Capitalism is the socio-economic and socio-political system that like every other social and political system is characterized by its own political institutions, property and other relationships, the social and class structure, economic infrastructure, etc. Accordingly, capitalism is based on certain ideological paradigm, including the most important components of liberalism, conservatism, social democracy, and others. Today, the issue whether capitalism can go green concerns many people as well as government representatives. Now, the main goal is to apply all efforts and measures to prevent the disaster. To do this, one must understand the ability to solve the emerging crisis. There are several theories that justify the possibility of capitalism to go green. The main issues considered in this essay are an opportunity of capitalism to go green, the arguments for or against this, and the main technological strategies that will help to stop the environmental degradation in the capitalist economic context.
The first theory is classic economic theory that appeared with the advent of capitalism. It reflects the interest of mainly upper classes. The center of all economic activity is private property. Hence, with the emergence of this theory, there appeared a new attitude of people to the natural world. Access to and the use of natural resources have become a privilege; in other words, one could say that it was a limitless gift. These gifts were free and unlimited in using. That is why the impact of capitalism on the environment essentially ignored. This theory provides the only argument against the idea that capitalism is possible to go green as it needs to yield to personal interests.
Next theory is the theory of carbon counter and capitalism. This theory very clearly shows the ridge climate crisis that now requires urgent CO2 reduction measures. This theory argues that for many decades, the ‘green’ economy has been on the background. The contradiction between economic accelerated growth and environmental safety is too serious, but in order to change the emission of harmful substances in the atmosphere, there needs to be a significant change in the structure of the market economy. As well as classic economic theory, this theory does not result in positive arguments in favor of the development of ‘green’ economy and the opportunities of capitalism to go green (Kautsky, 1988, pp. 186-190).
The whole world is threatened by the ecological disaster that destroys the climate. At the moment, almost all ecosystems are in decline. Economy and ecology lead a huge clash with both sides, if no measures are taken. Nevertheless, there are also allegations that despite anything, there are ways to solve this problem. The first opinion is expressed by the environmental sociologists Bellamy Foster, Richard York, and Brett Clark (2010) who say that the source of ecological crisis is the excessive wealth in capitalist society, including natural wealth. Sociologists are very critical of the arguments of economists and technologists; they insist that there must be fundamental changes in the public attitudes, and only then the environmental and social problems will be resolved (Forest, Clark, & York, 2010, pp. 176-180).
Nowadays, it is popular to be green, but it is not the reality. Many businesses and corporations compete with each other only in order to show that they are green. CEOs drive for profits and thus, they try to acquire a reputation by advertising their companies as ‘green’. However, environmental problems persist and even increase in volume. However, in some cases, they can be mitigated through improved production practices. Therefore, there are several technological strategies that can help to stop the environmental degradation in the capitalist economic context.
The first is called ‘less harmful, and/or use fewer material inputs’. This strategy involves improving energy efficiency through insulation houses in order to use less fuel for winter heating. Another option is to use the roof equipped with solar panels. Increased energy efficiency will result in lower fuel usage costs. In addition, there are proposals to ensure more environmental technologies such as the use of solar energy and water energy. These sources of energy will not allow unlimited economic expansion without additional costs.
The second strategy is ‘high-tech/high-risk solutions’. The strategy says that the energy storage is the only way for the ecological system, the health, and well-being of all types of systems. Chemical agents, radioactive substances, and other hazards pervade the environment, and at once, it is not possible to observe the full extent and what affect the damage they cause. This strategy indicates that the concept of progress is confused with a high rate of return. Many scientists are concerned about the abrupt climatic changes and they want to see a nuclear energy as an alternative but not a primary energy source. This decision on the opinion of scientists is the most rational one. It has been found by many specialists that to satisfy the needs in energy produced by nuclear power plants, it is required to build these plants every day for the next 45 years. Furthermore, several reengineering schemes have been proposed: the creation of effective carbon sequestration systems, finding ways to reduce the solar energy absorbed by the planet and carbon sequestration on a global scale.
The next is strategy is ‘clean coal’, involving the transition to the so-called clean coal as a way to expand the production of fossil fuels without carbon dioxide emissions. However, despite the fact that clean coal is not a reality, the idea of using it to protect the future of coal mining and the construction of coal power stations still exists. This strategy is designed to process the removal of carbon from air prior to its discharge into the atmosphere and convert it into harmless substances that may be safely administered in atmosphere, ocean, and so on. However, this technology has not been used on an industrial scale.
The last strategy is ‘low-tech solutions’ that offers a number of ways to collect carbon: reforestation and increasing the amount of organic soil. In the agricultural industry, there are several management methods for increasing organic soil. The first is the integration of animal husbandry and crop residues returned to the land because any plant and animal material helps to improve the soil. The second is the inclusion of ‘bio char’ into the soil and at a relatively low temperature combustion limited oxygen. This method is fairly stable and productive. However, it is not effective because to expand, an environmentally forest system requires a large amount of time (Magdoff & Foster, 2011, pp. 95-122).
Having considered the issue of whether there is an opportunity of capitalism to go green, one can conclude that there are different theories about it. Thus, classic economic theory suggests that the center of all economic activity is private property. It has led to a new attitude of humanity to the natural world and the impact of capitalism on the environment was ignored. The theory of carbon counter and capitalism suggests that nowadays, there is an urgent need to take measures to reduce CO2, as the contradiction between environmental security and economic growth is very large. However, scientists believe that it is possible to find way to solve the problem. They think that with the radical change of the attitude of society towards the issue of the future crisis, this issue can be resolved. In addition, there are technological strategies that offer the ways to prevent the degradation of the environment. These strategies are ‘high-tech/high-risk solutions’, ‘clean coal’, and ‘low-tech solutions’.
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