A materialist history of capital and empire, through the lens of the German-American petrochemical industry. What does it mean to see oil, not just as an energy source or transport fuel, but as primary material for contemporary commodity culture—the chemical basis for a synthetic world of things?
Naive Questions on Degrowth
In a probing contribution to NLR’s green strategy debate, Kenta Tsuda asks what growth is and whether humanity could do without it; how resource use might be measured; what political problems the implementation of degrowth would entail. In an era of stagnation and sputtering economies, can out-of-control growth explain the climate crisis?
Climates of Capital
Against mere environmentalism, Nancy Fraser places global heating within a general interlocking social crisis. History and theory of capital’s contradictory relation to nature, and the necessity of combined struggle over energy, labour, politics and care, in the latest instalment of NLR’s eco-strategy debate.
Painting Nationalism Green?
If climate change were framed as a threat to the security of Western states, could it rally the electoral forces of the right to an environmentalist agenda? The eco-nationalist programme of Anatol Lieven anatomized in the latest instalment of NLR’s green-strategy debate.
A survey of the ‘green strategy’ debate in recent numbers of NLR unravels the threads of twin disagreements about GDP growth, which appears, by turns, a political-economic necessity and an ecological death-sentence. Steady-state, half-earthing, degrowth, green new deal? All have questions to answer.
Degrowth: A Defence
Counterblast to Robert Pollin’s programme in NLR 112 for a green-growth new deal, arguing that a radical reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions requires a smaller global economy. Proposals for a drastic overhaul of production, construction, transportation and agricultural practices.
De-Growth vs a Green New Deal
Can degrowth supply a political economy that meets environmental and egalitarian aims? In a powerful contribution to the debate initiated by Herman Daly and Benjamin Kunkel (NLR 109), Robert Pollin argues that a green-growth model offers a more viable alternative.
To Freeze the Thames
Are there hints of a solution to climate change in the Little Ice Age? Offering a critique of ‘steady-state’ ecological economics, green nuclear and artificial geo-engineering, Troy Vettese proposes the thought-experiment of a ‘half-earth’ alternative: agricultural land left to nature, egalitarian eco-austerity, green services and veganism.
Taking the Temperature of History
From Vichy-era rural conservatism, via communism and Furet, to a grand synthesis in ecological history, culminating decades of empirical research. Portrait of Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, historical materialist and quasi-reactionary, founder of historical climatology and last outpost of Annales-school historiography.
Ecologies of Scale
Eco-economist Herman Daly presents a practical programme for an egalitarian, steady-state economy. From Smith and Mill to Georgescu and Schumacher, Daly and Benjamin Kunkel debate problems of development, quantitative and qualitative, and biophysical equilibrium. If the world economy is conceived as a sub-system of a larger eco-system, what are the limits to growth?
The Coming Desert
Episodes from the history of climate science, where discoveries of secular planetary variation—ice ages, desiccation—have always alternated with emphases on human depredation. Mike Davis draws back the curtain on the landmark contribution of the great anarchist geographer Pyotr Kropotkin, penned from a Tsarist prison.
Who Will Build the Ark?
Copenhagen’s charades dispel any illusion that world rulers intend to deal with the environmental damage industrialization has caused. Mike Davis argues that green urbanism’s twining of social equality and ecological sustainability could offer an alternative starting-point.
The Great Himalayan Watershed
From Asia’s mountainous heart flow rivers on which half the world’s population depends. Pomeranz examines the complex interaction between human water needs, fragile ecology and vast infrastructural projects—and the far-reaching consequences of their conjugation.
Building on Kyoto
A critical assessment of George Monbiot’s scheme for a 90 per cent cut in carbon emissions. Given the psychological grip of capitalist consumption patterns, and the forces blocking attempts to tackle climate change—fossil fuel lobby, heavy industry, airlines—what is the best strategy for environmental action? Can ambitious targets and moral exhortations bring any improvement on existing treaties?
Responding to Clive Hamilton, George Monbiot stresses the inadequacies of current governmental efforts to address rising global temperatures, and the need for targets to be set by science rather than political expediency. An attack on the cruelties of cost-benefit analysis, and a call for genuine ethical commitment to replace tokenism.
Creative Destruction: Capitalist Development and China’s Environment
“The ‘Rise of China’ has been hailed as the most important trend in the world for the next century, and with good reason. While Russia and much of Eastern Europe sink into depression, Deng Xiaoping’s market reforms have turned China into the fastest growing large economy in the . . .” read more
The Politics of Animal Rights - Where is the Left?
“At the beginning of 1995, in the midst of a generalized governmental crisis, with accusations of ‘sleaze’ and corruption in high places, historically high levels of unemployment, fears about the commercialization of the health service and unprecedented government unpopularity, the political system was suddenly rocked by an explosion . . .” read more
'Win-Win' with Bruce Babbitt: The Clinton Administration Meets the Environment
“For the environmental movement in America the allure of the Democratic ticket in 1992 was not Bill Clinton. His record in Arkansas was poor. Tyson, the chicken mogul, had fouled the state’s rivers with an enthusiasm equalled only by his zeal for Clinton’s political well-being. Not fifteen miles . . .” read more
The Dead West; Ecocide in Marlboro Country
“Was the Cold War the Earth’s worst eco-disaster in the last ten thousand years? The time has come to weigh the environmental costs of the great ‘twilight struggle’ and its attendant nuclear arms race. Until recently, most ecologists have tended to underestimate the impacts of warfare and arms . . .” read more
The Ecological Challenge to Marxism
“Contemporary Marxism has responded in a number of ways to the challenge posed by ecology. Broadly speaking, three currents of thought can be distinguished. The first I shall call the ‘Marxist dissident’ response. Its proponents have abandoned central elements of Marx’s theory, claiming that the new questions posed . . .” read more
Introduction to Hecht Interview
“Over the past quarter-century huge areas of Amazonian forest have been reduced to ashes. The conquest of the Amazon resembles more a scorched earth policy than development. The rate of deforestation has been close to exponential, and it has all been for nothing.” read more
Trees, Cows and Cocaine: An Interview with Susanna Hecht
“O forest! They cut out your verdant heart. The grasses, the Brazil nut trees, the wild beasts already scent the smell of prison. This we say: People yearn to be free, so Who will then be the masters of our history?” read more
The Greens at the Crossroads
“The West German political scene of the 1980s has been transformed by the emergence—for the first time since the foundation of the Federal Republic—of a socially radical force with a significant electoral following in the society at large. The Greens have changed the map of the traditional party . . .” read more
Law of the Sea
“Delegates will assemble in New York in March this year for what will hopefully be the final substantive session of the Third UN Conference on the Law of the Sea (unclos), which was inaugurated in the same city in December 1973. Sessions at Caracas (1974) and Geneva . . .” read more
A Critique of Political Ecology
“As a scientific discipline, ecology is almost exactly a hundred years old. The concept emerged for the first time in 1868 when the German biologist, Ernst Haeckel, in his Natural History of Creation, proposed giving this name to a sub-discipline of zoology—one which would investigate the totality of . . .” read more