How Capitalism Affects Climate Change

To understand the role of capitalism in climate change, you have to start with the carbon emissions that are generated by industrial activity. Understanding the relationship between industrial activity and greenhouse gas emissions requires looking at some basics about how our global economic system works.

industrial revolution

The industrial revolution, which began in England and spread to other countries, was a period during which many people began using machines powered by coal for things like manufacturing. These factories produced more goods than ever before. However, the burning of coal released large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This increased CO2 in turn contributed to climate change and rising temperatures worldwide.

carbon, free market and the role of a corporation

Carbon is a commodity. The free market is the backbone of capitalism. Corporations are the main players in the free market.

Carbon is traded as a commodity in our modern economy, just like gold or oil or corn. As such, carbon has become part of a global economy that allows companies to generate profits by selling products and services that emit carbon into Earth’s atmosphere—and then offsetting those emissions with credits bought from other companies who have taken steps to reduce their own emissions (such as planting trees).

fossil fuels are cheap/suburban sprawl/green house as manufacturing

The fossil fuel industry is heavily subsidized by the government, which means that our tax dollars are supporting an industry that has done great harm to people and the earth. Suburban sprawl is a product of cheap fossil fuels: it’s much cheaper to build a house where there are no roads, electricity or water systems than it is to put them in place. Greenhouse gasses are produced when fossil fuels are used for transportation, manufacturing and heating purposes; these gasses cause climate change. Fossil fuels came into existence because capitalism led people who owned land with coal deposits on them to mine those resources rather than develop other ways of making money off their land (like farming). In other words: Capitalism made us choose fossil fuels over farming!

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greenwashing/rebranding

Greenwashing is a form of marketing that attempts to portray an organization’s products or services as environmentally friendly, whereas they may not be. It can also be used to conceal the negative impacts of a product or service.

The term was coined by environmental activist Jay Westerveld in 1986 and is closely associated with corporate social responsibility (CSR), where companies make efforts to appear socially responsible while still conducting business as usual.

For example, some companies will use CSR tactics like recycling programs or donations to charity in order to cover up their destructive practices. A more recent example would be when oil giant ExxonMobil pledged $1 million toward researching renewable energy sources after being criticized for contributing thousands of dollars each year to climate change denial groups like the Heartland Institute and the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research. These types of CSR activities allow companies like ExxonMobil and other fossil fuel corporations who are actively contributing to climate change by polluting our air and water with greenhouse gasses from burning coal, gas, oil, diesel fuel etc., appear less destructive than they actually are because they’re giving back some money instead of just continuing on with their destructive practices unabated – which obviously isn’t working since we’re still seeing alarming global warming trends happening all over our planet today!

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compartmentalization and powerlessness/disembodiment

Our society is compartmentalized in many ways. The most significant way is the separation between our economic system, political system and environment. We have a political system that claims to protect our environment but has no power over the economy – which is primarily driven by profit and growth, not sustainability. And we have an economic system that doesn’t address our environment at all.

Our lives are compartmentalized as well: we spend most of them working for someone else; we live in segregated communities with little connection to each other; when we do go out into nature it is often through the lens of entertainment (e.g., going on vacation). As individuals we feel powerless to change these systems because they seem so large and overwhelming – one person cannot stop climate change if you don’t even know what causes it!

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capitalism is at the core of climate change and plays a huge part in our inability to fight it

Capitalism is at the core of climate change and plays a huge part in our inability to fight it.

Capitalism is at the core of climate change and plays a huge part in our inability to fight it.

Conclusion

If we want to address climate change, we need to address capitalism. It is not a simplistic matter of reducing or eliminating use of fossil fuels, it is a complex system that has unconsciously and consciously embedded itself into our culture and our minds. This is why there are so many difficulties in fighting climate change – because we are dealing with an incredibly sophisticated system that has been built up over hundreds of years. The sooner we can become aware of this, the better off humanity will be.

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