Typical definition of environmental sociology immediately disconnects human cultures from rest of the environment. Seeing the radical environmental and social changes, our planet is facing are the direct implications of this disconnect. Our consumption patterns, depletion of resources and exploitative power relations has been put sustainability under question. Our existing levels of consumption and production are unequal and unreachable for the majority of the humans. These levels does not comply with the ecological and social thresholds of the globalisation and development. So it is imperative to understand the sustainability especially when planet earth is in Peril —environmentally, economically, socially, and politically.

Concept of Treadmill of production was first introduced by Schnaiberg in 1980 firstly as a result of the impacts of the production process on the response of the ecosystems and secondly drastic changes were seen in the social and political reactions as responses were quite variable and volatile. Although, some people agitated against this modern production system and others says that these technological innovations and production are the best hope for solving environmental problems.

Poignantly, end of the twentieth century took us back to this theoretical dual valence. Many environmental sociologists are of the view that advocates of the ecological modernisation says that there is ever increasing rift of the ecological spheres with the other spheres like economy and politics. These all spheres have pressures of the firms which are driven by the wave of environment friendly production and to reduce their past environmental impacts. Conversely, our own politico-economic model argues that such firms abate, or even undermine, progress on ecological and social goals. So in my opinion, increased environmental damage is the inherent part of the capitalist society. Advocates of the ecological modernisation argues that increased technological inventions and green innovations will decrease the carbon emissions and environmental degradation. That’s why environmentalism is just for the rich nations.

In my point of view, every environmentalist should know about the capitalism. It is a self driven process that never stands still and keeps changing with new emerging ideas of production discarding old methods replacing them with new ones. Once caught in this system, it will eat its own producers. As far as environmental health is concerned, capitalists thinks that this is not something to cherish but it’s a commodity to make capital and paramount ends of making money. As economic system grows, throughput of the materials increase and incorporates ever increasing natural resources into operations.

In treadmill of production, value of the commodity is determined by its labor time. For instance value of the oil is determined by the putting forward its labor time in obtaining and processing of the oil and value of all the capital invested in the refining of the raw oil. So for them, value of the oil has nothing to do with the nature and natural cycle which takes thousands of the unreplaceable years to produce oil. Perfect example of this is trump administration and climate skeptics in other words. They understand that 97% of the scientist disagrees with them, but they rely on that very ting fringe of 3% to sustain their skepticism. As in the lottery case, this focus might be enough to keep their skepticism.

Capitalism is aligned with the growth of the wealth. So the measure of the sustainability which is keeping the social metabolism aligned with the natural metabolism is not possible. It cannot survive under such circumstances which requires reinvestment to take care of the damage they made to the nature. We can now say that rift in carbon cycle and phenomenon of global climate change is connected with the capitalism. In fact, if this process continues for a while, it will proved to be lethal causing human extinction at the expense of the degradation of natural wealth. With over 23 billion metric tons of CO2 released in the atmosphere, capitalist production is producing emissions faster than this earth can absorb.

Since planet earth is facing uncontrollable level of emissions, it is important to understand what happens when carbon dioxide enters into the atmosphere. It has long lasting residence cycle, at the moment when it enters into the atmosphere, it remains there for up to 120 years. Excessive generation of CO2 can create the rift at any point of the cycle which can ultimately generate system wide crisis. The disruption in the carbon cycle is flooding natural sinks (oceans and forests).

This scenario of global production and capitalism is promoting global inequalities, the difference between North and South. Overall, 20% of the richest population (North) of the world is responsible of the 60% of the carbon emissions worldwide making poor nations, poorer as they are least adaptable to the changes. Thus affluent nations are primarily responsible for the global change. It could be in the form of emissions or hegemonic economies that nurtures the destruction of sinks.

Hence, treadmill of production has robbed global commons, which were once used for the sinks, only to deprive the future. We need to understand that only technological development cannot amend the damage we have made to the planet earth unless or until it is freed from the dictation of the capital relations. Consequently, shifting the historical systems offers only possibility of slowing down the climate change. Its global nature requires, global cooperation, otherwise this rift will continue to expand until we race to the inferno.


The writer is an environmentalist with M. Phil degree from LSE works at South Punjab Forest Company.