Capitalism, faced by natural obstacles, sees no alternative to a new assault on nature, employing new, high-tech armaments.
The ecological irrationality of this response is evident in the tendency to
dissociate global warming from the global environmental crisis as a whole, which includes such problems as species extinction, destruction of the oceans, tropical deforestation, desertification, toxic wastes, etc.
It is then possible, from this narrow perspective, to promote biofuels as a
partial solution to global warming — without acknowledging that this will
accelerate world hunger. Or it is thought pragmatic to dump iron filings in the
ocean (the so-called Geritol solution to global warming) in order to grow
phytoplankton and increase the carbon absorbing capacity of the ocean — without connecting this at all to the current oceanic catastrophe. The fact that the biosphere is one interconnected whole is downplayed in favor of mere economic expediency.
What all of this suggests is that a real solution to the planetary
environmental crisis cannot be accomplished simply through new technologies or through turning nature into a market. It is necessary to go to the root of the problem by addressing the social relations of production.
We must recognize that today’s ecological problems are related to a system of global inequality that demands ecological destruction as a necessary condition of its existence.
New social and democratic solutions need to be developed and rooted in human community and sustainability, embodying principles of conservation that are essential to life. But this means stepping outside the capitalist box and making peace with the planet
— and with other human beings.
-John Bellamy Foster
Professor of sociology at the University of Oregon in
Eugene, and editor of Monthly Review.