Capitalism may pave way to healthy planet
LORD DIGBY JONES, in his editorial of 23 April, writes that London’s Easter weekend climate protestors are really attacking capitalism, the same capitalism which supports their ‘middle-class lifestyles’. Digby suggests they should leave capitalism alone and focus on the world’s plastic pollution problem.
Lord Digby well describes the global blight of plastic pollution with additional references to chemical and waste pollution in rivers, mostly in Asia. But he neglects to acknowledge the big picture of environmental degradation. For the successes we have enjoyed through 150 years of capitalism have left us with huge problems. And increasing numbers of scientists are predicting that if we do not address them with great urgency, our generation will have left our children, grandchildren and successive generations with problems they simply will not be able to solve.
There is overwhelming agreement in the scientific community that the number one environmental problem is global warming, most likely caused by consumer and industrial pollution.
Because of global warming, additional problems have arisen:
l The melting icecaps and rising sea levels
l Declining bio-diversity
l Oceanic dead zones
And there is pollution as well. Pollution can clearly be added to this list as an important concern. But plastic is only part of it. Chemicals in our water, particulates in our air, contaminants in our food supply and more form the larger picture of pollution.
Would Lord Digby have us believe that if we cleansed our world of plastic waste, all would be well?
As a member of the moneyed elite who has been a most successful capitalist, Lord Digby’s focusing on plastics without giving regard to the universe of environmental problems will likely serve him well with climate change sceptics. But it is most unlikely to leave future generations with a healthy planet.
There is considerable agreement that our impending problems could be mitigated. But only through concerted international cooperation. And quickly. Sadly, this path currently seems unlikely, given the current state of international politics.
One ray of hope is that increasing numbers of capitalists and investors are starting to see the threat of environmental decline as a major threat to longer term business success and are taking steps accordingly. They believe inaction is not an option. As this movement to address environmental problems strengthens, it could well be that capitalism, while being blamed for our problems, will pave the way for our return to a healthy planet.
If only the world’s governments were to join in . . .