What Every Environmentalist Needs to Know about Capitalism: A Citizen's Guide to Capitalism and the Environment

What Every Environmentalist Needs to Know about Capitalism: A Citizen's Guide to Capitalism and the Environment

What Every Environmentalist Needs to Know about Capitalism: A Citizen's Guide to Capitalism and the Environment

What Every Environmentalist Needs to Know about Capitalism: A Citizen's Guide to Capitalism and the Environment

Synopsis

There is a growing consensus that the planet is heading toward environmental catastrophe: climate change, ocean acidification, ozone depletion, global freshwater use, loss of biodiversity, and chemical pollution all threaten our future unless we act. What is less clear is how humanity should respond. The contemporary environmental movement is the site of many competing plans and prescriptions, and composed of a diverse set of actors, from militant activists to corporate chief executives.

This short, readable book is a sharply argued manifesto for those environmentalists who reject schemes of "green capitalism" or piecemeal reform. Environmental and economic scholars Magdoff and Foster contend that the struggle to reverse ecological degradation requires a firm grasp of economic reality. Going further, they argue that efforts to reform capitalism along environmental lines or rely solely on new technology to avert catastrophe misses the point. The main cause of the looming environmental disaster is the driving logic of the system itself, and those in power--no matter how "green"--are incapable of making the changes that are necessary.

What Every Environmentalist Needs To Know about Capitalism tackles the two largest issues of our time, the ecological crisis and the faltering capitalist economy, in a way that is thorough, accessible, and sure to provoke debate in the environmental movement.

Excerpt

Wealth, if limits are not set for it, is great poverty.

—EPICURUS

Ecological economist Herman Daly is well known for emphasizing what he has called the “Impossibility Theorem” of unlimited economic growth in a limited environment. Put concretely, an extension of a U.S.-style high consumption economy to the entire world of 7 billion people—much less the 9 billion-plus world population projected for the middle of the present century—is a flat impossibility. In this book we are concerned with extending Daly’s Impossibility Theorem by introducing what we regard to be its most important corollary: the continuation for any length of time of capitalism, as a grow-or-die system dedicated to unlimited capital accumulation, is itself a flat impossibility.

We are constantly being told by the vested interests—and even by self-designated environmentalists and environmental organizations—that capitalism offers the solution to the environmental problem: as if the further growth of capital markets, green consumption, and new technology provide us with miraculous ways out of our global ecological dilemma. Such views are . . .

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