Capitalism vs the Environment

The text This Changes Everything Capitalism vs The Climate by Naomi Klein discusses this issue in great detail and therefore will be mentioned throughout this section. Klein explains to her readers that the mentality of developed societies are what inhibits us from helping our environment. She discusses the destruction of Nauru due to mining operations conducted by the Australian government for their “phosphate of lime” which was a valuable fertilizer (142). The mining eventually lead to Nauru to becoming near-uninhabitable with citizens suffering major crime and health problems. In this example, the mining corporations and the government were unpunished for their hand in the disaster that occurred to Nauru. In society there is a push to hide from accountability. As Klein mentions throughout chapter 5 of her book, “our entire culture is extravagantly drawing down finite resources, never worrying about tomorrow” (145). We constantly believe that some scientist will figure out a way to reverse all the damage we have done so we do not have to worry about cleaning our own mess. Our media supports this. Movies and television shows often show humans in the future who have solved all modern problems (including climate change). We have mastered the earth and, often, moved onto space with some unknown and infinite fuel source. While we all know we do not have this technology, we are assured and comforted by media that it eventually will happen. Klein is telling her readers to help the environment because, even if we do manage to create some robot to clean the air for us, helps improves society`s values. When we hide from accountability we are choosing to avoid how our actions impact others – we simply focus on what we want. Already in American society we have the idea that if we work hard to afford something, we have the right to use it. If I want a gas-guzzling car and I can pay for it, why should someone tell me I cannot get it? If this accountability continues, we start treating other poorly to get what we want. Klein shows this with the Nauru example. Outsiders wanted what Nauru had and took it even though it left the population to suffer fatal problems.


Photo taken by Torsten Blackwood/Getty. An aerial view of Nauru.

In chapter 6, Klein discusses how energy companies meddle in the environmental movement. She starts by demonstrating how many environmental organizations are doing things that directly oppose what they strive for. For example, The Nature Conservancy attempted to sustain a species of endangered chicken on a reserve however they also allowed oil drilling on the reserve which may or may not have led to the deaths of the chicken (165). She talks about how many energy companies show their support to these environmental organizations by donating money however she writes that, because of this, the environmental organizations have energy companies running them. To support this, she writes “The Nature Conservancy counts BP America, Chevron, and Shell among the members of its Business Council and Jim Rogers, chairman of the board and former CEO of Duke Energy, one of the largest U.S. coal-burning utilities, sits on the organization’s board of directors (past board members include former CEOs of General Motors and American Electric Power).” By giving money to these organizations, the energy companies are able to influence the environmental organizations` decisions to support their own ends. In fact, Klein continues by explaining that because of this, many of these organizations, instead of helping the environment, invest back into the energy companies. These companies, due to their meddling, can spread biased information through the organizations that make them look better. In addition to that, their meddling seems to look like genuine care for the environment which boosts their public image. This problem also relates to the message that society`s values are what stop us from helping the environment. Our society places a heavy importance on money (we are a capitalist country after all). In fact, American citizens work more hours than many other developed countries for money. This same idea is what makes our companies strive for maximum profits at any cost. When we live in a money driven society, we are essentially giving power to those who have the most money and those people in turn use that power to keep taking money from everyone else. Klein’s example with The Nature Conservancy shows this. Since energy corporations have the money, they get to run the organization in a way that hurts everyone but allows them to keep making money.

Picture from Doug G. Ware. Trump removes anti-corruption regulations for energy companies. He says it is to create more jobs but at what cost?

In the end, Klein is warning us that the fundamental values of our society are what is pushing us to destroy our world. In other chapters she has shown her readers that we are able to solely rely on renewable energy and that we have the scientific data to support climate change. So if we have proof of the problem and a way to fix it why do we not do anything about it? Recently Trump has decided to cut the budget for environmental care. By doing so, we as a society are continuing to be reliant on non-renewable energy companies who, as discussed above, are selfishly destroying the environment and manipulating society for profit.  This will continue to lead to environmental disasters that will damage property and, more importantly, people (Klein 90). By getting involved in our community and taking a stand against the actions done by the rich we are helping everyone live a healthier life and, potentially, saving our race from extinction.

Featured Photo: Taken from Robert S. Donovan

Social Activism                                             Media and Information: Spreading Truth or Lies?

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