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Capitalism and Climate: Unnecessary Enemies


By John J Parker



Where We Are


In recent decades the public zeitgeist has become chained to a false binary. Chained to the idea that human economic development is diametrically opposed to environmental sustainability. Chained to the idea that the proper conception of the two is not Climate and Capitalism, but Climate vs capitalism.


This idea is not only untrue but dangerously counterproductive, tying humanity down to an impossible choice. The roots of this rhetorical binary's existence reach back over centuries, modern rhetoric around the issue continually strengthens its hold on public thought, and in order to break down the binary in the future, we will have to overcome the ideological possession blinding us to the keys to solving it.




Philosophical Roots


The underlying philosophies responsible for this false binary is the Malthusian and the Marxist notion that human prosperity is a zero-sum game. That with every gain for one interest there must necessarily be a considerable loss for another. For Marx, this meant the worker was exploited for the capitalist's gain.

Malthus thought the earth must be unsustainably exploited to sustain humanity. As a result, both believed in an eventual revolution of some kind due to untrammeled growth and limited resources. Malthus most famously thought that humanity would have to stop its population growth voluntarily in order to have any hope of mitigating mass starvation and die-offs. Work like the “Population Bomb” put this philosophy into the social mainstream in the '70s, shaping our rhetoric going forward. In it, the experts claimed that the science was settled, that the world would effectively end within a decade, and that the only possible way to prevent this was if everyone adhered to particular policies.



Sound Familiar?



It should.


The ghosts of these defunct ideologies are still haunting the rhetorical landscape. Like the Malthusians who came before, modern Climate Alarmists are borderline hysterical in their predictions of the immediate and inevitable end of the world. And those predictions hold massive influence over our daily lives and our political rhetoric. So much so that the above video clips are virtually common knowledge, and the gradual warming of the planet has been universally labeled as "The Climate Crisis".



Why is humanity so susceptible to this rhetoric? Why do we believe Greta Thunberg when she says endless economic growth is a fairy tale, despite the fact recent history supports the notion. Why do we believe Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez when she claims the world is going to end in 12 years unless we stop growing when so many of these apocalyptic predictions have been wrong before? Why are we so ready and willing to accept the idea of a climate-capitalism binary? I see three main reasons.



Man v Nature



The idea that man's development is at the expense of nature is a very ancient notion. For the vast majority of human history, nature was a force actively and obviously trying to kill us at all times. The idea of man and nature in conflict is so appealing to us because it has been technically true for our entire evolutionary history. And our best defense against the predations of nature was never our ‘natural’ attributes, but our adaptability, innovation, and technology.


Mythologies across ages and cultures tell of this eternal and archetypal conflict. From Hercules slaying the Nemean Lion to Ahab's hunt for Moby Dick, Man v. Nature is a human narrative constant. It's no wonder we use the same logic here, the story is true, just misapplied here.

This idea only became more articulated over time. Enlightenment thinkers believed that science and reason were what elevated us above the beasts. That same science and reason have been most intensely applied to the development of new technologies, products, and the driving of human prosperity.

In evolutionary psychology, human mythology, and the tradition of western thought, the idea that human technology 'winning' means nature ‘losing’ has always been a given. It's no wonder we're predisposed to believe it here.



False Binaries



The psychological understructure for this type of thinking has been studied as well. No matter what name it’s given; all or nothing thinking, splitting, or binary opposition; the tendency of the human mind to make these oversimplifications is well established. So much so that false binaries are their own logical fallacy.

​In an interview with Forbes, Psychologist Andrew Hartz described the allure and consequences of such kinds of thinking.

“People tend to split because they have trouble tolerating “ambivalence”, which in psychology refers to the experience of having conflicting emotions toward the same thing at the same time—for example, acknowledging that we have both strengths and weaknesses. Ambivalence can be anxiety-provoking. In the short term, splitting reduces this anxiety by removing ambivalence and making the world appear simpler and more coherent.

But, the long-term costs can be severe. Splitting leads us to misunderstand what’s happening around us. It makes it harder to solve problems and predict events. Splitting is also emotionally dysregulating, fostering behavioral problems like aggression and leading to psychic pain and mental illness. It also makes it hard for people to have a productive dialogue, and it works against our shared ideals as a society, like love, peace, justice, and unity.”

Acknowledging that pure capitalism and pure environmentalism both have strengths and weaknesses is an uncomfortable ambivalence. Recognizing the nuances and possibilities in the interplay, the ruin, between human growth and nature is difficult and complicated. As Hartz said, believing in the binary makes the world appear simpler. So of course that's how we want to frame this issue.

