The Story of Cap & Trade

Here in the United States, a large percentage of our population seems to be increasingly obsessed with the 'invisible hand' of capitalism and the 'wisdom' of the free market. Interestingly, many of these folks are also the very same people who are highly skeptical (to say the least) of the 'wisdom' of the evolutionary mechanism of natural selection. And of course, they'll try to rationalize away the cognitive dissonance with the kind of twisted logic one should expect in these scenarios.

But that's the point: while natural selection and the free market are incredibly good at eventually producing innovation, they do it at the cost of great losses for the majority of those fed into the grinder. There is no long-term foresight nor moral concern for anyone's welfare in these mechanisms. For everyone who survives and thrives in these systems, hundreds or thousands must perish, by necessity.

So, when large corporations (already involved in a tradition of corruption schemes) try to engineer 'environmental solutions' to the world's problems, we should be extremely cautious, not only that there might be corruption purposely or inadvertently built into the system somewhere along the line, but that the very nature of our understanding of the phenomenon in question becomes tarnished.

The main problem with so-called solutions like Cap & Trade, in my opinion, is not even the possibility of large-scale corruption: it's the fact that it filters our perception of the environment and natural resources so that we start to see them as commodities to be used, abused and manipulated for purely financial purposes. The value of people, animals and the environment is then understood in terms of how they contribute to the accumulation of wealth. If they don't contribute or feed into the system, they are then perceived to have no value, and if they have no value, they're not worth saving or fighting for.

Anyway, the following animation with Annie Leonard beautifully captures some of the devilish details built into the proposal of Cap & Trade and gives us some food for thought.

For more, check out The Story of Stuff or The Story of Bottled Water.
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