Capitalism and the Environment: Introduction

Climate change impacts humans in a variety of ways. Important things to our society such as human health, our agriculture, infrastructure, biodiversity, and even our water supply are facing negative impacts, now more than ever, due to climate change. We even see the impacts taking place right now with the heat waves happening in some parts of California. As we’ve seen, heat can increase the risk of wildfires which have negative impacts on both phsyical and mental health. Heat also increases the production of plant based allergens, which is especially not something we need right now amidst a pandemic. There are already so many factors that contribute to worsening human health so imagine how much worse it can get if changes aren’t made? But before changes can be made, we should probably figure out the root of all these problems.

Climate change is something I’ve been interested in for a while, so why not focus these blogs on getting to the bottom of what’s causing it? I startted learning about how human interactions affect the earth in my junior year of high school and almost immediately fell in love with the class. Because of this, when my senior year came around, it felt right to apply as an environmental studies major in all my college applications. Some time has passed and I’m now a freshman in college with plenty of questions to be asked and answered. I’m writing this blog to serve that purpose. I’ve already learned human interactions affect the environment but what exactly is it humans do that’s causing climate change?

There are many contributors to climate change, some examples include greenhouse gas emissions, water waste, and the abundance of trash in landfills releasing methane. All of which I believe can be connected back to consumption and capitalism. It takes energy to produce and ship goods- and packaging usually ends up in the trash. There’s no perfect way to consume sustainably but I do believe changes can be made in order to weaken the impact consumption and capitalism has on our environment. It can be as simple as companies getting rid of wasteful packaging, to consumers making conscious choices when they shop; like utilizing a reusable bag when grocery shopping or opting out of using those little plastic bags at grocery stores for produce.

As long as there’s a demand, goods are always going to be produced. Not only can the production of goods create a bunch of waste but now that we can buy items with a click of a button and get them delivered within 2 days, a bunch of CO2 is being emitted and waste is being built up. Is capitalism one of the main reasons as to why we’re experiencing the negative effects of climate change, and should we as consumers make small changes in our lives in order to help the environment?

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