The word capitalism can be used to show the social systems that are found in the world in the current day and time. It is believed that with the capitalist world system, only a few people have the privilege of owning the different means through which diverse goods can be produced and distributed. These few people are referred to as the capitalist class and get many advantages by being in this class. For those who are not lucky enough to fall into the capitalist class, the only way they can get a salary is by giving their time and effort in exchange. These group is referred to as the working class. The capitalist class works on producing goods and services to gain a certain amount of profit from it and not to satisfy the needs of their customers. Through this motive it is believed that the capitalist group will go to extreme extents to satisfy their needs and this may come at the expense of the environment thus contributing significantly to climate change (World Socialist Movement 1).
The world today faces quite a number of environmental challenges. Despite the fact that there are many environmental bodies working to combat the problem of climate change it seems that it is only growing bigger as the days go by. More than half of the forests in the world today have been cut down or burned to ashes. As the rate of deforestation grows with each passing year, the amount of rainfall received decreases simultaneously leading to a drastic reduction in the wetlands of the world. The more the wetlands and forests decrease the more organisms suffer and the more denudation takes place. Generation of greenhouse gases becomes a nagging problem for the world as industrialization and business development continues to be on the rise. In the business world, powerful corporate are running toxic companies all in the pillars of capitalism which leads to a great environmental problem that needs to be addressed with immediate effect if the world is to be restored to a sustainable state of natural and ecological resources (Speth 1).
Many people are of the school of thought that many of the environmental issues faced in the world today that result in climate change stem from the division that exists between the rich and poor classes in the society. It is believed that since the interest of the capitalists is on maximizing their profits, they give little or no concern to the human life and well being. It can be seen from past events that the individual capitalist will seek the route that has the most direct and immediate gain to them and they will follow that route despite the harm they may leave in their wake. A relevant example of this can be recalled from the Marxism explanation of the different degradations of the environment. The case point of the examples offered are such as those of the Cubans who destroyed an entire forest through fire so that they could utilize the ashes as fertilizer for a coffee crop that was rare and would earn them a significant amount of money. The burning of the forest had a steep effect on the environment starting from pollution, to erosion and to the loss of a water catchment area. The clearing of the forest caused such significant erosion in the area that all the soil was washed away leaving behind denuded rocks. Fighting to be the privileged few who could produce a substance of significance to the market that would bring them immediate monetary and statutory rewards came at a great cost to the environment (Brooks 1). One of the countries that have constantly been in the limelight concerning their leaders and the global climatic change is the United States. President Donald Trump has been accused of putting his economic goals for the country ahead of catering to the looming threat that environmental degradation might cause to the country and this can be seen as a clear case of capitalism at its best. President Trump has been focused on regaining the businesses in the country to an extent of even saying that climate change is a lie and he will not be part of it. He even went forth to withdraw the US from treaties made a couple of years ago concerning climate protection. This putting of profit in front of the wellbeing of others is what leads to the continued degradation of the environment (Somerville 1).
Many debates have been raised as to whether the sustenance of a capitalist economy in today’s world can co-exist with keeping safe ecological limits. The current greed driven capitalist economic system has led to the damaging of the climatic system in a manner that may be hard to reverse. This is because once entrepreneurs see that doing something leads to a certain amount of profit then they will want to maximize the specific economic activity to its largest scale possible so that they can earn the largest amount of profit possible to be earned from that activity. Since there is a lot of competition in the current market, firms will seek the most cost and time efficient methods to ensure that they can endure their competition at the same time building their empires. For capitalism to remain in such a stable form it is necessary that there is a continuous growth of production taking place. For continuous production to take place there needs to be continuous consumption of the goods and services being offered. This will ensure that the cycle remains running. However, the earth is not an infinite source of resources. The resources found in the planet, both ecological and natural were put in place for sustainability of people inhabiting the earth in equal proportions to all. Once the capitalist system of production and consumption impedes on the ability of the earth to sustain it then automatically there will begin to be changes in the climatic and environmental system that we live in. most capitalists will use non renewable energy without taking the time to ponder what will happen once this energy is depleted. This short sightedness in their dealings leads to the depletion of the earth’s resources without a plan thus harming the environment and eventually harming human beings. It should be the responsibility of the state to regulate such industrial production but unfortunately, bad and corrupt politics has changed this. Most state offices want a share in the profits being yielded by the capitalists and will compromise what they ought to do so that they can achieve what they want. The state is influenced by different business and political groups and as a result of this they often overlook what is needed for the environment in favor of the capitalist benefits (Movahed 1).
