Today, students and youth can clearly see the problems currently facing society, and this is clearly the case when it comes to the crisis of the environment. For this reason, on 22nd January, the Socialist Fightback Student Association at Concordia University held a discussion about the environmental crisis and possible solutions to this problem from a Marxist perspective. Approximately 25 people were in attendance.

Joel Bergman led off the discussion by effectively addressing some of the key issues of the environmental crisis and how these issues are inevitably linked to the failures of the capitalist system. He discussed the large role that big business plays in polluting the environment, with the majority of worldwide carbon emissions coming from industry. This does not even include significant water contamination and widespread destruction of ecosystems due to purely profit-driven mineral exploration and industrial development. The issue of environmental impact and its relation to inequality was also brought up, as it is the poor and working class who immediately see and live with the effects of this environmental degradation. Joel also brought up many examples of how the capitalist system has been unable to not only reduce carbon emissions but has seen them soar to record levels. He also argued that under a socialist system, we would actually be able to tackle this problem by taking industry out of private control and introducing a democratic plan of the entire economy to address this problem. Many examples of what would be possible under a socialist plan of production were discussed including the development of an extensive and free public transportation system, which would be able to provide jobs to workers in the manufacturing sector while at the same time moving us towards more of a collective model of transportation and away from our reliance on private transportation and oil and gas.

After the presentation by Joel, there was a thoughtful and informative discussion. Most of the students in attendance were part of the Geography, Environment and Planning Department and therefore had a lot of information and opinions to contribute of their own. The failures of many market-based methods to deal with environmental problems were discussed, including “cap and trade” and “carbon taxes.” Throughout the discussion it was apparent that most in attendance realized that as long as environmental exploitation leads to profit, the destruction will not stop. Therefore, a new system must be put in place to ensure the longevity of our planet.

The environmental crisis may very well be the most serious issue faced by today’s society and it is clear that the youth are frustrated with the way capitalism fails to provide any effective solutions to this issue. It was a positive experience to see so many students and youth looking for alternatives to capitalism and being thoroughly interested in socialist solutions to ultimately save our planet and society.

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