Capitalismand the Global Environment
Theinternational environmental change has recently become a growingconcern to the global community. It is evident by the growing casesof storms, droughts, fires, and famine globally. Due to this,numerous explanations try to deduce the cause of this phenomenon.Capitalism or rather globalization is amongst the main reasons forthe cause of environment change. Capitalism does this through theextensive emission of greenhouse gasses, misuse and depletion ofnon-renewable energy and natural resources, and pollution. Due tothis, questions are asked as to whether environmental change can becontrolled under the capitalist economic system. Hardin, Hawken,Werbach, and Homer-Dixon claim that it is possible for environmentalchange to experience control under the capitalist system. They claimpeople will manage to find the means of balancing capitalism and thechanges in environment since they care about their future.Furthermore, climatic changes existed long before capitalizationcommenced. On the contrary Butler, Wallis, Williams, Magdoff, Beder,Polychroniou, Foster, and Klein, argue that the capitalist systemcannot control environmental change. They claim capitalists aredriven by their love for wealth and will use any means to get rich atthe expense of the environment. They do this by employing unorthodoxmeans like depleting the earth’s natural resources without thinkingof the future generations, which will possibly createunsustainability. However, through replacing the capitalist economicstructure with a more social one, people will be able to care morefor their environment reducing activities that cause climatic change.Therefore, proper management of the environment will ensure thatsustainability is achieved since the future generations will have anequal chance at using environmental resources.
Capitalismand the Global Environment
Theearth embeds human beings connecting them to the planet’sinterdependent biological and geological structures. These structureshave several interlocking and overlapping substructures that includevillages, ecologies, catchments, and economies among others. Giventoday`s power of technology, human, as well as, other species’survival requires immense attention regarding the interactions withinthese substructures. Changes associated with any of the elements mayhave surging and possibly devastating consequences for both humansand their environment. Capitalism also disguised as globalization,forms the framework regarding the world`s current response to globalenvironmental change. Despite the presence of the concept throughouttime, it is often unsaid in numerous academic arguments related tointernational environmental change. According to Wainwright (2010),capitalism produces certain forms of environmental change. In turn,they create social and political structural grounds that outlinecommon guidelines needed to counter environmental change. There aremultiple policies and rhetoric debates concerning the greening ofcapitalism, development of new green arrangements, or practices ofdifferent capitalism, which do not create instability and crisis butconsistently tackle climatic changes. Capitalism has its merits anddemerits that experiences reflection in society`s political, social,and economic aspects (Wainwright, 2010). However, the present world`ssituation does not allow any of the aspect to solve concerns aboutenvironmental change individually. In this report, I will highlightthe reasons why the current most severe environmental concerns cannotexperience successful defeat if the international economic systemstays capitalist.
Globalenvironmental change serves as a core debate regarding therelationship between economic development and environmentaldegradation. Deforestation, human and corporation activities, andcombustion of fossil fuels are explicitly accountable for thedetected warming of the world`s atmosphere. In agreement withWainwright (2010), the world`s carbon footprint increased byapproximately 0.9 % annually in the 1990s and further rose to 3.5 %annually since the year 2000. Since then, the earth`s carbonfootprint has increasingly escalated because of increased carbonintensity, continued ecosystem degradation that forms natural carbonsinks, due to economic development.
Accordingto Wainwright (2010), the capitalist economic system supportsindividual needs regarding wealth accumulation. The system isstandard globally due to its role towards the generation of theeconomy`s rapid development within a substantially short time whencompared to the socialist system. The commencement of the capitalistconcept resulted in the establishment of specific trends relating tothe political, environmental, and social systems directed towards aform of wealth rush (Wainwright, 2010). Indeed, capitalism results toincreased greediness within any given society. Consequently, peopleadopt unorthodox techniques to achieve wealth, making capitalism loseits capacity of offering a sustainable economic growth and gain itsability to influence environmental modification and degradation.
Oneof the primary practices that capitalists utilize to increaseenvironmental change involves increased industrial activities thatrelease hydrocarbon gasses. They are theoretically carbon-relatedgasses, which deplete the earth`s ozone layer initiating globalwarming. Through statistical reviews of greenhouse gas emissions, itis apparent that the most percentage of carbon footprints originatesfrom first world countries. However, the phenomenon mainly affectsthe developing countries despite them playing minimal roles in carbonemissions. Typically, this indicates capitalism`s inability to tackleconcerns of environmental change even with the establishment of theKyoto Protocol. Since it was influenced negatively by the completeutilization of the capitalist economic fronts (Fletcher, 2012).Additionally, capitalism also affects the environment throughenvironmental pollution and the wasteful use of the earth`s naturalresources including forests, fossil fuels, and minerals among others.
