The consequences of global warming have been evident for quite some time: the number of natural disasters taking place on our planet (such as tornadoes and hurricanes) has doubled since the 1980s. Rising temperatures also cause heat waves, floods, and wildfires. At this rate, the Earth is set to become inhospitable by the end of the century: many coastal cities such as New York, will disappear, and Mediterranean countries such as Spain, Italy and Greece will turn into deserts.
If average global temperatures were to increase by even 2 degrees, the disastrous phenomena we experience on this planet would be much more frequent and far more damaging. Therefore, the only possible response is to work to make sure that average temperatures do not increase by more than 1.5 degrees. Doing so would involve the complete elimination of global emissions at a much faster rate than the current goals set by the various governments around the world.
Although we have been aware for half a century that all of human civilization is at risk, we have made very little progress in trying to stop this decline. This paradox is extremely significant, and begs the question: why such inertia? Why has nothing been done to turn this situation around? Many blame the fossil fuel industry, and there is some truth to that. The root of the problem goes much deeper, however, and can be found in the economic system that has dominated almost every corner of the planet going back several centuries: capitalism.
The problem with capitalism is that it involves constant expansion and growth, without which entire sectors would collapse and millions of people would be out of work. What’s more, this expansion only exists by virtue of the exploitation of energy and resources. So, it would seem that there is no solution to the dichotomy between economic growth and the need to eradicate emissions.
Capitalism is so pervasive in our lives that it is taken for granted and almost seems to be the only feasible economic system available. Nonetheless, many surveys have been carried out around the world in recent years which show that between 55 and 70% of people are willing to look beyond capitalism to find an economic model that could save our planet. This was found to be true even in the most capitalist country of the world, the United States.