Sample Environmental Studies and Forestry Paper on Effects of Capitalism on Climate Change

The word capitalism can be used to show the social systems that are found in the world in
the current day and time. It is believed that with the capitalist world system only a few people
have the privilege of owning the different means through which diverse goods can be produced
and distributed. These few people are referred to as the capitalist class and get many advantages
by being in this class. For those who are not lucky enough to fall into the capitalist class, the only
way they can get a salary is by giving their time and effort in exchange. These group is referred
to as the working class. The capitalist class works on producing goods and services to gain a
certain amount of profit from it and not to satisfy the needs of their customers. Through this
motive it is believed that the capitalist group will go to extreme extents to satisfy their needs and
this may come at the expense of the environment thus contributing significantly to climate
change (World Socialist Movement 1).
The world today faces quite a number of environmental challenges. Despite the fact that
there are many environmental bodies working to combat the problem of climate change it seems
that it is only growing bigger as the days go by. More than half of the forests in the world today
have been cut down or burned to ashes. As the rate of deforestation grows with each passing
year, the amount of rainfall received decreases simultaneously leading to a drastic reduction in
the wetlands of the world. The more the wetlands and forests decrease the more organisms suffer

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and the more denudation takes place. Generation of greenhouse gases becomes a nagging
problem for the world as industrialization and business development continues to be on the rise.
In the business world, powerful corporate are running toxic companies all in the pillars of
capitalism which leads to a great environmental problem that needs to be addressed with
immediate effect if the world is to be restored to a sustainable state of natural and ecological
resources (Speth 1).
Many people are of the school of thought that many of the environmental issues faced in
the world today that result in climate change stem from the division that exists between the rich
and poor classes in the society. It is believed that since the interest of the capitalists is on
maximizing their profits, they give little or no concern to the human life and well being. It can be
seen from past events that the individual capitalist will seek the route that has the most direct and
immediate gain to them and they will follow that route despite the harm they may leave in their
wake. A relevant example of this can be recalled from the Marxism explanation of the different
degradations of the environment. The case point of the examples offered are such as those of the
Cubans who destroyed an entire forest through fire so that they could utilize the ashes as
fertilizer for a coffee crop that was rare and would earn them a significant amount of money. The
burning of the forest had a steep effect on the environment starting from pollution, to erosion and
to the loss of a water catchment area. The clearing of the forest caused such significant erosion in
the area that all the soil was washed away leaving behind denuded rocks. Fighting to be the
privileged few who could produce a substance of significance to the market that would bring
them immediate monetary and statutory rewards came at a great cost to the environment (Brooks
1). One of the countries that have constantly been in the limelight concerning their leaders and
the global climatic change is the United States. President Donald Trump has been accused of

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putting his economic goals for the country ahead of catering to the looming threat that
environmental degradation might cause to the country and this can be seen as a clear case of
capitalism at its best. President Trump has been focused on regaining the businesses in the
country to an extent of even saying that climate change is a lie and he will not be part of it. He
even went forth to withdraw the US from treaties made a couple of years ago concerning climate
protection. This putting of profit in front of the wellbeing of others is what leads to the continued
degradation of the environment (Somerville 1).
Many debates have been raised as to whether the sustenance of a capitalist economy in
today’s world can co-exist with keeping safe ecological limits. The current greed driven
capitalist economic system has led to the damaging of the climatic system in a manner that may
be hard to reverse. This is because once entrepreneurs see that doing something leads to a certain
amount of profit then they will want to maximize the specific economic activity to its largest
scale possible so that they can earn the largest amount of profit possible to be earned from that
activity. Since there is a lot of competition in the current market, firms will seek the most cost
and time efficient methods to ensure that they can endure their competition at the same time
building their empires. For capitalism to remain in such a stable form it is necessary that there is
a continuous growth of production taking place. For continuous production to take place there
needs to be continuous consumption of the goods and services being offered. This will ensure
that the cycle remains running. However, the earth is not an infinite source of resources. The
resources found in the planet, both ecological and natural were put in place for sustainability of
people inhabiting the earth in equal proportions to all. Once the capitalist system of production
and consumption impedes on the ability of the earth to sustain it then automatically there will
begin to be changes in the climatic and environmental system that we live in. most capitalists

