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Extinction Rebellion is wrong – capitalism is not to blame for climate change

Divided Germany supplied a stable foundation for comparability, with a market financial system system within the West and a deliberate financial system system within the East. 

The German historian Hubertus Knabe, a number one professional on GDR historical past, noticed: “One of the world’s biggest climate killers was, in fact, a country that had abolished capitalism – the GDR.” In 1989, the GDR emitted greater than thrice as a lot CO2 for every unit of GDP than the Federal Republic.

Other comparisons additionally affirm that abolishing capitalism leads to extra moderately than much less environmental degradation. In 1988, the GDR emitted 10 instances as a lot sulphur dioxide per sq. mile because the Federal Republic (124.5 tonnes vs. 12 tonnes per sq. mile). 

The worst environmental destruction occurred in non-capitalist nations. In their e-book Ecocide within the USSR, Murray Feshbach and Alfred Friendly Jr. conclude that “no other industrial civilisation so systematically and so long poisoned its land, air, and people”.

Many folks will concede that socialism is even worse for the atmosphere than capitalism, however they’re nonetheless left with affordable doubts: isn’t financial development generally unhealthy for the atmosphere? 

There is one argument particularly that appears logical, at the very least at first look. Because the earth’s uncooked supplies are finite, infinite development is unimaginable. This leads many to conclude that, one way or the other, development have to be curtailed.

But based mostly on quite a few knowledge sequence, the American scientist Andrew McAfee proves in his e-book More from Less that financial development has decoupled itself from the consumption of uncooked supplies. 

Companies are consistently trying for new methods to produce extra effectively, i.e. to get by with fewer uncooked supplies. They do that, after all, not primarily to shield the atmosphere, however to reduce prices – a completely capitalist motivation.

And innovation, one other attribute of capitalism, has promoted a development we name miniaturisation or dematerialisation. One instance of this development is the smartphone. Just think about what number of units are contained in your smartphone (a phone, digital camera, calculator, voice recorder, dictionary and rather more apart from) and what number of uncooked supplies they used to eat.

There is a really robust argument that, even when it comes to climate change and environmental degradation, capitalism is not the issue, it’s the answer.


Rainer Zitelmann is a German historian and writer of the books The Power of Capitalism and The Rich in Public Opinion

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