Tag Archives: Gus Speth

Capitalism vs environment: Time to take sides

In The Bridge at the Edge of the World: Capitalism, the Environment and Crossing from Crisis to Sustainability, environmentalist Gus Speth makes fundamental connections between capitalism and environmental destruction. He writes:

Most environmental deterioration is a result of systemic failures of the capitalism we have today and … long-term solutions must seek transformative change in the key features of this contemporary capitalism.

The shock that Speth generates in making such a statement is not so much in what he says: many others have said much the same. The shock is felt more because of who says it. Very, very few mainstream environmentalist leaders in the developed world are willing to discuss capitalism, let alone question its relationship with the natural world, challenge its core assumptions or acknowledge the need for transformative changes to our economic system.

It’s time many more environmentalists followed Speth’s lead. Capitalism is the elephant sitting unacknowledged in the environmentalist’s living room.

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The New Scientist on “Why our economy is killing the planet”

In its issue of 18 October 2008, the New Scientist published a collection of nine short commentaries on the folly of growth. They are now on open access and make for essential reading for anyone concerned about the future of planet Earth.

For greens in particular, the articles provide welcome backing for a founding principle of the movement which has been eroded and undermined by relentless optimists (inside and outside the green movement) who would have us believe that ecological sustainability and economic growth are mutually reinforcing. The opening editorial piece makes it quite clear that ecological sustainability and economic growth are not at all compatible, observing:

personal carbon virtue and collective environmentalism are futile as long as our economic system is built on the assumption of growth. … if we are serious about saving Earth, we must reshape our economy.

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Filed under capitalism, David, economic analysis, green politics