Capitalism Contributed To Factory Workers Deaths

The weekend of December 10-11, 2021, saw a reported 30 tornadoes hitting several states from Arkansas to Illinois; as of this writing, 74 people are confirmed dead and several buildings severely damaged or totally demolished.

All the cases of death and destruction are devastating; however, the most telling and unconscionable are the deaths of eight people at a candle-making factory in Mayfield, Kentucky, and six in an Amazon facility in Edwardsville, Illinois. What makes these two cases significant is that they most likely could have been avoided, but once again capitalism’s insatiable greed is significantly responsible for these people’s death.

The trade union is the most effective tool the working class has in confronting and challenging capitalism in its attack on workers’ rights and quality of life.

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Labor Activists Want To Know Why Workers Were Left To Die

In the aftermath of a rare string of December tornadoes last Friday night that left 80 people dead across six states, labor activists are questioning why employees at two large worksites in the path of destruction were left exposed to danger.

A candle factory in Mayfield, Kentucky was totally destroyed after sustaining a direct tornado hit with 110 workers inside. At least eight people died and dozens more were severely injured. At the same time, an Amazon delivery station in Edwardsville, Illinois was also hit by a tornado during a shift change, causing the roof to fly off and part of an exterior wall to collapse, killing six workers ranging in age from 26 to 62.

As search-and-rescue teams sifted through the rubble the next morning, Amazon founder and world’s second-richest person Jeff Bezos was celebrating another successful rocket launch by his private spaceflight company Blue Origin.

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Amazon Under Fire After Warehouse Collapse Kills At Least Six People

Amazon was accused Saturday of putting corporate profits above worker safety following the tornado-caused partial collapse of a St. Louis-area warehouse that left at least six people dead.

“Time and time again Amazon puts its bottom line above the lives of its employees,” said Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), in a statement. “Requiring workers to work through such a major tornado warning event as this was inexcusable.”

Appelbaum’s remarks came after an outbreak of over 20 devastating tornadoes late Friday tore through multiple states and killed dozens of people. In addition to Illinois, affected states included Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee.

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US Isn’t Prepared For Climate Disasters That Push People Deeper Into Poverty

Despite years of preparations, New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell said there was no time to issue a mandatory evacuation order as Ida rapidly intensified into a powerful Category 4 hurricane. She urged city residents to “hunker down.” Mass evacuations require coordination among multiple parishes and states, and there wasn’t enough time. In several surrounding parishes, people were told to evacuate, but in low-lying and flood-prone areas, many residents couldn’t afford to leave.

Hurricane Ida became the most destructive storm of the busy 2021 Atlantic hurricane season, which ended Nov. 30. It was one of eight named storms to hit the U.S. as the season exhausted the list of 21 tropical storm names for only the third year on record.

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2.4 Degrees Is A Disaster – But COP Won’t Stop It

Regardless of the outcome of COP26, one inevitability is that the rich and powerful celebrate whatever the conference produces as vital progress. Only a disaster on the level of COP15 in Copenhagen might put a stop to the self-congratulatory triumphalism. Already, though, most observing the negotiations with a critical eye are highlighting how inadequate their product will be. Ed Miliband has said we’re ‘miles from where we need to be’ and Greta Thunberg declared COP26 to be a ‘failure’.

These condemnations are backed up by analysis from Climate Action Tracker (CAT), assessing governments’ short-term commitments for the next decade. Its study reveals that our trajectory coming out of COP26 would take us to a devastating 2.4oC warming by the end of this century.

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Homelands In Peril

Lower Lafitte, Louisiana — The blades of grass are just beginning to push through the thick, marsh mud in Russell Rodriguez’s yard as the mid-October sun beats down on southeastern Louisiana.

A bald eagle soars high above the tall trees. Morning rays glimmer off the rippling waters of nearby Barataria Bayou as it pushes toward the Gulf of Mexico.

It would be idyllic if not for the widespread destruction.

Homes are wrecked, pushed off their pylons and shattered. Fishing boats are upended onto dry land. Coffins washed out of local cemeteries sit cracked open, the bones inside still waiting to be claimed.

It’s more than Rodriguez can take. After decades in lower Lafitte about 65 miles south of New Orleans, he and his wife are leaving their home and their neighbors of the United Houma Nation for higher ground.

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After Hurricane Ida, Mutual Aid Provides Safety And Survival

In the aftermath of disasters, those most in need are also who the state often leaves behind. Into this vacuum, communities come together for mutual aid. While charity rarely challenges the root causes behind disasters, and often divides recipients into worthy and unworthy, mutual aid comes from a principle of solidarity. As Dean Spade has written, “First, we need to organize to help people survive the devastating conditions unfolding every day. Second, we need to mobilize hundreds of millions of people for resistance so we can tackle the underlying causes of these crises.”

In New Orleans, the entire city was without electricity for nearly a week (and tens of thousands still have not had their power turned back on).

