How capitalism Can save the environment / by The Green Medium

 

I hope that upon reading that title you scoffed a touch. Forgive me for referring to 'capitalism' as an entity itself, I recognize capitalism is merely a title for a loose system of economic operation rather than an active force itself; however, the title was catchy so I ran with it. Furthermore, capitalists and societies promoting them will be the ones to solve the environmental mess they have been largely and (somewhat unfairly) blamed for.

Countries operating with the modus operandi of 'Capitalism' are not solely responsible for the terrifying acceleration of climate change entirely on their own, but one can point fingers with some certainty in knowing a capitalistic society will be more callous in approach to the environment than say, a tribal commune. While I do not believe the industrial revolution(s) of the 1800's came about purely because of selfish motives, not even Pollyanna could say they weren't in part due to the desire for better net profits from early Capitalists. The incredible manufacturing capabilities did make lives easier for consumers and producers, however, they also were massively unregulated, shown in the 16 hour work-days, child labour, and mass abuse of desperate lower classes. Most folks today recognize the environmental exploitations tendered by businesses as a means to profit and largely profit alone. There is a reason people work in Fort Mac (no slight to Fort Macmurrians). In that vain however, we cannot judge (at least not Old Testament style) as who would not at least consider some environmental 'hampering' for millions and millions (and millions) of dollars?

Classic anti-oil rhetoric aside, Capitalism (or more specifically, free market societies and entrepreneurs) will be among the main saviours of our environment and it's disasters.

Capitalism by it's very nature deals in innovation and challenges to the status quo; "If I had asked the people what they want, they would have said 'faster horses'"-Henry Ford (the guy who founded Ford, and made assembly lines and things like that all the rage). And to play devil's advocate, I must argue that business-folks of yesteryear were not necessarily conscious of the environmental genocide they were inciting, lest we forget how privileged we are today with our scientific prowess and hindsight knowledge. Call me an optimist, because that's what I am. I truly believe that today, is the single greatest time to be alive, for a multitude of reasons ranging from the highly rational to the more-ahem-philosophical.

Today, there is a wicked bevy of innovators and innovation encouragers ranging the globe, pushing the need for Environmentally conscious action. While more movement on this front is undoubtedly helpful let's not forget the power of a dollar. The incentive to 'go Green' is at an all-time high as more and more companies feel the pressure from the educated masses. In a free-market system, the businesses will go where the money goes, this isn't wrong by any means, it's fundamental to our nature. We align ourselves according to the benefits of such alignments, simply put. And as consumers, we are voting with our dollars more and more. Democracy doesn't just occur in politics; we 'vote' on what products we like and what we believe there should be more of.

On the entrepreneurial side of the expression, today is the tomorrow everyone has been waiting for. By that I mean that there is just-now a glut of incredible incentives being touted and used inthe business world. LEED (a rating system for green business building procedure and upkeep) has been responsible for saving 2.6 million megawatt hours of electricity since 2005 in Canada alone, that is enough to power a staggering 89,000 homes for a full year. Canada has over 5000 buildings registered for a LEED rating and since '05 (that fateful year Sidney Crosby was drafted to the Penguins) LEED builders have recycled 2.7 million tonnes of construction and demolition waste in Canada. What's more, everyone is benefitting from this new environmental consciousness, consumers want more efficient buildings to save money and for more noble reasons too and this in turn creates more competition for higher LEED ratings (of which there are tiers) and this in turn creates more profit as some developers estimate $2 more profit per $5 (a rough estimate per square foot) than the average building.

Energy efficiency is a huge money saver and not coincidentally an environmental boon. There are new, relatively untapped markets for energy efficient technologies which will only save money. Canada has just recently opened it's biggest (and one of the first) net-zero business buildings; the Mosaic centre, and that was right here in Edmonton. Landmark Homes, another company based in E-Town, has started exclusively making LEED certified buildings, as well as investing in robot builders to build indoors saving time and emissions. All in all, this company saves an average of "10-12 tonnes of carbon" per project. There are high school contests throughout Canada and in Edmonton specifically that focus on creating the most innovative wind-turbines for harnessing energy. Called the KidWind challenge, it feature teams of students ho create their own wind turbines, and with Wind-energy here to stay (in 2000 Canadians used 170 megawatts of installed Wind Energy, today that total is 8000) encouraging innovation is evermore important. Alberta, of all places actually has a $380,000,000 green technology fund, to be used for a wide array of projects, among them are renewable energies,  carbon capture, greening fossil fuels and more (I could go on but I get bored with too many science-y terms). Heck, even Lexus has started making hybrid cars!

Friends, family, and probably a confused foe or two, I thank you yet again for your patience during this extended post, I even thank those who skimmed line 1 and jumped here (reading is hard). I could not inhibit my passion in posting this, and frankly this could have been yards longer (is that how you measure the internet?), but I kept it as localized as possible, to show that truly, there is a huge difference already on the way. The next David Suzuki is probably reading this right now, or the person who will invent a 99% efficient solar panel (I'm not very learned on probability, but whatevs) and to you reading this I say; it is an honour.

Thanks again! Most sincerely,

Sam Goertz

 

Sources: www.businessofgreen.ca and magazine 'Green Business Canada' summer/fall 2015.