A Proposal for a Capitalist/Environmentalist Compromise

I’ve been reading in quite a few places, including a block quote from one of my favorite science fiction writers, Ursula LeGuin, that capitalism and environmentalism are completely irreconcilable.
This does not bode well for the human race because, on the one hand, getting people to give up capitalism is about as unrealistic as getting American rednecks to give up their guns, getting potheads to give up their pot, or getting Jews to give up their persecution complex. It’s just not going to happen any time in the near future.
On the other, it is true. Environmentalism depends on leaving the resources of the Earth intact, as far as possible, and capitalism depends on extracting as many of them as possible and converting them into something people will pay money for, even if it destroys the planet.
So, because I am a conciliatory guy, who doesn’t really care if people are rich, so long as nobody has to be poor, here are a couple of ways to square that circle, to make it possible for these two opposite forces to live in harmony.
1. Green Energy. Buckminster Fuller defined wealth as resources + state of the art technology + power, which includes both manpower and all the electrical energy generated by other sources. So, rich people could invest in solar and wind and kinetic and tidal energy and thus increase the amount of overall wealth available while reducing our overall carbon footprint.
2. 100% recycling. As long as its up to individuals to sort out their paper and plastic, we will be losing a lot of glass, metal, cloth, wire, organics, etc… Also, a lot of people won’t even separate their paper and plastic, because it involves a bit of extra work, that nobody’s paying them for. So, all garbage should go to recycling centers, where things are divided into 40 or 50 basic categories and, thus, get pumped back into the economy. Good for the environment, good for capitalism.
3. Space. Once we start mining the asteroid belt, the amount of resources available to us increases dramatically. Once we terraform Mars (or perhaps Titan, or Europa), we will have someplace even to ship off our surplus population, which would improve Earth’s environment no end.

So, those are three. If we can’t get those, then capitalism really does have to die.

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