The Wrath of Capital

The Wrath of Capital: Neoliberalism and Climate Change Politics

Adrian Parr
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 232
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7312/parr15828
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  • Book Info
    The Wrath of Capital
    Book Description:

    Although climate change has become the dominant concern of the twenty-first century, global powers refuse to implement the changes necessary to reverse these trends. Instead, they have neoliberalized nature and climate change politics and discourse, and there are indications of a more virulent strain of capital accumulation on the horizon. Adrian Parr calls attention to the problematic socioeconomic conditions of neoliberal capitalism underpinning the world's environmental challenges, and she argues that, until we grasp the implications of neoliberalism's interference in climate change talks and policy, humanity is on track to an irreversible crisis.

    Parr not only exposes the global failure to produce equitable political options for environmental regulation, but she also breaks down the dominant political paradigms hindering the discovery of viable alternatives. She highlights the neoliberalization of nature in the development of green technologies, land use, dietary habits, reproductive practices, consumption patterns, design strategies, and media. She dismisses the notion that the free market can solve debilitating environmental degradation and climate change as nothing more than a political ghost emptied of its collective aspirations.

    Decrying what she perceives as a failure of the human imagination and an impoverishment of political institutions, Parr ruminates on the nature of change and existence in the absence of a future. The sustainability movement, she contends, must engage more aggressively with the logic and cultural manifestations of consumer economics to take hold of a more transformative politics. If the economically powerful continue to monopolize the meaning of environmental change, she warns, new and more promising collective solutions will fail to take root.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-53094-1
    Subjects: Political Science, Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENT
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. INTRODUCTION: BUSINESS AS USUAL
    (pp. 1-7)

    A legend dating back to sixteenth-century Prague tells of a violent conflict between a man and his creation. The story begins with the rabbi of Prague, Judah Loew (1525–1609), who in a dream is instructed to create a golem to protect his people from blood libel.² Heading down to the muddy banks of the Moldau River, the rabbi and his two assistants create a humanoid form out of earth, fire, water, and air, bringing the clay figure to life. The golem would consign the blood libel to the trash of history, and from there civilization could continue forward in...

  6. 1 CLIMATE CAPITALISM
    (pp. 8-21)

    It is now widely accepted, apart from by a few conservative fundamentalists and conspiracy theorists such as Lord Monckton, that the average global climate is warming and that one of the primary causes for this situation is human activities, which are producing more GHGs than the earth’s carbon sinks can absorb. Industrialization and a rampant culture of consumption have resulted in the warming of the earth’s atmosphere and oceans.¹ And it is no longer just the scientists who are worried; the general public has started to sit up and take note of climate warming. So why all this concern over...

  7. 2 GREEN ANGELS OR CARBON COWBOYS?
    (pp. 22-38)

    Three men are enjoying a sunny afternoon at the poolside of their luxurious retirement home when Bob asks his two friends what kind of work they did in the past that landed them in such a salubrious setting at this late stage of their lives. Joe explains that he had a corner store selling cold cuts; he did reasonably well until one day he turned up at work, and the place had been completely burned to the ground. “The insurance policy paid me a nice sum of money and set me up for retirement,” he says. Then Jon chimes in:...

  8. 3 POPULATION
    (pp. 39-51)

    The more climate change scenarios gain traction throughout the popular imaginary and concerns over environmental degradation mount, the more human population growth is becoming the subject of agitated discussion and debate, as much in the popular media as in scholarly circles.² The debate centers around how many people the earth can support and the ways in which population numbers drive changes in climate. The argument is that the more people there are on the planet, the more GHG emissions will be emitted and the more the earth’s limited resources will be consumed. Surviving the potential health and environmental effects of...

  9. 4 TO BE OR NOT TO BE THIRSTY
    (pp. 52-72)

    As the earth’s atmosphere warms, the climate is changing. This situation is causing extremes in the hydrologic cycle, placing the world’s water resources and the species and ecosystems that depend on them under serious stress. The CO2content of the earth’s oceans is currently increasing at a rate of approximately 2 billion tons a year, causing ocean acidification. Since industrialization, the oceans’ acidity has grown 30 percent, and this situation has negatively impacted the thousands of calcifying organisms on earth (mussels, coral reefs, algae, plankton), posing a serious threat to the fragile marine ecosystem.¹ Between 2002 and 2006, Greenland lost...

  10. 5 SOUNDING THE ALARM ON HUNGER
    (pp. 73-87)

    Alongside water, food is a fundamental human need. As of 2010, the number of undernourished people in the world was nearing the 1 billion mark, more than the estimated number of hungry people during the 2008–2009 food and economic crises.² If population numbers increase to more than 9 billion people as projected, and the demand for animal protein continues to grow along with the expanding middle class in China and India, then the global food system will be placed under tremendous stress. When we also factor into the picture growing water scarcity, rising temperatures, and very few sources of...

  11. 6 ANIMAL PHARM
    (pp. 88-110)

    I once asked my four-year old daughter while she was drinking a glass of milk: “Where do you think milk comes from?” I wasn’t quite sure what to expect because she was notorious for her left-of-field answers to seemingly obvious questions. I must admit even I was surprised when she announced: “A truck, of course!” I was immediately struck by how quickly she had hit the nail on the head. She hadn’t been fooled by bedtime stories of farmers wearing checked shirts and straw hats, cows happily nibbling green grass in open fields, chickens wandering around the yard as the...

  12. 7 MODERN FEELING AND THE GREEN CITY
    (pp. 111-129)

    I have visited many cities over the years. Some that left a strong impression include Berlin, Budapest, Chicago, Hyderabad, Kuala Lumpur, Mumbai, New York, Paris, Seattle, and Sofia. I currently live in Cincinnati, Ohio. Since moving to the United States nine years ago, I would have to say that my favorite North American city is Chicago. It is one of the few cities of the world where you can sit on the beach with the skyline immediately behind you or where you can promenade along the waterfront for miles and miles. It is also one of a handful of U.S....

  13. 8 SPILL, BABY, SPILL
    (pp. 130-144)

    In what seemed like a cruel twist of irony, theDeepwater Horizonoil rig sank on Earth Day 2010 after exploding two days earlier, on April 20. The rig and blowout preventer was owned by Transocean and leased by BP, the largest oil and gas producer in the United States.⁴ The spill was the largest accidental oil spill in history. In the aftermath of the spill, locals set up a sign in Belle Chasse, a fishing village in southern Louisiana, that read: “Damn BP! God Bless America!” As the sign indicated, the consensus was that BP was to blame, and...

  14. AFTERWORD: IN THE DANGER ZONE
    (pp. 145-148)

    A quick snapshot of the twenty-first century so far: an economic meltdown; a frantic sell-off of public land to the energy business as President George W. Bush exited the White House; a prolonged, costly, and unjustified war in Iraq; the Greek economy in ruins; an escalation of global food prices; bee colonies in global extinction; 925 million hungry reported in 2010; as of 2005, the world’s five hundred richest individuals with a combined income greater than that of the poorest 416 million people, the richest 10 percent accounting for 54 percent of global income; a planet on the verge of...

  15. NOTES
    (pp. 149-180)
  16. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 181-204)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 205-216)