According to a new report, compiled by “greenpeace” from various studies on air pollutants and resultant diseases, air pollution in India is responsible for more than 1.2 million premature deaths annually. India ranks with China as having the worst air quality in the world, choked with pollutants in many regions by the heavy industry which powers the productive sector economies that provide the First World with cheap commodities. However, in all the western reports on the issue (be they few and far between) there is almost no talk of responsibility for these deaths, which may soon number in the millions of people every year. The reason this is that one would soon find that although one could blame the Indian bourgeoisie, who grow wealthy off the heavy industry and super-exploitation of their fellow Indians, they ultimately serve even greater riches to the monopoly owners in the First World, whose commodities are exchanged for next to nothing in amerikan and european shopping malls.
It should not surprise us that the two countries suffering from the most severe air pollution in the world are two of the largest Third World industrial markets. Especially India, who struggles to enforce emissions regulations in the largest industrial sectors due to the enormous influence that these sectors have over the economy and government policy. Despite India’s continued participation in discussions on climate change and environmental policy, reports such as the one released by greenpeace show that there is an upward trend in these deaths and air pollutants, which grew by 13% between 2010 and 2015. The imperialist monopolies cannot allow accumulation to be hindered by heavier regulations on emissions or industrial practices.
Meanwhile, in the “post-industrial” First World, air quality is steadily improving from its mid-20th century levels. This is due not only to the dramatic reduction of heavy industry in the united $tates and europe, but also because of initiatives founded during and after the emerging process of capital export to the Third World neocolonies. The First World often boasts the great gains it has made in living conditions for its citizens, with progressive economic and environmental policies. Further, they use these boasts in order to shame countries like India for their deepening crises of poverty and environmental degradation, blaming their administrations and even their cultures for the poor conditions for their citizens. What they fail to mention (and many so-called progressives fail to realize) is that these gains were made by exporting these problems to the Third World.
The First World has funded much of their progressive economic and environmental policies through parasitic accumulation in the Third World, where capital export has allowed the united $tates and europe to become “post-industrial” service economies. The Third World produces commodities, the First World consumes them. This puts an enormous pressure on Third World economies to accept the most dangerous and toxic industrial practices in order to meet the demand set by First World financial monopolies, who invest heavily in expanding the industrial capacities of these countries with very little benefit to the global proletariat. So while the First World is allowed to “de-industrialize” and set harsher limits on emissions, and focus on improving environmental policy, the Third World is accepting the consequences of those policies through the worsening of their own environment.
This is not purely a problem of industrialization, for the expansion of resource extraction in countries like India and Brazil have resulted in mass deforestation, while the First World boasts large scale reforestation programs in former logging areas. This is of course more true in europe than it is in the united $tates, however even amerika has made great strides in environmental policy at the expense of the Third World. It is not industrialization which has lead to the ruin of Third World countries both economically and environmentally, it is imperialism.
Imperialism has dictated that, while there are an exponentially growing number of industrial methods which reduce environmental impact and air pollution, the most toxic forms of industrial expansion will be pursued instead. Even though the crisis of air pollution could be solved, and the natural wealth of countries like India could provide more than enough for all Indians, it will remain one of the hungriest and poorest populations in the world. This is purely an issue of imperialism, and it can only be resolved through the overthrow of imperialism by the global proletariat. To be a principled environmentalist, one must be an anti-imperialist and a Communist.
- “Airpocalypse: Assessment of Air Pollution in Indian Cities” (Greenpeace)
- “History of Reducing Air Pollution from Transportation in the United States (U.S.)” (EPA)