Ever heard the saying “money is the root of all evil?”
Capitalism has been around for centuries now, and it inarguably has an influence on many aspects of our lives, from work to advertisement to gambling. This system puts money forward as the undisputed medium through which people can be granted a comfortable living. Almost no one wants to work a boring office job, but money bends us to its will because we know we need it to survive. Would it surprise you, then, if I told you that capitalism is also behind most of the climate change happening in the world today?
Why shouldn’t we ignore climate change?
Global warming is obviously a major problem, but climate change doesn’t just refer to that–it refers to the floods, droughts, hurricanes, and other alarming environmental disasters that seem to become more common as days pass. The floods that hit many parts of Europe in July, which left over 200 people dead, are just one example. Even more terrifying, though, is the fact that the Amazon Rainforest is now releasing carbon dioxide rather than absorbing it due to the fires and deforestation it has faced.
What does capitalism have to do with it?
Just one look at this Carbon Majors Report from 2017 truly brings to light just how much big corporations have contributed to climate change. According to the report, over 70% of the greenhouse gas emissions were created by only 100 companies since 1988. Factories produce carbon dioxide constantly and are responsible for over 50% of air pollution. Companies are also frequently dumping waste into bodies of water, severely polluting them. The aforementioned deforestation of the Amazon Rainforest is also at least partly a product of capitalism, making way to draw out oil and mine, as well as acquire wood.
These activities are happening constantly and rapidly to continue the cycle of producing things for people to ultimately buy, and discarding the toxic byproducts. If capitalism didn’t exist, it’s not that absolutely no one would do the same thing, but the rate at which the cycle goes would almost certainly be significantly slower. Money is at the root of capitalism, and if money did not have so much power, the desire to make as much of it as fast as possible would not be so prevalent. With capitalism comes greed; there is no “stopping point” depending on how much money corporations make. They could–and do–make much more money than any person would reasonably need in an entire lifetime, and they would–and do–still keep going.
The individual vs the corporation
All those advertisements that encourage recycling and the reduction of plastic usage have good intentions, obviously. The point of this article isn’t to discourage environmentally friendly living. Heck, I’m also environmentally conscious whenever I can be. The point, really, is that we as regular people continuously get blamed for everything wrong happening in the world, and it’s exhausting. Our declining mental health is chalked up to being lazy, us failing the roulette of job-seeking is seen as us not trying hard enough (notice how both those things are also linked to capitalism?), and now we are blamed for something that a powerful minority has done to the Earth, which will ultimately affect every single one of us.
The truth is, not using plastic straws is probably not going to account for much if corporations continue to pollute the Earth to line their pockets with more money than they know what to do with (yet still won’t pay their employees living wages). Am I still going to try being as green as I can be? Of course, and I encourage you to be too, because the last thing we need is to speed up the pace of killing the planet. However, if nothing is done to stop (or at least reduce) all the waste being produced and natural resources being exploited by big corporations, the climate issues we are facing today will only become more frequent and severe.
There are many non-profit organizations working tirelessly to counteract and reduce the results of pollution, such as Save the Water and Earthjustice, among many others. Capitalism doesn’t care about us or the planet, but that doesn’t mean we should stop caring as well! If you have extra funds or time, consider donating or volunteering with organizations aiming to slow the destruction of the planet.