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Climate Change Versus Capitalsim

Autor:   •  October 22, 2011  •  Case Study  •  1,637 Words (7 Pages)  •  1,903 Views

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Climate Change Versus Capitalism?

The purpose of this essay is to attempt to answer the following questions; is climate change the new apocalypse, and are western nations too influenced by capitalism to effectively deal with the problem? Firstly, the definition of climate change for this essay will be adopted from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The UNFCCC is an international treaty founded in 1992 by the United Nations at their conference on Environment and Development, but it holds no legal powers. It defined climate change as: ‘a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods. The UNFCCC thus makes a distinction between climate change attributable to human activities altering the atmospheric composition, and climate variability attributable to natural causes’ (Pachauri 2004, pp. 4). Secondly, capitalist societies are generally distinguished by two features and these are; one, there is a pursuit of profit for goods produced, and two; that there is private ownership of wealth, in other words individuals and companies are able to compete for profits, and free market forces determine the prices of goods and services, and this economic system dominates the world (Magdoff & Foster 2009, Markandya 2009, Naess 2006). According to Loy (2007 pp. 38) ‘the world is composed of an interconnected web of national economies consisting of assorted forms of capitalism, various types of market socialism, and other kinds of mixed economies’ but dominated by global capitalism. It is doubtful that while this profiteering philosophy of western nations exists, that they would succeed in effectively dealing with global warming. Certainly not without significant political constrictions and /or enticements (for example, in the forms of regulatory schemes such as the emissions trading regime) would this be achievable. Magdoff & Foster (2009 pp. 1) believed the failure to get a world climate agreement in Copenhagen in 2009, was the ‘inability of the capitalist system to address the accelerated threat to life on the planet’.

Due to this relentless pursuit of profit by capitalists societies, (these producers are also constantly attempting to expand production), it is claimed by Luke (2008 pp. 1815) that ‘since 1750 industrial societies with their reliance on burning fossil fuels for energy have released over 1.1 billion tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere’. He also adds that approximately 80 per cent of the worlds energy usage comes from the USA’s use of energy derived from hydrocarbons for use in transportation, and ‘production, as well as in the pricing, burning, and disposing systems behind that trade in coal, oil, and natural gas’ (Luke 2008 pp. 1816).The


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