Nov 8, 2017 in Sociology

Capitalism and the Global Environment

The change of climate is the greatest environmental danger for civilization nowadays that was enhanced by the persistent pollution of carbon. It threatens to get worse the current societal and ecological problems and also make new difficulties. Though, only pointing out and recognizing its actuality cannot eliminate the problem. At the outset, efforts must be placed in founding the reasons of the environmental disaster and then come up with the mutually acceptable resolution. Climate change is only one part of the large environmental tight spot. The research indicates that this state of affairs was produced mainly by the economic systems. The economic and market systems are aimed at driving growth and development. They rely on a constant rise, a lot of accumulation, expansion that seeks to wipe anything on its way and deep human alienation. A global study on the ecological crisis identified 9 planetary boundaries critical to the life of humans and nature on the planet. In line with change of climate, freshwater usage, pollution due to chemicals, acidification of the ocean, changes in the use of land, biodiversity measured by the rate of extinction, ozone level measurement, the amount of aerosol in the atmosphere and the phosphorous and nitrogen cycles regulating soil fertility are the boundaries that influence the environment (Foster, 2011). According to the study, climate change, the cycle of nitrogen and biodiversity boundaries have already been crossed. Others that are emerging as problems include the use of freshwater, phosphorous cycle, changes in land use and ocean diversification. If the current trends of capitalism are anything to go by, these boundaries will soon be crossed, and this will change the climate to levels that would be difficult to mitigate. However, it seems that environmentalists and governments have shown goodwill in the attempt to reduce pollution, for example, through the signing of a global phase out to ozone depleting gasses and chlorofluorocarbons. This is the only way forward. The aim of this research paper is to explain the effective economic systems of the present day, show their relationship to ecosystem and the universal environment and the impact on society. Nevertheless, the main emphasis is put on capitalism and its influence on the natural balance.

In the spirit of identifying weak points and problems, an unavoidable fact is the constantly expanding economic system in the world today (Jackson, 2009). The economic systems place the burdens on a fixed earth mechanism to a point, where the planet is overloaded. By 2030, the normal running of business and the ecological footprint will be equal to the regenerative capability of two planets. Capitalism is among the most popular markets and economic systems. It entails an expand-or-die formula that ignores everything else including the planet’s boundaries.

Capitalism is the basis, on which most of the world is set, and it also forms a global response to climatic changes. Social and political institutions are defined by the system that country adopts. For the capitalists, the society’s ability to respond to environmental change effectively is a personal thing. However, the system dictates how one thinks on his/her own and collectively (Werbach, 2005). The impact of capitalism on universal environmental change is even regardless of how many people, scholars or activists ignore it. In the global society today, the question of the economic systems decision between capitalism and communism is unavoidable. At the core of every successful economy lies the market that is well sustained by the natural and induced forces. However, there is a need to monitor capitalism on the basis of which kind of it will propel and maximize the global economic growth. Over the last few years, free and unfettered market structures have been observed globally. These free markets have a model, which is usually short-term, profit-oriented and provides short-term (unsustainable) strategies and/or activities. A good capitalist structure takes into consideration the long-term effects explicitly integrating the environment, governance and social welfare. No system can operate in isolation from society or, what is more important, the environment. It is worth noting that the sustainability and wealth creation in the long run are closely related. Therefore, without sustainability of the environment, the social and governance structures, crises are bound to occur. Recently, sustainability crisis has rocked the world in terms of climate change and poverty due to economic activities, the oppression of minority groups, pandemics, water crisis and scarcity, severe urbanization and migration because of harsh conditions (Foster, 2011).

Almost occurring simultaneously, the global ecological crisis emerged in such a way as the global capital triumphed over socialism. This was marked by the collapse of the Soviet Union and the burial of the revolutionary system in China. Its irony is in that the capitalist long-run incompatibility with the survival of species is gone. The ecological crisis is gradually becoming a global menace and has been labeled as a complex mix of very dangerous trends. The capitalist school of thought typically views the constituents of the crisis little by little, hence, making its systematic nature difficult to understand. The accumulation of gases emanating from the greenhouses and the resulting image of a climate cliff are continually ignored by the ruling class in the U.S. Other dimensions of the ecological crisis are viewed as a local headache or even as an opportunity to expand profits in the future. This will include the inevitable spread of toxins, depletion of fresh water, biodiversity and almost every vital commodity, as well as the increasingly invasive and careless manipulation of the basic innate systems. The changes include changing the courses of rivers, cloud seeding and genetic engineering.

