Posted by: r.m. | March 6, 2012

rejecting denialism…

the word revolution has been thrown around all too lightly these months.  a revolution?  … but i digress

this is what i want to share: Occupy Denialism: Toward Ecological and Social Revolution


“Faced with such enormous environmental problems and the need for massive, urgent changes in society, our worst enemy, as I have indicated, is denialism.  Here it is useful to look at what I call the “three stages of denial” with respect to the global environmental crisis.5  The first stage of denial is straightforward.  It is the denial associated with Exxon-Mobil and climate skeptics — who say either that there is no such thing as climate change or that it is not caused by human actions.  Sometimes they contradict themselves and argue both at once.  This of course is the inevitable response of capital, which is invariably concerned, first and foremost, with protecting its bottom line — even at the expense of the earth itself.

The second stage of denial — often advanced by self-designated environmentalists themselves — is to admit that there is a problem, and even to factor in the proximate causes.  Most of you are no doubt familiar with the environmental impact or IPAT formula.  Environmental Impact = Population X Affluence X Technology.  This is a mere truism, where the drivers of environmental impacts are concerned.  It frequently leads to the notion that the solution is a simple matter of promoting sustainable population, sustainable consumption, and sustainable technology.  Nevertheless, this conception doesn’t actually take us very far, since we then need to explain what drives population, consumption, and technology themselves.  In fact, such multiple-factor analysis is all too often used as a way of denying the underlying background condition: the capitalist treadmill of production.6

The third stage of denial has the look and feel of greater realism, but actually constitutes a more desperate and dangerous response.  It admits that capitalism is the problem, but also contends that capitalism is the solution.  This general approach emphasizes what is variously referred to as “sustainable capitalism,” “natural capitalism,” “climate capitalism,” “green capitalism,” etc.7  In this view we can continue down the same road of capital accumulation, mounting profits, and exponential economic growth — while at the same time miraculously reducing our burdens on the planetary environment.  It is business as usual, but with greater efficiency and greater accounting of environmental costs.  No fundamental changes in social or property relations — in the structure of production and consumption — are required.  This is the magical world view advanced by such diverse figures as Al Gore, Amory Lovins, L. Hunter Lovins, Paul Hawken, and Jonathon Porritt — if not Thomas Friedman, Newt Gingrich, and the Breakthrough Institute, as well.”


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