Difference Between Capitalism And Environmentalism

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The Focus

The main difference between capitalism and environmentalism is that the focus shifts between profitability and the well-being of society. The guiding mentality is capitalism is profitability irrespective of the well-being of the human community or the natural environment. Capitalists focus on making profits and maintaining power as the main form of their operations. This is because it is only by making more money that the capitalist companies and corporations around the world will be able to survive. Capitalism always puts the survival and well-being of society in general in jeopardy for the sake of monetary gain.

Environmentalism, however, is a resource-based system where the focus is on the well-being of society rather than corporate growth. The main focus on environmentalism is the management and conservation of the Earth’s natural resources (Jamieson, 2007). This means that all operations and activities in an environmental system focus on minimizing damage to human communities and the natural environment by adopting sustainable means of living. Environmentalism places an emphasis on producing adequate resources to ensure that each human being is living on equal terms. Capitalism encourages an elite system where there will always be poor pockets of society whereas environmentalism ensures equity for every individual.

Scarcity And Abundance

Scarcity is the most important factor that guarantees the survival of capitalism whereas abundance is the main factor that guarantees environmentalism. Capitalism is never associated with efficiency, sustainability and abundance because scarcity creates more profits. When the production of oil decreases in a capitalist economy, the prices always go up. The inverse relationship is true, and this means that there will always be inequity among different communities in a capitalist system. The main feature of capitalism involves wealth being concentrated among a few individuals in order to create scarcity in the economy (Frieden, 2007).

The main features of environmentalism, however, are abundance, sustainability and efficiency. These features are enemies of profit because nothing produced in a capitalist system is tenuously sustainable or efficient. Environmentalism focuses on using the available technology to create such abundance in the world that there will be no need to sell anything. Air and water are generally not sold in the world because of their abundance. Correspondingly, environmentalism focuses on using natural resources to ensure every human being can access the basic human needs without any need for a purchase. Environmentalism focuses on accessibility to resources and opportunities for all human beings without wealth being concentrated in the hands of a few.

Energy Use

Perhaps the most significant difference between capitalism and environmentalism is the way energy is exploited. Capitalism relies on using the traditional sources of energy of coal, oil and gas. These sources of energy are dominant in a capitalist society simply to perpetuate the profit system and guarantee the survival of the wealthy. The use of oil, coal and gas is completely unsustainable mainly because it causes massive environmental damage. Capitalism prefers the traditional sources of energy to power society because they ensure profitability.

Environmentalism, however, completely relies on sustainable sources of energy. Solar and wind power have long been denounced as weak, but this is simply not true because they have enough potential to power the entire world alone. Tidal and wave power are other sustainable sources, but geothermal energy is perhaps the most important. Geothermal energy has the potential to power the entire world for thousands of years. These energy sources result in no pollution, and considering they are naturally available, they will never run out (Obrecht & Denac, 2013). Environmentalism encourages the use of sustainable energy because they are naturally accessible to every human being without them having to be paid for. Sustainable energy usage is a significant difference between capitalism and environmentalism.

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