The Environment

A social crime: Eight elderly dead in Florida nursing home after days without air conditioning

By Niles Niemuth, 14 September 2017

Police evacuated 115 remaining residents from a nursing home north of Miami after they spent days in suffocating heat after the power was knocked out by Hurricane Irma.

Officials estimate one quarter of homes in Florida Keys destroyed by Hurricane Irma

By Niles Niemuth, 13 September 2017

Millions remained without power across Florida and Georgia on Tuesday as officials surveyed the damage in the Florida Keys in Irma's aftermath.

Petrochemical giants dumped deadly carcinogens during Hurricane Harvey

By Gary Joad, 12 September 2017

As Hurricane Harvey bore down on Texas, scores of plants owned by ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron and other corporations released deadly toxins into the atmosphere.

Millions face devastation from Hurricane Irma in southwest Florida, Tampa metro area

By Patrick Martin, 11 September 2017

The destruction accompanying the huge storm is not merely a natural disaster, but a measure of the crisis of American society.

Caribbean islands devastated by storm surge, winds, rain

By our reporter, 11 September 2017

The worst impact of Hurricane Irma was in Lesser Antilles and the US and British Virgin Islands.

Why was American capitalism unable to prepare for Hurricane Irma?

By Niles Niemuth, 11 September 2017

As Hurricane Irma wreaks havoc on Florida, the failure to adequately prepare for the storm and protect those in its path has exposed the irrationality of American capitalism.

Hurricane Irma heads towards Florida after tearing through the Caribbean

By Matthew Taylor, 8 September 2017

Florida residents are bracing for Hurricane Irma, which has already killed at least 14 people and left a trail of destruction in the Caribbean.

Hurricane Irma slams into Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands

By Jerry White, 7 September 2017

Like Houston, the human cost of Irma will be far greater because of the lack of any serious government preparation and the long neglect of physical and social infrastructure.

Hurricane Harvey to be costliest US natural disaster

By Patrick Martin, 4 September 2017

With published estimates approaching $200 billion, Hurricane Harvey may have caused damage greater than Katrina and Sandy combined.

“The working class has organized to save the working class”

A Hurricane Harvey diary: Part 2

By Charles Abelard, 4 September 2017

A reader who has lived in Houston for four decades describes the impact of the storm, the rescue efforts organized by workers and runaway real estate development that has left the city vulnerable to flooding.

Death toll expected to rise as chemical explosions add to devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey

By Niles Niemuth, 1 September 2017

Officials at every level of government continue to congratulate themselves on their response to the storm, while the endless media commentary avoids any discussion of those responsible for the disaster.

“I grew to call the oil industry the rape, pillage and plunder industry”

Former Shell Oil civil engineer and Berkeley Professor Emeritus Robert Bea speaks on Hurricane Harvey

By Barry Grey, 1 September 2017

Robert Bea, a retired civil engineer, has had a long career in the fields of flood control and risk assessment and management.

Flooding continues to inundate Gulf Coast as Harvey makes landfall in Louisiana

By Niles Niemuth, 31 August 2017

Hurricane Harvey is expected to far surpass any previous storm as the costliest in American history, with at least $190 billion in damage, equivalent to one percent of the national GDP.

Deportation fears prevent many Houston immigrants from seeking emergency shelter

By Eric London, 31 August 2017

Immigrants are risking rising flood waters because of anti-immigrant maneuvers and false reports of deportations at evacuation sites.

The working class responds to Hurricane Harvey

By Joseph Kishore, 31 August 2017

The self-sacrifice and organizational initiative of the working class in response to the hurricane make a powerful case for independent workers’ organizations and workers’ control over economic and social life.

As Trump gloats over “success” of government response to Hurricane Harvey

Reservoir breaches in Houston threaten more death and destruction

By Kate Randall, 30 August 2017

While floodwaters continued to rise in Houston, Governor Abbott and President Trump praised one another and hailed the government response to the disaster.

The Houston flood, the anarchy of the capitalist market and the case for socialist planning

By Niles Niemuth, 30 August 2017

Twelve years after Katrina, nothing has been done to strengthen flood control systems and build up the social infrastructure to limit the impact of major storms.

Government negligence exacerbates Hurricane Harvey damage in Houston, Texas

By Charles Abelard in Houston and Jerry White, 29 August 2017

Emergency shelters, hastily established by authorities in Houston, are overflowing with at least 30,000 residents, while at least nine deaths are blamed on the storm.

