Capitalism and the Global Environment essay

Capitalismand the Global Environment

Capitalismand the Global Environment


Environmental damage continues to be a significant challengeglobally. The ecosystem has been destroyed by humans who take noconcern in taking care of the environment. The increase in cases ofenvironmental damage due to human activities negates the need to comeup with appropriate ways through which the menace can be solved.Different opinions have been suggested as to how the tackle theproblem of environmental damage and cope with the changes that arebeing witnessed in the ecosystem. The threats posed by the damage ofthe ecosystem has drawn considerable attention with much effortfocused on ensuring that the issue is addressed. The global economicsystem that is capitalism has been suggested as one of the mostappropriate ways through which the issue can be dealt with.

Keywords: environmental damage, ecosystem, human activities

Environmental destruction by human activities negates the need tohave an appropriate mechanism through which the issue can be tackled.One of the methods that have been suggested to be applied is theconcept of capitalism to address the global environmental problems.Capitalism as a concept where the investment and ownership of meansof production, distribution and the exchange of wealth are maintainedby private individuals and corporations compared to the cooperativeor the state with the ultimate goal of making profits. Further, itcould refer to a state where the private individuals instead of thegovernment own businesses and property. The application of thecapitalist system in tackling the difficult environmental challengescan be ascribed to the fact that individuals engage in salvaging theenvironmental difficulties witnessed with the aim of realizingprofits from the same. People who engage in addressing environmentalchallenges could opt to do so because of the benefits that arise fromthe same.

Critical Literature Review

Capitalist Structure Can Solve Environmental Problems

Tienhaara (2014) suggest the recent wave of application of new modelsto ensure the introduction of the concept of green capitalism.According to the author, it is crucial to ensure that those whoengage in business activities do so with the ultimate goal ofensuring that they emphasize on enhancing the relationship betweeneconomic progress and environmental sustainability. Tienhaara (2014)further states the need to come up with various models of “greenness”that can be employed to see to it that the concept of capitalism isenhanced. Through the same, it would be possible to tackle the issueof environmental destruction by giving it a different approach.Further, the author suggests the need to debate on options for thecreation of the sustainable economies in countries that aredeveloped. The reasoning for the same could emanate from the factthat such countries are endowed with private individuals andcorporations that engage in capitalism giving them the responsibilityof tackling the issue of environmental destruction. Emphasis onproposals such as the “Green Economy” and the “Green New Deal”would see to it that firms take a pivotal role in ensuring theytackle the issue of climate change in a profitable manner. Theapproach of addressing the issue of climate change through theapplication of capitalism would see to it that most of the firms areencouraged to do so. The benefits that arise from the same are variedsince in the long run there would be economic incentives. The authorsuggests the incorporation of the proposals that have been made whenit comes to the issue of tackling climate change.

Kenis and Lievens (2015) concur with the problem of application ofthe capitalist approach when it comes to dealing with environmentalchange. According to the author, the issue of the green economy hastaken the platform amongst the policy makers, political actors andthe corporations. The focus of the individuals is to ensure that theissue of environmental difficulties and economic crisis are tackledat the same time. According to the author, it is crucial to ensurethat institutions adopt the concept of going green for the benefitsthat emanate from the same. Notably, the author suggests theapplication of the capitalist approach when it comes to dealing withclimate change. Capitalism entails conducting investment activitieswith the goal of making profits. In light of the same, the profitscan be realized if there is a market for the commodities beingproduced by the firms and the business activities that individualsengage. Because of the same Kenis and Lievens (2015) suggest that themarket could be employed to tackle the environmental crisis that isbeing witnessed in the society. According to the authors, thecapitalist approach is efficient since it serves to drive the conceptof sustainability while at the same time ensuring that the individualfirms make profits out of the activities that they engage. Theauthors analyze the idea of the green economy in alignment with thepotential it has in ensuring it brings about change in climate. Theauthors conclude that the application of the “green economy”approach in tackling environmental change could serve as the best wayof addressing climate change. It is an indication of the stance takenby the authors in ensuring that environmental change is witnessed.

Cork (2014) suggest that the capitalist structure could be employedwhen it comes to dealing with the issue of environmental change. Theauthor suggests that the application of the transformative model ofthe green economy serves as the most appropriate way through whichthe problem of global environmental change can be witnessed. However,according to Cork (2014), the realization of environmentalsustainability is dependent on an efficient challenge towards thecorporate world regarding the green economy discourse. The authoridentifies that there is a growing alliance between the labor and theenvironmental movement that are in place. The availability of suchstructures is evidence enough of the potential that exists when itcomes to tackling environmental change. Using an example of SouthAfrica, the author suggests that there is a disconnect between thelabor and environmental movements in such countries. Thedisconnection of such movement could have played a crucial role inhampering efforts directed toward attaining environmentalsustainability. However, Cork suggests that the connection betweenthe movements could help in ensuring that sustainability is achieved.The author further suggests that measures that are put forth by thelabor unions, fundamental among them are the creation of the unionjobs serves as an appropriate channel through which the issue ofenvironmental sustainability can be addressed. Through the same, itwould be possible to attain the goal of solving the menace ofenvironmental damage that is witnessed. Such is a reflection of thefact that application of the capitalist’s structure could be usefulwhen it comes to dealing with the issue of environmental change.

