Thursday, April 7, 2011

The environment: capitalism to the rescue

If you are concerned about the planet's wellbeing, it would be very easy to get discouraged at the steady drip of bad news about the environment. The nuclear disasters in Japan were bad enough in themselves but the predictions that they will result in even greater demand for fossil fuels make them a double blow. Recently we had World Water Day to highlight the growing crisis around water shortages in many countries (see map here A Graphic Look at the World Water Crisis).
So where's the chink of light in the gloom? Business is normally seen as a threat to the environment; profit maximising companies plunder resources and strew the planet with waste. But there is another side to this: capitalism is an essential part of the solution, with or without government legislation. I can think of at least three ways that capitalism will need to be harnessed if the world is going to grow sustainably:
- investment. The huge sums required to build smart grids, cleaner power stations and renewable energy sources can only be mobilised efficiently by capitalism. We have seen the results of state-led investment programs before and they don't work.
- technology. Innovation and the profit motive go hand in hand. There are countless examples of this e.g. this gas from rubbish process Harvest power biogas
- recycling. Capitalism is essential to the cutting of waste. Although private decisions to use less carrier bags use the car less are important, only commercial logic can make efficiencies on the scale we need. As an example of this look at the whole business of recycling.
And what a big business it has become; and I am not just talking about cardboard and glass. One of the biggest growth businesses in recent years has been in recycling mobile phones. And the concept is spreading to all sorts of goods which can be reused rather than thrown away or left to gather dust in a cupboard, particularly baby-related and electrical products. Ebay has done a lot to promote recycling, as have websites like ("Don't bin it, recycle it!")
Spain doesn't seem to have such a big recycling community although I did find some fledgling "freecycling" groups here:
Even in Spain there are some good examples of businesses which save customers money and cut down on waste. As an example many people want a new computer but don't need anything too fancy or advanced. They can pick up a working laptop for a fraction of the price of a new one from businesses like

From our website Spanish Tax Form 210


  1. Every consumer should participate in mobile phone recycling process and take concern for the protection of the planet.

  2. By recycling our unused gadgets, we can save our environment from toxins


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