The Houston flood disaster: A social crime of the American oligarchy

By Barry Grey, 29 August 2017

Catastrophes such as Hurricane Harvey are the product of a half-century of neglect of America’s social infrastructure, accompanied by a fantastic accumulation of private wealth at the very apex of society.

Houston residents speak out on historic flooding from Hurricane Harvey

By Trévon Austin, 29 August 2017

Stories of devastation along the Gulf Coast continue to emerge three days after Hurricane Harvey made landfall near Rockport, Texas.

Tanker makes solo voyage through melting Arctic Sea

By Daniel de Vries, 29 August 2017

The natural gas tanker’s passage marks a new milestone in the decay of the Arctic Ocean ice cap.

Capitalism and the Houston flood catastrophe

By Tom Hall, 28 August 2017

Twelve years after Hurricane Katrina, a major hurricane has once against exposed the brutal reality of class relations in the United States.

Trump signs order cutting environmental regulation of infrastructure projects

By E.P. Milligan, 19 August 2017

Energy development projects such as oil and gas pipelines will receive heavy federal subsidies while being fast-tracked through the already lax process of environmental review.

Australia: Anger grows over fire at Melbourne recycling plant

By Will Morrrow, 22 July 2017

Firefighting services have been called to the plant nine times in the last five years—four times this year, three times in 2015 and once in both 2012 and 2013.

Court rejects Trump’s delay of methane rules

By Daniel de Vries, 8 July 2017

The decision is a minor setback for an administration charging ahead with environmental deregulation

Trump, the coal miners and the environment

By Jerry White, 6 June 2017

Stripped of the demagogy and lies, the line of the Trump administration amounts to the proposition that miners must place their full trust and confidence in the benevolence of the coal bosses.

Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris agreement: The socialist solution to climate change

By Bryan Dyne, 3 June 2017

A serious response to the dangers posed by climate change is not possible within the framework of the capitalism and the nation-state system.

France, Germany seize upon US withdrawal from climate pact to push geopolitical interests

By Peter Schwarz, 3 June 2017

Merkel and Macron are seeking to build up the EU to make it a global power capable of competing with the US for markets, investment opportunities and strategic influence.

Trump administration announces US withdrawal from Paris climate agreement

By Daniel de Vries, 2 June 2017

The move, which repudiates even the most modest targets for greenhouse gas emissions reductions, takes place amidst growing conflicts between the major powers and a raging political crisis within the US.

Trump prepares to gut Federal land protections

By Daniel de Vries, 28 April 2017

The executive order signed Wednesday orders a review of national monuments on behalf of energy and mining interests.

White House divided on future of Paris climate agreement

By Daniel de Vries, 19 April 2017

Debate is raging within the Trump administration over whether to carry through on the president’s campaign promise to withdraw from the 2015 climate change accord.

Trump launches pollution deregulation offensive

By Daniel de Vries, 29 March 2017

The order nullifies several Obama-era climate directives and instructs the EPA to begin the process of undoing the Clean Power Plan.

Tens of thousands evacuated from floods in Northern California

By Ben McGrath, 25 February 2017

While the Oroville Dam crisis highlighted the crumbling nature of US dams, levees around the country are also in deteriorating conditions.

Violent arrests as police begin evacuating Dakota Access Pipeline protest camp

By Zaida Green, 23 February 2017

The eviction orders from the US Army Corps of Engineers and the North Dakota governor come as developers rush to complete the pipeline.

Southern California hit by massive rainfall

By Glenn Mulwray, 22 February 2017

Rainstorms wreaked havoc over Southern California last weekend, causing mass power outages and flooding.

US Senate confirms industry stooge to head Environmental Protection Agency

By Daniel de Vries, 18 February 2017

Former Oklahoma attorney general and anti-regulation zealot Scott Pruitt was sworn in as head of the Environmental Protection Agency on Friday.

Federal employees resist administration attempts to impose media gags

By Bryan Dyne, 3 February 2017

Scientists at various government agencies are concerned that any mention of climate science will be silenced.

Petroleum pipeline ruptures in northern Iowa

By Gary Joad, 30 January 2017

Wednesday’s northern Iowa diesel pipeline spill is reportedly the largest diesel spill in the United States since January 2010.

