Climate Catastrophe, Inequality, Exploitation - I'm Having a Crisis

Why is the world the way it is? In the following you'll find an introduction to selected socio-ecological crises. It highlights the connections between the climate crisis, the ecological crisis, gender relations, abundance, privileges and unjust global power relations. You will learn about the connections between capitalism and historically evolved global structures of exploitation.

I'm Having a Crisis

Why is there still so much poverty in the world? Why are privileged people more likely to benefit in social crises? Why is care work so unfairly distributed? Why do we talk so much about individual ecological footprints and not much more about the fact that rich people are driving climate change, but are less negatively affected by it?

These questions can quickly overwhelm us. In the following, however, we don't want get stuck with how bad everything is. Rather, we want to point out the structural causes of various socio-ecological crises. They are closely linked to the capitalist organization of societies and economic systems. In particular, the countries in the Global North and the richest 10% of the world's population systematically live at the expense of others. This has developed historically and is something that we simply have to accept. Accordingly, you can also learn about important analytical perspectives that help us to recognize pseudo-solutions such as green growth and to think about solidary alternatives.



Ecological Crisis

The climate crisis has become a global challenge of alarming proportions. From dwindling species and ecosystems to air, water and soil pollution, it threatens planetary health and stability. In many parts of the world, the effects are particularly noticeable, with disadvantaged communities and the Global South being the hardest hit. The Earth Overshoot Day serves as a measure of this crisis.

Earth Overshoot Day

We as humans consume resources for our every day lives. There is a certain amount of raw materials that can be used without harming the earth. The Earth Overshoot Day marks the day of the year when human consumption exceeds the resources available.

Individual Footprint and Inequality

Two footprints on a globe.
The Earth Overshoot Day is based on the concept of the so-called ecological footprint. This measures how much land is needed to provide all the energy and resources that people consume. In the following exercise, you can think about how many earths it would take if all countries consumed as much as the country in question and if we pretend that all people in the country in question have the same average footprint.

Assign the number of earths to the respective country. This gives you a rough estimate of how unequal resource consumption is between countries.
Two globes with big and small footprints on it.
But beware: this type of presentation tells us nothing about who has a very large footprint in the country in question and who does not. Rich people often have a larger footprint, as they consume much more, travel more and can live on more square meters. The footprint model in its original form should not be applied to individual people, as they very often only have limited scope to reduce it.
Illustration of an earth with buildings on it, a footprint in the center.
However, it was made famous by an advertising campaign by the oil company "BP", which focused responsibility on individual people. There are certain constraints in a society that people find very difficult to escape from. That's why we need a system change!

How Many Earths Do We Need?

Reflection questions

  • How can the differences in the size of the footprints of the various countries be explained?
  • Do you recognize the dangers associated with concepts such as the ecological footprint

Global Inequality

Is global inequality increasing or getting better? While the narrative is that there is progress and development taking place, the reality is not as positive as we are made to believe. Despite the global commitment to eradicate poverty by 2030 with the “Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”, poverty seems far from disappearing. Despite the claim that more economic growth will bridge the gap between the North and South, the South is not catching up to the North. This is linked to questions of power relations, historical processes such as colonialism and the integration of poorer countries into the global economic system on unequal terms.

In the following quiz, you will learn about global inequality, how it came about, the factors driving it and some eye-opening numbers revealing the severity of the crisis and the divide between the North and the South.

Global Inequality - a Systemic Problem

The Crisis of Care Work

Care work is in crisis. But what does that actually mean? And what is care work? The term generally includes all activities that go hand in hand with caring and looking after one and another. This includes, for example, housework, caring for the sick and elderly or looking after children. Listening to people when they are worried and being there for each other are also caring activities. All these things need effort and can therefore be seen as work. Care work is mainly done by women and queer people. Sometimes care work is paid, e.g. for work in day care centers or the kindergarden, but often not. Paid care work is paid less than other work. This also has to do with the fact that work that is primarily associated with women in society is often seen as less valuable. This leads to a shortage of skilled workers in this area, which is so important for living together.

Test your knowledge of who actually does care work and what it looks like in this quiz!

