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Neoliberalism Drives Climate Breakdown, Not Human Nature


Huh? Much of US manufacturing is now done in China. (Just talk to the people in the Rust Belt of middle America). US trade policy and US corporations played no role in that? It was US corporations seeking to maximize profits that led them to China (with fewer environmental rules than in the US). The US is exporting its pollution. You can’t see the forest for the trees.


Try and follow the argument here.

  1. China is a sovereign nation.
  2. Sovereign nations can set their own rules regarding pollution and the trade off between industrialization and environmental impact.
  3. CHINA chose profits and industrialization over the environment.

You can now resume your anti-US viewpoints.


You’re passing by arguments as though they weren’t there.

I doubt anyone disagrees that there is pollution in China, nor that China has a measure of sovereignty. The point is that American and other consumers who pay to have pollution done in order to get certain products at certain prices still bear responsibility for the results of our own actions, including those results that happen abroad. To be clear, let’s add that the military and paramilitary groups that work to maintain dominance of markets and the subjugation of labor, all share that responsibility. This mostly means the US, NATO, Israel, and some associates.

Chinese malfeasance does not excuse American actions. The US is a sovereign nation, too, to some extent, and some results of our actions take place in other sovereign nations. Because physics and causality do not get suspended at national borders, it makes no sense to imagine that responsibility does.

Pollution caused by capitalism is still caused by capitalism, regardless of what name you want to hang on a given country or what name its government chooses to call itself. If you want to call China “communist” or the US “democratic,” go right ahead and have fun fighting with the definitions of those words. But pollution caused to derive profit from capital investments at the expense of various populations is pollution caused by the mechanisms of capitalism, whosoever may be its victims or wherever it is done.

If I pay someone to kill my wife, I am not innocent because my employee does the manual labor. I am not less guilty because the employee is also guilty. I am not less guilty if it is done offshore and outside of territorial waters. I am not less guilty because it is done in a sovereign nation other than the one that I occupy or the one in which I am a citizen. If the employee runs over a nun escaping, I am not without guilt in that accident because I did not foresee it, since the danger for such things was clearly implied in my initial proposition.

These things are bad excuses because they do not address what causes the problem.


If we follow your argument as you present it, we find an enormous problem:

If China chooses profits over environment, China makes a capital-based, market-based decision. It is, therefore, a capitalist decision. Regardless of whether the government wants to call itself communist or you or I want to call it communist, it is practicing capitalism.

The rest’s in the other post.


You seem to believe that American consumers have more power over China than the Chinese government.

China is, by self-definition, a Communist country. I always it amusing when people choose to ignore how people (and counties) self-identify when it doesn’t suit their argument. When the Peoples Republic of China, or the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics doesn’t act in the way that suits, they’re labeled “state capitalist”.

I do have to say though, you gave me a chuckle when you grudgingly acknowledged that "China has a measure of sovereignty. Probably the best laugh of the day…


Oh I get it. Speaking about the reality of the US position in the world is anti-US. What a good neoconservative you’d make.


Keeling’s CO2 growth curve matches the human population growth curve. Human population was approaching 4 billion by 1980. As the animal that cooks its food, cloths itself and lives in constructed dwellings our energy needs are significant regardless of the economic system. By 1980 CO2 was over 340. Global Warming was well underway regardless of economic system. At 4 billion we were at the upper limit of sustainable human carrying capacity without the use of fossil fuels or cement. We are beyond carrying capacity without the use of fossil fuels or cement. Add in other disruptions to the carbon cycle such as over logging, over fishing, too many ruminants, over land conversion and soil carbon depleting agricultural practices and constant warfare and the system arrives where it is now. In 1980 had we stopped all our destructive practices, halted population growth, and stopped using fossil fuels we might have made it. But our consumption practices exceeded natural regeneration capacity in 1800.
As CO2 is now being emitted from soils north of 70 degrees north latitude in an annual amount the matches what vehicles in the lower 48 emit, we have entered run away global warming.
Its not neoliberalism, its population times consumption that has pushed us over the edge.



It interests me to see how many comments are here, relative to other articles I’ve perused today.

Looks like this article hits a nerve…

Could that be because every single one of us knows full well that indeed, we are the monster in the mirror?

Because every single one of us knows full well that indeed, human nature IS the cause of climate change?

Look: every single person writing here so far wants to blame SOMEONE ELSE for climate change!

Who is blamed varies from commenter to commenter, but no one says: “Actually, that’s me: me caring only about my own physical survival and/or gratification!”

