My fellow contributors to the Embers publication have rightfully articulated the inadequacies of post-Cold-War capitalism in the fight to mitigate climate change. I understand the fear of moving away from what has largely been a stable economic ideology, however, we are now confronted by a terror that is so completely outside of the collective knowledge. Without quantitative change to the four major contributing factors of; population growth, consumption of resources, carbon emissions and the mass extinction of species, we will reach the point of the end times. And as Holmes Rolston aptly points out to us: “a general pattern of behaviour among threatened human societies is, to become more blinkered rather than more focused on the crisis, and fail”. We are bombarded with information about this looming and irreversible catastrophe and yet we do nothing – the time to act is quickly running out.
Capitalism is still moving in completely the wrong direction, as big businesses seize on new opportunities for economic growth, not seeming to comprehend that a world ‘post climate change’ will not exist. This includes things such as using the ‘opportunity’ of the melting ice caps in the Arctic to reduce fuel consumption, creating a new northern route. This is capitalism at its core, using every change in the world to create economic growth without a care for the consequences. This inequality is no more evident than in Adani hiding the oil spill of 2017, amassing 4.7 billion tonnes of carbon emissions, which not only broke Queensland government pollution laws but also devastated the world heritage site of the Great Barrier Reef. Adani shows the true nature of capitalism: it seizes on opportunities, not only contributing to climate change but planning to profit from it. Naomi Klein explains in The Shock Doctrine that these forthcoming ecological crises, far from undermine capitalism, but further its cause.
Profit is being weighed against human life, and human life is coming out the loser. The end times are finally here. Climate change isn’t like anything we have seen before, it is a disaster that is born from the unintended consequences of human action. This threat encompasses all of humanity; it is against our very existence and yet most of us are still more interested in the latest graphic tee from General Pants. The most significant issue in my eyes is the shrug of normalisation, like in 2008 when a CNN reporter explained the new economic opportunity brought about by the “greening of Greenland”, what an absurd reaction to a very serious ecological disaster. To pretend that this minor benefit of a major catastrophe is somehow a win for humanity because we can plant more vegetables is ridiculous but plainly shows the problem of normalisation. We are constantly surrounded by the effects of global warming and the fact that we look for opportunity in calamity, isn’t indicative of human resourcefulness, but rather, the power of ideology.
This article was published in ‘Embers’, a pullout in Honi’s Semester 1, Week 11 edition.