Old fashioned capitalism that did not rule the State, could have dealt with eco-system collapse – because it would not, and could not, have opposed action that affected everyone and was clearly for the public good.
Post 1980s neoliberal capitalism cannot because:

  • Profit is the only good.
  • Nothing must impede the right of a business to make profit, and that includes attempts to preserve nature.
  • Corporations and wealthy people fund politicians and think tanks and own the media. They control policies, and feed information to people which largely expresses their interests. News on ecosystem collapse and climate change, has been repeatedly shown to be rather rare, given its importance.
  • There is little well funded opposition to corporate plutocracy. Almost everything is run according to corporate principles and maximizing the bottom line.
  • Free markets are essentially those markets over which the general populace has no control, and which generally harm those without much wealth.
  • In this set up, business can push the cost of pollution and destruction onto the taxpayers without much restraint. People like President Trump roll back restrictions on this.
  • Attempts to save the earth are made to seem like impositions on general liberty, when they are only impositions on business liberty to destroy nature for profit no matter how many people they hurt.
  • Businesses keep telling people that avoiding ecological destruction will mean the collapse of the economy. That should tell people that the economy is not friendly towards them. Without a functional ecology, there is no economy.
  • The growth in inequality means that people who profit from destruction think they are safe from other people. Who can afford to sue them? And it gets harder to do class actions
  • Unconstrained neoliberal capitalism finds it very hard not to be destructive, because businesses need maximal profit to survive competition, and if that means destruction then that is ok.