Reading list

The Global Climate Crisis and Capitalism: A Reading List

A climate crisis reading list featuring George Monbiot, Reece Jones, Jason Moore, Heather Rogers and more.

Verso Books 2 June 2017

The Global Climate Crisis and Capitalism: A Reading List

Environmental catastrophes are on the rise this year and getting stronger, with catastrophic flooding in South Asia and in Texas, a devastating hurricane in Puerto Rico and nearly ceaseless wildfires in California.

It is 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 should we think through such looming climate catastrophe? Here we present a reading list which aims to tackle one of the greatest issues facing us today. 

[book-strip index="1" style="buy"]

George Monbiot is one of the most vocal, and eloquent, critics of the current consensus. How Did We Get into this Mess?, based on his powerful journalism, assesses the state we are now in: the devastation of the natural world, the crisis of inequality, the corporate takeover of nature, our obsessions with growth and profit and the decline of the political debate over what to do.

“A dazzling command of science and relentless faith in people … I never miss reading him.” – Naomi Klein

[book-strip index="2" style="buy"]

Forty thousand people died trying to cross international borders in the past decade, with the high-profile deaths along the shores of Europe only accounting for half of the grisly total.  Reece Jones argues that these deaths are not exceptional, but rather the result of state attempts to contain populations and control access to resources and opportunities. With the growth of borders and resource enclosures, the deaths of migrants in search of a better life are intimately connected to climate change, environmental degradation, and the growth of global wealth inequality.

[book-strip index="3" style="buy"]

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.

[book-strip index="4" style="buy"]

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.
 

[book-strip index="5" style="buy"]

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. 

[book-strip index="6" style="buy"]

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.

[book-strip index="7" style="buy"]

Best-selling journalist Antony Loewenstein trav­els across Afghanistan, Pakistan, Haiti, Papua New Guinea, the United States, Britain, Greece, and Australia to witness the reality of disaster capitalism.

"A keenly observed and timely investigation into rampant resource plunder, privatized detention centers, and an array of other forms of corporate rapacity on four continents.” – Naomi Klein  

[book-strip index="8" style="buy"]

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.

[book-strip index="9" style="buy"]

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? 

[book-strip index="10" style="buy"]

Faced with climate change, many counsel “going green,” encouraging us to buy organic food or a “clean” car, for example. But can we rely on consumerism to provide a solution to the very problems it has helped cause? Heather Rogers travels from Paraguay to Indonesia, via the Hudson Valley, Detroit, and Germany’s Black Forest, to investigate green capitalism, and argues for solutions that are not mere palliatives or distractions, but ways of engaging with how we live and the kind of world we want to live in.

[book-strip index="11" style="buy"]

In Capitalism, Socialism, Ecology, Andre Gorz expands on the political implications of his prescient and influential Paths to Paradise and Critique of Economic Reason. Against the background of technological developments which have transformed the nature of work and the structure of the workforce, Gorz explores the political agendas facing both left and right.  The crises of work and climate must force new ways of organising politically, as well as a reconfiguration of utopian demands.

[book-strip index="12" style="buy"] The size and severity of the global climate crisis is such that even the most committed environmentalists can drift into a state of denial. The award-winning writers collected here have made it their task to shake off this nagging disbelief, bringing the incomprehensible within our grasp and shaping an emotional response to mankind's unwitting creation of a tough new planet. From T. C. Boyle's account of early eco-activists, to Nathaniel Rich's comic fantasy about a marine biologist haunted by his youth, and David Mitchell's vision of a near future where oil sells for $800 a barrel—these ten provocative, occasionally chilling, sometimes satirical stories bring a human reality to disasters of inhuman proportions. [book-strip index="13" style="buy"]

Oil is the lifeblood of modern capitalism - but how does the oil industry function? Based on trips to New York, Houston, New Orleans, Paris, Geneva, and Phnom Penh, among other far-flung locales, The Secret World of Oil includes up-close portraits of Louisiana oilmen and their political handlers; an urbane, captivating London fixer; and an oil dictator's playboy son who had to choose among more than three dozen luxury vehicles before heading out to party in Los Angeles. Both an entertaining global travelogue and a major work of investigative reporting into the dark heart of fossil capital.

