Is Capitalism saving the planet?


  • Owen McCormack


The election of Trump, the elevation of climate deniers to head major US agencies and the record-breaking Hurricane Harvey, as well as other extreme weather events, have injected a sense of urgency into many activists on climate change. Records in temperature rises, heat waves, storm intensities, droughts etc are broken with alarming regularity. 16 of the 17 warmest years on record have been since the year 2000. Past predictions that seemed alarmist turn out to be too timid in forecasting the scale and intensity of the climate change. While the Paris treaty talked about limiting the temperature increase to 2 degrees, we have zoomed past a one degree rise already and are heading full throttle to 1.5. The need to build a mass movement that can challenge the fossil fuel industry and their elite backers is absolutely central. It seems then a strange time for a bout of optimism about the ability of capitalism and technological changes to rescue us. Such optimism is based on an unfounded belief that capitalism and markets are the solution, rather than the cause, of the unfolding climate catastrophe.