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Making war on the planet: Geoengineering and capitalism’s creative destruction of the Earth

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  1. rodya

    Geoengineering under the present regime of accumulation has the sole objective of keeping the status quo intact—neither disturbing the dominant relations of capitalist production nor even seeking so much as to overturn the fossil-fuel industry with which capital is deeply intertwined. Profits, production, and overcoming energy poverty in the poorer parts of the world thus become justifications for keeping the present fossil-capital system going, maintaining at all cost the existing capitalist environmental regime. The Promethean mentality behind this is well captured by a question that Rex Tillerson then CEO of Exxon Mobil Corporation asked—without a trace of irony—at an annual shareholders meeting in 2013:

    What good is it to save the planet if humanity suffers?

    The whole history of ecological crisis leading up the present planetary emergency, punctuated by numerous disasters—from the near total destruction of the ozone layer, to nutrient loading and the spread of dead zones in the ocean, to climate change itself—serves to highlight the march of folly associated with any attempt to engineer the entire planet. The complexity of the earth system guarantees that enormous unforeseen consequences would emerge. As Frederick Engels warned in the nineteenth century,

    Let us not…flatter ourselves overmuch on account of our human victories over nature. For each such victory nature takes its revenge on us. Each victory, it is true, in the first place brings about the results we expected, but in the second and third places it has quite different, unforeseen effects which only too often cancel the first.