UK Study: You Cannot Have Capitalism and Stop Climate Change

Last week Reason wrote about a scientific study published in the journal Global Environmental Change that has some bad news. Essentially, the manuscript bluntly states the West must choose between having high standards of living or prevent climate change but cannot have both. From the scientist’s press release:

“Lead author Jefim Vogel, PhD researcher at Leeds’ Sustainability Research Institute, explained: “Decent living standards are crucial for human well-being, and reducing global energy use is crucial for averting catastrophic climate changes. Truly sustainable development would mean providing decent living standards for everyone at much lower, sustainable levels of energy and resource use.

“But in the current economic system, no country in the world accomplishes that – not even close. It appears that our economic system is fundamentally misaligned with the aspirations of sustainable development: it is unfit for the challenges of the 21st century.”

Co-author Professor Julia Steinberger, from the University of Leeds and the University of Lausanne in Switzerland, added: “The problem is that in our current economic system, all countries that achieve decent living standards use much more energy than what can be sustained if we are to avert dangerous climate breakdown.””

In short, nations where people want to live use too much energy per person to avoid climate change. Though the scientists will not acknowledge it, the current economic system is capitalism. They essentially say it needs to go and be replaced with an egalitarian system that provide energy for everyone.

However, assuming energy production isn’t halted, the proposals the scientists put forward to achieve their goal entail demolishing incomes with numerous taxes and a guaranteed maximum income. As far as economic growth is concerned, the scientists say it should end. Destroy the global economy and lower everyone’s standard of living to achieve this income inequality they speak of in order to finally beat climate change. Karl Marx would be so proud.

Despite the scientist’s whacky proposals, they do bluntly state addressing climate change or having capitalism is an either-or choice. It is unfortunate researchers chose to act like academic elites and prefer the climate over the people. Otherwise, stick with capitalism since it is not only the reason why we in the West have high standards of living, but also why we have the best scientific research to begin with.

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