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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Reply to John Darroch-Capitalism and the Environment

John Darroch has impeccable green/radical credentials.


A couple of years back he was Green Party parliamentarian, Nandor Tanczos' youth MP.

He has been a leader of Auckland based anti-capitalist group, Radical Youth. He has also been active in the Green Party and Greenpeace and has studied sustainable horticulture at Unitec.

While more of an anarchist than a socialist, he is member of the Youth Advisory group of Sue Bradford's Marxist "Kotare" training school, situated at Wellsford north of Auckland.

Not surprisingly, John does not think environmentalism and capitalism are compatible.

"sound environmental practices" hmmm it is not sound to burn non renewable fuels causing climate change, it is not sound environmental practice to fish species into extinction, it is not sound to build a society based on non renewable fuels, it is not sound to poison our land and water ways with fertiliser. But of course the soundness of these acts depends on timeframe.

Viewed from the perspective of a CEO chopping down a forest or fishing a species to extinction makes perfect sense. Indeed to not do so might cost the CEO their job. Viewed from the perspective of a farmer concerned about maximising profitibality using obscene amounts of fertiliser, pesticides and herbicides probably does make perfect sense.

Destroying the land we live on is not in our long term best interest but thats exactly what what our economic system is doing. I'm not a socialist and have written on several occasions about how socialists have no answers to the environmental problems facing us but neither do you.


Stopping the destruction of the planet is a moral act, laws that allow some to get rich by permanantly degrading the land seem rather stupid. I believe that "sound environmental practice" as you put it overrides "profit maximisation"

Basically John is saying that capitalism degrades the environment because of its short term focus and its lack of accountability.

I will quote another leftist environmentalist, Brian Martin who uses an arguement I have seen often.

The market system does not work well to handle environmental problems, partly because the costs of environmental impacts are seldom included in the costs of production.[1] For example, there is no simple market mechanism to make automobile manufacturers pay for the costs of ill health due to vehicle emissions, traffic accidents, use of land for roads, greenhouse warming or wars fought to ensure access to cheap oil. These costs are borne by members of the public and the environment. So it can be said that the profits are privatised (captured by owners and users) and the environmental and health costs are "socialised" (borne by society as a whole).

This is the nub of the issue. So called "capitalism" can get away with degrading the environment because its negative effects are "socialised".

Note that word-"socialised"

Capitalism does degrade the environment at times, because "capitalism" is not "capitalist" enough-it has a "socialist" element, which "capitalists" use as a way to avoid responsibility.

One obvious example is the explosive growth of dairy farming on the Canterbury Plains. Subsidised by huge amounts of "socialised" water, Canterbury dairy farming is making big profits for farmers, but has been accused of severely degrading some streams, lowering the water table and even poisoning some wells with nitrates.

While some of these claims may be exaggerated, there seem to be some genuine concerns.

What would happen if Canterbury "capitalism" was pure? What if there was no "free" water? What if farmers could be sued by neighbours for polluting streams or draining the water table?

My guess is that the dairy industry in Canterbury would be much smaller than it is now.

Would that mean an economic downturn?

I have been told that dairy farming uses 10 times the water that arable farming uses. If the water supply was "capitalised" rather than "socialised" as it is now, what would happen?

For a start we would see much more balanced and sustainable land use. The dairy industry would surely be smaller, but farmers and entrepeneurs would find far more efficient uses for the their precious water. To have a large geographic area dominated by one form of agriculture is unhealthy. "Socialism" encourages monoculture. "Capitalism" encourages balance and diversity.

To sum up-"capitalism" degrades the environment, only to the degree that elements of the system remain "socialist".

Extend property rights into the air, the water table, the rivers, the lakes and the sea and the negative consequences of "capitalist" growth will largely be eliminated.

"Capitalism" does have the answer to environmental problems John-we simply have to eliminate the vestiges of "socialism" that are buggering things up.

21 Comments:

Blogger mah29001 said...

Isn't Greenpeace the same group that has Paul Watson, the eco-terrorist as its leader who recently called for the human population to be below one billion people?

Isn't that such a Nazi-like attitude with Watson?

3:30 PM  
Blogger BEING HAD said...

I agree with his attitude that it is the whole of the population along with all of the other living things that should be of prime importance rather than furthering capitalistic enterprise. The argument that a continually rising economy is necessary for human existence is crap. I personally have always felt that responsibility based work structure was not only possible but inevitably easier to maintain than asking every man, woman and child to explore their greedier instincts and fight and kill for every available resource.

4:01 PM  
Blogger mah29001 said...

Sorry, but when someone promotes a manifesto that states that a population must be this size and ONLY this size, it's time for some target practice.

The same goes for anyone in any government that dares promote the theme of "overpopulation" propaganda. Don't care if it's in China or in some other Western nation. It's big government gone too far. And when you got someone like Watson whose group is linked with eco-terror groups such as Earth Liberation Front and Animal Liberation Front, these folks deserve the terrorist label.

