CAPITALISM AND THE GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT 1
Capitalismand the Global Environment
The paper willstudy solutions to global environmental change, which is difficult toattain when the capitalist economic system flourish across the world.The paper will demonstrate clearly that the major goal of thecapitalist economic systems is to amass massive amounts of wealth.Again, the paper will show how it has a major obstacle to theconservation of the environment. This research study will exploredeeply the insights into the four proponents namely energy, climatechange, environmental pollution, and the use of natural resourceavailable. The direct link will be identified between capitalism,environmental change, and the four aspects mentioned above. The paperwill show how, by doing so, will guarantee that the presentgeneration will benefit the past generation without having tointerfere with the future generation. All in all, the main aim ofthis research paper is to show why the most difficult to overcomeenvironmental challenges successfully as long as capitalism remainswithin the global economic system.
Environment change occurring in the world is an important challengefacing humanity today and possibly in the future. The environmentoffers a sense of support, according to the Australian aboriginals,who believe that their life is drawn from the land. Thus, for thisreason, changes in the environment today come with real effects thathave overcome visibility through the naked eyes, which is a cause ofconcern (Butler, 2010). This, therefore, is a threat to the humanlife. The environmental change results in the ecological imbalance ofthe ecosystem. The strongest ones survive, according to the DarwinianLaw. However, variations in the environment worldwide are unnatural.Instead, these changes are pushed by severe socioeconomic humaninteractions with the natural environment (Wallis, 2008). Thus,variations in the global environment are seen as a man-made problem.Among some of the issues associated with these changes are economicsystems set in place. In essence, different states in the worldeither operate with a socialist or a capitalist economic system. Themajority, however, are capitalist nations.
In an ideological sense, there is a direct correlation between theenvironmental change and the economic systems. Most of the economicand ecological system projects that the capitalist regime of theeconomy is enough to guarantee that there is no adverse climatechange. The question is is capitalism erected with strongfoundations, which ensures good environmental governance? The answeris – No. On the other hand, socialism is a solution to the menacefacing environmental change? Neither is. These solutions thus providethe need to come up with midpoint systems of the economy. Each systemis presented with its advantages and disadvantages that are reflectedin the social, political, and societal aspects (Wallis, 2008). But,as per today`s current situation in the world, none of the above twosystems have the ability to solve the problem of environmental changeon its own. The paper, therefore, will expound on why today`s mostcomplicated and arduous environmental challenges cannot be solvedsuccessfully as long as capitalism characterizes the economic system.
Capitalism – referred to as a production process meant for profitsin a competitive market, which is considered as an economic systemthat profit maximization, and that their motive lies at the center ofmaladies and virtues. Its maladies are embedded in the capitalists`impressive rates of growth and productivity. The maximization ofprofits prompted the logic that pushed the producers to inducespecialization in what is considered the best process for investmentand production to increase efficiency and productivity.
Capitalism represents an economic system that upholds the need forpersons` wealth accumulation. The system of capitalism is sharedglobally because its ability to accelerate rapid growth in aparticular economy within a short period when compared to thecounterpart – socialism system. There has been the emergence ofcertain trends in the political, social, and environmental frontswith the entrance of capitalism. This onset is directed towardswealth accumulation from an individual perspective (Butler, 2010).Ideally, capitalism has resulted in what appeared to be a "wealthrush." Notably, capitalism has led to the growth of greed in thesociety. Ultimately, it has resulted in the unorthodox means ofacquiring it. At this point, capitalism ends up losing its ability tooffer sustainable development of the economy.
The production process in itself is contingent when it comes toconsumption. Failure to have sufficient use means the creation ofmore production demands, which means the production cycle will beparalyzed. Therefore, consumption, on the flip side, thrives inproduction cycles. However, capitalism can trigger rapid productivityrates, which is a bias since its tremendous rates ensure conceptionsof natural resources are not impeded. It is thus important to notethat consumerism or mass consumption is not merely a culturalphenomenon. This is because it is embedded in the capitalists` coretenets of the economic system.
