The recent IPCC report has received widespread attention. The report states that rapid and bold actions are necessary to avoid the catastrophic impacts of climate change and that the goals of the Paris Accord will be insufficient. This has resulted in an outpouring of opinion pieces calling for individuals to take actions in their daily lives to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and to pressure elected officials to take significant steps to support renewable energy.
NeoCons have been at it since 1980: Capitalism vs. Democracy
When will we figure it out?
Guess who’s winning.
The root cause of climate change is not capitalism. That is total bunk. The former Soviet Union had high emissions and it was not a capitalistic society. Anti-capitalists are trying to use climate change to fight against capitalism but their arguments are not logical. Climate change is related to the means of production, to food consumption, to buildings, and transportation. Whether a society is capitalist or socialist the same challenges exist. Since the industrial revolution energy has been largely derived from burning fossil fuels. No matter what the economic system is making a transition to a society that does not depend of burning fossil fuels is extremely difficult. Also, in most societies people eat meat and consume dairy products and rice. This creates emissions, capitalism or not.
“A growing economy” is sustainable only with a growing population. Demographic stats among the 50 states during the past century confirm this.
When I was in college nearly a half century ago zero population growth (ZPG) was widely discussed (there was even a ZPG club on campus!)…until the corporations realized that the economic growth model would be negatively impacted if ZPG ever transpired. Discussing ZPG therefore became taboo long before Saint Ron ascended the throne in 1981 and put growth first.
I can agree that capitalism is not the “root cause.” Anthropogenic carbon emissions are the root cause, and they happen everywhere humans live. Nevertheless, capitalism is now ascendant, and has been for almost thirty years. During that time of neoliberal expansion and the development of state capitalism in China, emissions accelerated while the alarm bells were being loudly rung. Yes, emissions would have continued in non-capitalist states had those states continued to exist, but it’s the era of globalized free trade that coincides with the era of worst emissions. And ask yourself, who most obstructs solution seeking? That would be us, as in U.S. To put it simply, capitalism externalized climate change, and here we are.
Worth remembering. Some folks equate growth with population growth – which can confuse the issue of where most carbon emissions come from. Individual carbon emissions track pretty damn closely to wealth. The wealthy consume the most energy, and the most emissions-intensive food and products. It ain’t exactly rocket science to figure out who bears most of the blame.
The root cause of global warming is growing carbon-intensive consumption. As humans have gotten better at producing more consumer goods, emissions have risen. That’s the point of the article: Degrowth as the solution to the problem.
So are you proposing that we can grow consumption endlessly?
Anthropogenic carbon emissions are NOT the ‘root cause’ — they are the result of 1)The Industrial Revolution, prior to which the per-capita production of carbon emissions was relatively small, and 2) the Gross Over-Population of humans on the earth (the majority of whom only aspire to the incredibly polluting lifestyle of the people in the industrialized nations who are responsible for the majority of carbon emissions and other forms of pollution that are negatively impacting the planet). A ten- or fifteen-percent decrease in per-capita emissions will have a negligible effect if the number of humans increases by fifty percent – as predicted – by 2100.
Hi UncleFester. I might be missing your point, but it seems both the Industrial Revolution and over-population (with aspirations for increased consumption) drove and continue to drive increases in anthropogenic carbon emissions. When I used the term, I simply meant total, world-wide human emissions including everything from methane emissions at well-heads to charcoal production in the Congo; you know, the collective bad breath of consumption. I’m aware of the distribution of carbon butt-prints and whose are biggest. Anyway, I don’t disagree with your post–just trying to mesh 'em together, if possible.
Ii EdsNOte. If I think only about cars and pollution then, I can see where cars and advertising made things go crazy.
When Henry Ford started his assembly line, he also found that if his workers could afford the product, then others would buy too. Then a few people started to have a car. And a car was much easier to own than a horse, so more people and as status bought cars. But mostly only men drove.
When WW 2 came along, men and women started building more things with more jobs and more women began to drive. After WW 2, I think men and women wanted their kids to do better, and so they did, including getting a car.
As more people bought bigger and more expensive things, then more gas was used, more freeways were built, people flew on planes, vacations began to go to exotic places and more women started to work to afford all of this.
Maybe it’s a constantly consuming culture----- because as each generation came the prior one wanted to make their kids lives easier. Sadly it seems that at this same time corporations started eating up the little businesses and communication got so big that it was hard for people to realize how fast spending was going----and suddenly all these years after WW 2, we are a growing country, but growing in the opposite direction where everything costs more and more, and jobs are less and less------so while we created a profitable nation, it seems to only profit a few and the water, air and soil of a country has been so sadly polluted that food kills people and so do awful soulless jobs like Amazon. I have no idea how to fix this-----but all this consumption has made the populace more poor and sicker and less happy.
