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Climate Change Is the Inevitable Consequence of Capitalist Privatization


Climate Change Is the Inevitable Consequence of Capitalist Privatization

Nathaniel Matthews-Trigg

The notion of the commons refers to shared land, publicly available for all people to access for leisure and when times get tough, for survival. Publicly shared lands have existed since humans first walked the earth but have progressively been enclosed for individual sustenance or for profit. The most profound period of enclosures came with the introduction of European capitalism, and mass displacement of agricultural people to toil in industrial factories.


Capitalism: (from Merriam-Webster) an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market

Having been recently been bashed by pointing out that Oreos and Fig Newtons could be used as stores of capital, I’ll stick my head out once again. Bartering is a rudimentary form of capitalism and is A-OK with me. What is not acceptable are externalities in capitalistic systems such as poverty, pollution, usury, etc., which are often intertwined, especially in hyper-financialized capitalistic systems such as that of the US. Taxes and other forms of regulation can bring a great deal of sanity and stability. In all societies capitalism resides on the top of socialism (In the Soviet Union, the former was the black market.). The key is balancing the two to ensure progress in both social and quality-of-life metrics in a manner consistent with the finite carrying capacity of Pacha Mama. Easy? Expletive no!


It’s great to see attention being brought to Murray Bookchin. His book The Ecology of Freedom links hierarchy - the domination of man over man, to its origins in the domination of man over nature. In the future he will be seen by more people as the giant in radical ecology. Unfortunately, in his last years he suffered Cassandra’s fate, isolated and ignored while consistently advancing the most sophisticated, grounded and coherent analysis of anybody out there.


Unless communalism or any other political-economic foundation has figured out how to break the laws of physics and not create waste this entire story does not understand how energy processes work. Every single type of energy production from solar to geothermal to petroleum and coal releases CO2 and other GHGs, so Im rather confused how this author thinks that another economic system would somehow eliminate the greenhouse effect or prevent climate change. In fact climate change has occurred for billions of years before human even existed, so the idea that capitalism has anything to do with its creation is laughable.

Furthermore, without capitalism it is extremely unlikely that we would have sources today that can help society reduce GHGs, as these sources were developed largely due to private discovery and innovation. While governments certainly play a vital role in large scale deployment and economic control they are also responsible for the production of these sources and without private development it is unlikely that many of these sources would have even entered the market.


Capitalism IS exploitation. Exploitation of the environment, of the people, for profit.


" Nobel Peace Prize for Economics." It’s Nobel Prize for Economics.


" Man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human. Society is something that precedes the individual. Anyone who either cannot lead the common life or is so self-sufficient as not to need to, and therefore does not partake of society, is either a beast or a god. ”

― Aristotle


How does solar and geothermal release CO2? And what about wind? Where’s the CO2? And what about hydro? Climate change due to global warming caused by human activity has never occurred before. This is the first time. Of course it isn’t caused by capitalism. It is caused mainly by generating energy. Also, it is caused by deforestation. And it is caused by dairy and meat production and by agriculture practices using nitrogen fertilizers. It is also caused by cement making. And by refrigeration and air conditioning using CFCs. Of course writers on this website attribute every ill in the world to capitalism. They don’t worry about explaining how the USSR produced so much greenhouse gas emissions without capitalism. Hint. Burning a lot of coal.

  1. Solar and wind like many other forms of energy besides fossil fuels generate CO2 and other GHGs during the extraction and manufacturing phases of the energy source’s lifetime. Geothermal can also release CO2 during the manufacturing of equipment, but far more often their releases are due to power conversion processes in which dissolved gases within a hydrothermal system are released upon energy production. Now, when I say that these sources emit CO2 , keep in mind that their emissions are magnitudes lower than that of coal or natural gas plants.

  2. Of course climate change due to human activity has occurred for the first time due to humans, I would have thought that be obvious considering the implication you made. My point was that this article makes it seem that climate change would never occur if not for capitalism, which is scientifically inaccurate.


China and Russia also contribute to global fever. They are not capitalists. Perhaps the culprit is industrialism, starting with the industrial revolution.


I think the term progress has alot to do with it. We have used more resources in the last 40 years than 40 000 and we are not slowing down …this is progress towards our own demise. Greed has been let loose for some people there is never enough .Accumulation of stuff is the number one goal, houses,land,cars ,jewels ,art ,boats more stuff . Comes from the thought that the more you own the more powere you will have.

Illusions of humans, two of which create our whole economy ;Disunity and Insufficiency…We think we are seperate from each other and that there is never enough to go around for everyones happiness.


I continue to disagreee (is this a bash?) that bartering, in itself is a form of capitalism. Capitalism requires the private accumulation and use of capital (which is a powerful thing). Bartering is about exchange of goods and services – a normal human activity that predates industrialism and capitalism.

As for free markets, I’d like an example of where competition actually works to set value (prices). Prices are set by whoever controls capital (capitalists).


Actually both China and Russia have devolved from state capitalist political-economies to oligarchy-controlled capitalist economies.


Thanks to Nathaniel Matthews-Trigg for actually using the C-word as he so ably describes how the political-economy affects the biosphere.

And thanks to beleaguered leftists, the Occupiers, the Bernie movement and the DSA for making this article possible.


In the end, ecology always wins. It may have to kill off or attenuate pesky species though. We might avoid all the pain and suffering if our intelligence evolves enough to figure out how to do without.