“That’s me, willingly taking hundreds of actions every day that serve my immediate material gratification/survival, even though I know that they inevitably result in the torture and death of countless relations…”

“That’s me, that serial murderer! That person who believes they are entitled to possess and consume anything and everything in order to gratify their own appetites and assuage their own fears…”

Look: “Thankfully, I’ll be dead before this all REALLY hits the fan…” is a common response to the overwhelming magnitude of the current ecological crisis.

If that’s not selfish, what the hell is?

No one here or on any other “news” board I’ve ever visited says, “Yep, that’s me!”

“Feeling terribly bad, of course, about all this destruction, because I’m a ‘good person’.”

“But, of course, unable to find another way to live, because—well, how else would I personally survive?”

“And obviously, that’s the most important thing in this world to me—how could it possibly be otherwise?”

Yes, climate change is due to human nature.

That incredibly selfish, short-sighted thing that can only identify itself with one short-lived physical body—and that will only care for what it can identify itself with—is part of human nature.

In modernity, we most often call it “ego.” Zulus call it Warrior Mind.

There are many names for this part of us in our diverse cultures, but the recognition of its behaviors—and its effects—is transcultural and stable over time.

There is, of course, more to human nature than this. To integrate and embody that “more” is our species’ unique gift, and seemingly impossible challenge.

Yes, moving to a radically different center of consciousness is possible for us.

Yes, that movement entails radically different relating with humans and non-humans alike.

Yes, that movement produces radically different manifestations of/in material reality.

But apparently, no one who reads this kind of “news” is the least bit interested in this fact, despite its being recognized across cultures over a long span of time.

Is that, perhaps, because the only possible solution to Earth’s climate crisis takes work of a type that the vast majority of egocentric moderns are utterly unwilling to do?

Work that is not monetizable in our current economic regime, because this work is utterly inimical to our current economic regime.

No, I’m not joining in the “capitalist” v. “socialist” distraction game here!

Because ALL modern economic systems, whatever names they call themselves and however they disguise their murderous, rapacious Nature, rely upon positive interest currency.

Positive interest currency presumes endless growth in material production and consumption.

It’s inevitable that this system of incentives/disincentives feeds the devouring selfish thing inside us, the thing that wants to believe that we humans are, or can be, above the Law of Nature. The thing that wants to believe that there is such a thing as a free lunch. The thing that wants to believe we can cheat death.

Yep, it comes down to that: our willingness to be controlled by our terror of physical death. Our willingness to try to dominate and control all of Life out of resentment about our physical mortality.

Once we are not willing to be controlled by our terror of physical death, once we actually sense what physical death is, once we are no longer resentful at its necessity, everything changes.

But the work required to liberate ourselves from enslavement by our terror of physical death and our resultant resentment at Life brings no social recognition or status.

This work typically makes one feel a hell of a lot worse before it ever makes one feel better.

This work may bring no tangible, material rewards within one’s lifetime.

This work will not save one from physical death, or ensure that one will live as many years in this body as one might wish.

Well, obviously, no one is going to do work like THAT, right? That’s human nature, right?

Of course, those just waking up now to how severe and uncontrollable our climate crisis is will say, “That’s nice, dear, but there’s no time for that kind of fluffery! We’re in an emergency here!”

“We have no time, now, to do anything but more of what we’ve been doing!”

“We have no time, now, to do anything but focus even more relentlessly on trying to secure our immediate physical survival!”

“If that is evidently futile, then we have no time to do anything but focus on getting whatever gratification we can, while supplies last!”

Of course, some of those just awakening now to the overwhelming magnitude and significance of our ecological crisis will take a more directly aggressive approach to what I’m sharing here.

Surely someone will rudely sneer “How dare you? What’s so great about your life? Do you live on light? Do you teleport from place to place? Do you ever eat anything you didn’t grow yourself, or use anything you didn’t make yourself?”

“Oh, you’re not afraid of death, huh? I’d like to make you prove it at the business end of a weapon, snowflake!”

Deflect, distract, dismiss, silence, kill—the eternal weaponry of the ego.

I know it’s hard to grok, but what one does on the surfaces of Life is much less significant than the inner center from which one does it.

This is a timeless Truth.

For manifestation moves from the subtle to the gross. The inner determines the outer, not the other way around…no matter how persistently our individual and collective habits of perception lead us to insist otherwise.

Of course, everyone is free to come to this recognition in their own time.

Such a change is not, cannot be, a political achievement.

What I am offering here is not a political statement, much less a call for any kind of mass action on the level of politics-as-we-already-know-it.

Well, then, what place do I have in this gathering? Why should I even bother to speak?

For the same reason the Black-eyed Susans and Queen Ann’s Lace bloom and the crickets sing this gray and misty morning.

For the joy of it.

Because Life says “sing!” to me as surely as it says that to the songbirds who have not yet departed for other climes.

Because it is my Nature to surrender.