COP21: a climate crisis reading list

As the great and the good gather in Paris for the UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) in the coming weeks to discuss the Earth's future in the face of the looming economic catastrophe, Francois Hollande's government has taken the step of banning all protests and gatherings from the French capital. Yet, as Andreas Malm has written, in the face of such a toothless conference behest to the whims of the rich nations of the global north, which will inevitably be broadcast as a great step towards solving the world's ills, "militant resistance in the streets has never been more imperative."



It is becoming increasingly evident that global warming is fundamentally linked to the regime of capital accumulation - a fact that no major government is willing to confront. How then should we think through such looming climactic catastrophe? Here we present a reading list which aims to tackle one of the greatest issues facing us today. 

All these books are 50% off (until the end of December) as part of our end-of-year sale, with free shipping worldwide and free bundled ebooks (where available).

Fossil Capital: The Rise of Steam Power and the Roots of Global Warming by Andreas Malm

How did capital's insatiable addiction to the burning of fossil fuels begin? Andreas Malm's masterful new historical study charts the rise of fossil capital from its origins in the development of steam power to drive the burgeoning cotton industry in nineteenth century Britain to contemporary China's emisions explosion. Malm shows that it is the logic of capital, and not industrialism per se, that has driven us to the brink of climate catastrophe, and that a solution can only be sought in the overthrow of the current economic order.

Read Andreas Malm's essay on COP21 and the French crackdown on protests, 'Our Fight for Survival', on the Jacobin website.

Capitalism in the Web of Life: Ecology and the Accumulation of Capital by Jason W. Moore

Jason W. Moore's groundbreaking Capitalism in the Web of Life aims to skewer the nature/society dualism that has prevailed in so much radical thought - whether red or green. Instead, Moore takes Capitalism not simply as an economic system but as a way of organising nature.

Bringing together the contemporary crises of food, climate and finance into a masterful synthesis, Moore fundamentally refashions the way we see nature and human interactions with it.

Read Jason W. Moore's interview with Viewpoint magazine about Capitalism in the Web of Life here.

The Reproach of Hunger: Food, Justice and Money in the 21st Century by David Rieff

One of the most visible, and devastating, symptoms of climate change has been the food crisis. In The Reproach of Hunger, leading expert on humanitarian aid and development David Rieff goes in search of the causes of the reasons behind the failures to respond to the disaster. In addition to the failures to address climate change, poor governance and misguided optimism, Rieff cautions against the increased privatization of aid, with such organizations as the Gates Foundation spending more than the World Health Organization on food relief. The invention of the celebrity campaigner—from Bono to Jeffrey Sachs—have championed business-led solutions that have robbed development of its political urgency. The hope is that the crisis of food scarcity can be solved by a technological innovation. In response Rieff demands that we rethink the fundamental causes of the world's grotesque inequalities and see the issue as a political challenge we are all failing to confront.

Molecular Red: Theory for the Anthropocene by McKenzie Wark

Wark's Molecular Red is a search for the new philosophical tools that we need to confront the Anthropocene - the new geological era of man-made climate change. Wark explores the implications of Anthropocene through the story of two empires, the Soviet and then the American. The fall of the former prefigures that of the latter. From the ruins of these mighty histories, Wark salvages ideas to help us picture what kind of worlds collective labor might yet build. 

The Shock of the Anthropocene: The Earth, History and Us by Christophe Bonneuil and Jean-Baptiste Fressoz 

Scientists tell us that the Earth has entered a new epoch: the Anthropocene. We are not facing simply an environmental crisis, but a geological revolution of human origin. In two centuries, our planet has tipped into a state unknown for millions of years. How did we get to this point?

Refuting the convenient view of a "human species" that upset the Earth system unaware of what it was doing, The Shock of the Anthropocene proposes a new account of modernity that shakes up many accepted ideas: on the supposedly recent date of "environmental awareness," on previous challenges to industrialism, on the manufacture of consumerism and the energy "transition," as well as on the role of the military in environmental destruction.

Carbon Democracy: Political Power in the Age of Oil by Timothy Mitchell

Does oil wealth lead to political poverty? It often looks that way, but Carbon Democracy tells a more complex story. In this magisterial study, Timothy Mitchell rethinks the history of energy, bringing into his grasp as he does so environmental politics, the struggle for democracy, and the place of the Middle East in the modern world.

Living in the End Times by Slavoj Žižek

There should no longer be any doubt: global capitalism is fast approaching its terminal crisis. Slavoj Žižek has identified the four horsemen of this coming apocalypse: the worldwide ecological crisis; imbalances within the economic system; the biogenetic revolution; and exploding social divisions and ruptures. But, he asks, if the end of capitalism seems to many like the end of the world, how is it possible for Western society to face up to the end times?

Green Gone Wrong: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Eco-Capitalism

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