Other unorthodox means of acquiring massive wealth have alsoresulted in the change and degradation of the environment. Forinstance, one of the leading practices is the massive greenhousegasses emitted from the industries. According to Foster (2011),greenhouse gasses are considered the original cause of environmentaland climate change. They are technically identified as carbon gasses,which tend to illuminate the atmosphere above the earth`s surface,and thus cause global warming. Global warming will, in turn, leads tochanges in both the climate and the environment. Studying the carbonemission statistics from some countries, worldwide, one can note thatmost of the emissions are emanating from developed and first worldcountries. These nations are the powerhouse capitalists of the world.
For example, looking at the recent climate change conference heldin South Africa, one feels the heartbreak when he or she realizesthat no tangible solution or resolution was passed about striving tohave a reduction of carbon gasses and changes on the environmentglobally, especially in developed countries. It is easy to note thatthe industrialized nations were adamant and remained silent regardingthe issues of carbon gas reduction globally.
This is an apparent fact that the problem of global warming, whichleads to the issue of climate change, in the long run, is solely themenace that will affect the developing countries. This is becausethird world nations have little to do when it comes to the emissionof these gasses into the atmosphere. It thus ends up becoming a solidshow of the capitalists and their ability to handle the issue andmystery of environmental change (Magdoff & Forster, 2011). Forexample, the former protocol of Kyoto had already been established,but its overall enforcement has been negatively affected by theentire application of capitalist systems of the economy. It meansthat the higher the consumption, the higher the rate of production.Here, it also means higher sales, and as a result, high-profitamounts are generated that is reinvested back for the sustainabilityof the nation or organization.
On the other hand, other bad practice that had opted from the feelingto amass vast amounts of wealth and being the fundamental capitalistprinciple includes utter wastage of the natural resources andenvironmental pollution. Here, Polychroniou talked about the end ofenvironmentalism, which refers to individuals accepting certainpractices resulting in adverse effects on the environment andclimate. According to Polychroniou (2009), in his article, herealized that Senator Adams had moved from mining in the refuge ofthe national wildlife, which was situated in the Arctic.
The capitalistic use of proponents in solving the problem ofenvironmental change proposes that it is not because of thecapitalistic system of the economy. However, it is because of theethical and moral decay, which is in the society. This means that thestate that characterizes the system of natural capitalism occurringnaturally brings about competition (Magdoff & Forster, 2011). In2011, Magdoff & Forster had proposed that this is the kind ofactual competition, which bears the fruits to the system ofcapitalist economy. Again, capitalism is based on the scarcity ofresources globally. Therefore, if an individual, business, ororganization wants to flourish economically, there will be a need tocompete aggressively for them.
According to Magdoff & Forster (2011), natural resources are ofgreat interest to a lot of people even when from back then, theeffects of environmental change were not felt. Therefore, capitalismis found in a traditional step up, and not in a manner that isformalized as it is currently. Due to capitalism, some individualshave to turn out wealthy, while others have submerged in poverty.Comparing figures on each side of the divide, the rich people areseen to be few, while the poor people characterize a larger sectionof the split. Ironically, the capitalistic engagements of the richhave a lot more adverse effects on the poor compared to the minoritygroup. This kind of situation is known as the "tragedy of thecommons," according to Hardin (1968).
However, why could the capitalism solve the current problems ofenvironmental change globally? The following section will analyzeseveral aspects that are affected directly by capitalism, in theeconomy.
One of the significant pillars, which make up the economy, isenergy. It is with this help that power provides that human beingsare in a position to do things, operate industries, and drivemachines. Some energy sources can be divided broadly into two –renewable and nonrenewable energy (Williams, 2009). For instance,renewable energy makes up the green energy, for example, solar,tidal, and wind power. On the other hand, renewable energy includeswood and crude oil. Due to the high demand for energy, thecapitalists have figured out a way into it. In response, nations andcorporations now focus on the energy sources that best fit thesituation at hand.
For example, an industry that uses firewood boiler is locatedadjacent to the forest without any concern that wood is anonrenewable energy. Such industries continue to cut trees, which inturn leads to the reduction of the vegetation cover, and as a resulttriggers atmospheric imbalances. As a result, it causes weatherchanges because of the relationship due to the forest covertriggering rain. The issue of energy cannot be complete withoutarguing about oil. Because of the oil value, conflicts and civic warshave emerged in oil-rich nations without the primary concern beingwealth, which is capitalism at its best.
