Rethinking Capitalism: From Ineffective to Effective ‘Alternative’ Solutions to Climate Crisis

Rethinking Capitalism: From Ineffective to Effective ‘Alternative’ Solutions to Climate Crisis


Reviewed Essay by: Elizabeth Murphy-May (University of Newcastle, Australia)

Accepted on 4 May 2017

The intensification of the global economy, such as neoliberal capitalism, has caused a severe climate crisis in which the world faces today. More specifically, the foundations and values of what capitalism is built from have caused a destructive ecological trajectory, therefore limiting the sustainability of capitalism. As a result, not only has the adverse impacts of the environment been affected, but also contribute to the growing social, political and economic inequalities faced by some of the world’s poorest communities in both majority and minority worlds. In this connection, these ecological changes are directly associated with, if not, then a mutual relationship, with the neoliberal globalization and has therefore affected the capacity for those most affected by these changes to have sustainable economic development. However, alternatives to capitalism are existent and aim to rectify the climate crisis through different means that will be addressed. Significantly, alternatives to capitalism that aim to reduce the high levels of human induced ecological changes are either supportive of a capitalist reform that favors the existence of capitalism but mandating it to be more ecologically friendly, whilst others are more radical which advocate for a structural change against capitalism. In order to demonstrate this, this essay will briefly address and discuss the relationship between globalization and capitalism, and how this is affiliated with ecological matters. Secondly, this essay will analyze how the evolution of capitalism came to be through identifying the core values such as the inevitable ‘growth’ factor deriving from an anthropocentric foundation, both of which contradict the protection and management of the environment. Thirdly, this essay will then demonstrate examples in which wealth and power between the ‘global North’ and the ‘global South’ is dichotomized and has demonstrated the inequalities of the ability for the global South to inhibit resilience towards the climate crisis. Finally, this essay will compare and contrast the differences in the two alternative systems indicated above, arguing that a structural change is most beneficial in order to effectively, directly and efficiently attend to the climate crisis we face today.

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