Matthew Fitzmaurice: Only Capitalism Can Save the Planet

From Ensia:

To say the world has changed a lot in the last century is a huge understatement. Industrial, medical and social progress has resulted in unprecedented growth in the world’s population and economy, and that growth has placed tremendous burdens on the planet’s resources. These burdens create problems — perhaps the most substantive problems we have faced as a species: from water scarcity and pollution to climate change, reliable access to nourishing food, and affordable energy.

Here’s the thing, though: where there are problems to be solved, there’s money to be made. And where there’s money to be made, we awaken one of the world’s most powerful forces for change: capitalism.

In Lakeshore Living, we write about the benefits of reconfiguring capitalism and expanding markets. We have failed to effectively price public goods, such as clean air and water. Capitalism currently does not value these goods that we all value. Reconfiguring and expanding our capitalistic economic system with price signals for ecosystem services is consistent with our values and traditions. Everybody should pay the full cost of his or her activities, and we should have markets for natural services on private property that include water filtration and purification, soil formation, nutrient capture and recycling, and flood reduction.