The Truth Behind Climate Change

The Truth Behind Climate Change Climate change is a very real threat to humanity. The major obstacle in reversing climate change is capitalism. Capitalism has allowed politics to become corrupt and manipulated by finances, thus giving power to an elite, wealthy group of people in the world. These people are profiting off climate change and therefore have no intentions of dismantling the fossil fuel industry.

For years the Earth has been burning fossil fuels such as gas, oil and coal. In turn, this has been increasing the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. With more carbon in the atmosphere, temperatures have been rising across the world leading to global climate change. This includes the melting of the polar ice caps, sea level rise, and increasingly more severe weather patterns. In an effort to address this problem, the countries within the UN met in Copenhagen in December of 2009 to come up with solutions.

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Very little was able to be agreed upon, other than the fact that the threshold temperature rise of climate change should not exceed 2 degrees Celsius. After the Earth has warmed past 2 degrees Celsius, climate change could become, without exaggeration, a catastrophic disaster. At this point in time, it is believed that climate change can still be reversed or at least stopped. After surpassing the 2 degree threshold, climate change will likely become unpredictable and spiral out of hand, with no hope of reconciliation. The only solution is to reduce carbon emissions (UNFCCC).

This proves to be a challenging feat because so much of the world depends on the burning of fossil fuels. Rather than burning fossil fuels for energy, the use of alternative resources should be adopted. Technologies like sun panels, wave farms, and wind farms have come a long way in providing energy. Some countries, such as Germany, have made reputations for themselves as self-sufficient because some of their power comes from solar panel grids. If the Earth is to remain usable for future generations, tactics like alternative resources must be employed everywhere, why aren’t they? Capitalism. Capitalism is an economic system based off of privatized companies, free trade, competition and the desire to accumulate more, whether that be more, oil, land, money or power.

In an examination of capitalism, we can see, “Private capital tends to become concentrated in few hands, partly because of competition among the capitalists, and partly because technological development and the increasing division of labor encourage the formation of larger units of production at the expense of smaller ones. The result of these developments is an oligarchy of private capital the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society. This is true since the members of legislative bodies are selected by political parties, largely financed or otherwise influenced by private capitalists who, for all practical purposes, separate the electorate from the legislature. The consequence is that the representatives of the people do not in fact sufficiently protect the interests of the underprivileged sections of the population,” (Wainwright). Wealthy industries have the most power because they are able to pay politicians to vote for or against laws regarding fossil fuels and climate change. By manipulating politics, the fossil fuel industry has been able to continue profiting off of climate change.

The Koch brothers, the CEOs of ExxonMobil, are constantly throwing around money to ensure their own business stays making obscene amounts of money off the destruction of the planet. It was recently discovered that a top scientist involved in denying climate change, Dr. Wei-Hock Soon, was paid over one million dollars by a number of fossil fuel-affiliated groups, one of those being ExxonMobil. Soon was from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center and previously appeared to be a credible, intelligent individual. The investigation discovered contracts made in an attempt to keep the funders private.

His extravagant funding from fossil fuel companies puts his work into question and makes it appear to be a product of self-interest rather than science. There is an abundant amount of cases similar to that of Dr. Soon’s; fossil fuel corporations funding research against climate change or political campaigns that back the beliefs of climate change deniers (Climate Deniers Exposed). Fossil fuel industries also spend money on undermining environmental progress and dismantling climate change legislation. So even if there are seven billion people and only 100 of them profit off climate change, it will be those 100 people who will do all in their power to control politics in a way that supports their unethical agenda. This leaves the other seven billion people confused and frustrated.

Naomi Klein advocates for climate change in her book, This Changes Everything. In her novel, Klein discusses how capitalism and climate change interact. She offers not only information, but insight as well, “If we stay on the road we are on, we will get the big corporate, big military, big engineering responses to climate change- the world of a tiny group of big corporate winners and armies of locked-out losers that we have imagined in virtually every fictional account of our dystopic future, from Mad Max to The Children of Men to The Hunger Games to Elysium. Or we can choose to heed climate change’s planetary wake up call and change course, steer away not just from the emissions cliff but from the logic that brought us careening to that precipice,” (Klein 59). Klein is saying that the fight isn’t solely against climate change, but also against capitalism. Possible tactics to deflect the negative effects of capitalism are activism and divestment.

Activism can be protesting oil pipelines by physically blockading them or it can be raising awareness by publishing articles or information on climate change. Another strategy is divestment. Many schools4, churches and other organizations have taken part in divesting from fossil fuels. The goal is not to deplete the companies’ money, because that is simply unrealistic given the insane amount of money they have, but instead the goal is to stigmatize the fossil fuel industry itself. The more people who understand the true intentions of the fossil fuel industry, the more power against them politically. The fossil fuel industry has flourished under capitalism and thrives off the greedy notion of gaining more capital.

While the cause of climate change is technically greenhouse emissions, capitalism is no doubt the real drive behind the continuation of climate change. Individual efforts of going greener, such as switching to more energy efficient light bulbs or even driving hybrid cars, can only help so much. In a debate on whether or not climate change can be controlled while capitalism is still in place, “all authors agree that climate stability can only be achieved by slowing down (global) economic growth significantly, to low or even negative rates, and to make this socially and politically acceptable, capitalism’s institutions have to be drastically reformed and made fundamentally more equitable. Authors are almost unanimous that if humanity sticks to the simple insight of mainstream climate economics and continues to fight warming half-heartedly, as it is doing now, it is bound to end up in deep ecological trouble and climate apartheid” (Storm). If climate change is to be reversed, capitalism must be stifled. The world’s political system is corrupt and therefore is not taking the action necessary to have a sustainable planet.