Sometimes, in the happiness realm, maybe less is more.
They are inherently meshed, as there have been small amounts of anthropogenic carbon emissions for 10,000 to 15,000 years or more. It’s only in the last 250-300 years that the combination of carbon-fuel-based industrialization and gross overpopulation of humans has pushed atmospheric CO2 concentration to over 400 ppm — IIRC a level not seen for 100,000 years or more. IMHO, things will continue to get worse – and possibly a LOT worse if one or more critical tipping points have been passed – until BOTH per-capita greenhouse gas emissions AND human population are reduced significantly. If humanity does not find a way to do this humanely, Mother Nature will do it for us – and to us (along with a lot of other life forms on this planet) – in a manner most humans will probably consider rather INhumane . . .
Perpetual growth is inherent to an unrestrained capitalist economy (http://www.mathias-binswanger.ch/inhalt/Artikel_in_Fachzeitschriften/Journalofpostkeynesianeconomics.pdf). Many state controlled economies have also pushed for economic growth, but not all. Socialist Cuba, is the only country with high measures of quality of life and sustainable growth (http://pages.vassar.edu/sustainability/video/history-of-sustainability-in-cuba/). I encourage you to take a look at the progress the Cuban people have made in advancing worker owned cooperatives (https://monthlyreview.org/2017/11/01/cubas-new-cooperatives/).
This article is okay as far as it goes, but it fails to address how. Ralph Nader once said it’s “who owns and who controls” that matters. In the US and elsewhere, ownership and power are in the hands of a few obscenely wealthy and generally irresponsible individuals. Drunk on their power and wealth, and focused totally on getting more, it doesn’t matter to them that they are destroying our species and the habitability of our planet in the process.
Unless the majority of us wrest control from these folks, and establish a genuinely democratic society, we’re doomed.
The Old USSR was in fact STATE Capitalism as Lenin himself indicated it was.
State Capitalism is the State owning all production. The USSR as a Capitalist society was still built on the growth model. They measured all industrial production and agricultural production seeking it to grow year over year.
The state capitalism, which is one of the principal aspects of the New Economic Policy, is, under Soviet power, a form of capitalism that is deliberately permitted and restricted by the working class. Our state capitalism differs essentially from the state capitalism in countries that have bourgeois governments in that the state with us is represented not by the bourgeoisie, but by the proletariat, who has succeeded in winning the full confidence of the peasantry.
Unfortunately, the introduction of state capitalism with us is not proceeding as quickly as we would like it. For example, so far we have not had a single important concession, and without foreign capital to help develop our economy, the latter’s quick rehabilitation is inconceivable.
This was written by Vladimir Lenin in 1922.
Lenin postulated that in order to transition to true Socialism the New Russian State had to go through a process of State Capitalism first. They implemented such measures and did not progress beyond that. As Lenin pointed out the new State could not attract CAPITAL from abroad. The new USSR was basically stuck in no mans land. It was never a Marxist of Socialist State.
Thanks for the interesting links!
But all capital systems are regulated: you cannot have capital or even currency without rules. If we are to speak strictly, which regulations are we to call regulation?
No, the problem is that profit does not correspond to merit and probably cannot be made to do so. When people chase profit instead of merit, that causes damage directly and also pushes control into the hands of the worst offenders, guaranteeing compound damage.
That is just capitalism: regulation that enables currency, charges for use of currency, sequestration of the commons, and charges for use of the sequestered “private” or corporate property. But that is what we have; it does seem worth discussing how it might be regulated, but also how it might be evolved through.
Ultimately, people are not supported by an economy, but by an ecology, just like any other living organism. Decisions have to be made not according to profit, but according to the flows of energy through an ecology: where the water goes, where the sunlight falls, how heat is conserved and distributed, what organisms live or die, what is the composition and character of soil and water.
We have to make decisions based on an appraisal of these real, palpable, and central productive events, not on semiotic systems like money.
The fact that other systems may be flawed gives no indication that capitalism is not.
All capital systems are regulated. The question is who benefits from the regulation, the devil is in the details.
Yes. And usually the one who benefits.
Yes, I would indeed prefer an economic system that is not based on capital: money, ownership, consumerism, power over others, grow-based, profit-based, competition vs. cooperation-based, greed-based…