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Report From New Orleans: Government Does Nothing For The Poor

Gavrielle Gemma, union and political organizer since the 1970s and now working with the New Orleans-based Workers Voice Socialist Movement, called Workers World to report on the situation there, post-Hurricane Ida. Gemma is now living in a modest single-family home in the Florida neighborhood of New Orleans, part of the Upper Ninth Ward.

“It’s bad,” she said. “Only poor folk stayed once the mayor and governor advised that people evacuate. That means the people left had no choice, no place to go, no money to pay for hotels or motels — assuming they could find a room. If they had made the evacuation mandatory, then the government would be responsible for the welfare of the people who left. But they’re doing nothing.”

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Greed And Consumption: Why The World Is Burning

Rome is scorching hot. This beautiful city is becoming unbearable for other reasons, too. Though every corner of the beaming metropolis is a monument to historical grandeur, from the Colosseum in Rione Monti to the Basilica of Saint John Lateran in San Giovanni, it is now struggling under the weight of its own contradictions.

In Via Appia, bins are overflowing with garbage, often spilling over into the streets. The smell, especially during Italy’s increasingly sweltering summers, is suffocating.

Meanwhile, many parts of the country are literally on fire. Since June 15, firefighters have reportedly responded to 37,000 fire-related emergencies, 1,500 of them on July 18 alone. A week later, I drove between Campania, in southern Italy, and Abruzzo, in the center.

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2021 Climate Disasters Raise Alarm Over Food Security

In July, A Video Went Viral On Social Media In Argentina Showing People Walking Across What Looks Like A Desert. But It Isn’t A Desert. This Is The Bed Of The Paraná River, Part Of The Second-Largest River System In South America. Normally The Stream Rises In Brazil And Reaches The Sea Via The River Plate, Draining A Vast Watershed Covering All Of Paraguay, Southern Brazil And Northern Argentina. Normally The Water Volume Flowing To The Atlantic Roughly Equals That Of The Mississippi River.

What’s Happening Now Is Not Normal. The Drying Up Of Large Stretches Of River Comes As The Most Severe Drought Since 1944 Afflicts The Region. No Relief Is Expected In The Short Term. According To Forecasts From Argentina’s Ministry Of Public Works, The Lack Of Rain Will Last For At Least Another Three Months.

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Global Climate Panel’s Report: No Part Of The Planet Will Be Spared

Amidst a summer of fires, floods and heat waves, scientists on Monday delivered yet another reminder that burning more fossil fuels in the decades ahead will rapidly intensify the impacts of global warming. Only pulling the emergency brake right now on greenhouse gas emissions can stop the planet from heating to a dangerous level by the end of the century, the scientists’ report concluded.

The report, Climate Change 2021: the Physical Science Basis, is the first installment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), which will be completed in 2022. It was approved Aug. 6 by 195 member governments of the IPCC.

The report, by the panel’s Working Group I, assesses the physical science of climate change. It found that global warming is worsening deadly extremes like droughts and tropical storms and that every part of the planet is affected.

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Record-Breaking Heat Waves Have Arrived Decades Earlier Than Predicted

The heat waves of 2021, which have pummeled western regions of the United States and Canada, have killed, at a minimum, hundreds of people. In British Columbia, authorities recorded a spike in deaths in the nearly 500-range after temperatures soared to near 120 degrees; and in both Oregon and Washington State, dozens more are known to have died.

Yet those numbers, horrific as they are, do not tell the full story of the devastation caused by this summer’s record-breaking temperatures caused by a climate catastrophe that, until recently, even the most pessimistic climatologists thought was still two or three decades out. Indeed, the mortality data show that recent deaths were not simply a result of just one extreme “heat event.”

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Media Dismiss European Union Climate Plan As ‘Ambitious’

A recent New York Times article (7/9/21) describes a sickening scene in the wake of the Pacific Northwest’s heat wave:

Dead mussels and clams coated rocks in the Pacific Northwest, their shells gaping open as if they’d been boiled. Sea stars were baked to death. Sockeye salmon swam sluggishly in an overheated Washington river, prompting wildlife officials to truck them to cooler areas.

Scenes like this, the article points out, will become more frequent and intense as climate change progresses and creates domino effects up the food chain:

Such extreme weather conditions will become more frequent and intense, scientists say, as climate change, driven by humans burning fossil fuels, wreaks havoc on animals and humans alike.

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Wet Bulb Temperature Is The Scariest Part Of The Climate Crisis

Wet bulb temperature is one of those features of climate change caused by global warming that often gets left out when discussing the radical changes our planet is going to experience in the coming years. Discussion has largely focused on issues such as drought, hurricanes, tornadoes, storm activity, and even unusual cold. The impacts of increased heat have been left out because we assume, incorrectly it turns out, that human beings can adapt to moderate increases in global temperature.

This turns out to be false, particularly in areas prone to hot and humid weather. It all comes down to one measure: wet bulb temperature. Wet bulb temperature is the one factor, more than any other, that can render entire regions uninhabitable.

Wet bulb temperature is essentially the temperature of a wet thermometer bulb such that the water is able to evaporate into the air.

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