The best solution to these crises will eventually consist of addressing all the above mentioned points. Considering the magnitude, global acceptance, as well as presumed normality of all power-patterns in existence, this process will undoubtedly involve a thorough process of mass education amongst the political class. At this rate, awareness is still in its crawling stage. In order to achieve it in full measure, the issues and arguments downplaying the magnitude of transformation that long-term survival of the species requires must be solved quickly (Foster, 2011). A section of this task involves response to the group that denies the human factor in climate change and the consequent ecological crises. This will include the provision of scientific reasoning and evidence against the assertions primarily created by the corporate capital representatives. However, another challenge within the socialist environment arises. In the socialist camp, there is a group of leftists, who believe that the capitalist agenda is the best way forward and the only feasible green option.

Rapid growth is seen as a natural occurrence of the capitalist system. This means that, in the event of growth slowdown, the factors without the system such as the state or workers are deemed liable, and the costs are pushed up to inhibit accumulation. It is also assumed that the normal tendency of monopolist capital is stagnation. Keynes called it as underemployment equilibrium that is marked by sluggish growth, very high rates of unemployment, and rising excess capacity among other characteristics. This is mainly caused by high exploitation rates and inequality. Capital cannot find enough outlets of investments designed to attain profit margins while maintaining inequality in the economy. Therefore, it cannot take in the large actual and potential economic surplus. Consequently, the rate of growth tends to decline the advanced economies experienced in the last third of the century. Where stagnation tendency is not fully, it is assumed to be caused by countervailing external factors that assist effective demand in the economy, for example, through heavy military spending and financing the balance shift from production to finance. In order to move the economy upwards and positively in the growth curve, specific stimuli are needed to prevent stagnation due to distortions in the economy.

There is no denying that the planetary ecocide is solely due to capitalism, but no matter how much the capitalist system was criticized, the socialist system is not a better structure. In the case of ecology, research found it even more destructive than the capitalist system. In order to tackle the complex situation of socialism and capitalism together with the environment, one must recognize that the positivist understanding of growth and development in the capitalist view is the commitment to accumulate capital in the endless effort to expand disregarding everything else in society. This tendency also contaminated the socialist system leading to the same errors of production. In the socialist system, production is carried out for production. This became the entire rationale of the exploitative society that emerged eventually as the capitalists. Stalin era submerged all efforts of the socialists to consider the welfare of ecology even with the adverse expansion. This was against the socialist principle earlier envisioned by Marx. He hoped for society that favored human inter-connection with nature. This is evident in his human labor theory in issue of human existence. In the authentic sense, socialism is a process aimed solely at addressing equity and collective allocation of resources through effective planning. System with such consideration must be definitely ecological in order to remain on the social path. The creation of the ecological society, where previous social organizations failed, requires setting up a new kind of socialism. Environmental welfare is largely affected by the population. If the population is high, affluence and technology will also increase leading to severe ecological impact. It is difficult to achieve global sustainability in areas, where the population is high.

Capitalism can be regarded as a dynamic system of the economy. However, it is not rational considering other factors. The system of production in the market, specifically under the neo-liberal presence, is a menace that can get out of control. Central and inevitable contradiction inherent to the system of capitalism is the lack of planning in the broader market even after a high level of organization and planning in a particular plant or company. This results in high levels of disorganization and (under)over production central for the capitalist system. Eventually, the capital flows in the areas with the largest profit margin. It is not a choice of stockholders, but a compulsion of market forces within the system. This is evident in the oil business, where oil exploration cannot be stopped. Another example is bio-fuels. In spite of the increased negative impact on the supply of food that is well documented, the system continues to maintain high profits (Jackson, 2009). In order to salvage the situation, the personal acts of conservation including recycling, restraint of resources and other actions that reduce the amount of carbon emissions need to be engaged. There are ways, in which the government can act in order to save the environment. The priority in the field of energy and climatic change is a good starting point. However, as it is evident in the last couple of years, the economic meltdowns finished with the capitalists’ triumph and neo-liberalism (Werbach, 2005). The worst thing is that the economy is in turmoil, as well as the environment. Market mechanisms have the greatest influence on the environment saving or destroying it. If the system is only profit driven, the expansion will clean everything in its path, and the ecological conditions will be long forgotten.