Globalwarming is amongst the major world`s concerns associated withenvironmental change. The phenomenon is due to carbon accumulation inthe atmosphere, which is mainly introduced into the environmentthrough industrial activities related to the developed countries.Consequently, the third world countries tend to suffer making thisunethical especially since they often experience famine that resultsin drought. In agreement with Wainwright (2010), this is because theglobal weather patterns fail to favor food production. Furthermore,the earth is experiencing an increased spread of arid and semi-aridareas. Additionally, the ice found in Arctic, Antarctic, and Icelandare slowly melting, thereby, increasing the sea water levels thateventually submerges dry land (McCarthy, 2015). These consequencesare direct influences of changes in the global weather and climatepatterns. Overall, climatic change results from the pursuit of wealthby corporations and countries such that they utilize unorthodoxtechniques that minimize their expenses in the manufacturingindustry.
Subsequently,energy is amongst the fundamental components of any economy. It isapparent that human beings need the power to run their machines andultimately operate their manufacturing plants. In agreement withFletcher (2012), multiple energy sources exist and are grouped intonon-renewable (wood and crude oil) and renewable (the wind, tidal,and solar) energy. Increased economic dependency on energy allowscapitalists to exploit the component. Companies and nations areutilizing energy sources that favor their current conditions. Forexample, if companies are located around forests, they tend to leantowards using wood to fire their boilers without considering thenon-renewable nature of the fuel. Increased use of these treesresults in the reduction of vegetation cover that ultimatelyincreases the carbon footprint of not only the country but also theworld. Additionally, as a natural resource, crude oil is one of themost extensively used fuels globally. Wainwright (2010) points outthat crude oil is important to the economy due to the countries andcompanies` dependence on the commodity, which is apparent in highinflation rates associated with the global change of oil prices. Withthis, the rate of crude oil exploitation is high today that mayeventually make it scarce for the future generations. Naturally, oildebates emerge that initiate civil conflicts and wars in countriesrich in oil such as the Middle East countries and Congo because ofwealth portraying capitalism (Klein, 2015). Such practices influencethe people negatively since they become caught up in the war betweenthe rich for money.
Klein(2015) points out the energy and climatic change connection. Sheclaims that through the burning of fossil fuels for energy, carbonemissions persist into the world`s atmosphere. Therefore, once theglobe solves issues resulting from energy, they will manage tocounter attack global warming that leads to climatic change. Thecurbing of these energy issues, however, is not simple. Corporationsand countries around the world have been exposed to educationregarding the renewable sources of energy, but many decide to ignorethem since they are expensive to initiate. According to McCarthy(2015), due to this, several multinational companies and statesconsider it economical to use carbon-producing fuels ensuring thatthey get enough profits from their produce making them highlycompetitive in the market.
Further,the changes in the environment are also associated with pollution.Most of the industries and countries have issues resulting from themanagement of their waste. According to Fletcher (2012),environmentalists see it fit to campaign for waste treatmenttechniques, utilization of biodegradable packaging constituents, andproper disposal of wastes from industrial plants. Despite this, wastemanagement still stands as a menace worldwide evident in numerousgarbage mountains available across most cities. Additionally, thereis increased emptying of industrial waste and sewerage into cleanwater. Therefore, disposal of this wastes in water channels threatenboth aquatic and human life. Further, plastic waste is also amongstthe well-known means of pollution owing to its non-biodegradablenature. Plastic litter across lands often results in landunproductivity and an unhealthy environment. Air pollution alsoinfluences environmental change especially with the carbon gasemissions (McCarthy, 2015).
