme events” of which they speak. The roots of the native forest are the ones that allow the absorption of water, hold the land and the hills, its destruction increases the speed and volume of water. A well-preserved forest area allows to maintain the concentration of carbon dioxide (greenhouse gas) and the rainfall system, because it is from the forest that part of the humidity necessary for a natural and balanced environmental process emanates.

The spokesmen of the capitalist companies, including those who seem more concerned and propose “green capitalism”, do not have any viable and real answer to stop devastation. They speak of “extreme climatic phenomena”, a product of the “force of nature”, and not of the responsibility of unbridled production that destroys everything and is taking our planet from us. “Climate adaptation”, “sustainability”, “climate resilience”, “land use policies”, and so many other eloquent phrases we hear, are the ideological answers produced by bourgeois propaganda. What they fail to say is that capitalism is predatory and can’t stop being so, even less so in the current stage marked by the crisis of the system, a decadent system that can only offer barbarism to the majorities in the face of maintaining the luxury of a predatory minority.

The deaths are always paid for by the poor. It is not the climate that is responsible, it is this system.

There is inequality in the consequences of capitalist environmental destruction, it is a social inequality, as well as others that derive from the system of exploitation and oppression. The absence of decent housing is a lethal condition for poor sectors in Brazil. The landslides of hills, streets, neighborhoods and shantytowns occur downhill, burying houses, apartments, rooms, shacks or any dwelling that poor families manage to build with the scarce resources they have. Thus, along with this, lives are also buried, those of workers, the elderly and children of all ages, who lose everything in a collapse programmed by the greed of businessmen.

All governments, some more than others, are responsible for the situation in which millions of poor families in our country find themselves. With each heavy rainfall, we see how the neighborhoods and favelas of San Sebastian, Petropolis, Recife, Florianopolis, Angra dos Reis, Porto Seguro and a long list of other cities and impacted areas are affected. Water and mud “choose” the poor who, lacking opportunities, live in dangerous areas.

The lack of public policies for decent housing and urbanization increases the social vulnerability of the poor, while speculation advances without regulation or control. In Brazil, 43% of the population has sewage collected and treated and 12% uses septic tanks (individual solution), i.e. 55% have treatment considered adequate; 18% have their sewage collected and not treated[2], in the case of Ilha Bela, only 50% of the houses have their sewage treated. The environmental impact of this situation is terrible, as the open channels facilitate flooding and mix with sewage from houses and businesses, flooding and causing disease.

The uncontrolled and growing urbanization of summer houses or condominiums along the northern coast of São Paulo has only increased. In just a few years, cities like San Sebastian have increased sanitation through septic tanks that deplete soil capacity, cut down hills and deforest more and more.

There is no plan B. Ecosocialism or extinction.

The heralds of capital call us utopians, dreamers, idealists and so on, but what really is utopian is to go on like this. The capitalist system, in only 500 years of humanity’s 2.5 million years of existence on earth, has taken us to levels of environmental destruction that bring us close to the point of no return. Limitless devastation raises the real possibility of the destruction of the world as we know it, opening the way to a future of barbarism.

In the environmental issue, as in few others, there is no plan B. Capitalism, whether it seems “good” or “serious”, with greater income distribution, with more public policies or larger and more welcoming States for poor sectors, what rules is profit, it always is. Profit and environment are antagonistic, as worker and employer, the survival of one needs the defeat or destruction of the other. There is no way to reconcile the capitalist voracity for profit and the maintenance of the forest. That is why in “Climate Conferences”, where the capitalists meet to pretend to be concerned about this situation, they do not manage to solve anything and the clock of the end of the world keeps ticking.

We ecosocialists propose urgent measures to respond to the needs of the affected peoples, on the road to build another possible world, an ecosocialist world.

Urgent measures:

That Lula’s government implements a public works plan for decent social housing for the affected families.

That the government of Tarcisio attends to all the needs of food, health, education and shelter of the affected families. As well as the recovery of lost personal property.

That justice punishes those responsible for not having acted on the warnings of imminent risk issued by the Cemaden.

Ecosocialist measures, there is no planet B:

Forest recomposition and the end of polluting agribusiness and mining, toxic agrochemicals, urban extractivism and speculative cementation.

Productive reconversion of polluting industries, guaranteeing the continuity of the labor force.

Transition plan towards a clean and renewable energy model. Promotion of accessible and non-polluting public transport.

Democratic economic planning at the service of human needs and the preservation of nature.

That is why we defend an organization of the exploited and oppressed, Anticapitalist and Ecosocialist. Because we need to activate the emergency brake of the catastrophe, to militate for an integral reorganization of all the rules of production, consumption and life. No commodified nature. No ecosystems destroyed for the profitability of a few owners of much. We need a working class that, together with the poor sectors, is capable of mobilizing and organizing the environmental rebellion, and for this we need a revolutionary and international party, because our struggle is to build an ecosocialist world before it is too late.


[2] Official data of the “Atlas Esgoto” of the National Water Agency (ANA) and the National Secretariat of Environmental Sanitation.