The market will not stop climate change


Photo credit: Andrea Nebhut

Illustration by Andrea Nebhut

I find it ironic that the same people who call anticapitalist youths “idealistic” cling to the neoliberal creed and wait for the second-coming of Tony Stark. They would gladly look at our dying world and, instead of trying to save it, recite the last rites: In nomine contentionis, et foro, et manus invisibilis. Amen. But the market will not solve climate change because the market does not solve problems.

To illustrate my point, consider homelessness. I hope we can all agree homelessness is a problem and that it would be good for people to have homes. With a home, people can invest in their community and better build themselves up knowing they have secure housing between jobs. Sounds like a problem for the market to solve. But if everyone had secure housing, would there be a housing market? No. So even if everyone pulled themselves up by their bootstraps, in a market economy, some people have to be homeless through no fault of their own. Because the housing market does not exist to give people homes, it exists to make a profit. Markets cannot solve problems because they are not meant to.

Knowing the function of the market helps to explain many contradictions, such as why there are empty homes yet still homeless people. Or why Exxon Mobile knew about climate change as early as 1977 and, instead of using capitalist innovation to create a solution, spread misinformation. Doing so was more profitable.

When confronted with such an economic system the only rational response is radical reform. We should not perpetuate the cause and exasperator of climate change. We should not rely on a system built on exploitation. Our economy must serve humanity. Humanity should not serve our economy.