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Forum Post: Does capitalism cause environment pollution / climate change ?

Posted 2 years ago on March 10, 2012, 1:52 p.m. EST by FriendlyObserverB (1871)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

The competitive nature of capitalism creates an incentive for business owners to make incorrect environment protection choices / decisions.

ie. Income minus expense equals profit.

9 Comments

9 Comments


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[-] 1 points by darrenlobo (204) 2 years ago

The lack of protection of private property is what allows pollution. Up until the mid 19th century the courts upheld the nuisance laws & prohibited pollution. Once the state was bribed by the manufacturers the courts started to rule the other way & allowed pollution. The situation continues to this day with agencies like the EPA putting out propaganda about how well they're protecting the environment while allowing it to be polluted.

[-] 1 points by Dumpthechump (96) 2 years ago

Well capitalism does cause environmental pollution - but so did Communist Russia and also ancient civilizations and even early man when he disturbed ecosystems by exterminating his own food animals e.g. mammoths..

Darrenlobo highlights a more important point that pollution laws became more lax under capitalism. Medieval laws would not allow open-cut mining for example since it would be a "scar upon God's handiwork".

We thus have the "tragedy of the commons" whereby whatever is not treated as private property is abused as the dumping ground for pollution. Climate change (= global warming) is the last stage of this process since it underscores the FACT that mankind is still reliant on fossil fuels.

The so-called sunrise industries have done little to make inroads and while nuclear fission is but a stopgap we have the Greens continually crying "leave it in the ground". Presumably they intend that we should starve to death from lack of energy for transporting food etc

Now the problem lies not in capitalism per se (this was Lenin's error) but that capitalism was not ruled over by a new hierarchy which DOES protect the environment by law - a law backed up by enforcement.

In contrast, such a powerful enforcing hierarchy cannot occur under LS (Libertarian socialism) because the masses (let alone the capitalists who manipulate them) would not accept such overweening authority.

[-] 1 points by darrenlobo (204) 2 years ago

"...pollution laws became more lax under capitalism. "

I would say the opposite. As the govt became corrupt the pollution (nuisance) laws were not enforced. This has nothing to do with capitalism as an economic system. As you point out other systems had pollution problems too.

[-] 1 points by Dumpthechump (96) 2 years ago

When I wrote that "pollution laws BECAME more lax under capitalism" I was referring to your previous posting re "until the mid 19th century" for the time line. But you are nevertheless correct in that 19th century capitalism just ignored the laws then in operation - with the connivance of the state. (Yes, I expressed myself poorly there)

Of course, due to increasing pollution all over the world into the 20th century capitalist and other states have introduced major anti-pollution laws and have enforced them. However, these collapsed in the fall of the Soviet Union for example, so have had to be reinstated later.

New technologies are often given exemption from pollution laws. While nuclear fallout from reactors is rather rigidly policed it is quite otherwise with Halliburton fracking which is given free rein to pollute water supplies! In this sense capitalism does pollute since Halliburton is sure making a fortune out of the global energy shortage!

[-] 0 points by BlackSun (275) from Agua León, BC 2 years ago

China is a much bigger polluter and the are pseudo communist. In more capitalist countries (U.S. and Western Europe) pollution has been lessened a lot in recent decades.

[-] 1 points by elf3 (2506) 2 years ago

Black Sun - we meet again - who is it that has all their products made in Chinese factories? - oh yes that's right almost every American company - find me a product not made in China ... Hell no one gives a shit how the workers are treated and live like slaves for our cheap crap products, or how the environment is destroyed. People are getting rich rich I tell you well at least some of us .... I guess you don't mind screwing these poor people live it up 1 percent don't bother to look at the photos below of the biproduct of your greed you won't care anyway:

ishttp://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2012/images/01/05/cages/lg.04.jpg http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2012/images/01/05/cages/lg.05.jpg http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2012/images/01/05/cages/lg.07.jpg http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2012/images/01/05/cages/lg.10.jpg http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2012/images/01/05/cages/lg.11.jpg http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2012/images/01/05/cages/lg.13.jpg http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2012/images/01/05/cages/lg.15.jpg http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2012/images/01/05/cages/lg.13.jpg http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2012/images/01/05/cages/lg.01.jpg

[-] 2 points by Mooks (1985) 2 years ago

It isn't just the 1% that benefit from Chinese labor. We all do.

[-] 0 points by BlackSun (275) from Agua León, BC 2 years ago

That is the work of their Marxist government. Interesting that the Marxists in this movement want the same for this country.

[-] 1 points by RedJazz43 (2757) 2 years ago

What Marxist government? There is no Marxist government so far as I know nor has there ever been. Marx wrote several dozen volumes on the nature of 19th century capitalism, only a couple of paragraphs speculating on the nature of a post capitalist society and virtually nothing on how the working class should or would govern itself,