Inagreement with McCarthy (2015), the supporters of the use ofcapitalism in handling changes in the environment claim that climaticchange does not arise from the capitalist economic structures. Theyargue that the degradation of the environment is due in large part tothe society`s ethical and moral deterioration. Therefore, Hawken(1997) claims natural capitalism structures appear naturally bringingabout massive competition within the world`s economies. Through this,nature`s capitalism experiences an expansion. Owing to the increasedcompetition, capitalists strive to find ways that will help thembecome highly competitive by integrating their operation withsustainable environmental practices. Through this, the naturalcompetitive nature of the economic structure ensures capitalismsuccess. Hawken (1997) assumed that the markets legendary efficiencywould eventually take charge, preserving the environmental values.Subsequently, even with the adoption of sustainable environmentalpractices, environmental change is inevitable. According to Werbach(2005), this results in the death of environmentalism where thesociety accepts certain practices despite their adverse influences ontheir surroundings. Therefore, capitalism dictates individualthoughts on both collective and personal levels. Meaning, anenvironmental change resulting from capitalism is inevitable nomatter how many people, activists and scholars show ignorance. Itallows individuals use environmental resources to attain maximumprofits
Further,capitalism arises due to scarce resources found worldwide. It isapparent that these resources always attracted significant personalinterests even before the onset of environmental change issues.Thereby, capitalism thrived in this conventional setting in a lessformal manner that it currently exists. Homer-Dixon (1996) proposesfor a state, individual, or corporation to actualize a successfuleconomic system, they have to compete aggressively for theseresources. He further asserts that the issues concerningenvironmental change can only attain solutions using capitalismbecause every person in the society cares about their future.Therefore, the capitalist will follow sustainability environmentallaws since they desire to produce the maximum possible wealthtomorrow. Subsequently, though capitalism, some minority numbers ofindividuals achieve elite statuses while the majority remainsindigent. These conditions are inherited meaning the poor peopleshould not complain of scarce resources while the earth holdsnumerous resources for exploitation. Unluckily, Hardin (1968) assertsthat the wealthy capitalist practices pose severe influences on thepoor compared to the rich creating a tragedy of the commons. Mainly,this tragedy, the general climatic change, unfolds through exhaustionof common-pool resources through withdrawal including deforestationor additions including toxic gas emissions into the atmosphere. However, capitalism and environmental systems can balance each otherensuring that they coexist peacefully (Hardin, 1968)
Onthe other hand, several scholars emphasize that capitalism directlyinfluences environmental degradation. According to these classes ofauthors, capitalists pursue selfish interests negatively affectingthe environment making it impossible to solve issues about theenvironment using capitalist systems. Wallis (2008) notes thatinvestors ignore the importance of renewable energy systems such aswave, solar and wind since these means do not offer lucrativeplatforms of developing wealth. They mainly prefer the easiestchannel through using non-renewable energy systems like crude oil andwood to satisfy their interests while simultaneously destroying theenvironment with no regard to the future generations. Butler adds toWallis points asserting that the capitalist systems have no real roomto incorporate the use of sustainable energy (Fletcher, 2012).Additionally, Beder (1997) stresses on this point claiming thatthrough capitalism, individuals cannot fathom implementing ideas suchas the utilization of renewable energy. Numerous stakes shadow theideas and decision-making are granted to the superior nations, whichcontribute largely to the world`s carbon footprint. Due to this, itis not possible to have both the capitalist and environmental systemswork together.
Polychroniou, claims that capitalist-centered countries are currently competingagainst one another to get the best of the globe`s scarce resourcesthat are driven by selfish interests (Fletcher, 2012). It is apparentthat the rich European countries are likely to exploit naturalresources from African nations since they do not stand a chance inwinning the fight. Therefore, they can only watch as their resourcesexperience exploitation and suffer the consequences of drought andfamine. Further, Magdoff & Foster, (2011) emphasizes that thecapitalist-aligned nations are slaves to the capitalist stakes wherethey exploit the use of wood fuel to the maximum valuing theirprofits rather than the state of the environment. These capitalistfail to realize that through their depletion of natural resources,the future of the world`s activities will experience a downfall.
Theglobal warming phenomenon is presently experiencing attention as theworld`s severe environmental concern. According to Magdoff &Foster (2011), the event resulted in a meeting among capitalistnations at Kyoto to establish a counter mechanism that would solvethis disaster. However, the United States of America decided not toparticipate Hardin din this forum. They did this despite beingamongst the main contributor of carbon emissions into the world`satmosphere. Furthermore, Dawson (2010) points out that Williamsclaims that even with the signing of the Kyoto Protocol guidelines,many nations have not initiated its commencement within theirnations. In this light, it is rather tasking for any capitalist stateto oversee all the activities of capitalist corporations, whichcontribute largely to the carbon emissions. With the failure of theKyoto Protocol, these capitalist nations initiated a new strategyconcerning global warming that aims to uphold Kyoto guidelines usingdifferent strategies. Despite the signing in of America on the newagreement, it will take some years to implement the program fully,which may have a dire consequence on the earth`s already damagedenvironment.
