WILL CAPITALISM CAUSE ENVIRONMENTAL DESTRUCTION?
Capitalism is a socio-economic system where the private ownership means profit to the owner. The owner has a full control over all the means of production; hence all the profit belongs to the private owner of the business. In capitalism, the free market always determines the production, distribution and price of goods and services. The agreements on the prices are made by the buyers and sellers and the market dictates the supply and demand. Also, competition policies may exist in a free capitalist system.
Capitalism is a socio-economic system as it is considered as not just a way of earning money and making a living, but it is also a way of thinking about the social organization. It is based on the idea of individualism and that individuals have the right to the social and economic freedom. The rise of capitalism has been accompanied by the increase in population, the greatest advances in humanity's capacity to harness energy and the greatest increase in growth rates in human history. This essay present the various environmental crisis caused by capitalism.
Under capitalism, the industry produces goods for the sole purpose of making a profit. Every practice takes a back seat to this profit motive. The spectra of the financial expense hang over every endeavor. As a result, the most financially inexpensive methods of waste disposal are employed, as well as the financially expedient means of controlling pests in crops. Thus, safer and the less environmentally hazardous methods of the production of energy, such as solar , are set aside in the favor of financially cheaper but non-renewable fossil fuels. The destructive and environmentally dangerous practices such as nuclear power are used instead of the other sources that may be safer. This is because the establishment and development of these safer sources is more expensive from a financial standpoint.
The vast majority of the people in a capitalist world, the working class people, do not make the production decisions. Instead the decisions are made by the capitalist class, and these decisions are made with the sole goal of increasing the corporate profits. These firms are in the vicious competition with each other, and they end up outperforming other businesses in the market. Thus, safer but costly methods of the waste disposal and safer sources of energy, all of which are currently available and technologically suitable, are too expensive to utilize. Hence, the needs of corporate hierarchies come before the needs of the working class and the biosphere itself. The attempts by the regulatory bodies of the capitalist government to control these abuses results to almost nothing, since the capitalists ultimately fund the nests of the politicians. As a result of this, the safe environmental measures aren't enforced and hence the environment is destroyed
Furthermore, the working class people are blackmailed into choosing between jobs or the environment. For instance, they are told that in order to bear the costs of implementing expensive safety measures for the safe disposal of waste, the downsizing on jobs must occur. Faced with this situation, and being dependent on the capitalist class for their earnings, the working class decides to keep their jobs and pray that the resulting environmental destruction won't destroy human life during their lifetime, or cause dangerous outbreaks of diseases on the next generation. The people in a capitalist environment hope that things do not get too bad in the next few years, and that the environment will continue to be able to sustain and protect them from the harmful radiation that the ozone layer normally keeps from hitting the ground. Capitalism is blamed for the problem. The explosive growth of the human population is the most significant terrestrial event of the past years. Many people inhabit the Earth, and this number increases every year by about 70 million. Armed with weapons including the nuclear bombs, this mass of humanity now threatens to destroy most of the living environment on the planet. These environmental destructions are further intensified as ocean fisheries and rangelands, supplying the world's animal protein, also reach environmental limits. While the production of meat and fish continues to rise, an increasing proportion of meat is produced in the feedlots while the chronic overfishing continues to threaten the productivity and viability of entire marine environment. These environmental pressures increase the urgency of treating the problem of hunger at its roots, unequal access to important resources and the inability of the poor to purchase them
Rapid population growth is a serious problem for poor countries, since it undermines their ability to maintain and improve their living standards. In the context of an international economic system that consistently drains wealth from Third World, extreme poverty and rapid population growth leads many Third World peoples to overexploit their natural resources, resulting in environmental destruction that imperils not only their own survival but also that of the entire humanity. For example, in the poor countries, deforestation is occurring very rapidly at a rate greater than in the rich, industrialized countries, where the net deforestation has practically stopped. This deforestation practices are promoted by capitalism since the individual are striving towards achieving the personal goals or profits and if they continue, all the physically accessible forests in the Third World will be destroyed. For the Third World countries, the impact of this destruction manifests itself in the form of the uncontrolled flooding and drought, soil erosion, declining agricultural production and high rate desertification. All explanations of the ecological destruction contain some reference to technology. This is understandable as humanity interacts with nature through some technical means of production. But it is wrong to regard the technological development as the main enemy of the environment. It is true that many technological processes and new types of production in the capitalist societies have highly intensified pollution
Sometimes people wonder about the environmental movement and its inability to effect a discernable change upon the devastation done to the environment due to corporate pursuit of profits and capitalist personal gains. There exist arguments that people must return to a more austere way of living, that the benefits of modern technology must be given up and they must all take the voluntary vows of poverty to accommodate all the needs of nature. Centuries of the Christian ideology and the capitalist mindset have convinced the people that humankind is above nature, and that the needs of nature must accede to the needs of the dominant life form on the Earth. Now, the people are collectively paying for this, as the decline of the environment continues, the ozone layer is destroyed/depleted more and the cancer-causing chemicals invade their water and poisonous pesticides are introduced into their food. Not to mention the nuclear wastes that piles up as the industry refuses to discover the safer sources of energy due to the nature of expenses and the harmful genetic engineering that always threatens to create new organisms that are not part of nature. Many high ecology advocates would exclaim that capitalism itself is the cause of this destruction, and that the Industrial development and the enormous amounts of waste it produces are also responsible for the same.
The capitalist mode of production deserves the finger pointing, not the human race and its advanced technology. People must understand the true nature of their economic laws to fully understand the reasons why the existence of the human race appears to be in opposition to the rest of nature. The socialists claim that the problem is not humanity, but rather the way people’s current system of production for profits works
In a capitalist world, these environment problems would not be entirely avoided under the new world economic order. This is because of the profit motives as the determining factor of production, and the society’s industries based on competition not cooperation, different industrial facilities are engaged in competitions to outdo each other. The concept of financial cost exists; hence, any feasible method of containing waste would not be enacted quickly and efficiently, with the need to worry about money
Also, since people are not collectively in control of the economy, they have the facilities privately owned and controlled and it is difficult working class to vote for technology and research of safer methods of energy production. The human race is at odds with nature. The capitalists also have given up the benefits of the advanced technology. Further, because they have an advertising market, they are constantly told that they need huge amounts of useless gimmicks and wasteful junk, and they would be compelled to purchase huge amounts of goods for the purpose of looking for wealthy or to gain the status symbols, since personal enrichment is a critical factor in the cultural mindset. All of the waste produced by capitalists, such as the plastic that are mostly only good for advertising, and the resulting garbage that it creates is not easily eliminated. Most importantly, production under capitalism is geared towards meeting the needs of individuals and does not include the collective need for a healthy environment and a peaceful co-existence with the other life forms on the earth, and simply the less privileged few's need to make more profits. In the capitalist society, the existence of the human race and its industrial society is always inherently at odds with the environment
For example in U.S, the environmental sustaining capitalism is not possible as the state and the local governments neglect the environment in the competition to attract the scarce and limited capital. For instance, the natural state parks are commoditized as the managers look for the ways of making them more profitable. Also the union leaders oppose the most of the environmental demands. Also, the environmental movements have compromised their positions and they have become ineffective
The capitalism is incapable of addressing environmental issues outside its framework of private ownership and the production for profits, and its logic of expansion. And on the world scale, we notice the effects. It cannot address the environmental issues in a sustainable and socially just way because the ownership of the means of production is not socialized. This makes it impossible to consciously plan development.
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