The Ecological Rift: Capitalism’s War on the Earth

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NYU Press, 2010 - Science - 544 pages
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Humanity in the twenty-first century is facing what might be described as its ultimate environmental catastrophe: the destruction of the climate that has nurtured human civilization and with it the basis of life on earth as we know it. All ecosystems on the planet are now in decline. Enormous rifts have been driven through the delicate fabric of the biosphere. The economy and the earth are headed for a fateful collision—if we don’t alter course.

In The Ecological Rift: Capitalism’s War on the Earth environmental sociologists John Bellamy Foster, Brett Clark, and Richard York offer a radical assessment of both the problem and the solution. They argue that the source of our ecological crisis lies in the paradox of wealth in capitalist society, which expands individual riches at the expense of public wealth, including the wealth of nature. In the process, a huge ecological rift is driven between human beings and nature, undermining the conditions of sustainable existence: a rift in the metabolic relation between humanity and nature that is irreparable within capitalist society, since integral to its very laws of motion.

Critically examining the sanguine arguments of mainstream economists and technologists, Foster, Clark, and York insist instead that fundamental changes in social relations must occur if the ecological (and social) problems presently facing us are to be transcended. Their analysis relies on the development of a deep dialectical naturalism concerned with issues of ecology and evolution and their interaction with the economy. Importantly, they offer reasons for revolutionary hope in moving beyond the regime of capital and toward a society of sustainable human development.

 

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Contents

PREFACE
7
A Rift in Earth and Time
13
The Paradox of Wealth
53
Rifts and Shifts
73
Capitalism in Wonderland
89
The Midas Effect
107
Carbon Metabolism and Global Capital Accumulation
121
The Planetary Moment of Truth
151
The Dialectics of Nature and Marxist Ecology
215
Dialectical Materialism and Nature
249
Marxs Grundrisse and the Ecology of Capitalism
275
The Sociology of Ecology
289
Imperialism and Ecological Metabolism
345
The Ecology of Consumption
377
The Metabolism of TwentyFirst Century Socialism
401
Why Ecological Revolution?
423

The Return of the Jevons Paradox
169
The Paperless Office and Other Ecological Paradoxes
183
The Treadmill of Accumulation
193
Degradation under Capitalism
207
NOTES
443
INDEx
531
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About the author (2010)

John Bellamy Foster is editor of Monthly Review. He is professor of sociology at the University of Oregon and author of The Ecological Revolution, The Great Financial Crisis (with Fred Magdoff), Critique of Intelligent Design (with Brett Clark and Richard York), Ecology Against Capitalism, Marx's Ecology, and The Vulnerable Planet.

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