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will use non renewable energy without taking the time to ponder what will happen once this
energy is depleted. This short sightedness in their dealings leads to the depletion of the earth’s
resources without a plan thus harming the environment and eventually harming human beings. It
should be the responsibility of the state to regulate such industrial production but unfortunately,
bad and corrupt politics has changed this. Most state offices want a share in the profits being
yielded by the capitalists and will compromise what they ought to do so that they can achieve
what they want. The state is influenced by different business and political groups and as a result
of this they often overlook what is needed for the environment in favor of the capitalist benefits
(Movahed 1).
Many capitalist businesses will go on and on about energy but power is not mentioned
anywhere. This creates a false notion that capitalists might actually be concerned with the well
being of the environment. However, the fact that capitalism is centered on wealth and power
means that the people with the political power to make major decisions are those in the capitalist
class. With such people having that amount of control any rule and measure that seeks to go
against their productivity does not stand any chance. The only way that such control could be
overthrown is by breaking up the segregation and ensuring that it is neutered and under control.
However it has to be noted that some enterprises such as Wal-mart chain and the shell and BP
petrol stations have been able to take matters into their own hands and try saving the
environment while the government is still incapable of making such decisions on their own due
to the manipulation they are put through by other capitalist businesses. The Wal-mart chain of
supermarkets imposed a 20% reduction on the amount of carbon emissions that come from its
own industries. BP and Shell chose to make themselves eco-networks that are responsible in
supplying green energy to others who may be in need. There are also some minor farmers and

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business men who take part in selling locally made products thus taking an active role in
conserving the environment. These deeds are however not enough to counteract the negativities
that are caused by the capitalism in the world today. The solutions that will help take care of our
climate can only become relevant if made by people themselves through starting autonomous
businesses. Technological institutions should support these businesses to ensure that they are
sustained so that in the long run they have a positive effect in reversing the damage caused to the
environment (Newman 1).
While environmentalists have put forth several arguments implicating the capitalists as
the root cause of the current environmental crisis in the world, some argue that on the contrary,
capitalism could actually be what is needed to save the environment in its current degradation.
According to James Q. Wilson, a renowned political scientist, over a period of time the system of
capitalism will eventually protect the environment from those who would cause it harm because
this system allows people to take political action against those who wish to put natural resources
at extreme risk such that it is not beneficial to their production routines. He believes that without
the economic stability provided by capitalism, awareness on how natural and ecological
resources are sued would not have been brought to light. He also adds that it is through the need
of technological advantages required in production that equipment have been developed to
identify ecological problems and raise concern on how to deal with them and so capitalism is not
necessarily a negative concept to the climate. It is believed that once strict regulations are
implemented in capitalist economical systems, the general environment will actually come to
benefit from capitalism (Clifford 71).

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Work cited:
Brooks, Mick. In Defense of Marxism: “Capitalism and the Environment”. 21 August 2006.
http://www.marxist.com/capitalism-environment-ecology-marxism210806.htm Accesssed 04
December, 2017.
Clifford, Mary. Environmental crime: enforcement, policy, and social responsibility. Jones &
Bartlett Learning, 1998.
Movahed, Masoud. World Economic Forum: “Does capitalism have to be bad for the
environment?” 15 February 2016. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/02/does-capitalism-
have-to-be-bad-for-the-environment/ Accessed 04 December, 2017.
Newman, Robert. The Guardian: “Its Capitalism or a habitable planet- you can’t have both”. 2
February 2006. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2006/feb/02/energy.comment
Accessed 04 December, 2017.
Speth, James. Yale Environment 360: “Environment Failure – A Case for a New Green Politics”.
20 October 2008.
http://e360.yale.edu/features/environmental_failure_a_case_for_a_new_green_politics Accessed
04 December, 2017.
Somerville, Ewan. Huffpost: “Trump’s assault on climate change is capitalism at its worst –
Civil society must resist”. 29 March 2017. http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/ewan-
somerville/donald-trump-climate-change_b_15669418.html Accessed 04 December, 2017.
worldsocialism.org. World Socialist Movement: “What is Capitalism?” 2017.
http://www.worldsocialism.org/english/what-capitalism Accessed 04 December, 2017.

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