Care Crisis

Crises Profiteers

Major crises that affect the capitalist economy not only produce losers, but also winners. In most cases, social groups, entrepreneurs or individuals (often white men) who were already very wealthy and privileged beforehand benefit. They are often better able to use situations of uncertainty and confusion to match their interests. This is because in times of crisis, action must be taken quickly and a lot of money is often spent in the process. Privileged groups are often in a position to make offers that (supposedly) stop or mitigate the crisis. In many cases, they can influence the relevant decisions. In such crises, this further exacerbates social inequality along existing power and exploitation structures if no active countermeasures are taken.

In the following quiz you will find questions on situation of social inequality as well as on the development of this situation in the course of the Corona crisis and the subsequent global energy crisis in connection with the attack on Ukraine.

Crises Profiteers

Causes of Crisis: Capitalism

The various forms of crises and injustices that you have come to know so far do not arise by chance. They are closely linked to the capitalist mode of production. This is essentially based on the division into classes. In the following interactive video, you can familiarize yourself with the fundamental critique of capitalism according to Karl Marx.


A Global Perspective: The Imperial Mode of Living

The concept of the so-called "imperial mode of living" sheds more light on the (global) relations of exploitation associated with capitalist growth societies. It also places the emergence of capitalism in the context of historical developments such as colonialism and structural forms of discrimination against groups of people. Each characteristic of the imperial mode of living in the depiction is explained with a short text. An explanatory video by the KAUZ collective is also embedded.

Dieser Inhalt wird wegen der Cookie-Einstellung blockiert. Klick hier und genehmige die Cookies von Drittanbietern, damit du ihn sehen kannst

Imperial Mode of Living

Imperial Mode of Living

Sources "I am Having a Crisis"

Use and Share!

This article is part of the series Exiting the Crisis! - Understanding Crises and Paths to Global Justice, which was produced in cooperation with Konzeptwerk Neue Ökonomie (external link, opens in a new window). Online Editing by Alina Kopp. This article is published under the terms of the Creative Commons License CC BY 4.0 (external link, opens in a new window)! Share, use or adapt it for your educational work. Don't forget to republish it under the same conditions and mention L!NX and the authors.

All Articles

Free Trade: Alternatives, Actors and Resistance

Modern world trade has its roots in colonialism and is determined by the economic interests of powerful governments and transnational corporations. Free trade is a trade policy that is supposed to bring more growth and prosperity for everyone involved. But who really benefits from it and at what cost? We examine how and why free trade came about, how trade could be made fairer and highlight movements that oppose the current world trade order.


Future Mobility: Can Electric Cars Solve the Climate Crisis?

As the second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, transportation is a driving factor for the climate crisis. Find out what politicians are doing about it, why these plans are being criticised by Chile's population and why workers' struggles and climate struggles go together. Afterwards, chat with Maxi from the future and find out how things could be done differently.


Development: A North-South Debate

In the name of aid, progress, growth, empowerment or sustainability, development has always had the sense of being something "good" or "positive". But poverty and inequality are outcomes of the systematic and unequal integration of "poorer" countries into the global economic structures. Learn more about this with a timeline of western development politics, its criticism and movements fighting for alternative concepts to improve and change the world.


Food Sovereignity: Good Food for All

Anyone who deals with the topic of agriculture and climate will realize that agriculture is both the cause and the victim of the climate crisis. However, agriculture cannot simply be abolished or replaced. But can it be made more climate-resistant and climate-friendly?


Ready for a Better Future?

We live in a time in which one crisis follows the next: Pandemic, war, poverty, flight, climate crisis or even the collapse of the financial system. How can we still not lose sight of our dreams and utopias, take action and what can give us orientation?


Can Green Capitalism Stop the Climate Crisis?

The destructive effects of capitalism on the environment are supposed to be transformed through the use of new technologies or ecological business models. But this cannot ensure genuine socio-ecological change and a good life for all. We need a system change based on the principles of solidarity and care.

Bild von einem Barista, Bagger, Holz, Lastwagen und Fertigungsanlagen.

No Time for Care Work?

Who runs the household when all the adult members of a family work eight hours a day? Coming home, picking up the children on the way and quickly doing some errands before cooking and tidying up - where is the time left for leisure, relationships or political work? You can find out here who still has this time, who doesn't and how things can be done differently.


This might also interest you