Alternatives to Capitalism, Part 1: Perpetual growth on finite planet delusional

A recent writer questioned the widely-held belief that free-market capitalism, based on infinite growth and supported by relatively cheap fossil-fuel energy, was sustainable (Our Ubiquitous Deadly Addiction — commentary, July 22). Freda Davies suggested we look at other economic models.

So what’s wrong with free-market capitalism?

The Cochabamba Summit: Documents of the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth (Bolivia, April 2010) is helpful: “Under capitalism, Mother Earth is converted into a source of raw materials, and human beings into consumers and a means of production, into people that are seen as valuable only for what they own, and not for what they are. It is an imperialist system of colonization of the planet.”

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Our ubiquitous deadly addiction

Lac Mégantic. Kalamazoo River. Gulf of Mexico. Red Deer River. Prince William Sound. What do these and countless other locations all have in common? No doubt about it: Big Disasters caused by Big Oil.

How about record floods in Calgary, Toronto, Thunder Bay, Winnipeg — and around the world: Europe, China and elsewhere? Hurricane Katrina. Superstorm Sandy. Record droughts as well, with crop failures and uncontrollable fires.

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The end of growth

In response to Barry Beaupre’s request to The Chronicle-Journal to make climate change a priority you indicated that you had published some 299 articles on the subject over the last year (A Knowledge of Climate — letter, July 10). I have noticed, and I applaud your efforts. However, I believe that we are still missing the point — which is that we have an underlying errant belief in the myth of economic growth. And that belief is linked powerfully to our inability to stop or even mitigate climate change.

In The Chronicle-Journal editorial of July 11, entitled The Trains Among Us, you focused on the dangers posed by the exponential use of trains to haul oil, and concluded with a call for “more effective regulatory vigilance.” Yet the underlying and unquestioning economic assumption remained that oil (it would seem all of it) “has to reach markets.” After those 299 articles it leaves me to wonder when the 100th monkey will look at the same big picture and finally come to a different conclusion.

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Review of Paul Gilding’s The Great Disruption

At the time I finished reading The Great Disruption by Paul Gilding, CBC news carried the story that we have lost 50% of the Great Barrier Reef due to degradation of the ocean environment off the coast of Australia. This news was on top of the ongoing stories of unprecedented crop losses in the U.S. midwest due to long term drought and the ever increasing loss of arctic sea ice the extent and speed of which has left climate scientists stunned and fearful for the implications this will have on the arctic environment and traditional global climate patterns.

These events serve to add to the growing fear held by many that we seem to be inevitably heading to the abyss of uncontrolled and unpredictable climate change which will threaten the very existence of human civilization as we know it. It is very hard to maintain a positive outlook when feeling so overwhelmed by the constant unfolding of bad and dire environmental news.

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Grassy Narrows and the Tragedy of Joe Oliver

Forty years ago I had the privilege of working with and securing financial resources for First Nation representatives and civil society organizations seeking redress from Dryden (REED) Pulp and Paper for the suffering inflicted on the residents of Grassy Narrows and White Dog First Nations and the destruction of an important life-sustaining ecosystem. Over an eight year period beginning in 1962 and without the benefit of environmental regulation, the company dumped nearly ten tons of methyl mercury, a lethal neurotoxin, into the Wabigoon River system.

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