Capitalism has tremendous positives, but also devastating negatives. One glaring drawback is that it fosters exploitation. The lure of short-term profit over long-term sustainability is too often an irresistible temptation with disastrous consequences.

Environmental degradation is a shocking case in point. The latest example is unfolding in the Amazon rainforest. To quote French President Emmanuel Macron, “Our house is burning. Literally. The rainforest — the lungs which produces 20% of our planet’s oxygen — is on fire,”

There have been 74,000 fires this year, up 80% from previous years, and 90% of the burning is attributed to human activity to clear land for farming, lumber and industry. The most likely cause of this escalation is Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro‘s declaration that, in the name of economic progress, “the Amazon is open for business.”

The lungs of the planet are being burnt to the ground at a rate of over two soccer fields per minute. Why? Because it’s good for business.

Something is very wrong here. The tendency of capitalism towards exploitation must be recognized as a destructive process with existential consequences. Intervention must be pursued to end exploitation and capitalism’s energies must be based on a foundation of sustainability over short-term profits.

What happened to the voice of my generation, we of the 1960s and ’70s who championed the environmental movement? Were we too few? Did we become too complacent?


You don’t have to listen to the ranting of this old hippie. Fortunately, you can see the evidence for yourselves — the smoke from the Amazon is visible from space, and if the satellite images aren’t scary enough then you’re beyond any help my meager efforts can provide.


Roy Estabrook

North Monmouth

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