Recent Commentary on Climate Change, Capitalism and Corporations

Our new book Climate Change, Capitalism and Corporations: Processes of Creative Self-Destruction has been a feature of a number of recent analyses of the climate crisis.

For instance, world-renowned ecologists Anne and Paul Ehrlich recently wrote an article entitled “Faith-Based Economics: The Corporate World and the Survival of Civilization” which critiqued business assumptions of economic growth and neglect of environmental limits. Here they noted:

Corporations are the most organized segment of society that actually believes the message of faith-based economics, although cracks have appeared in the façade. For example two business professors, Christopher Wright and Daniel Nyberg, have just published a book, (Climate Change, Capitalism, and Corporations: Processes of Creative Self-Destruction) that provides a detailed and well-documented account of how corporations are destroying civilization by keeping that faith: the standard business-school/Wall Street message that climate disruption, a result of market success in turning natural resources into stuff and waste, can only be cured by business as usual. Faith-based economics requires continued exploitation of natural resources and continued growth of the global economy. As Wright and Nyberg say:

“…corporate capitalism frames business and markets as the only means of dealing with the crisis, rejecting the need for state regulation and more local democratic options. In essence, the prevailing corporate view is that capitalism should be seen not as a cause of climate change but as an answer to it. A problem brought about by overconsumption, the logic goes, should be addressed through more consumption.”

As Clive Hamilton put it in the introduction to the book, “The hard truth is that these corporations would sooner see the world destroyed than relinquish their power.”

Another comprehensive synthesis of the climate crisis and the failure of humanity to respond has come from leading political scientist and public intellectual Robert Manne in his essay “Diabolical” in The Monthly magazine. In a broad analysis bringing together insights from sociologists, psychologists, political scientists and students of international relations, Professor Manne emphasises the contribution of political economists who have raised fundamental questions about the contradiction between capitalism and the climate. Here he notes that:

Recently, two Australian scholars, Christopher Wright and Daniel Nyberg, published their important book Climate Change, Capitalism, and Corporations, an analysis of the impact that the business-as-usual, supposedly environmentally sensitive contemporary corporation has had on climate. Echoing the great Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter’s description of capitalism, its subtitle refers to “creative self-destruction”. The term’s meaning has been most succinctly expressed by Elizabeth Kolbert in her book Field Notes from a Catastrophe: “It may seem impossible to imagine that a technologically advanced society could choose, in essence, to destroy itself, but that is what we are now in the process of doing.”

Finally, in the LSE Review of BooksChris Shaw provides a positive analysis of our book arguing that:

In Climate Change, Capitalism and Corporations: Processes of Creative Self-Destruction, Christopher Wright and Daniel Nyberg show how businesses have successfully created a climate change narrative that legitimates ensuring corporate interests remain the primary consideration in climate policy…this volume offers a well-structured, thoughtful and detailed analysis of corporate strategies on climate change. It deserves to be a point of reference for all researchers and communicators engaging with this topic.

Image: The London School of Economics by Max Nathan | Flickr | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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