Essay on Equating the Degradation of the Environment With the Growth of Free Market Capitalism

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Boston College
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The modern society is characterized by improved industries, advanced technology, free-market policies, enhanced living standards and improved health care systems among many other positive achievements. As a result, there is a lot to celebrate economically today than in the past ten centuries. The modern society is accredited to the introduction of world civilization by the Europeans with their discoveries which has transitioned to recent economic growth and sustainability. Based on history apart from capitalism, no other world financial system has helped people arise from poverty (Reilly, 1990). Capitalism allows man to own property privately and as a result, man is allowed to be creative and competitive. The industrial revolution is built upon the spirit of capitalism which grants economic freedom. Countries that embrace capitalism are rated among the most developed and most industrialized and an excellent example of such a state is the United States.

Capitalism adoption from Europe brought with it massive technological advancements, such as revolution of the steam engine, railway, steel, and electricity industry. Also, it resulted in mechanization, urbanization, use of chemicals in agriculture, development of the mobile and petroleum industry and emergence uncontrollable forces of production. The world population in return continue to grow every day. All this advancement and growth of human society continually, create a growing pressure on world natural resources (Sweezy, 2004).

The success of capitalism is overwhelming but examining the progress from an environmentalist perspective; economic freedom has negative environmental impact attached. Although the world celebrates the modern commercial breakthrough, the natural environment continues to suffer in the hands of people. Environmentalist report annually of increased environmental degradation as economic growth and development is registered (Reilly, 1990). The natural environment supports the world economy as the natural resources are exploited for economic development, with the current reported economic growth, more natural resource exploitation is registered. The over-exploitation of natural resources has caused environmental imbalance creating a potential threat to humanity (Sweezy, 2004).

The more industries are built, increased air and water pollution are recorded. Due to air pollution, the natural climate has begun to shift. The temperatures are on the rise, snow has reduced, and the natural air has become unhealthy for human and animal survival. People have reclaimed the land that was natural habitats for wildlife, and as a result, desertification has increased (Sweezy, 2004). People have been forced out of their homes to other location, as their landfall under exploitation for economic purposes. In different circumstances, the natural calamities caused by human interference with the environment has forced people out of their homes (Reilly, 1990). It is evident capitalism and nature are at war and a solution need to be addressed before further damage is done.

The modern technology and constant innovation have made life bearable and more comfortable to live. Today the transport system is highly improved and therefore, people have ease in accessing any part of the world. Through transport business has blossomed, urbanization has increased and globalization enhanced (Sweezy, 2004). In the healthcare sector, there is improved medicine and improved medical care as doctors skills have been enhanced through the modern inventions and technology. Today doctors can do different surgeries and organ transplants that were in achievable a century back. The medical technology advancement has made diagnosing and treatment fast for example technology, and innovation has helped improve dialysis, x-ray and cancer treatment. Although the modern society celebrates innovation and technology advancement same technology is used to threaten human survival. The nuclear weapons have become common, and people are more at risk of losing their lives. The atomic threat can wipe out the entire world, destroy people and the economy they have built for years (Sweezy, 2004). The environment also is at risk of destruction by this deadly weapons created to protect people and their economic sovereignty.

The capitalist system, in general, is shaped in a manner that all human energy is concentrated on the economic welfare, production, and making of profits and ignore the natural environment in which it operated. Structural, financial and manufacturing developments in the different field have grown beyond the dream of past 50 decades, and this is accredited to the free market policies. Despite all the changes and remarkable achievement brought by open market policy, change in the way capitalism operates unheard. Capitalism continues to maintain selfish ways (Sweezy, 2004). The capitalists are only interested in making profits, and as a result, competitiveness is the system existing remedy. The selfish nature of capitalism and lack of address to other factors that contribute to its success continue to build on the future market failures and developing environmental crisis.

The free market policy has left the world crumbling slowly and therefore; it is necessary to assess whether there is anything that the system has brought or created towards slowing down its destructive drive and develop measures that are environmentally sustainable. The accumulation of capital and making of profit will be short-lived if the natural environment continues to be threatened by the narrow economic ways of human beings.


Reilly, W. K. (1990). The green thumb of capitalism. Policy Review, (54), 16.

Sweezy, P. M. (2004). Capitalism and the Environment. Monthly Review, 56(5), 86-94.

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