Eighteen killed in Mississippi, Georgia as tornadoes descend on southeastern US

By Shelley Connor, 23 January 2017

A system of storms that developed on the Gulf Coast on Saturday has claimed 18 lives, and continued to threaten through Monday morning.

Global temperatures set new highs for third consecutive year

By Bryan Dyne, 20 January 2017

After eight years in which the Obama administration did nothing to address climate change, the incoming Trump government is set to fully deregulate greenhouse gas emissions.

Great Barrier Reef suffering worst-ever coral bleaching

By Bryan Dyne, 30 December 2016

Global warming has caused the worst destruction of corals ever recorded on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

Planet Earth II: David Attenborough narrates the dramas of life a second time

By Bryan Dyne, 16 December 2016

The BBC documentary explores how life has evolved and adapted across islands, mountains, jungles, deserts, grasslands and cities.

Canada’s Resources Minister threatens to use army against pipeline protests

By our reporter, 3 December 2016

The Liberal government has declared it is prepared to use force against those protesting expansion of Canada’s oil pipelines.

Fires, tornadoes claim lives throughout southeastern US

By Shelley Connor, 2 December 2016

Tornadoes descended upon the Southeast on Wednesday, killing six people and complicating wildfire rescue efforts in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

Police attack on Dakota Access Pipeline protest results in 300 injuries

By Genevieve Leigh, 25 November 2016

Sophia Wilansky, 21, was severely injured by a police concussion grenade, and may require an arm amputation.

Police use water cannons on Dakota Access Pipeline protesters

By Kevin Martinez, 22 November 2016

Violence broke out on Sunday night when protesters tried to remove a blockade but were stopped by police using water cannon, tear gas and concussion grenades.

Record-low sea ice as Arctic temperatures soar

By Daniel de Vries, 22 November 2016

Never since satellite monitoring began in the late 1970s has such little ice covered the polar seas this time of year.

Popular support grows for anti-oil pipeline protesters in North Dakota

By Kevin Martinez, 2 November 2016

The mainly Native American protesters have received over $1 million in crowdsource funding, but only silence from Hillary Clinton and attacks from AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.

Another major earthquake strikes central Italy

By Marc Wells, 31 October 2016

At 7:41 a.m. on Sunday, Italians in the central area of Marche and Umbria were woken by a violent earthquake, measuring 6.5 on the Richter scale.

Violent police attack on anti-oil pipeline protest in North Dakota

By Zaida Green, 29 October 2016

Police officers in riot gear from five states were supported by National Guard troops and armored vehicles, arresting 141 protesters.

Report documents hunger across the Pacific

By John Braddock, 20 October 2016

The report points to the dire social consequences of extreme weather events and vast climatic changes across the Pacific.

Haiti’s hurricane devastation: A tragedy rooted in capitalist oppression

By Bill Van Auken, 13 October 2016

Nearly seven years after the catastrophic earthquake of 2010, Hurricane Matthew has again exposed the historic oppression of the Haitian masses.

US death toll rises in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew

By Nick Barrickman, 13 October 2016

As many as 38 people have died in the US and tens of thousands continue to be impacted in the wake of Hurricane Matthew, which came ashore late last week.

Toxic smog over South East Asia killed over 100,000 in 2015

By John Harris, 10 October 2016

The estimate, which is yet to be verified by an analysis of official mortality data, far exceeds the Indonesian government’s death toll.

Hurricane Matthew hits Haiti and heads north

By John Marion, 5 October 2016

The storm made landfall Tuesday morning in a country that has been devastated by the 2010 earthquake and still lacks basic infrastructure.

Large wildfires continue to spread in US Northwest

By Hector Cordon, 13 September 2016

Since August, the large northwestern US wildfires have more than tripled in size.

More than 1,000 to be displaced by demolition of low-income housing development in Indiana

By Catherine Long, 3 September 2016

Extremely high levels of lead and arsenic are present in the soil due to the historic absence of environmental controls on the metal smelting industry in East Chicago.

Warming of Earth proceeding at unprecedented pace

By Bryan Dyne, 3 September 2016

Temperature records from ice cores and sediments show that the current rate of global warming is faster than at any point in the past millennium.

Blue Cut fire quickly engulfs tens of thousands of acres in Southern California

By Dan Conway, 18 August 2016

An incredibly strong brush fire has rapidly swept through more than 30,000 acres near the Southern California city of San Bernardino.