[book-strip index="14" style="buy"]

A unique journey from the oil fields of the Caspian Sea to the refineries and financial centres of Northern Europe, James Marriott and Mika Minio-Paluello track the concealed routes along which flows the lifeblood of our economy.

[book-strip index="15" style="buy"]

A literary fiction about climate disaster and a scientist imploding on a journey to the Antarctic from one of contemporary Germany's most celebrated writers.

German glacier expert Zeno Hintermeier is taking his last voyage to the Antarctic as a lecturer on board an international cruise ship. He attends to the curiosity of a privileged few as they marvel at the least explored continent and pay witness to its rapid degradation. In his early sixties, Zeno mourns the loss of his beloved glaciers, the disintegration of his loveless marriage, and the crumbling of his increasingly irrelevant career. Increasingly desperate he hatches a horrifying plan, and driven to the brink, he is convinced that his only option is to shake his fellow passengers out of their complacency and send a wake-up call to the world. With poignant, playful prose,The Lamentations of Zeno is a portrait of a man in extremis, a haunting tale that looks at the greatest challenge of our age from a uniquely human angle.

[book-strip index="16" style="buy"] Available in the UK only

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.
How Did We Get Into This Mess?
George Monbiot is one of the most vocal, and eloquent, critics of the current consensus. How Did We Get into this Mess?, based on his powerful journalism, assesses the state we are now in: the de...
Violent Borders
Forty thousand people died trying to cross international borders in the past decade, with the high-profile deaths along the shores of Europe only accounting for half of the grisly total.Reece Jones...
Fossil Capital
The more we know about the catastrophic implications of climate change, the more fossil fuels we burn. How did we end up in this mess?In this masterful new history, Andreas Malm claims it all began...
Capitalism in the Web of Life
Finance. Climate. Food. Work. How are the crises of the twenty-first century connected? In Capitalism in the Web of Life, Jason W. Moore argues that the sources of today’s global turbulence have a ...
Paperback
Molecular Red
In Molecular Red, McKenzie Wark creates philosophical tools for the Anthropocene, our new planetary epoch, in which human and natural forces are so entwined that the future of one determines that...
The Shock of the Anthropocene
The Earth has entered a new epoch: the Anthropocene. What we are facing is not only an environmental crisis, but a geological revolution of human origin. In two centuries, our planet has tipped int...
Disaster Capitalism
Disaster has become big business. Best-selling journalist Antony Loewenstein trav­els across Afghanistan, Pakistan, Haiti, Papua New Guinea, the United States, Britain, Greece, and Australia to w...
Paperback
Carbon Democracy
With the rise of coal power, the producers who oversaw its development acquired the ability to shut down energy systems, a threat they used to build the first mass democracies. Oil offered the Wes...
Paperback (2013)
Living in the End Times
There should no longer be any doubt: global capitalism is fast approaching its terminal crisis. But if the end of capitalism seems to many like the end of the world, how is it possible for Western ...
Green Gone Wrong
Faced with climate change, many counsel “going green,” encouraging us to buy organic food or a “clean” car, for example. But can we rely on consumerism to provide a solution to the very problems it...
Capitalism, Socialism, Ecology

Capitalism, Socialism, Ecology

In this major new book, Andre Gorz expands on the political implications of his prescient and influential Paths to Paradise and Critique of Economic Reason. Against the background of technological ...
I'm With the Bears

I'm With the Bears

The size and severity of the global climate crisis is such that even the most committed environmentalists can drift into a state of denial. The award-winning writers collected here have made it the...
The Secret World of Oil
Oil is the lifeblood of modern civilization, and the industry that supplies it has been the subject of intense interest and scrutiny, as well as countless books. And yet, almost no attention has be...
The Oil Road
In a unique journey from the oil fields of the Caspian Sea to the refineries and financial centres of Northern Europe, James Marriott and Mika Minio-Paluello track the concealed routes along whi...
The Lamentations of Zeno

The Lamentations of Zeno

Zeno Hintermeier is a scientist working as a travel guide on an Antarctic cruise ship, encouraging the wealthy to marvel at the least explored continent and to open their eyes to its rapid degradat...
The Reproach of Hunger
In 2000 the world’s leaders and experts agreed that the eradication of hunger was the essential task for the new millennium. Yet in the last decade the price of wheat, soya and rice have spiraled, ...
Hardback

Filed under: climate-change, reading-list, sale, versoreadinglists