Is it obvious I'm talking about the environment? Widespread ecological breakdown is immanent, a breakdown which is not being taken sufficiently seriously.
On this theme, here is John Bellamy Foster, in the March 2009 issue of the Monthly Review:
In addressing capitalism as a failed system I have focused first on the deepening economic crisis. But this is not the worst of the world’s problems. The greatest peril is the growing threat of planetary ecological collapse. Here the danger is much greater than in the case of the world economy but the sense of alarm and the call for immediate and massive action is less widespread. As the Swedish Tällberg Foundation stated in its 2008 report, Grasping the Climate Crisis: A Provocation,The whole thing is worth reading. Meanwhile, mainstream ecomomists keep on keeping on, as if an expansion of greenhouse emissions is still acceptable, or ecologically viable. As Foster puts it:The world [at present] faces a breakdown of the global financial system. The consequences are staggering, with ripple effects the world over that deliver the severest blows to the poor. Fear is rising. One would have expected somewhat of the same level of anxiety with regard to the looming breakdown of major parts of the Earth system—rapid deforestation, overfishing, freshwater scarcity and the disappearing Arctic sea ice. Reports of such events and processes are abundant, but the level of concern is still conspicuously low.The most serious ecological threat is of course global warming, which is inducing widespread, multi-faceted climate change, with disastrous implications for life on earth. But in a wider sense, the global environmental crisis involves manifold problems and cannot be reduced to global warming alone. These multiple hazards have a common source in the world economy, including: the extinction of species, loss of tropical forests (as well as forest ecosystems generally), contamination of and destruction of ocean ecology, loss of coral reefs, overfishing, disappearing supplies of fresh water resources, the despoliation of lakes and rivers, desertification, toxic wastes, pollution, acid rain, the approaching exhaustion of easily available crude oil resources, urban congestion, the detrimental effects of large dams, world hunger, overpopulation, etc. Together these threats constitute the greatest challenge to the survival of humanity since its prehistory.
despite the seriousness of this contradiction between the capitalist economy and the planet, establishment economists generally argue against any major attempt to avert climate change, i.e., to bailout nature.To say nothing of the outright obtuseness of politicians and pundits. If I appear to wish for the immediate end of capitalism, even if I know we're not ready for it and know that it's unlikely in the extreme, and I do, it's because its continuation, even for the short-term, is ecologically untenable. And yet we blithely go about our business. We are insane.