US price of EpiPen for allergic reactions skyrockets

By Brad Dixon, 12 August 2016

The price of the EpiPen, relied on by millions to treat severe allergic reactions, has increased by 450 percent in the United States since 2004.

State of emergency declared in Maryland suburb after record-breaking flooding kills two

By Nick Barrickman, 3 August 2016

The storm is being called a “1-in-a-1,000-year rain event” by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Anger mounts over government handling of floods in China

By John Braddock, 30 July 2016

With widespread media and internet reports accusing officials of negligence, Beijing is increasingly nervous about deepening social opposition.

Severe heat wave spread across much of US

By Evan Blake, 25 July 2016

The heat wave crisis stems from global warming, which scientists have repeatedly warned will cause an ever-increasing frequency of extreme weather events.

US Interior Department issues first oil drilling rules in US Arctic Seas

By Gary Joad, 16 July 2016

The White House timed the announcement so that it would have minimal impact on petroleum company plans for US Arctic Ocean exploration.

In wake of Deepwater Horizon catastrophe in 2010

Obama administration issued over 1,000 offshore fracking permits in Gulf of Mexico

By Gary Joad, 8 July 2016

The United States has surpassed Saudi Arabia in daily oil production, primarily due to an increase in fracking.

West Virginia flood highlights impact of budget cuts, decayed infrastructure

By Naomi Spencer, 5 July 2016

Federal and state agencies ignored warnings about inadequate flood protections, home-building standards and the impact of logging and mining.

The West Virginia floods and America's class divide

By Jerry White, 29 June 2016

While the immediate trigger for the floods was record-setting rainfall, like all natural disasters, the extent of the damage and its human impact were determined by conditions that are man-made.

Sri Lanka: JVP calls for state of emergency in response to flood disaster

By Vilani Peiris, 17 June 2016

The JVP’s proposal shows its readiness to strengthen the capitalist state apparatus against rising social unrest.

Australia’s east coast hit by devastating storms

By Eric Ludlow, 13 June 2016

Under-resourced emergency response units were spread thin across the storm- and flood-damaged areas.

El Niño and the acceleration of global warming

By Matthew MacEgan, 1 June 2016

The abnormally warm ocean waters caused by El Niño induce much more extreme weather patterns than normal, including droughts, cyclones, and floods.

Sri Lankan flood and landslide deaths continue to climb

By Pani Wijesiriwardena, 25 May 2016

Apart from perfunctory warnings for the public to be “vigilant,” the Sri Lankan government took no serious measures to lessen the cyclone’s impact.

Colombo flood victims speak to the WSWS

By our correspondents, 25 May 2016

Thousands of working class and poor families are currently living in makeshift accommodation and other shelters on higher ground.

Growing bankruptcy crisis in global oil and gas industry

By Gabriel Black, 12 May 2016

A third of all US oil and gas companies could go bankrupt.

Hundreds die in Indian heat wave

By Kanda Gabriel, 11 May 2016

The wave of heat-stroke deaths is a product of the lack of basic services and infrastructure that hundreds of millions of Indians confront daily.

Canadian capitalism and the Fort McMurray wildfire

By Roger Jordan, 10 May 2016

The Fort McMurray wildfire is not a natural, but a man-made disaster for which the capitalist profit system bears responsibility.

Fort McMurray teacher describes chaotic evacuation

By Roger Jordan, 6 May 2016

The World Socialist Web Site spoke to a teacher and her partner who were among the approximately 80,000 people evacuated from Fort McMurray, Alberta on Tuesday. Both had lived in the city for around two years.

Factory farms cause thousands in rural Wisconsin to go without clean water

By Catherine Long, 25 April 2016

Pollution from large-scale farms and deregulation of groundwater systems have created unsafe drinking water for thousands in the state.

Study warns of potentially catastrophic impacts from Antarctic ice melt

By Daniel de Vries, 5 April 2016

New research estimates that unabated warming may double the rate of expected sea level rise to nearly 2 meters by century’s end.

Hundreds of Australian climate-change science jobs to be axed

By Perla Astudillo and Richard Philips, 25 February 2016

The CSIRO cuts are a major setback for scientific investigation into ocean temperatures, greenhouse gas levels and other climate-change issues.

California Coastal Commission head ousted

By David Levine, 23 February 2016

The second head of the California Coastal Commission was fired last week as the result of a political campaign backed by Democrats tied to developers.