“Settled Science”


Given how many major institutions speak on, prepare for, and study climate change, it’s no wonder that the low-resolution perception of much of the public assumes that all of the climate v. capitalism rhetoric is scientifically backed. The collective cultural weight of the UN, NASA, and IPCC is formidable, but it's not all that precise. While these institutions generally only produce data and predictions, not policy prescriptions, the credibility tends to generalize to the binary itself nonetheless. The data certainly shows that there are dangers and threats attendant to climate change, but this generalizing tendency goes a long way to explaining why the culture is so ready to accept this binary: they think it’s backed by science.

Rhetorical Loops

These three factors explain why we so readily accept the binary.



While those three factors may form the fundamental basis for this type of thought, the echo chamber of rhetoric built atop them is self-sustaining now. Binary-type thought leads to representations that reflect it which leads to more binary thought. These representations are everywhere in modern culture, and challenges to the loops are few, far between, and virtually unknown.








It’s so ingrained now that when I searched "Capitalism and Climate" on google images, I could not find a singular picture of them together in a positive light. Only negative. Some are shown above



Don’t Look Up


But of course, this rhetoric goes far beyond mere google images. In the satirical 2021 movie Don’t Look Up, the long-term, gradual issue of climate change is compared to an immediate and apocalyptic asteroid impact.


In it, climate skeptics are portrayed as so greedy, so selfish, and so stupidly short-sighted they literally won’t look up to see doomsday bearing down upon them. While this may satisfy the more resentful fantasies of climate alarmists, the truth is that things are a bit more complicated than that.

The world is a bit more complicated than that. And this type of rhetoric does nothing but enforce the non-existent binary.



Lest one think that this is only in the movies, Hollywood celebrity, climate activist, and starring actor in Don't Look Up, Leonardo DiCaprio, echoes its sentiment. He describes the movie as an accurate, "brilliant" analogy that reminds him of what it's like for real climate scientists and "holds a mirror" up to our culture. This sort of belief is not uncommon.



There is a myriad of other movies pushing the same message, such as The Lorax, Geostorm, 2012, all implying that human economic development hurts the environment and is ultimately disastrous for everyone.





























Fracking Fictions


But purely artistic expression isn't the only medium through which this rhetoric is being pushed. Even real-world examples are twisted beyond reality to shape the conversation, which has the added effect of lowering institutional trust boy-who-cried-wolf style.

In 2010, the first installment of Gasland, a widely-criticized anti-fracking docu-drama duology, was released. In it, the idea that fracking creates flammable water is held up as fact and is blamed for the death of a family named the Harpers.

But it was fiction.


According to Reason Magazine, "This artfully constructed section of the letter wants readers to conclude that fracking caused the deaths of the Harpers. Yet the wells in question were conventional gas wells; no fracking was taking place. The Harpers were killed by negligence: The company had not made sure that the casings on the wells were properly sealed with cement... fracking technology had nothing to do with the tragedy,..."

A 2013 movie known as The Promised Land banged a similar drum, in which a model farmstead was set ablaze with lighter fluid to represent the dangers of fracking.

Mark Fischetti writing for the Scientific American tore into the movie, calling the portrayal “ridiculous”.


Fischetti continued his criticism:

  • “Promised Land doesn’t try to resolve whether fracking is dangerous, although the classroom scene seems to take care of that in its poor excessiveness. And it doesn’t try to resolve whether a depressed farm community would really benefit from fracking.”

  • “As I noted, the movie does not explain what “fracking” really is. My own college-aged daughter left the theater acknowledging that she still didn’t understand it.”


Unfortunately more people watch and believe the sensationalist portrayals on-screen than the niche articles debunking them.


The Polar Bears


Even purportedly objective news coverage is guilty of this same kind of twisting. Like the infamous National Geographic pictures of starving polar bears, which were dishonestly attributed to climate change for the express purposes of shaping public opinion.

Worsening Storms

Reports of natural disasters becoming worse is also merely a half-truth. First of all, major storms are not becoming more frequent. While the evidence could (the evidence is mixed) suggest that storms are becoming “worse”, deaths as a result of these natural disasters are falling. Which is, theoretically, the real concern. According to Danish environmentalist, Dr. Bjorn Lomborg, who is a visiting professor at Copenhagen Business School and a visiting fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, there is good news on the death tolls.