Studying the relationship between climate change and energy, it isevident that burning fossil fuels remain a major emitter of carbongas to the atmosphere. As noted earlier, emission of carbon gas isthe main reason for environmental and climate change. Thus, the logichere is that to solve the energy problem the answer will be tohandle the issue of climate change correctly (Williams, 2009).However, the task is not easy as it sounds. For instance, with thepresence of green energy in the market, it remains questionable why alot of organizations and nations have not harnessed. This can easilybe traced back to the issue of capitalism because investing in greenenergy is an expensive exercise. Therefore, most countries andcorporations see it as economically viable to continue applyingtraditional methods of emitting energy making it a lot moreexpensive. Based on this, this will carry on as much as thecapitalist system of the economy is present, and in turn, the problemwill continue to be an illusion.
Comparison between the capitalist dream of energy use and that ofthe socialists, there is a thin line between the two. This line isidentified as care and concern regarding the well-being of the jointmajority in the entire population. For example, within the socialisteconomy, caring for the specific types of energy use is taken intoconsideration, while studying the use of particular energy types(Butler, 2010). In essence, there are a lot of concerns regarding theuse of nuclear power with disregard to the fact that the energy isgreen. The existence of high-risk exposure of radioactivity on humanshas more severe implications compared to changes in the environment.The radioactivity effects have the possibility to change people. Itis therefore recommended that the possibility of adoption on thesocialist economy projects moving when the environmentalsustainability is realized.
The climate change is one of the biggest problems that face the worlddue to environmental change. It is also as a result of the manyreasons and one of them is the emission of carbon gas. As earliernoted, greenhouse gasses are released from developed countries.However, the most of the adverse effects are felt by poor people,especially in the southern countries, which is not ethical. It is inthese third world nations that famine causes a draught, and in turn,impact on individuals (Wallis, 2008). Here, the weather patterns nolonger favor food production, and the lands no longer generate enoughfood. Furthermore, the arid and semiarid areas globally continue torise, while the snowing mountains. For example, the Antarctic,Arctic, and Iceland, experience slow melting of ice, and in turn, anincrease in the rise of water level that leads to submergence ofland.
All the above proponents have a direct correlation with the weatherand climate patterns, and therefore, a direct impact on theecosystem. It is thus logical that some stakeholders taking partshould make the necessary moves in ensuring climate change is kept atminimum levels. In capitalists` economic strategies, it is notpossible to use them in the current world. This is because there is aneed to acquire wealth. The possibility of such money by the statesand corporations results in the use of crude methods, whileminimizing expenses of being top of the list (Polychroniou, 2009).The more adopted practices do not have negative implications on theenvironment. For example, the recent environment conferences carriedunder the United Nations have failed to bear any fruits on the factthat the capitalist countries do not want to curtail their chances ofacquiring wealth by applying sustainable environmental practices.
The perception of economists` perception of climate change is thatwhich will see to it that economic activities carried out in oneplace do not interfere with the ability to enjoy all the benefits ofa favorable environment in different locations for future generation(Forster, 2011). For instance, Europe`s economic activities areconsidered to affect the African environment and vice versa.Additionally, it should be acknowledged that the world exists in anecosystem whereby the actions affecting one region would directlyaffect another area, and should fully be recognized. Ultimately, thismeans that the amassing of wealth by the socialists will not be offocus, but instead of the general society.
Useof Natural Resources
Nature provides natural resources therefore, no human beings oughtto be deprived of the ability or chance to enjoy, now or the future.But the current trends globally threaten to deplete these particularresources. For instance, one of them is crude oil. The world economyhas a huge dependency on crude oil and its products. This explainsreasons concerning high rates of inflation that are seen when thereare changes in the oil prices. At the current rate of oilexploitation, it is expected that generations in the future will lackoil to use, which is not ethical (Hardin, 1968). The nations` natureof capitalists pushes them to begin to fuel conflicts and civil warsin the resources of the wealthy nations. For example, the civil warin Congo and the Middle East is a good indicator of the extent withwhich corporations and countries are pushed aside by the intuition ofcapitalists.
