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.