“The number of reported events is increasing, but that is mainly due to better reporting, lower thresholds and better accessibility (the CNN effect).” he wrote. But he also stresses that “...the reduction in absolute deaths has happened while the global population has increased four-fold. The individual risk of dying from climate-related disasters has declined by 98.9%. Last year, fewer people died in climate disasters than at any point in the last three decades (1986 was a similarly fortunate year).”



The California Wildfires



The California Wildfires are another example. While universally pinned on climate exchange by the media; the more likely culprits are poor forest management, poor fire safety, and California's pre-existing weather patterns; not minute temperature variations. And while these fires may be intensifying in the context of our limited modern period of measuring them, according to old newspapers and native American histories, they’re nothing new overall. Researchers in a 2014 study even found a declining trend. But of course, nuance on this issue, or any other, doesn't make the headlines. Instead, the rhetorical loop keeps reinforcing itself.



None of this is to say that reckless economic development doesn't have its dangers, nor that environmentalism isn't a worthy cause. In a vacuum, the messages of the art forms mentioned are actually quite good, but as cautionary tales, not descriptions of the now. In the context of the complete echo chamber that is our rhetorical landscape on this issue, it's just more one-sided media. Add that to the glaring inaccuracies and misleading oversimplifications littered throughout these examples, the redeeming value of the work is all but nullified.

No matter what side you're on, the tacit assumption is that there are in fact sides, that capitalism necessarily hurts the climate, that it's climate vs. capitalism.

So it’s no wonder people believe it’s a zero-sum game, that when capitalism advances the environment loses. It’s been the assumed truth in popular culture for decades. From Malthus to Greta, from Gasland to Don’t Look Up, the world is saturated with the idea that this divide exists and is intractable.

​​

It’s a powerful story, virtually everyone is telling it, and it doesn’t seem as naive as the idea that human prosperity can be good for the environment.


It is cynicism masquerading as wisdom, and everybody wants to feel smart.



It’s Just Not True



So what's the problem with the binary in our rhetoric? For starters, it simply doesn't reflect reality. The world is plentiful with resources. Our population has grown massively. The mass starvations and die-offs never happened. All due to humanity running pell-mell towards capitalist industrialization and exponential expansion. Malthus was wrong.



Deus Ex Machina


He was wrong because while resources are finite, human ingenuity is not. We do not need to have more resources if we have a nigh-infinite capacity to become more efficient with what we do have.

Human ingenuity is the deus ex machina that continues to save mankind from its various prophecized dooms.


Ingenuity and technological prowess are part of what has allowed us, physically weak creatures as we are, to become the dominant species on the planet. Our adaptability has been put up against all manner of ideological and evolutionary challenges and convincingly won every bout. We should learn from this, recognize its relevance to the issue of climate, and strive to repeat the pattern.



The Impossible Problem


Yet, despite their losing record, we cling to the zero-sum ideologies regardless, limiting our progress.

Both human economic prosperity and environmental sustainability are massively important. So much so that they're not even technically separable. An unsustainable environment makes long-term economic prosperity nearly impossible. Environmental sustainability without human prosperity is pointless, (unless one is truly anti-human, but we'll get to that later). This is why when they’re construed to be opposed, the deadlock is essentially unbreakable, the problem impossible: both sides are fighting for something completely indispensable.

The belief in the binary is counterproductive to the goals of both of its sides.

And as long as that's the dominant rhetoric, the energy that could be used to solve the real concerns of both, will be wasted trying to destroy the other.







Carbon Claptrap


Carbon cutting policy is the archetypal example of this trend. Its efficacy is overestimated by the public and its drawbacks are underappreciated.

Even President Biden’s "climate czar", John Kerry, admitted that the US reducing its emissions to zero wouldn’t make much of a difference in the global climate change fight. He said: “ … when almost 90 percent of all of the planet’s global emissions come from outside of US borders. We could go to zero tomorrow and the problem isn’t solved,”


According to a 2007 NASA FAQ “even if we stopped emitting greenhouse gases today, global warming would continue to happen for at least several more decades, if not centuries”. (NASA’s Dr Gavin Schmidt tells Carbon Brief that this wording does not reflect more recent research and an update is in the works).”

While this may have been subject to update at the time, it is still the prevailing wisdom and is corroborated by more recent statements like Kerry’s

Environmentalist Dr. Bjorn Lomborg finds something similar, concluding that even if the Paris Climate Accords were fulfilled, the effect would be minuscule. But, unlike Kerry and his ilk, Lomborg comes to a more optimistic conclusion. He argues that while the process of climate change is real, negative, human-caused, and probably inevitable, its effects are exaggerated and can be managed through the adaptation and wealth creation that many climate alarmist policies would cripple.

