The dangerously hot temperatures for the coming days in Seattle once again raise the specter of a summer of risks to human health, worsening of the ongoing droughts statewide, and devastating wildfires.
The cruelty of the political status quo under capitalism becomes extremely clear in the face of climate crises — there are estimated to be well over 12,000 people experiencing homelessness in Seattle right now, and they will face this dangerously hot weekend unsheltered and with little access to clean water. It is entirely possible that there will be deaths this weekend from the heat, but also because the political establishment of Seattle is woefully unprepared and unwilling to mobilize resources in a real way to support the most vulnerable. While Mayor Durkan has been forced to open 40 or so public facilities as cool shelters, the numbers indicate it won’t be nearly enough. The Mayor announced an emergency shelter at Fisher Pavilion, but with a capacity of only 73. Additionally, only 20 percent of drinking fountains have been turned on in the city after being turned off due to COVID. Meanwhile, Seattle’s corporate real estate investors are sitting on thousands of vacant homes, all for the sake of protecting their already-enormous profits.
There are only two other times in recorded history when Seattle was 100 degrees or hotter, and neither was in the month of June. Climate scientists agree that this heat wave is a result of climate change from carbon emissions, which means that heat waves like this one are only likely to become increasingly severe and increasingly frequent. According to the 2018 national climate assessment by the U.S. Global Change Research Program, baseline temperatures for the Pacific Northwest region have warmed nearly 2 degrees since the year 1900.
We need a Green New Deal in Seattle — and everywhere — to end all fossil fuel emissions by 2030 with thousands of green, union jobs – building social housing and public infrastructure with clean, renewable energy. To win a livable world for humanity and nature, working people need to build militant, mass movements to fight back against the billionaires who have brought the Earth’s climate to the brink of collapse. When a climate crisis strikes, the wealthy members of the ruling class are able to retreat to their climate-controlled homes or jet away to a more comfortable region. Working-class people don’t have that option, forced to suffer the worst of climate change’s impacts while still reporting to work in increasingly risky conditions for the sake of enriching their bosses. We don’t have to die so the billionaires can keep getting richer — we can win a socialist world that will truly meet the needs of working people. Winning a socialist society would first require us to take the commanding heights of the economy — the fossil fuel companies, big banks, and other industry — into democratic public ownership, with workers and our community urgently retooling the infrastructure away from fossil fuels into clean, renewable energy. This will be possible only with the workers and the labor movement internationally moving into serious struggle and building broad solidarity and putting forward clear demands for just transition and retraining for all workers in the fossil fuel sector.
With worsening climate disasters on the horizon, we have little option but to fight for an alternative to capitalism’s unabated devastation of the planet. We need system change to fight climate change!