Inherent System Collapse Under Capitalism?
Scholars like Schumpeter and Bowles et al. have suggested that a central tenet of capitalism is the “ceaseless accumulation of wealth,” or the “inexorable tendency…to expand.” Contrary to the 2011 report issued by the National Geographic, which gives a more optimistic evaluation of the state of our global environment, environmental scholars and analysts, including Daly, have argued that this type of expansion or economic growth require ever-increasing levels of consumption of natural resources, which in turn both strain already scarce resources and create levels of pollution that threaten the health of humans and natural ecosystems. Levels of consumption and pollution that, in a word, are unsustainable. This seems to suggest that we cannot achieve both a healthy economy and environmental sustainability under capitalism. Moreover, it seems to suggest that capitalism is inherently unstable—vulnerable to system collapse, given its inability to curb consumption or to appreciate ecological limits (considerations of carrying capacity).
Do you agree that environmental sustainability is not possible under contemporary capitalism? Why or why not? Your answer must discuss one real-world example that illustrates your conclusion.