Hampton (2015) states the role that workers can play when it comes tothe concept of dealing with environmental damage. The author is ofthe opinion that the application of a capitalist structure is crucialfor managing the environmental threats that are being witnessedacross the globe. According to the author, much focus has been onwhat the corporate institutions are doing to tackle the menace ofenvironmental destruction. According to him, the ability of theworkers to help in addressing the issue of climate change has beenunderestimated. According to Hampton (2015), it is mandatory to bringback labor into the politics of climate change. His approach is linewith the capitalist structure since capitalism cannot be achievedwithout the role played by the workers. They are the ones engaged inthe actual process of profit making for the particular capitalistinstitutions. It is mandatory that the workers be brought on boardwhen it comes to dealing with the issue of climate change. Forexample, the author suggests that it could be crucial for the labormovement to engage in activities such as strikes to subject thecorporate institutions to adhere to environmental sustainability.Through the same, it would be possible to realize the goal ofsustainability and management of the environmental threats that arewitnessed. Further, Hampton (2015) suggests that there is a need toemploy the labor-environmentalist approach to deal with the issue ofenvironmental change. Through the same, it would be possible toattain the goals of environmental sustainability that is a majorconcern across the globe. The author states that unions should beincorporated to fight the issue of climate change. Such is areflection of the fact that climate change needs to be addressedthrough the application of the capitalist structures.

Capitalist Structure Can not solve environmental Problems

Newell (2013) in his book, Globalization, and the Environment:Capitalism, Ecology, and Power, identify the fact that little hasbeen done when it comes to the efforts that are being put to helpdeal with the concept of environmental destruction. According toNewell (2013), many institutional efforts have been placed when itcomes to dealing with environmental threats the world is facing.However, not much success has been realized when it comes toaddressing the issue. The author acknowledges that the situation isgetting worse despite the efforts that have been presented.Sentiments submitted by the author seek to identify that capitalistapproach may not be the most appropriate channel through which theidea of environmental destruction can be tackled. The inability ofthe various institutions to address the idea of climate change isevidence enough of the failures of concepts such as capitalism tohelp in tackling climate change. Notably, the author suggests thatpart of the reasons why salvaging the environmental issues facedcannot be addressed is due to both human and industrialization. Theconcept of industrialization as a fact is part of capitalism. Firmsthat are engaging in various business activities throughindustrialization contribute significantly to environmentaldestruction. Because of the same, it would be illogical to employ theconcept of capitalism. Newell (2013) questions the rapid advances inthe human development and application of modern technology to help inaddressing the issue of environmental destruction. Further, theauthor suggests that the most appropriate way to deal with theproblem of climate change. The author questions the application ofthe concepts that are being applied in dealing with the issue ofclimate change. Such could be a reflection of the different opinionthe author has on the idea of using capitalist approach to deal withclimate change.

Mathews (2014) postulates that it is crucial to have a differentapproach in the application of capitalism to tackle climate change. The author acknowledges the significant economic progress that hasbeen employed when it comes to industrialization owing to capitalism.However, Mathews (2014) states it is time to change the manner inwhich the entire issue is addressed. Much as economic progress hasbeen realized through industrialization, the author suggests thesignificance of employing different changes that matter and have aconsiderable effect in how capitalism operates. According to theauthor, it could be vital to have a different approach when it comesto dealing with climate change. Much as the process ofindustrialization has been employed when it comes to the concept ofpoverty is successful, it could be vital to use the same strategy tomeet the new demands of environmental change. Many countries have putemphasis into achieving economic progress through industrialization.However, the same countries that have focused on making economicgrowth have failed to ensure that they attain sustainability of theenvironment in the activities that they are engaged. The decisiondoes not take an interest in tackling the environmental threats facedby the globe negate the need to have a different approach. The authorsuggests the application of a different approach in dealing with theissue of climate change. Particularly, it could be better to see toit that an opposite approach is used to deal with the environmentaldifficulties encountered. The sentiments presented by the author area reflection of the concept of capitalism not being competent to dealwith the environmental challenges faced.