Many capitalist businesses will go on and on about energy but power is not mentioned anywhere. This creates a false notion that capitalists might actually be concerned with the well being of the environment. However, the fact that capitalism is centered on wealth and power means that the people with the political power to make major decisions are those in the capitalist class. With such people having that amount of control any rule and measure that seeks to go against their productivity does not stand any chance. The only way that such control could be overthrown is by breaking up the segregation and ensuring that it is neutered and under control. However it has to be noted that some enterprises such as Wal-mart chain and the shell and BP petrol stations have been able to take matters into their own hands and try saving the environment while the government is still incapable of making such decisions on their own due to the manipulation they are put through by other capitalist businesses. The Wal-mart chain of supermarkets imposed a 20% reduction on the amount of carbon emissions that come from its own industries. BP and Shell chose to make themselves eco-networks that are responsible in supplying green energy to others who may be in need. There are also some minor farmers and business men who take part in selling locally made products thus taking an active role in conserving the environment. These deeds are however not enough to counteract the negativities that are caused by the capitalism in the world today. The solutions that will help take care of our climate can only become relevant if made by people themselves through starting autonomous businesses. Technological institutions should support these businesses to ensure that they are sustained so that in the long run they have a positive effect in reversing the damage caused to the environment (Newman 1).
While environmentalists have put forth several arguments implicating the capitalists as the root cause of the current environmental crisis in the world, some argue that on the contrary, capitalism could actually be what is needed to save the environment in its current degradation. According to James Q. Wilson, a renowned political scientist, over a period of time the system of capitalism will eventually protect the environment from those who would cause it harm because this system allows people to take political action against those who wish to put natural resources at extreme risk such that it is not beneficial to their production routines. He believes that without the economic stability provided by capitalism, awareness on how natural and ecological resources are sued would not have been brought to light. He also adds that it is through the need of technological advantages required in production that equipment have been developed to identify ecological problems and raise concern on how to deal with them and so capitalism is not necessarily a negative concept to the climate. It is believed that once strict regulations are implemented in capitalist economical systems, the general environment will actually come to benefit from capitalism (Clifford 71).
Brooks, Mick. In Defense of Marxism: “Capitalism and the Environment”. 21 August 2006. http://www.marxist.com/capitalism-environment-ecology-marxism210806.htm Accesssed 04 December, 2017.
Clifford, Mary. Environmental crime: enforcement, policy, and social responsibility. Jones & Bartlett Learning, 1998.
Movahed, Masoud. World Economic Forum: “Does capitalism have to be bad for the environment?” 15 February 2016. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/02/does-capitalism-have-to-be-bad-for-the-environment/ Accessed 04 December, 2017.
Newman, Robert. The Guardian: “Its Capitalism or a habitable planet- you can’t have both”. 2 February 2006. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2006/feb/02/energy.comment Accessed 04 December, 2017.
Speth, James. Yale Environment 360: “Environment Failure – A Case for a New Green Politics”. 20 October 2008. http://e360.yale.edu/features/environmental_failure_a_case_for_a_new_green_politics Accessed 04 December, 2017.
Somerville, Ewan. Huffpost: “Trump’s assault on climate change is capitalism at its worst – Civil society must resist”. 29 March 2017. http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/ewan-somerville/donald-trump-climate-change_b_15669418.html Accessed 04 December, 2017.
worldsocialism.org. World Socialist Movement: “What is Capitalism?” 2017. http://www.worldsocialism.org/english/what-capitalism Accessed 04 December, 2017.