At least 29 dead, thousands displaced after Cyclone Winston hits Fiji

By Oscar Grenfell, 23 February 2016

The most powerful storm ever recorded in the region has produced a mounting humanitarian crisis.

In wake of VW scandal European Parliament relaxes emissions regulations

By Jan Peters and Dietmar Henning, 16 February 2016

Last autumn, it was revealed that Volkswagen manipulated the emissions readings in 11 million diesel vehicles and hundreds of thousands of petrol models.

Supreme Court blocks Obama plan on climate change

By John Burton, 12 February 2016

The Supreme Court has issued a summary order that effectively invalidates the Obama administration’s new regulations to lower carbon emissions from power plants.

Detroit-area residents protest Marathon Oil request to increase air pollution

By our reporters, 15 January 2016

Following the completion of $2.2 billion upgrade which began in 2012, Marathon is requesting a permit from the state of Michigan to emit an additional 22 tons of sulfur dioxide per year.

House Republican committee chairman attacks climate change scientists

By Matthew MacEgan, 12 January 2016

Lamar Smith has issued a subpoena to a group of climate change scientists who have shown that a global warming slowdown has not occurred over the past 15 years.

Australia: Over 100 houses destroyed in Victorian bushfires

By Margaret Rees, 4 January 2016

Victoria has been hit by more than 2,500 bushfires since October but the hottest months, when the most dangerous fires usually occur, are still to come.

Winter storms kill dozens across US South and Midwest

By Shannon Jones, 29 December 2015

As usual in such disasters, hardest hit were working class communities where less well constructed homes as well as trailers were flattened by unusual December tornadoes.

Chinese industrial zone engulfed by waste landslide

By Peter Symonds, 22 December 2015

Rescuers are struggling to find those missing after a tidal wave of mud and waste toppled buildings and inundated an area of Shenzhen.

The climate crisis and imperialism

By Andre Damon, 16 December 2015

Far from fostering the international collaboration that would be required to reverse climate change, capitalist society is increasingly characterized by xenophobia, international conflict and war.

India: Government negligence responsible for flood disaster

By Sasi Kumar and Moses Rajkumar, 15 December 2015

Tens of thousands of people in the capital Chennai and across the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu are yet to be rescued and properly assisted.

Sri Lankan corporate giant sues environmental activist

By Vilani Peiris, 14 December 2015

The damages action is part of the record of big business and government suppression of opposition to industrial pollution.

UK and Ireland devastated by floods

By Joan Smith and Robert Stevens, 12 December 2015

The human cost of the severe flooding in large parts of northern England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland over the last week is emerging.

Global warming compounds Atlantic cod fishing industry problems

By John Marion, 8 December 2015

Recent scientific studies point to the effects of global warming on Atlantic cod populations already reduced to historically low sizes by decades of overfishing.

Pacific Island nations “bearing the brunt” of climate change

By John Braddock, 7 December 2015

Rising sea levels and extreme weather events are beginning to destroy Pacific Islands and threaten their existence.

COP21 ecological summit opens amid war tensions, with Paris in lockdown

By Stéphane Hugues, 1 December 2015

As the major powers are on the verge of war in Syria, they failed, unsurprisingly, to come together to address complex ecological problems related to global warming.

Tens of thousands attend climate change rallies in Australia

By Oscar Grenfell, 1 December 2015

While the protests expressed growing concern over the environmental crisis, organisers sought to channel them into bankrupt appeals to the Turnbull government.

Manhattan Project fallout: Nuclear waste health catastrophe in St. Louis, Missouri

By Gary Joad, 27 November 2015

Nuclear waste dumps from the Manhattan Project have resulted in clustering of unusually high cancer rates in younger people and children.

Ten years since Hurricane Katrina: Part two

Destruction of public housing and forced exodus of workers

By E.P. Bannon, 23 October 2015

New Orleans had a pre-hurricane population of 484,700. Today, it is 384,300, a 21 percent decline.

Deadly haze from forest fires engulfs South East Asia

By John Roberts, 19 October 2015

The levels of air pollution this year will equal or exceed those of 1997, the worst fire season on record.

BP, US government finalize $20 billion settlement over 2010 oil spill

By Tom Hall, 9 October 2015

The oil giant will pay a fraction of the maximum possible fine for the worst environmental catastrophe in American history, while not a single top executive will spend a day in jail.