Biden tours flood-ravaged New York and New Jersey
President Biden arrived in areas of New York and New Jersey devastated by Hurricane Ida on Tuesday, pledging to act to reduce carbon emissions and protect Americans from the growing impacts of climate change. But, like his predecessors, Biden and the assembly of Democrats who joined him on Tuesday offered nothing more than sound bites.
Biden’s first stop on Tuesday was in Manville, New Jersey, a city of 10,000 that has suffered from recurrent and worsening flooding over the past two decades. Manville was devastated by the remnants of Hurricane Ida as record-breaking rainfall overwhelmed infrastructure and flooded homes across town, even causing one house to explode. In New Jersey, at least 27 people have died and several are missing. Many drowned in cars on roads that turned into raging rivers during the storm.
In Queens, Biden’s next stop, floodwaters killed 10 people in basement apartments and disrupted the lives of thousands more. The exorbitant cost of housing and crushing poverty in New York City has forced tens of thousands of working class families, often immigrants, to settle in illegal underground homes with only one way in and out. . The deaths are a vivid illustration of the impacts of crushing social inequalities, infrastructure failures and worsening climate change.
After visiting the destruction in Queens, Biden held a press conference flanked by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other representatives of the Democratic political establishment in New York.
“People, the evidence is clear,” he said, repeating the Democratic Party line. “Climate change poses an existential threat to our lives, to our economy. And the threat is there; it’s not going to get better. The question: can it get worse?
Biden knows full well it can and will get worse. His recognition that “the nation and the world are in peril” has echoed the warnings of scientists for decades. Yet the Democratic Party in New York and nationwide has refused to allocate resources to build the infrastructure necessary to protect human lives, let alone fight fundamentally against climate change.
After a chorus of congratulations on the release of a disaster declaration, Biden pitched his infrastructure plan as a cure for disastrous failures in New York City, New Jersey and elsewhere in the country. Even if passed, the paltry bill provides just over $ 579 billion in new infrastructure spending over eight years, a fraction of what is spent on the military each year.
The infrastructure challenges are monumental. In much of the Ida-ravaged areas of New York and New Jersey, sewer and stormwater systems are over a century old, designed at a time before much of natural protection flood control is not paved. This is far from sufficient in the current climate, with a warming of 1 degree C, not to mention a future with a warming of 2 or 3 degrees.
The maintenance of these systems has been underfunded for decades. Flooding in the streets is by no means limited to record rainfall. Every year, common summer storms flood the streets and homes of New York’s five boroughs.
At the heart of American capitalism and the homeland of Wall Street, one cannot say that this is due to a lack of resources. Unfathomable fortunes have been amassed through financial speculation and spent to build feet on the ground in the clouds.
Biden’s remarks on Tuesday recapped the same talking points Democrats have used for years. He is committed to “listening to the scientists”, moving to net zero emissions in the distant future, and creating well-paying green jobs.
The reality is that these promises have served no purpose. The climate catastrophe is getting worse and not improving. Far from being a one-off, Biden’s visit to New York and New Jersey built on his tour last week in Louisiana, where hundreds of thousands of people remain without power. Later this week, he will head west to inspect areas ravaged by forest fires.
Biden’s inability to offer more than sound clips to deal with the climate crisis reflects the fact that the social order he speaks for, capitalism, is unable to seriously tackle the problem. Stopping and reversing climate change would require allocating trillions of dollars in social spending in a coordinated and massive global agenda.
There is no solution to this crisis within the framework of the nation-state and the capitalist profit system. The response to the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that capitalist society cannot cope with the looming threat of a global pandemic. It certainly cannot and will not sanction the massive allocation of resources and the infringements of profit and property demanded by the global threat. Stopping and reversing man-made climate change requires the socialist transformation of society.