Truthout Interviews: Richard Smith on the Failure of Green Solutions to Solve Environmental Problems

Smoke sunset(Image: Smoke sunset via Shutterstock)“Don’t shoot the messenger.” Richard Smith’s message may be sobering, but it’s based on information that suggests we’ve reached a tipping point when it comes to climate change. How can we reverse the effects of greenhouse gases changing our climate? Smith says we can’t – at least not under a corporate capitalist framework. The logic of corporate capitalism simply won’t allow the large-scale changes needed to reverse the disastrous effects global climate change will have on life on our planet.

Also see: Beyond Growth or Beyond Capitalism?

As Richard notes in the interview, no amount of recycling, buying environmentally friendly goods, or market-based carbon reduction schemes can change corporate capitalism’s rapacious depletion of natural resources in the production of consumable goods. Moreover, these goods (that often have a short shelf life so companies can produce more) are key to stock prices, 401k portfolios, and other investments individuals have made to assure their own security. The will of the shareholder that drives the cycle of extraction, production, consumption and disposal of goods will push us to the environmental tipping point sooner than we think. We simply cannot sustain the levels of production and consumption with the population explosion of humans on our world.

The news is not good, but people have the capacity for imaginative and creative solutions to problems that plague our world. Now that the survival of our species is on the line, we need to move now to change our economic system.