• Sam White

As Capitalism Crumbles from the Coronavirus, We Come Across a Crucial Cure for Climate Change

Alliterations aside, we’re at a very unique crossroads in human history. After years of constructing the foundation and support for a society dependent on capitalism, we are facing its first real crippling blow. The coronavirus has brought our economy to its knees, and we are finding out for the first time how fragile it all truly is. We’re also seeing something else that’s quite unexpected and rather extraordinary — the Earth is speaking to us. And it’s not just talking; it is screaming. Never before has there been a more clear and concise indication that capitalism is one of the most critical factors in modern climate change.

(Photo by Xavi Cabrera on Unsplash)

Climate Change Culprits

The number one cause of climate change is greenhouse gas emissions. The Greenhouse Effect is the entrapment of vapors and gasses in the Earth’s atmosphere which prevents the collected heat on the Earth’s surface from escaping.

Picture the earth like a human body. When the human body collects heat, it must be released — either by sweat or radiation through ducts in the skin. Too much heat can cause great bodily harm, permanent damage, and even death. When the Earth collects heat — from the sun, from human activity, or from natural seismic activity — it must also be released. Greenhouse gasses are the equivalent of covering an already hot human body in a sweatsuit. Interrupting the natural process of releasing that heat causes significant, and over time, irreversible damage to our planet.

The most significant producer of greenhouse gasses is human activity — transportation, electricity, burning fossil fuels, and mass agriculture. All of these industries are not only the biggest polluters of our planet, but they also have another thing in common: they are all necessary cogs in the monolith that is the great capitalistic machine.

Capitalism has designed an almost flawless network of systems all over the globe to keep itself alive and profitable. The transportation, electricity, oil, and agriculture industries all work perfectly together to make a well-oiled, self-sufficient, money-making machine. A machine that specifically preys on our emotions and vulnerabilities — because it’s the emotional buyer who spends the most money, and it’s the vulnerable consumer who is more likely to turn a blind eye towards the lengths these companies will go to profit.

(Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash)

The Coronavirus Cessation

Since the coronavirus has caused a global shutdown, people are finally seeing just how severely capitalism affects the environment. The machine is being disassembled one industry at a time — and the Earth is responding swifter than we ever could have imagined. Stories have been flooding social media showcasing how nature and wildlife seem to be reclaiming territory that was once theirs.

In Australia, kangaroos have been seen happily hopping around the almost empty city of Adelaide. In Harlech, Wales, mountain goats have returned in mobs, roaming around sea level. In South Africa, sea birds have flocked to the shores, feasting upon schools of anchovies that have congregated in the now human-barren shallows.

Another critical consequence has been a staggering decrease in pollution. For the first time in decades, the Himalayas are visible in Punjab, India. The same has happened to the mountain ranges in Manila in the Philippines. In Los Angeles, USA, the city line is clearer than it’s been in years.

The impact has been seen across the world, but all you must do is look up; have you noticed the skies have been clearer? The clouds have been cleaner? The stars have been brighter? The birds have been louder? The colors of the world around you are more vivid? All you have to do is look, and you will see what the Earth is trying to tell us.

(Photo by Thomas Richter on Unsplash)

Creating a Cleaner Composition

It’s evident that the Earth was very intentional in putting a pause on human activity. If we continue to look at the Earth as a human body, we know what a feverish and infected body will do when it needs to do to return to regulated homeostasis. We have been given a very clear warning, and we would be foolish not to heed it.

Dismantling capitalism completely will probably never happen — but as a society, we need to rethink what we find normal and necessary. Instead of being dependent solely on capitalistic systems and ideals that serve only the human purpose, we must look beyond our immediate needs and do what serves our collective home. We need to reconfigure our wiring and build a new system, one that benefits the environment and species beyond our own.

The Earth has responded in just two months the way we thought it would respond in twenty years. It’s incredibly clear how desperate our planet is for a break from our constant consumption. As a society, we must collectively work together to build a new normal. One that minimizes our carbon footprint, our pollution output, and our invasion into the habitat of wildlife.

This pause has shown us that we can work from home, we can take time to stay inside, we can limit our travel, and that we really don’t need to consume much outside of what is “essential.” This pause has shown us that we are more capable of life independent from major capitalism than we’ve been led to believe — because we’re already doing it. This pause has been a necessary change in perspective; not only for us as humans, but for the life and vitality of the world around us.