Would you be comfortable with Watson if he happen to be a Muslim radical and suggest that all of humanity must be his religion? Or perhaps how about Jewish-Zionist radicals in the Kachist circles (to which even disguist me)? How about if Watson happen to be a sympathizer for abortion doctor killers?

Watson is making himself into a target for anti-terror warriors. Period.

4:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dammit I'm rich! I can afford to waste the earths resources.
My cars were designed to run on leaded petrol, I aint putting used deep fry crap in my tank.

Dirk.

4:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It makes my fingers tremble over the keys. But in this instance,I do agree with most of your comments Mah.
WASH MY MOUTH OUT!

Dirk

4:38 PM  
Blogger mah29001 said...

Also promoting "overpopulation" also goes against God's laws I believe for those folks who are Conservatively religious in any religious orientation they choose to believe is their salvation.

4:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My third wife always told me I had a problem with keeping my fly zipped. (whatever that meant?)
Dirk

5:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The brillliant thing about New Zealand is how quite different people can agree despite coming from different sides of the political spectrum. The fact that this person has represented the nation in our parliament must be very encouraging that we have wise youth leaders who are already considering the problems of environmental destruction and what we as a nation will have to do when whoever has mucked things up have moved on. Capitalists Socialists Fundy Christians etc

6:56 PM  
Blogger John said...

And when your ideal capitalist state comes into existence I will begin sueing, until then I will continue to work to end the most obvious examples of abuse towards animals, people and the environment.

7:19 PM  
Anonymous Clueless said...

Isn't Greenpeace the same group that has Paul Watson, the eco-terrorist as its leader who recently called for the human population to be below one billion people?

While Paul Watson was one of the founders of Greenpeace, he left the organisation over a decade ago!

He now works with the Sea Shepherd conservation society who are far more effective than Greenpeace :-)

9:07 PM  
Blogger Fergus said...

Mah just breached Godwin's law. Pwned ! Ah the joys of online discussion, he loses.

10:46 PM  
Blogger peteremcc said...

He didn't breach it, he fullfilled it - very quickly!

Btw, a large company isn't driven by profits it is driven by share price. Share prices are determined by current profit but also future profit and growth potential.

Thus there is incentive for companies to be sustainable and CEO's also have incentive as they often receive stock and or bonuses based on stock performance.

12:08 AM  
Anonymous Steve Nice Guy Northland said...

".....it's time for some target practice....." says Mah.

I told you about Mah, didn't I ? I told you !

I haven't revealed it before but he is closely related to the Fetid Rummy you know.

1:19 AM  
Blogger mah29001 said...

So Steve, I take it you would rather be comfortable with the eco-Nazi Paul Watson who justifies violence to "save the Earth" and be for the "environment", but have the gall to attack U.S. leaders?

7:05 AM  
Blogger mah29001 said...

Yea Steve, I should listen to someone who lectures on what car should I drive and what sort of fuel I should buy. We should have the same things just like Paul Watson wants everyone to have.

That's not apparently Fascism, but apparently if you are a Zionist like me and support Israel, you're a "fascist". Geeze this world is certainly going to go to hell in a handbasket if folks like all the eco-Nazi Paul Watsons out there get their way.

7:08 AM  
Anonymous Reid of America said...

In order to mollify the collectivists, land should be set aside for those that want to revert to an aboriginal low carbon footprint sustainable organic existence. I say give them a slice of Northland so not too many freeze to death during cold nights. Then they will no longer be able to complain that they have been disenfranchised by capitalist property rights. No importing of products especially food. That wouldn't comply with Fair Trade principles. Better to eat bark than engage in Free Trade! Of course, leaving aboriginal zones to beg for food on non-sustainable street corners is strictly forbidden.

If we give these misanthropic neo-aboriginals a chance to prove themselves they can show us the superiority of their ways. Let's give them a chance in the interest of Social Justice. 10 or 20 thousand heactares of public parkland means these people won't be begging on your streets. Do it for the children.

10:03 AM  
Anonymous TJ said...

'Being Had' thats why you live in Belarus...where the KGB still exists and silences anyone dissenting the one party state...gives a pretty clear idea of your idea of a utopia does it not?

1:32 PM  
Blogger Fergus said...

Trev , wasn't this a bit of a funny story to emphasise on a day when Brian Tamaki pledged to destroy any vestige of secularism in New Zealand ?

A little perspective perhaps

8:37 AM  
Anonymous Cameron said...

"John Darroch has impeccable green/radical credentials."

Trev these young activists should start using your endorsements on their CVs.

12:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The sad thing Cameron, is that you think that having 'gerrn/radical cerdentials' is a good thing.

It sure as hell won't get you a job.

EXOCET

3:35 PM  
Anonymous Cameron said...

Maybe not with Exxon Mobil, Monsanto, Freeport McMoRan, the Armed forces, the Police, or other scummy people but I have plenty of friends with jobs so I'm sure it must get you a job somewhere.

10:58 PM  

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