According to a New York Post article updated from Lomborg's work, policies made by climate alarmists, like the Paris Accords,

"... leads nations to make exorbitantly expensive promises of carbon neutrality by 2050, something that will be more costly than permanent coronavirus shutdowns. Only New Zealand has asked for an independent assessment of the cost of its climate policy. It will cost 16 percent of its GDP each and every year by 2050, making it more costly than the entire New Zealand public expenditures for education, health, environment, police, defense, social protection, etc. Spending 16 percent of a nation’s income to solve a smaller part of a 3.6 percent problem is bad policy. Moreover, it is unlikely to happen. We need smarter solutions."

The doomsday studies often cited telling of massive excess deaths right around the corner don't take adaptation into account with other findings. Even the IPCC Summary for Policy Makers admits this. It writes that the figures predicting risk-level to humans and ecosystems “may be influenced by a variety of factors, including adaptation responses.” and that “Links to broader systems are illustrative and not intended to be comprehensive". But, most importantly, these figures assume “medium exposure and vulnerability driven by moderate trends in socioeconomic conditions” The IPCC admits the figures are not comprehensive and that they may be impacted by innovation, as their models assume moderate, unchanging socioeconomic conditions (adaptation rates) in the face climate change.

This poses a massive problem. As discussed earlier, adaptation is a defining trait of humanity. Innovation is not a steady process, it ebbs and flows with necessity and incentives. Not properly accounting for it neuters the force of all of these types of studies.


These proposed measures of mitigating the causes of climate change are faulty from start to finish. They're motivated on the basis of these predictively weak studies, they'll likely never be widely adopted, even if they were their impact would be negligible, and their implementation would cripple global prosperity and adaptive capabilities.





The Innovation Alternative


And yet, due to our various rhetorical loops, cutting carbon emissions is still our primary focus. America and the international community have invested billions and billions into reducing them "as if our lives depended on it" because that's the running rhetorical line. But they don't, it's not true, there are alternatives.

All of the money sacrificed at the altar of immediately cutting emissions could be put into R&D for adaptive measures, which, according to the models from the Copenhagen Consensus Lomborg cites, avoids eleven dollars of climate change-related damage for every dollar invested.

One of the best examples of adaptive measures already taken is modern sea walls, which make the existence of the Netherlands and New Orleans possible and have been doing so for decades.

Or the saved money could be used for economic development more generally. But instead, they’re poured into these massively inefficient and often counterproductive emission goals.

Adaptation to the effects of climate change is the better option: it's more efficient, more effective, and it doesn't hamstring human development and prosperity, it promotes it.



Energy Evolution


While human economic development is largely the source of excess carbon emissions it's been chiefly responsible for cutting them as well. The trends in technological innovation around energy tend to make our clean and efficient.

I repeat: The current trend is not more efficient and dirtier, it is, miraculously, more efficient and cleaner.

We’ve gone from wood and dung, to dirty coal, to cleaner coal, to natural gas. Now, we have nuclear and renewables at our fingertips, and in the future, we may even crack cold fusion. Things are going in the right direction as it is.




The most recent and impactful example is natural gas. It’s cut carbon emissions dramatically, especially in the US, despite the mass demonization of fracking.

And, despite its massive inefficiencies, demand for cleaner sources of energy (along with some nudging subsidies) has driven the price of clean energy down over 80% in a little over ten years. This trend could be compounded by nuclear power if it weren’t for the regulatory chokeholds we’ve placed on it.



The Nuclear Option


Nuclear power is indisputably the most reliable and efficient energy source ever harnessed, far outclassing renewables. On top of that, with a tiny land footprint, zero emissions, and ironclad regulations, it is one of the safest and most environmentally friendly power sources as well. France already relies on it nearly completely.


Despite the rhetorical echo chamber tying one hand behind its back, the free market and human innovation is still our best tool to fix environmental issues. Not only does innovation make the more effective adaptation strategy possible, but it has also produced our best methods of mitigation through alternative energies. And yet, this capitalism v. climate binary that our culture has bought into blinds us to this. And nuclear power, additionally cursed with its own image problems, is no exception.





The Plight of the Developing World


And as if all of that truly wasn’t enough, there’s an even more miraculous trend here as well. While economic development helps the environment indirectly through beneficial innovations, it seems that prosperity itself promotes environmental friendliness as well.

