Climate change a systemic failure: States, governments, corporates collaborate to exploit environment

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*

The progressive Odia daily newspaper ‘Dharitri’ organised ‘Odisha Youth Conclave on Climate Change’ while celebrating its 48th birthday on November 24, 2021. In a profit driven mass media industry with its rent seeking family ownerships, it is rare these days for newspapers to think about people and planet.

The ‘Dharitri’ and its family deserve all appreciation for being different and carrying forward the alternative visions for a better tomorrow based on peace, prosperity and environmental sustainability. The ‘Dharitri Youth Conclave 2021’ was well attended by elderly dignitaries, officials and students with youthful spirit.

The elderly dignitaries and official spokespersons have followed their well scripted speeches and delusional self-praise, whereas there were sparkling hopes in the voices of participating students and young people in the conclave. They managed to outline the alternative visions for a sustainable future while focusing on predicaments of climate change. It was clear that in a battle between elderly myopia and youthful idealism, the young people have paved the way for a better tomorrow.

Climate change is not an accident. It is a systematic and gradual outcome of ever-expanding capitalist system, which is based on over exploitation of nature and human beings. It is not a result of failure of individuals and communities. In such a context, the cause-and-effect analysis of the climate change does not take us far enough to understand, analyse and offer alternatives.

The 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference known as COP26 was held at the SEC Centre in Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom, from October 13 to November 13, 2021. It was a monumental failure in spite of all its essentialist novelties to understand and outline the alternative actions to reverse or stop climate change.

The ‘Glasgow Climate Pact’ was agreed by consensus of all delegations from different parts of the world. This consensus is going to fail like previous ones in history as it does not address the conditions that create climate crisis. Nuance is a word used to hide failures. So, it is important to move away from the narrow silo of analysis based on causalities and understand conditions of climate change within broader issues of ecology.

Climate change is a systemic failure, where the states, governments and corporates collaborate to exploit environment in search of profit. Such rent seeking culture is detrimental to environment and society. In order to understand and analyse climate change, it is important to understand wider issues of nature, environment and ecology. The commodification of nature and monetisation of environment under capitalism and its social, cultural, political and social values create the foundations for the destruction of ecological balance, which causes climate crisis.

From agricultural mass production to relentless industrialisation and mining for over production of goods and services by exploiting nature has caused environmental degradation and decline in the quality of lives. Such a disconnected and alienated process under capitalism results in ecological crisis.

The culture of capitalism and its progress depends on robbery of nature and human beings. The capitalist plunder of nature and human labour helps capitalism to grow at the cost of environment and society. The culture of productivity within capitalism from mass agricultural revolutions to large scale industrial revolutions seeks profit at the cost of human lives and nature.

Capitalism produces alienated human beings by dismantling the collective foundations of society. It destroys the organic relationship between human beings and nature. It undermines the social and ecological harmony. This is the core to understand the conditions of climate crisis.

From the United Nations Climate Change Conferences to the regional, national and local conferences on climate change ignores capitalist conditions which produces climate crisis. The corporates, mining companies and large scale extractive industries are responsible for the destruction of environment on everyday basis and supporting and sponsoring conferences on climate change at the same time. These contradictions are integral to capitalism as a system.

The continuous expansion of capitalism accelerates climate crisis. The mitigation of climate crisis depends on reversal of capitalism and all its concocted values that governs our states, societies and individuals today.  The individualistic culture of utility, pleasure and satisfaction within capitalism is not sustainable.

It atomises and domesticates individuals and societies across the globe by promoting fictious idea of freedom and insatiable trap of desires to solve the problems of over production within capitalism and its market missionaries. The reversal of climate crisis depends on understanding broader ecological challenges produced by capitalism and its monetised culture created by the unlimited power of market relations.

The sustainability of our planet, the future of environment and people depends on our collective consciousness and actions as global ecological citizens; reconnecting our roots with nature and with each other as fellow beings. The collective and cooperative governance of natural resources for common good can only reverse climate crisis. This is the only alternative.

*University of Glasgow, UK

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