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Capitalism and Climate Changes

12/13/09

By Pucong Han

Today, I went to the capitalism discussion in the Denmark’s National Gallery.  There were a few heads of NGOs and left-wing associations from Asia, Europe and Russia present at the discussion.  Some social scientists and young specialists also attended this discussion.  Although this discussion was on capitalism from the European left wing perspective, it relates to environmental issues and climate change issues.

It is very interesting to see climate change issues as it relates to capitalism, the financial crisis and the left-wing perspective.  From the presentations and discussions, climate change issues are very complicated.  The presenters do not believe that governments care about climate issues or are really motivated to correct the current mistakes on climate issues.  Compared with the Copenhagen conference we watched yesterday, this is a completely different picture.  The specialists and social scientists point out that climate change issues should be resolved by left-wing means, because governments are not interested in haulting climate change and only those on the left have the ability to see who is responsible for climate change.  By arguing the externalities of the current economic system, the left-wing heads point out that the current economic and financial system should be shut down, because they are tools designed by the rich people, which only benefit the rich parties instead of helping societies as a whole.  They also further clarify that  climate change issues need to be embodied by laws instead of using a price mechanism or economic tool.

For the current economic system, the left-wing parties and representatives have a slightly different point of view.  In their words, the current externalities in the economic system are not good enough to capture the social crisis.  Instead of trying to solving the current externalities by a climate conference, the left wing parties wish to completely change the current system (Government system + Economic system).  Although they are unclear about in which way or methods the society can be protected, they are trying to turn down the systems.

In my point of view, the left-wing solution is not good enough to resolve the climate issues.  On the one hand, they are unclear how to benefit the society or by which methods.  If their solutions are practiced, the society is not guaranteed to be benefited.  And people might even live in a worse situation without government. On the other hand, the current governments at least have understandings about the social benefits and are meeting in Copenhagen to discuss solutions.  Although, people have questions about their productivity and their purpose of the conference, governments are still significant players.  On the other hand, governments in different countries are different because of their culture and traditions.  Some countries might need a strong government to regulate their society and some countries might not.  However, I do believe that government is the best player to help or to resolve the climate change issues.  They can access the resources easier than other parties.  If the government can take proper actions by hearing the voices from different groups, the problems might be able to work out.

To the current financial crisis and climate crisis, I think that we need to adjust our financial system to have the abilities to capture all the externalities of the crisis as soon as possible.  As the left-wing people say we don’t have much time because some scientists announced that we only have twenty years to take care of the current problems.  A healthy financial system and economic solution are necessary.  The next steps are making them able to capture social needs and wants, particularly the climate change externalities.

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