Your interview with Phil Thornhill (PN 2527) on “The capitalism question and climate change” shows a regrettable reluctance on his part to face the facts and a lack of joined up thinking.
Climate change is caused by capitalism. Organisations such as the World Development Movement, which is linked to the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition, have made this clear in their publications: eg The UK’s role in forced migration of climate refugees (2008) and The International Politics of Climate Change (2007).
The capitalist ethic is not based on welfare, loving kindness or respect for the environment. It is not based on a desire to ensure regular food and water supplies to the world’s poor. It is not based on the desire for universal access to quality education or health. The capitalist ethic is based on the need to make profits for entrepreneurs, multinational corporations, shareholders and banks.
70% of the world’s CO2 emissions are produced by developed countries such as the UK. These countries account for 20% of the world’s population. These countries adopt a capitalist mode of production which has, since its inception, exploited the earth’s resources including coal, tin, copper, lead, iron, oil. These resources are finite. The extraction of these resources from the earth creates CO2 emissions, their use, for transport, warfare, manufacturing, heating, energy, creates even more CO2 emissions.
Industrialisation and the exploitation of the earth’s resources was made easier in the developed world because of lack of universal access to education, health, decent housing, food supplies. Now that we in the developed world are becoming increasingly consumers rather than producers we are able to exploit the labour markets and the resources of the developing world, where the same lack of access to education, food supply etc now exists.
When the IMF and the World Bank lend money to developing countries they insist that these countries “liberalise” their economies. “Liberalise” is a polite way of saying “privatise”. In order to receive these loans developing countries must shrink their public sector (cutting back or getting rid of free access to education and health), they have to increase their exports, allow multi national corporations into their countries and increase their exports in order to earn sufficient dollars to repay their debts.
In 2004 82% of the World Bank’s extraction projects of oil, gas, coal in developing countries were for export to the developed world – rather than for relieving poverty in their country of origin.