Every other nation or organization wants to amass as much wealth asit can before the opportunity slips away. Ideally, it means grabbingof natural resources literally without considering people`swellbeing. In other words, there is a high likelihood of anypotential effects resulting from the same. One of the consequencesarising from such practices is the issue of environmental change(Foster, 2011). Derived from the need for amassing a lot of wealth,which is in association with capitalism, most of the corporations andnations have opted to use all means to attain their goal. One of themis the overexploitation of these natural resources, which leaves themining pits uncovered. Again, the overexploitation of some of theseresources results in the depletion of other valuable resources.
And for this appropriate reason, there emerges a dire need to adoptthe socialist approach to the management and exploitation of thesenatural resources. It also ensures that the levels of equality of theentire stakeholders are put into consideration. One particular aspectof the approach used by socialists in the management of these naturalresources is an issue of sustainability. This is the practice thatensures that the current generation enjoys the benefits withouthaving to compromise the chance to interfere them future generations(Magdoff & Forster, 2011). The approach used by the socialists inthe essential resources management guarantees that the majority ofindividuals will be able to benefit and enjoy them. For example, inthe oil-rich nations of the Middle East, this approach ensures thatall the nationalists can pay attention to the effects of the highlyplaced prices of the native countries in their respective countries.In turn, it ensures the poverty gap separating the rich and the poorin the society is minimized.
Pollution is an aspect that adversely affects the environment. Itis thus important to identify the issues regarding waste managementand the respective fuss it has generated in today`s world. Theattempt to use biodegradable materials for packaging, wastetreatment, and the proper disposal of waste, are some of the thingscampaigned for by the environmentalists. Apart from this, there isstill the problem regarding the management of waste globally. TheGarbage Mountains creation is a common thing in most urban cities(Beder, 1997). The GM means emptying of sewerage along the waterlines, and one of the most important things is a plastic waste. Andbecause plastic waste is not biodegradable, the deposition of thesimilar environment remains a continuous statement.
The effects resulting from improper disposal of waste are adverse.For example, waste disposal into the water resources like the riversappears to prove that it is the significant threat to aquatic life.Again, the disposal of plastic waste, especially on land, renders thesame land unproductive, more so continuous adding up of plastic heaps(Butler, 2010). Other forms include pollution of air, especially thecarbon gas emission that has already been discussed in detail above.Of importance to note is that all aspects are part of capitalismexercises. Their act water down the capitalist practices that havesince been gained by the environmental conservationists.
Studying the issue of pollution in entirety, it is easy toacknowledge that the organizations messing up with the environmentare in a better position to evade costs that could be incurred. Whatthey do is disperse the wastes properly or change their ways ofoperations to reduce pollution. From a wider perspective, it is easyto see that it represents the actions of a fully fledged andoperational capitalism (Williams, 2009). As a way of countering this,recommendations dictate that the economic system changes to becominga capitalist driven economy instead of a socialist one. It thusensures that all the stakeholders are dictating the economy put intoconsideration the possible effects of their practices or actions tothe well-being of other persons. As a result, it creates all sorts ofproblems in the system.
This paper was able to defend that the superior solution to changesin the environment globally will not be achieved or attained if thecapitalist economic systems stay put in the world. Looking at thepaper, it is clear that the primary objective of the capitalisteconomies is to acquire as much wealth as they can which in turn,proves to be one huge obstacle to the environmental conservationists.The paper was able to take an extensive insight into four mostimportant aspects, namely energy, the climate change, pollution, theuse of natural resources, and environmental pollution. From theinsights above, there is a direct correlation between capitalism,environmental change, and four aspects discussed.
It is, therefore, evident that there is just need to embrace theprocess of sustainability when engaging in all the practices acrossthe world. By doing so, there is a guarantee that the presentgeneration will be in a better position to enjoy the benefits thatcome with a healthy and well-maintained environment. This will beachieved without having to compromise chances or possibilities offuture generations experiencing the same. Additionally, it is crystalclear from the points discussed above that the current challenges dueto the environment cannot be overcome quickly and successfully aslong as the economic system remains in the capitalistic state.
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