Climate Change Will Destroy Capitalism

Zack Breslin
10 min readNov 18, 2022
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

2022 is a year that will undoubtedly be remembered as one in which the price of almost everything rose quite rapidly. Across much of the world, the rate of inflation has reached forty year highs and shows no sign of abating. The main cause of the rapidly rising prices has arguably been Russia’s invasion of Ukraine which sparked an energy crisis as well as causing shortages of fertilizer and crucial foodstuffs such as wheat and cooking oil. But there are other causes of inflation. COVID related lockdowns throughout the world also sent prices rising as supply chains became strained across a range of industries. Meanwhile, the major corporations that control the world economy have used the twin shocks of pestilence and war to embark on rampant profiteering and price gouging, further driving up the rate of inflation.

Now the system faces another shock, one that will be far less temporary than those experienced in 2022. Climate change will utterly upend our economies and will do so in a way that mirrors the effects of the war in Ukraine and the Covid-19 pandemic. The difficulties that Covid has caused in our supply chains, as well as the way in which the Russian invasion of Ukraine disrupted energy markets, will thus serve as a glimpse into the future of capitalism. The era defining inflation that the war and Covid have unleashed is likely to be a mere prelude to a new era of rapidly rising prices and intensifying economic instability.

Already this year, climate change has caused significant disruptions to the core regions of the global economy. Much has been made of how China’s continuing zero-Covid policy has resulted in lower industrial production leading to shortages of some goods which consequentially became more expensive. Somewhat less attention has been paid to the extent to which climate change has stymied production in China, causing a ripple effect throughout the global economy. The intense heatwave which China grappled with during the summer seriously curtailed electricity generation. With the heat causing rivers to dry up and dams to empty, the nation’s hydroelectric capacity was severely undermined with some plants forced to shut down. At the same time, the lack of water, needed to cool reactors, meant that China’s nuclear power plants struggled to operate at their maximum level. As the supply of energy dwindled, demand