Don’t believe me? This is best demonstrated by seeing that the inverse is true. According to the data map shown above from World Population Review, poorer countries tend to be less environmentally friendly. While large developed countries may produce the bulk of the carbon emissions due to the sheer size of their economies, overall, they're much more ecologically friendly than developing countries.

This may seem shocking, our rhetorical environment tends to cast developing countries in the light of the noble savage archetype, in harmony with nature. Conversely large developed countries are portrayed as mechanical terrors raping the earth. While that may have been true when the capitalist engine was just starting up, it’s far from the truth now

To understand why this is, one must first recognize that developing countries and the people living in them have different priorities. Rich countries are largely insulated from poverty, meaning they can think long-term, whereas developing countries are primarily concerned with immediate survival. Telling Brazilian farmers that burning the Amazon Rainforest to make room for ranchland could have long-term negative effects is useless because they’re only concerned with food security. Telling mothers in sub-Saharan Africa that burning wood and dung is inefficient and dirty is a fool's errand because it's the only way to boil drinking water and keep her family warm.

As Tufts Assistant Professor Kelsey Jack writes “In many instances, the immediate need to put food on the table outweighs all the benefits an individual could get from efforts to reduce pollution, ... This is because these benefits are usually delayed and they also are shared by others – the environment is a public good. It is also, importantly, because the benefits of higher consumption are large and immediate when you have next to nothing.”

It's exceedingly easy for those of us in the ivory towers of developed nations to dictate carbon quotas and condemn the unclean masses, because we can afford the alternatives. But for the rest of the world carbon isn't a luxury, it's a bare necessity.




The Miracle of Development


Developed countries, on the other hand, can afford to be more eco-friendly, as we are richer and have cleaner sources of energy. Not only that, we are better insulated from the effects of not-so-eco-friendly behavior and can spare more brainpower to addressing environmental issues. We can afford both (mild) mitigation and innovative adaptation, all while enjoying the material benefits of being prosperous. It’s a win-win-win.


It may seem miraculous, especially in the hysterical, nihilistic rhetorical environment we find ourselves in, but given all this information, this genuinely seems to be the case.


It seems that the best way to insulate humanity from the effects of climate change, while also putting it in a position to limit its causes, is to enrich as many people as possible as quickly as possible.



Hills and Hockey Sticks



The Engine of Prosperity

So what’s the best way to do that? Historically speaking, the answer is capitalism. While capitalism could be defined as simply free trade, which has existed since the very first merchants, full-fledged modern capitalism was born around the 16th century with the Industrial Revolution and the writings of Adam Smith. At the very same time, GDP skyrocketed. That is not a coincidence. The growth that has been experienced over the last two centuries is absurd, making the combined productive efforts of the rest of human history seem pathetic. So much so that 137,000 people were lifted out of extreme poverty yesterday, and every single day before that, for the last 25 years.

There's no debate, capitalism, despite all its faults, is the best-proven way to enrich nations. Not to mention it's the best way to raise the quality of life and prevent all manners of death. And because it is the best at both of these things, it’s the best way to help the environment and humanity in this modern context.






A Bump in the Road

One could argue that the GDP increase is inexorably linked to the rise in CO2, and therefore we must necessarily slow production to lower emissions. The argument is colorable: it's been mostly true so far, and even the graphs look similar. However, trends seen in modern countries dispel that notion. Not only are developed nations more environmentally friendly (as discussed earlier), their GDPs have become uncoupled from their emissions. Since 2000, more than 20 countries have decreased their annual greenhouse gas emissions while simultaneously growing their economies. And the more countries develop, the more they'll be able to disconnect.

Harkening back to Malthus, population levels are projected to peak soon with negative birth rates, especially in the developed world. Similarly, this CO2 emissions increase will likely be just another hill to climb over. Again, the importance of cutting CO2 emissions, and population levels, was overblown in the first place, but given these trends there's nothing to worry about anyway. These high CO2 levels are a mere speed bump on the seemingly endless uphill road of capitalistic GDP growth. Much like a spacecraft discarding their boosters once in orbit, these emissions were necessary to get us moving, but at a certain point in the near future, we’ll simply keep going without them.




Ideological Possession

One would think that in a world full of harsh trade-offs and necessary sacrifices, we’d be jumping all over these relatively no-lose options. But we’re not.

We’ve explored some of the fundamental bases for the capitalism-climate binary and the rhetorical loops that sustain it; but this doesn’t truly explain how we’ve been able to ignore all the evidence, alternatives, and advocates that have been desperately trying to tear it down.

