When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.
We humans are nature itself, woven into the environment, linked to all that is around us by a million threads. For those of us who know how ever-expanding production and global warming are impacting life on earth today the future can feel hopeless, but the truth is…
We could turn this around…
Imagine our world without the hindrance of the profit motive: the only purpose of production would be to meet human needs while solving the environmental crisis. We could focus our productive energy and intelligence to immediately transition away from fossil fuels to alternative energy, improve efficiency, and at the same time move the excess CO2 in the atmosphere back into the soil. We could organize production taking the impact on the environment into consideration with all the choices we make, understanding that the future of the natural world is our own future.
Imagine a solar-powered public transportation system, providing frequent, accessible transportation anywhere in our metropolitan communities and beyond.
Imagine today’s farmland cultivated according to the best practices of organic agriculture, which already produces 50% of the world’s food on small farms using 20% of the land. This agro-ecology is far more productive than industrial agriculture (in terms of produce per acre, water and energy used per pound of food) and can be of benefit to the soil and climate rather than causing the damage of industrial farming. Then imagine more people engaged in healthy agriculture and other activities living in lively communities.
Imagine us all working in a system that produced only for our needs, where our talents, creativity and interests were encouraged; where work was enjoyable and not a chore; where no one would be tied to difficult or tiresome work for a lifetime, and as long as that work existed it could be shared by many until it could be eliminated or automated.
This is a realizable dream or goal. The first step is to eliminate the system of capitalism that stands in the way and distorts all aspects of our lives.
Capitalism is Environmental Suicide
The ecological nightmare we are living is real — not a bad dream.
On land We have seen many of the extreme weather events and their consequences – hurricanes, typhoons, and torrential rains leading to flooding, mudslides and other devastation. On the other extreme we have desertification and droughts destroying entire ecosystems; wildfires, the spread of insects, and massive crop failures. In addition, we live surrounded by a chemical soup, with toxins in our water, air, and products that are part of our daily lives.
More Than 70% Of The Earth Is Covered By Oceans: The Gulf of Mexico has a dead zone (an area where little or no life exists), the size of Connecticut, caused by runoff of pollutants, mainly from industrial agriculture. The Pacific Ocean has its Great Pacific Garbage Patch – a concentration of plastic debris about the size of Texas, killing the life that mistakes it for food or spreading toxic chemicals as it breaks down. The warming of the oceans, along with pollutants from Australia, is killing off the greatest living structure in the world – the Great Barrier Reef.
What Is Of Value? The scientists around the world have studied and analyzed the data – from the depths of the oceans to the Earth’s atmosphere. Human activity is destroying the planet. Usually the impacts are expressed in losses to the economy – so many tons of fish, so many tons of agricultural produce lost, the cost of floods, wildfires, the cost of asthma, cancers, days of work lost and so on. The only measures this capitalist system can apply are values of wealth and profitability. Risks associated with environmental destruction or loss of life are measured against investments and profits.
We Cannot Put A Price On Life. We are confronting a situation that humanity has never faced before. We find ourselves in the midst of a rapid extinction of many species that evolved in the same environment we did. The capitalist system threatens our very existence. This is not a matter of opinion; it is a fact.
Can we find solutions within the system that is responsible for this situation? Capitalist environmentalists like Paul Hawken, and Tom Steyer tell us that the solutions can come from within capitalism. There is no doubt that they can create new markets for eco-products including solar-powered everything, but they can’t alter the basic foundation of capitalism. For capitalists, the Earth – its minerals, all life forms, including ourselves, are resources to exploit.
A Failure Of Our Imaginations? It is difficult for many people to imagine bringing a different system into being. We have been raised to believe that the values of this system – economic productivity and expansion, competition, hierarchy, war, and greed are natural ways of being. We know that these are not the values we would choose to guide our lives. So why cling to a society that not only functions against our own interests, but also threatens our very existence?
A Different Society Is Possible. Not only is it possible, but it is necessary.
We have the technological capability to provide a quality life for all. The people who do the work, whose labor is exploited to maintain this insanity, have the power to bring this entire system to a stop. And together we have the possibility to reorganize society in our own interest – from the local level to the entire planet.