Some environment campaigners and groups hope that as oil runs out, the economy will contract, less carbon dioxide will be emitted, global warming will ease and, lo and behold, problem solved! This is dreamland, unfortunately. A more likely scenario is that oil prices will continue to rise, food prices will soar, unemployment will grow as energy supplies dry up, the financial system will become unstable and more resources wars, like the one in Iraq, will develop. Addiction to oil and the use of private cars comes with capitalism. The system is based on individual/family units with one or more cars for work and leisure. The "American" model has become the global model, sweeping Latin America, China and India. There has to be another way. The nature and reason for production of commodities has to undergo a fundamental transformation, beginning with immediate action to address energy supplies and climate chaos. An action plan could include:
- An immediate halt to car production; existing models to be made more fuel efficient and use other forms of fuel; introduce social ownership and use of cars
- Reserving oil for essential transport which benefits humanity – for example, shipping and food production
- Setting an upper limit on the number of air miles flown in and out of Britain; supporting campaigns fighting airport expansion
- A complete overhaul of public transport – reducing prices, bringing rail and air back into public ownership and using dial-a-ride to get people to hubs so they can get to work
- Heating homes with gas or locally-produced renewable electricity sources; bringing energy companies back into public ownership
- Using resources currently spent on wars, nuclear weapons for researching alternative fuel and power systems
- Recycling on massive scale at all levels of production and consumption
- A curb on long-distance transport of food, and a switch to not-for-profit production of food and other commodities.
All these need to be agreed and implemented by local, regional and national democratic bodies in a direct challenge to the status quo of corporate madness and business-friendly governments.
Paul Feldman, communications editor