Accordingto Klein (2015), climate change is not primarily connected to thecarbon emissions but the world`s current economic system. Theeconomic models that humans utilize are at conflict with life foundon earth. However, humans cannot change the laws associated withnature but can change the broken economy system. The change inclimate is a wakeup call for all societies worldwide, which isaccompanied by floods, droughts, storms, and fires. Klein (2015)claims that climate change is no longer about changing the world`slight bulbs to more energy saving ones or partnering major greencompanies with carbon emitting ones, but amend the entire system orwatch the earth change humankind. Moreover, the earth`s environmentis experiencing drastic changes that will threaten the safety ofhumans.
Klein(2015), in her documentary, depicts that climatic problems asaltercations between the planet and capitalism. The conflicts oftenresult from an increased humankind demand for wealth and produce in afinite world. She claims in this dispute the earth will come outtriumphant since it will eventually manage to reach equilibrium evenif the process takes centuries. Therefore, humans should findalternative ways of living in it to help earth achieve balance. Klein(2015) claims that the catastrophic nature of the climate can onlyexperience avoidance once the current capitalist guidelines undergomodification however, she does not provide an alternative constructto the present capitalist construct. According to Klein (2015), theeconomic world as it is encourages the neoliberalism philosophy,which promotes a carbon-hungry, high consumption system.Neoliberalism promotes mega-mergers across the world, tradeagreements, which are hostile to labor and environmental regulations,and general hypermobility that allows corporations to make profitsthat puzzle the world (McCarthy, 2015). To ensure survival, Klein(2015) claims that humans should break all rules associated with freemarkets that provide corporates with power and reclaim democracies,as well as, rebuild local economies.
Klein(2015) also points out mechanisms that capitalists have used but havenot worked appropriately. The global community should not setunrealistic goals to achieve their use of renewable energy sources.It should stay away from holding international summits that onlyshout about the issue but does not strategize further to ensure thatthe carbon footprint is reduced. It should also keep away fromnon-binding arrangements, which ultimately bind the multinationalcorporations to produce increased emissions. Further, Klein (2015)calls for the abolishment of the cap and trade systems in the worldand advocates for reasonable control and command systems, which willinstead reengineer the earth`s atmospheric climate. People on theplanet, especially capitalists, need to change their mode ofoperation to ensure that environmental change restructures for thebetterment of the society.
Dueto the apparent failure of the capitalist economic system to tacklematters concerning environmental change, there is the dire need for asocialist approach adaptation. With this, natural resources willexperience effective management and exploitation with theconsideration of every stakeholder. Through this McCarthy (2015)claims environmental sustainability will occur ensuring currentgenerations enjoy the planet`s natural resources without influencingthe future generations` similar chances. The socialist approachadvocates for the well-being of all people, whether rich or poor.Further, through the socialist economist viewpoint, capitalists willcarry out economic functions ensuring that they do not compromiseother locations or the future generations due to climatic changes(McCarthy, 2015). Thus, the pursuit of wealth will be second to thesociety`s well-being. However, other measures must be included in thesocialist approach, which will involve education the larger communityon climate change. Through this, the global community will makepractical changes that will return the earth`s atmosphere intobalance.
Inclosing, it is evident that the earth`s climatic change isthreatening the life of human beings through the rise of incidentssuch as droughts, floods, fires, and storms among others. However,scholars including Hardin, Hawken, Werbach, and Homer-Dixon claimthat climate change long existed before the onset of capitalism. Onthe other hand, according to authors such as Butler, Wallis,Williams, Magdoff, Beder, Polychroniou, Foster, and Klein, thecapitalist economic systems are amongst the major contributors ofthis phenomenon. Overall, climate change is a menace affecting theearth and eventually will affect human life, as well as, thepractices of capitalists. Therefore, capitalists and the societyshould establish ways of handling the matter ensuring the problemundergoes eradication since the current capitalist economic systemcould not successfully achieve. Success can only be achieved by theappropriate interaction of the capitalist, socialist, and politicaleconomic structures.
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