In researching the climate crisis and our civilization’s inability to respond in any coherent, rational form, I’ve been struck by the way literature (both fiction and non-fiction) often provides insight into our demise.
One side activity here has been to collect quotations from literature, film and elsewhere that resonate for me on these issues. In no particular order I’ve listed some of my favourites below (a few of these featured in our book Climate Change, Capitalism and Corporations: Processes of Creative Self-Destruction). Look forward to receiving suggestions for others to include! Continue reading The climate crisis in quotations
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.” Continue reading Recent Commentary on Climate Change, Capitalism and Corporations
There is a disconnect between ever more alarming scientific projections of anthropogenic climate disruption and the contrasting conservatism of mainstream ‘business as usual’ political discourse. This wholly irrational future is the focus of our new book Climate Change, Capitalism and Corporations: Processes of Creative Self-Destruction (Cambridge University Press, 2015). It is a disjuncture that makes imagining economic, let alone social or environmental futures a somewhat bizarre enterprise. Nevertheless, let’s consider the conventional view of our future world as presented by mainstream business and political commentators. Continue reading Challenging ‘Fossil Fuels Forever’
Bill McKibben has argued that “it’s possible that there’s no greater example of corporate irresponsibility than climate change – I mean, these companies melted the Arctic, and then rushed to drill in the open water. ”
With the recent revelations that oil giant Exxon has known about the likely catastrophic impacts of continued fossil fuel use as far back as 1981, it seems McKibben is spot on in his assessment. After all what could be more immoral and irresponsible than knowingly destroying the habitable climate of the only home we have – planet Earth! Continue reading Panel Discussion on Climate Change, Capitalism and Corporations
On Tuesday last week at RMIT in Melbourne, leading public intellectual and La Trobe University Emeritus Professor, Robert Manne launched our new book Climate Change, Capitalism and Corporations. We are indebted to Robert for agreeing to launch our book, as he has been one of the most articulate and considered commentators confronting the issue of climate change and its poisoned political legacy.
Robert’s regular analyses of climate politics had a deep impact on my own thinking about the climate crisis. In particular, I remember having started the research that would result in our book back in 2010, reading one of Robert’s insightful analyses of the political impasse over climate change in The Monthly magazine during a trip to Europe. As the train hurtled through the countryside between Frankfurt and Amsterdam, I looked up from the article to see row upon row of wind turbines turning in the late afternoon sunlight; the contrast with fossil fuel addicted Australia couldn’t have been more obvious. Continue reading Robert Manne Launches Climate Change, Capitalism and Corporations
Leading public intellectual and Professor of Public Ethics at Charles Sturt University, Clive Hamilton very generously wrote the excellent Foreword to our new book Climate Change, Capitalism and Corporations: processes of Creative Destruction. Below is an adapted version of that Foreword recently published in The Conversation.
In his 2006 landmark report on how we should respond to the climate crisis, Nicholas Stern characterised global warming as an ‘externality’, a damage to others due to market activity whose cost is not met by those who cause it. Continue reading Creative Self-Destruction and the Climate
Our new book Climate Change, Capitalism, and Corporations: Processes of Creative Self-Destruction has just been published. Based on research that Daniel Nyberg and I have been conducting over the last 6 years, the book explores the complex relationship that the corporate world has with climate change and the central role corporations play in shaping political and social responses to the climate crisis.
In the book, we explore the different processes through which corporations engage with climate change. The principal message is that despite the need for dramatic economic and political change, corporate capitalism continues to rely on the maintenance of ‘business as usual’. As outlined in this short summary in The Conversation this involves the myth that ‘green’ capitalism is a viable response to the climate crisis. This response enables the incorporation of critique and the maintenance of corporate capitalism despite the dire environmental consequences. Continue reading New book on Climate Change, Capitalism and Corporations
In her latest book, This Changes Everything (2014), Canadian writer and activist Naomi Klein argues that unrestrained capitalism is at the root of the climate crisis and that the global response to climate change has, thus far, been shaped by wealth and power.
