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Climate Change: A Plain Language Guide

By Reid Caplan

July 1, 2022

What is capitalism?

Capitalism is the idea that the goal of society should be to make as much money as possible. That means that people who believe in capitalism think the Earth should get used to make money. They do things to the Earth that hurt the environment so they make more money.

Let’s go back to our example about cars. Most people think driving is easier than taking the bus. That’s because buses don’t come that often, and they come late a lot. People have to wait a long time to get the bus. And the bus may not even get them close to where they need to go. This happens because cities do not spend enough money on buses.

On top of that, cities got built in certain ways because of capitalism. Public transportation makes less money than selling cars. So cities got built in ways that people need cars to get around. So pollution from cars keeps getting worse.

Another example is how big businesses pollute the environment with factories. But the factories help the businesses make more money. Trying to help the environment would cost money. So the businesses don’t care what happens to the environment.

Capitalism gets used to hurt people too. Capitalism says people only matter if they can make money. Capitalism gets used as a reason to treat people like money instead of people.

For example, in some factories, people are forced to work long hours and aren’t allowed to take breaks. This happens so the owners of the companies make more money.  Many workers get sick or become disabled from overworking.  But that is not important to the people who are in power.  Capitalism says that that the health of workers is less important than making money.

People in power want to stay in power, and make sure capitalism keeps working for them. They don’t care if their actions hurt other people, like workers. They don’t see a good reason to stop hurting the environment. If they don’t stop, climate change will keep getting worse.


Reid Caplan, “Climate Change: A Plain Language Guide.” Plain Language Version. Disability and Climate Change: A Public Archive Project. July 1, 2022.

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