It’s Not the Carbon; It’s the Capitalism!

The big climate march in New York City and a big new book have concentrated attention on the climate. Enough denial and delay the marchers chant; This Changes Everything, says Naomi Klein in her latest call to action.

“It’s not about carbon, it’s about capitalism,” says Klein.

I couldn’t agree more. It’s time we faced not just the symptoms, but the system that is cozying us up to catastrophe.

Our economic system of extract, exploit and profit is colliding with our eco-system, writes Klein and in case anyone is unclear about the consequences of that: when the ideology of infinite growth meets the reality of finite fuel and earth, reality is the odds-on favorite. We can’t keep drilling and billing the future forever.

It’s a relief to see people in the streets and a relief to see Crisis and Capitalism in the same sentence. We heard plenty about the crisis of capitalism during the last recession. What Klein keeps us thinking about is the crisis that is capitalism. After all, only people in crisis will work long hours for low pay and someone else’s profit.

It’s good to see people talking about crisis and capitalism. We need to talk about power too. Not just fuel, but influence. The fossil fuel cartel, reports Klein, spent $400,000 a day last year lobbying Congress and that’s not criminal or corruption, that’s just democracy under capitalism.

With big profits, comes powerful propaganda. (You only have to look at the underwriting on public television to see that.) And the UN’s Climate Summit has seen plenty of greenwashing. While regular people have been in the streets, big business leaders have been in the suites — making all sorts of promises to self-regulate their emissions and come up with market-driven solutions like carbon trading.

But in the hands of unnatural beings like corporations is no place to leave our natural resources. We saw what happened when Wall Street made bet on our homes. What do we think they’ll do with our bio-derivatives?

Do we really want commodities traders, who’ve made a casino out of our food supply, to turn next to our air and water?

As Klein points out, just eight huge agri-businesses firms hold almost all the patents on the latest so-called “climate-ready” crops. They’ll never techno-fix our farms and forests without expecting us to pay for it.

Commodities, crisis, climate, capitalism. Lots of good words are in the mix. The word we need to take out and give up on is confidence, confidence that anything but a systems change will fix this. Because what needs fixing isn’t just the carbon, remember; it’s capitalism and the concentration of wealth and power.

If we fail to act, the same people who profit off war, will certainly find a way to make a mint off warming.

Laura Flanders is a best-selling author and the host of GRITtv, an online channel where she talks to creative thinkers and change-makers from the worlds of politics, arts and the new economy. Read other articles by Laura, or visit Laura's website.