Why is it that these other, less efficient, more difficult solutions are the mainstream when the Innovation Alternative exists? Why are we avoiding the elephant in the room: that we can have it both ways?

Well, that's complicated, probably too complicated to know completely. Part of it is likely impatience, a desire to do something, and part of it is probably the intellectual comfort that comes with casual cynicism. But I suspect that, more fundamentally, ideological possession has something to do with it.


Psychoanalyst Carl Jung arguably coined this idea when he wrote, “People don't have ideas, ideas have people.”


Essentially, ideological possession is a phenomenon in which individuals, or an entire culture in our case, become so religiously adherent to an idea it consumes their self-awareness and pursuit of truth. The ideology ceases to be one method of analysis out of many but an end unto itself. The most obvious symptom of this is a rote repetition of talking points that cannot be intelligently defended by an individual once challenged. Think of it as confirmation bias, but standardized across individuals all around the same idea. It's exceedingly common, almost everyone has fallen into it at some point or another, and I see it in today's rhetorical climate, blinding us to the solution that would reveal the falsity of the binary.





Anti-capitalism


The idea of anti-capitalism is often possessive, especially among young activists. For many climate alarmists, and certainly for the more radical edge, being anti-capitalistic is a feature, not a bug, of environmentalism. We're so deep into this assumption of a binary that anti-capitalism is seen as universally synonymous with environmentalism. The idea that capitalism and environmentalism can both benefit from a policy simply does not compute under this assumption. It runs contrary to the possession. Thus, almost every mutually beneficial solution is shunted to the side, knee-capping effective environmental measures merely to spite the capitalist system.



Anti-human


This conflation of anti-capitalism and environmentalism is quite a dangerous mistake. We've already discussed why excluding economic development from the environmentalist movement is the highest of folly pragmatically speaking, but there's something darker in the rhetoric here as well. Since capitalism is tied up with continuing human growth and prosperity, a third idea is implicitly added to the bundle: that being pro-environment, means being anti-human.


It may seem conspiratorial at first glance, but popular rhetoric on this issue betrays its truth. Characterizing humans as cancer on the earth used to be the kind of cold, callous, cynical line found in a supervillain monologue; as Agent Smith of The Matrix demonstrates. But now, sources as wholesome and mainstream as Sir David Attenborough and the London Zoo, throw the idea around casually. It's also implicitly present in many forms of environmentalist art, like the examples already shown. Not to mention the misguided idea can commonly be found strewn across social media platforms like Twitter, Reddit, and Facebook.



While it may be easy to handwave this away as a “mere figure of expression”, that’s a contradiction in terms. There’s nothing “mere” about how one expresses themself. Not only does rhetoric represent real thought, but it can also influence it, creating our rhetorical loops. Throughout history, comparisons of people to sub-human entities like roaches, property, vermin, parasites, etc., have been made. It doesn’t typically end well. And this particular rhetoric represents humanity as a plague or cancer. The severity of this language becomes evident when one considers what exactly is done to cancers. They’re eradicated.

Even Malthus’s concerns, for their flaws, were based on the well-being of humanity. While modern activists claim to be concerned with the same, the general rhetorical environment implies something else, so it's no wonder we can't tell the difference between saving humanity and harming it. In the ideological tangle of anti-capitalism, anti-humanism, and environmentalism, it's difficult to pull the solutions free.


Unlikely Allies



But this does not have to be a death knell. The binary can still be broken. Human beings have torn through countless other cultural assumptions, rhetorical loops, and possessive ideas to get where we are today.

Assuming most people are not well and truly anti-human, we still have every ability, and motive, to shake ourselves free.

Capitalist-driven economic development is clearly the answer to our environmental woes. While premature, overzealous mitigation of causes will fail, adaptations to the effects will not. The answer is not to slow development through, hysterical, economy-killing carbon restrictions, but calm, measured policies in response to what is a 100-year problem. We can move away from fossil fuels naturally, as we’re already doing, and innovate adaptations to the changing world while we do it.

While rapid economic development via industrialization may have been the initial cause of our climate problems, it's now our best method of solving them. Malthus was wrong because his accurate description of humanity's past did not accurately describe its future. So goes for the mainstream environmentalists of today. Just because the climate suffered in the early days of industrialization doesn't mean it has to be the enemy of capitalism forever. Modern trends are indicating as much!


The only way for both humans and the environment to prosper in the long run is more economic development, not less. climate and capitalism are not enemies and acting as if they are only hurts them both. Because, when properly understood, they are allies.

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