Book Review: Climate Change, Capitalism, and Corporations. Processes of Creative Self-Destruction by Christopher Wright and Daniel Nyberg, Capital & Class, 40(2), pp.394-396, doi:10.1177/0309816816661148n
Marc Hudson, Sustainable Consumption Institute, University of Manchester.
In December 2015 world leaders gathered to proclaim climate change was a threat that they were (finally) going to do something about. After two weeks of speeches and haggling, the deal was done, the world saved. Never mind that the text was silent on fossil fuels, and that in the following week the UK government expanded fracking, the US rescinded a forty year old ban on oil exports and Australia gave new permits for coal mines. Those are minor pesky details; corporate capitalism has the best interests of everyone – rich, poor, black, white, the unborn generations to come, other species – at heart. Continue reading Capital & Class Review of 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.” 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’
Global businesses, many of them now larger and more powerful than nation states, exhibit enormous sway on humanity’s response to the climate crisis. Indeed, in the lead-up to the Paris climate talks later this month there is growing media focus on so-called business “leadership” on climate change. For instance, just last month Royal Dutch Shell, General Electric, BHP Billiton and management consultancy McKinsey & Co. announced the establishment of a committee to advise governments on how to combat global warming while strengthening economic growth. This follows other announcements such as Unilever’s chief executive officer, Paul Polman, emphasising the need for private sector mobilization to close the shortfall in emission commitments made by governments, as well as Virgin’s CEO Richard Branson who has argued that “our only hope to stop climate change is for industry to make money from it.” Continue reading Corporations and climate change
Recently, Daniel Nyberg and I did an interview with Catherine Zengerer on radio station 2SER’s “On the Money” show about our new book Climate Change, Capitalism and Corporations: Processes of Creative Self-Destruction.
The interview is a good outline of many of the core arguments in our book. As the summary accompanying the interview outlines:
With climate change an impending reality it seems the world has a problem with overconsumption. But according to two business professors we are failing to address the very cause of climate change – capitalism.
Neoliberal economists argue that climate change – a market problem, is addressed by a market solution. But according to Professor Christopher Wright and Professor Daniel Nyberg more consumption is not the solution in a society where the environmental model is often traded off for a business model. Can we have our cake and eat it too?
You can hear the full interview (about 10 minutes) here.
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
The University of Sydney Business School recently featured the new book that Daniel Nyberg and I have authored Climate Change, Capitalism and Corporations: Processes of Creative Self-destruction as part of their Research Highlights series. The book is presented as “a sobering yet hopeful account of how corporate myths have slowed our response to human-caused climate change, and what we can do about it.” You can view the PDF of the story here and the video is below.
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
Recently I helped organise a social media training event at my university. The idea was to expose academics to different social media platforms, highlight the advantages of social media for academic work, and also teach them the basics of blogging and Twitter. Afterwards I was interviewed about how and why I use social media in my climate change research. Having been seduced by the attractions of social media some years ago, I’m now very much a social media advocate. Anyway, here’s my response to some of the interview questions re my own social media use:
Continue reading Using social media to turbo-charge your research!
Writing about climate change often requires some type of visual reference particularly given the way our eyes are drawn to the visual in social media settings and more generally in public debate. But how do you visually represent the human-induced climate disruption we are now living through? As Naomi Klein has demonstrated so powerfully, climate change ‘changes everything’! And yet despite its profound impacts, it is a phenomenon that is also diffuse across space and time.
This was an issue that I confronted late last year when Daniel Nyberg and I completed the manuscript for our forthcoming book Climate Change, Capitalism and Corporations: Processes of Creative Self-Destruction. With the draft manuscript sent off to the publishers, we then agonised over the book cover design. An early offer from the publishers presented a somewhat anodyne image of suited business people on an escalator (the sort of thing one sees everyday on management textbook covers) – probably relevant in that context but nothing really about climate change. Continue reading Representing Climate Change?
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
A common theme in popular business discourse is the demise of bureaucracy and the emergence of a new, more liberating post-bureaucratic era. While subject to variation, common themes in this genre include organisations becoming less insular, hierarchical and rule-bound and more change-focused, enterprising and collaborative. Indeed, the persona of the manager as leader is a recurring image. A ‘high-flyer’, familiar with consulting and MBA techniques, experienced in a wide range of industry settings and jumping from one corporate turnaround to the next.
But as is so often the case in claims of fundamental change, there is good reason to be sceptical about the demise of bureaucracy and the birth of this ‘new’ 21st century organisational ideal. In our recent book Management as Consultancy: Neo-bureaucracy and the Consultant Manager, Andrew Sturdy, Nick Wylie and I argue that while large organisations are changing, there are also strong resonances with the past. Based on an extensive analysis of Australian and British corporations, we find that managers are becoming less explicitly hierarchical and more market and change oriented. Continue reading The Age of Neo-bureaucracy
The following is an extract from our forthcoming book Climate Change, Capitalism and Corporations: Processes of Creative Self-destruction (Cambridge University Press) - out in bookshops later this year.
Corporate marketing and branding around sustainability and ‘green’ themes has undergone dynamic growth over the past decade as social concern over the environment and climate change has spiralled. Many major consumer brands – including Walmart, Ben & Jerry’s, GE, Toyota, Patagonia, Frito-Lay, Timberland, Tesco and even Shell – have embraced a ‘green’ message in their marketing.
A principal aim has been to successfully tap into consumers’ increased environmental awareness while avoiding allegations of duplicity or ‘greenwashing’. Guy Pearse has documented that there is often a disconnect between the ‘green’ boasts of corporate advertising and the reality of environmental impact. A selective focus on specific products and activities is sometimes exposed, as are assertions that are simply inaccurate; but what remains unmistakable in all such activities is an emphasis on evoking positive emotions among consumers and the public in general as part of an alternative emotionology of challenge and opportunity.
Continue reading The corporate creation of an engaging ‘green’ spectacle
As a growing number of studies have demonstrated, climate change poses a significant threat to future social and economic activities. Indeed, the language of ‘risk’ has become a perennial theme in discussions of future climate change impacts and a central construct for how businesses respond to and ‘manage’ climate change.
Recently Daniel Nyberg and I had an article accepted for publication in the journal Organization exploring how corporations have responded to climate uncertainties and threats as ‘risks’ (pre-print PDF here). Conventional cognitive-scientific depictions of risk see organisations as ontologically separate from the risk they act upon. The core assumption underlying risk management is that risk is ‘out there’ and it just has to be ‘found’ and ‘captured’ by professional experts using statistical tools and analysis.
Continue reading Risky business: Corporate constructions of climate change risk