Understanding the capitalist system is the main issue of concern for individuals, who are worried about the adverse changes in climate and other ecological ills. It is good to know exactly who benefit from the system, and how it operates in order to attain balanced ecosystem. Capitalism can be described as a system of shifts and rifts (Polychroniou, 2009). It can be called a shift system because it confronts environmental degradation and seems to move it to some other place. The shifts are mainly geographical. For example, toxic producing industries are shifted from urbanized regions to the rural or less populated areas or even to developing states. Additionally, the depletion of naturally occurring resources in one area drives capital expansion in another part of the globe. In this case, the oil industry expanded the offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico wants to shift to the Arctic Ocean for fresh exploration. The system can be regarded as a rift as it depends on short-term profits and a streak of never ending growth to a great extent. This means that it must propel a large disparity between human life and the livelihood conditions that are naturally occurring. A brief summary about the way the economic capitalism system works is above. However, the shifts mentioned in this paper may be technical. Capitalism typically offers a response to the ecological problems and natural resource depletion through technical changes in the methods used of production. For instance, synthetic fertilizers have been replaced with natural fertilizer; plastic has replaced plastic; wood burning has substituted coal burning; bio-fuels have been replaced by conventional oil, and nuclear power plants have been outdone by the fossil fuel power plants. The changes mentioned above are technical, and they have opened up a new profitable market. On the other hand, the changes have brought up new, more depressing ecological rifts.

Capitalism is clearly a bubble economy, where environmental resources and the absorptive capability of the surrounding are used. This causes a displacement of costs back to the earth, thus, incurring an immense ecological debt. While the mechanism is relatively small and manageable and can maintain outward expansion, the ecological debt will shift. This will occur usually without any acknowledgement of the costs that were incurred during the process. If the economic system starts to approach not only the  scope of the region, but also planetary boundaries, the ever increasing ecological debt will continue to increase and slowly slip out of the control of natural forces in spite of human efforts. This might end up in the inevitable ecological crash. Since capitalism, where profits and endless expansion are involved, has no place for second thoughts, doubts or regrets, the system leaders will not stop or even attempt to change course. The social metabolism of capitalism cannot be regulated by the system itself. Therefore, capitalism can never share a symbiotic relationship with the environment while maintaining its existence and sustenance. The capitalists operations are in violation of the laws of restitution (Foster, 2011). Thus, a strong urge to renew capital accumulation processes heightens the destructive nature of social metabolism imposing the requirements of capital without putting the consequences of natural systems in mind.

The capitalist economic system has a habitual tendency of playing the same failed policies and strategies over again in an effort to heal a problem with a clear solution. The current trend on solution of problems is that all capitalists attempt to make the decision before the emergence of another difficulty. The new problem is often times larger than the previous one. Additionally, the offered solutions do not solve the past issue fully, but rather leave it hanging. There is a cycle, where the crisis leads to another challenge in a never ending succession of failure due to the internal contradiction of strategies within the system. In order to solve the current ecological crises, the root of the problem, which is the social relation of capital, needs to be addressed. The majority of mainstream environmentalists is opposed to this recommendation and loudly resists the conclusion. No matter how critical they may be in relation to the environmental degradation and ecological imbalance, the environmentalists focus their proposals on what can be workable when the economic system is still capitalistic. They even go further to bring justifications such as the fact that ecological damage is insomuch significant that change of the economic system cannot rectify it. They argue against time and suggest that the ecological balance should be rectified using the present system regardless of its flaws. Others call for green capitalism, which is just a shift from the problem (Polychroniou, 2009).

This paper offers the opinion that the market can provide the necessary changes for functioning without any help. It is recommended to implement enhanced economic and market strategies and systems. . Hence, the social and ecological problem that is threatening to increase may be eliminated in the end. There is a high probability that a transformation from capitalism can create another economic system, which will be not as good as it was supposed (Foster, 2011). Nevertheless, it is obvious that capitalism as a type of the market system cannot keep a proper ecological balance between the human being, technical development, environment, and planetary limits. The system must be under control to provide human requirements and solve ecological questions, as well. Despite the drastic actions, the current system destabilizes living conditions. There are concrete signs of socialism renewal in Latin America. This is just an effort to solve the ecological crises, which was caused by the heavy global shift to capitalism. The system has clearly become an ecological, economical and imperial problem that is threatening the welfare and survival of the global population. The planet is in a critical condition as with the emergence of imperialism global crisis involving the economy and global suffering escalate turned the history in a severe way. As a remedy to the problems brought by capitalism to the environment, society, political arena and economy, the world may have to go back to sustainable socialism. This needs to be in accordance with the society that is sustainable if the human race will be able to restore conditions necessary not only for ecological balance, but also for own survival. As it was discussed above, the economic collapses finished with the victory of capitalism and neo-liberalism. The worst part is that the economy is in disorder, as well as the surroundings. Market instruments have the highest impact on the environment with the ability to save or destroy it. If the system is focused only on profit, development will clean everything on its way, and the environmental problems will be failed to recall. A good economic system, where the environment and society (human life) will be in harmony, needs to be implemented as soon as possible. Failure of this task, the human race and the entire ecological system is doomed to fail.

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