Nyberg and Wright (2013) have contributed to the topic by suggestingthe failures of capitalist movement in addressing the environmentaldifficulties that are being witnessed. According to the authors,corporate firms and private individuals engaging in businessactivities have shifted focus in the protection of the environment tousing sustainability campaigns to facilitate the corruption of theenvironment. Nyberg and Wright (2013) further state that thecorporate world has not taken the issue of protection of theenvironment as a serious concern. Instead, what has been witnessed isthe use of the concept of sustainability as a marketing tool toincrease the profits that are observed by the individual firms.Notably, the Nyberg and Wright (2013) suggest that the social good ofthe environment has been transformed into a marketing commodity. Forexample, instead of working towards ensuring that the corporateinstitutions work in a sustainable manner, they focus on usingcampaigning for the concept to gain mileage in marketing. The ideaspresented by the authors is a reflection of the fact that capitalistapproach may not be practical when it comes to dealing with theglobal environmental issues. It is not efficient since, those whoengage in capitalist activities, use the very environment they shouldbe protecting to gain a marketing advantage. It is unfortunate sincesuch a measure could not be efficient enough to address the issue ofenvironmental damage. Firms need to work on better ways of dealingwith environmental threats than using the issue to increase profits.The sentiments reflect the opposing view on the ability to use thecapitalist approach to address the environmental problems that arefacing the world.

Finally, Abbot and Klein (2015) suggest that climate change cannot besolved through the application of the capitalist structure. Accordingto the authors, it would not be possible to have both economic growthand environmental sustainability. They reiterate that would befeasible to have an approach to climate challenge that deals with theissues that are faced or witness economic growth. However, anymeasures to have two at the same time may not work. According toKlein, global warming serves as a significant threat to aspects suchas free markets and unending material progress while at the same timelimiting government regulation. Because of the same, the politicalclass would be resistant to climate change. Further, the argumentspresented by Klein suggest that there is a mismatch between theefforts being out to tackle climate change and the response ofindividual governments on the same. She states that there have beenendless meetings aimed at ensuring that there is a decline in theoverall emissions to the atmosphere. However, no success has beenrealized as what has witnessed a continued increase in the overallemissions. The authors state that the application of capitalistapproach when it comes to dealing with environmental pollution couldnot be the most efficient approach. It is mandatory to have adifferent approach other than the capitalist system to address theissue of climate change.

Data that Changes Everything

The data presented represents the continued increase in globalemissions from the year 1990. Efforts that have been put forwardtoward dealing with climate change have resulted in little gain whenit comes to addressing the issue. It is a reflection of some of thefailures to see to it that the problem of climate change is dealtwith. The increase in CO2 global emissions is an indication of thegrowth in industrial activities to that are witnessed across theglobe. Many countries have shifted focus on ensuring they attainsustainability to working towards achieving economic growth. Theconsequences of the same is an increase in environmental damage.


Environmental damage continues to be a significant challenge. Variousefforts have been presented when it comes to dealing with the issue.Critical among them is the application of capitalism to address theenvironmental threats that are being witnessed in the world. However,from the ideas presented by the different authors, it is evident thatcapitalism may not be the solution to tackling climate change issues.Institutions that have been entrusted with the idea of dealing withclimate change have instead focused on making many profits at theexpense of environmental sustainability. For example, many of theindustrialized countries have shifted focus on economic growthdespite the dangers their activities pose to the environment. It isunfortunate that profit making has taken center-stage at the expenseof environmental conservation. A different approach ought to beemployed in addition to the capitalist structure to help in dealingwith the issue of climate change. Through the same, it would bepossible to achieve sustainability in the environment.


Cock, J. (2014). The`Green Economy`: A Just and SustainableDevelopment Path or a`Wolf in Sheep`s Clothing`?. Global LabourJournal, 5(1).

Hampton, P. (2015). Workers and trade unions for climatesolidarity: Tackling climate change in a neoliberal world.Routledge.

Kenis, A., &amp Lievens, M. (2015). Greening the economy oreconomizing the green project? When environmental concerns are turnedinto a means to save the market. Review of Radical PoliticalEconomics, 0486613415591803.

Mathews, J. (2014). Greening of Capitalism: How Asia Is Drivingthe Next Great Transformation. Stanford University Press.

Newell, P. (2013). Globalization and the environment: capitalism,ecology and power. John Wiley &amp Sons.

Nyberg, D., &amp Wright, C. (2013). Corporate corruption of theenvironment: sustainability as a process of compromise. TheBritish journal of sociology, 64(3), 405-424.

Tienhaara, K. (2014). Varieties of green capitalism: economy andenvironment in the wake of the global financial crisis. EnvironmentalPolitics, 23(2), 187-204.