The Environment

The profit motive, which underlies everything in the Free Market economic model, is unfortunately an absolute disaster for the ecosystem and environment in which we live. As capitalism can only recognise money, anything which has no monetary value is effectively deemed worthless. Hence we see rainforests being destroyed, rivers and the atmosphere polluted, ice caps melting, seas being stripped of life, animals being driven to extinction, all because these are the side effects of industrial processes for which all that matters is how much profit can be made. The quality of life from having a beautiful planet around us counts for nothing in the eyes of those who just want more money.

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Fuelled by Western consumer demand for palm oil, Indonesian rainforests are cut down to make way for palm oil plantations. Picture © Hayden

Free Market Capitalism doesn’t just not-care about environmental destruction, it actively drives it. Frequently the things being destroyed are an obstacle to the profit to be made, so the people in charge actively want them out of the way. Rain forests don’t make money, but cutting them down to grow palm oil does. Pristine landscapes don’t make money, but wrecking them to get at the oil and minerals underneath does. Dolphins and seals don’t make money, but killing them to stop them eating fish does. Rivers don’t make money, but using them as sewers to dispose of industrial waste does. The list is endless.

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Beijing, China. Same place, same month, smog pollution depending on which way the wind blows. Picture © Bobak

In addition, people who do not contribute to the profit model also have their rights removed. So we see indigenous peoples being driven from their homelands, and often murdered if they object, because the land is far more valuable without them on it.

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A forest in the Czech Republic killed by the effects of acid rain from atmospheric pollution. Picture © Nipik

The wanton destruction is a terrible thing in itself, but often there are longer-term negative effects on humanity, which unfortunately those who want short-term profit just don’t care about. By the time the effects are manifested they are long gone, with their money, or often they make sure they are not in the areas affected. China’s rapid industrialisation may make a lot of money, but the consequent atmospheric pollution is having massive deadly effects on people’s health. The use of pesticides may increase crop yields, but evidence now shows that it’s also killing all the bees, with potentially catastrophic effects on the entire ecosystem, including us. And of course the relentless burning of fossil fuels may provide cheap energy, but at the cost of uncontrollable climate change. Again the list is endless.

Raw sewage and industrial waste being dumped directly into a river in California. Picture © Calexico New River Committee

 In all these instances corporations are driving the destructive practices, motivated by profit, with neither a care for the lives of those they affect, or even in some cases their own futures. Of course common sense would dictate that governments would weigh up all these factors, and introduce legislation which balances the benefits of industrialisation, against the destruction it can cause. Unfortunately, that not only goes against the ‘free market’ capitalist philosophy, but governments nowadays are so corrupted by the influence of money that they have little interest in doing that anyway (see Party Funding and Lobbying). Hence Free Market Capitalism is currently taking us hell-bent on a path to total environmental destruction.

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The last batch of logs being taken from what used to be a rainforest.
Picture © Aidenvironment