Climate Change: Capitalism as Part of the Solution
As Karl Marx once quipped, we all have to thank the Capitalist for getting things done. In a way, this alludes to the entrepreneur who took the risk of shelling out the cash to execute an idea; in continually innovating/improving a process for an idea or product/system to work; but most of all – giving you a job so you can earn an income and delivering you a product or service to make life more convenient. Welcome to the world of consumers and of capitalism!
As Al Gore reminded us in his soul-searching documentaries: While the hour is now very late, and with so many centuries passed since the start of the polluting industrial revolution with its now clear concomitant long-term deleterious consequences on the planet: It may be not too late to start the reversing of the process. However, it's going to take time, but we still believe Capitalism is the answer.
This is the same spirit of capitalism that powered the industrial revolution. Capitalism, with that grand vision that has changed the course of history and established industry, this development came, of course, came with a profitable opportunity. Change the world and make money: money, money, and more money.
Yet this is the same capitalism that made lives better and one that ushered in economic prosperity in the thousand years that it was utilized by man– but this is also the same system that with its economic & philosophical rival Socialism has wreaked havoc on our environment, created poverty, and exacerbated the earth’s rising temperature. Now, as an attempt to reverse the ill effects of capitalism, we are hoping [if not praying] that capitalism will be part of the solution.
One of these initiatives has something to do with climate change. For a time, rising temperatures was attributed to too much carbon emissions brought about from burning too much fossil fuel. Now, the UK’s Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has recently announced that we can achieve zero net emissions by 2050. This will be brought about recent technologies and the support of big business. It is an impressive and ambitious call that involves both a behavioral change among big business and technological advancements.
While some sectors and cynics are quick to point the finger at capitalism as the culprit in this environmental crisis, some sober groups are looking to capitalism as part of the solution. [Don’t forget one of the greatest human-made environmental disasters of all time was at Chernobyl in the Soviet Socialist Republic] While it is true that capitalism contributed to the problem, it can also provide for an effective solution. While, we all know that this is the same form of capitalism that fed billions, cured diseases, transported goods, and built houses. Under the hands of the capitalist and entrepreneurs, if given the right motivation – can see through the opportunity and deliver an answer.
That is right if governments present an incentive and have the problem bid out – the capitalist can come in. It is through this bidding process, through incentivizing the private sector have we found a way to distribute power (power generation contracts), built roads, connect everyone through the wonders of telecommunication and much else besides.
As the CCC notes, governments should work with big business and industry to solve the thorniest of problems. Most of what we enjoy now were utilities contracted by the government anyway, from power generation, airports and seaports, communication and the like. It was done before. It can be done again. If only we make capitalism work for us, with us and by us.