Earlier in the month I had the chance to speak with Naomi Klein on the eve of her appearance at the Sydney Festival of Dangerous Ideas. The transcript of our discussion is set out below and you can listen to the podcast of our discussion here. Continue reading Naomi Klein talks about Capitalism Vs. the Climate
Earlier in the year I was asked to talk at a Politics in the Pub event on the subject of ‘How Effective Is the Fossil Fuel Divestment Movement in Speeding up Action on Climate Change?’. I shared the stage with Blair Palese, Australian CEO of 350.org, and it was an opportunity to talk about how divestment might contribute to a more effective political response to the climate crisis. Below is an abridged version of my talk and you can view a video of the presentation at the bottom of this post.
Continue reading Fossil Fuel Divestment as Effective Climate Change Action
Our new book Climate Change, Capitalism, and Corporations: Processes of Creative Self-Destruction will be released in both paperback and hardback in late September. You can view the website for the book here.
Based on research that Daniel Nyberg and I have been conducting over the last 6 years, the book explores the complex relationship that the corporate world has with climate change and examines the central role of corporations in shaping political and social responses to the climate crisis. Continue reading Climate Change, Capitalism and Corporations out in September
On May 1, the Balanced Enterprise Research Network (BERN) at the University of Sydney Business School hosted an event in collaboration with the UN Global Compact, the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) and WWF Australia on the Road to Paris and Science Based Targets Initiatives.
This forum launched the initiative ‘Science Based Targets‘ – which aims to encourage businesses to set new, ambitious greenhouse gas emission reduction targets in the run up to the COP21 talks in Paris later this year. Formed as a response to the urgent call by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to decarbonise the economy, the initiative adopts a scientific approach to climate action in line with the latest IPCC report, and highlights the central role that business must play in responding to the climate threat by reducing GHG emissions in line with the best climate science. Continue reading Road to Paris and Science Based Targets Initiatives
Last Monday Greens Leader Christine Milne delivered a landmark speech at the University of Sydney on the next steps for global warming policy around the world and Australia’s role as we approach the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP 21) in Paris this year.
I participated in the event as one of the respondents to Senator Milne’s address and was asked to comment on ‘what role business should play in effective climate change response?’ My response is set out below, but one theme that emerged in the discussion is whether business has an ethical responsibility in its response to climate change? I argue that it does, and this excellent article by David Roberts today highlights the broader way in which climate change is being viewed as a moral imperative and why this frightens those opposed to action on climate change. This an issue business seems unprepared to deal with, but as the climate crisis worsens and its moral implications become more apparent, it is one businesses need to increasingly engage with. Continue reading Climate change as a moral issue for business?
Recently, the Balanced Enterprise Research Network (BERN) at the University of Sydney hosted a visit by Ben Caldecott, Director of the Stranded Assets programme at the Smith School of Enterprise and Environment at the University of Oxford. During his visit, Ben presented a number of very well-attended talks on the issue of fossil fuels as stranded assets and the implications for Australian investments in coal mining. Continue reading Fossil Fuels as Stranded Assets?
It’s hard to know how to approach the phenomenon that is Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything: Capitalism Vs. The Climate. In case you’ve been living in a remote cave for the last six months, this is the book that came out last September to rave reviews in the world’s major newspapers, which has been serialised on the front page of The Guardian over several days, and which has both left-wing commentators and even some conservatives singing its praises. There is also a documentary film coming out to accompany the book and sell out presentations by the author around the world linked to climate activist events. So this book comes with huge media fanfare and expectation. Continue reading Book Review: This Changes Everything: Capitalism Vs. The Climate
The politics of climate change is becoming ever more complex. Just last week in Australia we have witnessed the spectacle of our major political parties voting against moves to prohibit coal and CSG mining on agricultural land; one of the country’s most influential conservative radio commentators supporting a Greens’ politician in her efforts to limit fossil-fuel developments on farming land, and the conservative NSW government approving a massive expansion of coal mining in the Hunter Valley (which will include the relocation of an entire village!). Continue reading The Future of Fossil Fuels in a Climate-Challenged World