Capitalism’s great claim to being a superior form of organization for production and distribution of goods and services is that it is best able to account for costs and benefits: It produces that for which people are willing and able to pay.I do not disagree with Welsh, but I think he is wrong to blame "capitalism." Not that capitalism is blameless in creating the problem of climate change. I mean wrong in the sense that maps of the world in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were wrong: they provide a basic idea of certain incontrovertible facts, such as the existence of continents, and oceans, and major rivers, but they simply do not provide all the real details you need to get to where you want to go safely and expeditiously. For example: What kind of capitalism are we talking about here? Industrial capitalism? Or financial / rentier capitalism? American capitalism? Or German or Japanese capitalism?
People weren’t willing and/or able to pay to stop climate change. In part, this is because actors with money were able to obfuscate both the science and the situation, spending millions on doing so, and buying the political process. In part, it is because climate change’s worst effects were expected to take place AFTER the death of the people who needed to act to stop it.
If you were 30 in 1980, you are 66 today. If you were 40, you are 76. If you were in the decision making class, overwhelmingly allocated to those who were 50+ in 1980, you are 86 today.
People who were in their prime and during their decision-making days, when we needed to act on climate change, were making a DEATH BET.
They bet they would be dead before the worst results of climate change happened.
They will win this bet.
This was a RATIONAL thing for them to do. I want to repeat that, because too many people think “rational=good.” It does not. It was rational for them to discount a future they would not see.
Because statistics and data show clearly that the United States is becoming less capital intense. It is becoming, in other words, less capitalistic. This is a symptom, as well as a function, of the U.S. economy coming to be dominated by rentiers and usurers, rather than producers. Remember Mitt Romney and Bain Capital? Private equity operations like that—and there are many—force companies to borrow money to pay out fees and dividends, actually de-capitalizing those victim companies. Is that capitalism? And note that such looted companies are under intense pressure, by the financiers looting them, to drive down labor costs as much as possible, perhaps by relocating offshore. And, to skirt environmental and safety regulations, Which of course contributes to the causes of climate change.