It must be understood that global warming is not a technical problem; it is a systemic problem. The capitalist economic system requires continuous growth of markets and profits, which means continuous growth of resource extraction and worker exploitation - all accelerated by various forms of coercion and, not least, by war. The quest for ever greater profits means externalizing costs: to the environment via pollution and environmental degradation; to ever greater downward pressure on working people’s standard of living and health. Global climate disruption is caused by the innate exigencies of capital accumulation.

Too often the liberal analysis de-links global warming from global capitalism, and therefore de-links concern for the environment from social and economic justice. Environmental justice must be seen as part and parcel of economic justice.

One of the problems with painting our current ecological emergencies as exclusively one of global warming is that that analyses does not sufficiently encompass the enormity of what we are facing. Beyond the fact of excessive CO2 emissions what we are witnessing is wholesale devastation of the planet’s living systems. Over-fishing, topsoil erosion, waterway pollution, deforestation, species extinction and on and on (as well as the innumerable social malaise we are seeing) are all the inevitable by-product of a specific economic and social (dis)order- capitalism- that demands a limitless supply chain for it’s operations and profiteering.

The current and impending climate change crises requires considerably more than an environmental/ecological approach; more than renewable energy is deemed necessary, and much more than perfunctory modifications in the lifestyles of the glutted Western well-off classes.

Any and all discussions about global warming must start and end with a critique of the capitalist system itself (and the World’s Number One institutional polluter- The United States Military- which props it up) otherwise those discussions and proposed solutions are dead ends.


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(1) comment

Kevin Curtis

Global warming can be rectified within capitalism. Good article on Carbon Extraction for fuel production in the attached link below. Science + free enterprise + smart political leadership can successfully address climate change while increasing human health and prosperity. The missing link that is not being talked about is reducing future human population. Every global challenge is more solvable with a human population that is stable. Global access to contraception and universal reproductive rights are critical to leaving a sustainable planet to our children.