Christopher Wright and Daniel Nyberg Climate Change, Capitalism, and Corporations. Processes of Creative Self-Destruction, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2015; 254 pp. 9781107435131, 21.99 [pounds sterling] (pbk).
In December 2015 world leaders gathered to proclaim climate change was a threat that they were (finally) going to do something about. After two weeks of speeches and haggling, the deal was done, the world saved. Never mind that the text was silent on fossil fuels, and that in the following week the UK government expanded fracking, the US rescinded a forty year old ban on oil exports and Australia gave new permits for coal mines. Those are minor pesky details; corporate capitalism has the best interests of everyone--rich, poor, black, white, the unborn generations to come, other species--at heart.
I jest, of course. Gallows humour is all one can muster after reading this excellent and alarming book, which clearly lays out the "processes of creative self-destruction" and the myths we choose to believe and propagate. The authors start as they mean to continue --on page one they state "We are destroying ourselves. It is as simple as that. Economic growth and the exploitation of nature have long gone hand--in-hand, but they now constitute the most ill-fated of bedfellows". In line with the work of Naomi Klein (2014) (whom Wright interviewed on her recent Australian tour) they argue that 'the particular neoliberal variant of late capitalism that now dominates the global economy places humanity at a strategic disadvantage in responding to the threat of climate change' (p. 4), given its demand for ever-higher levels consumption. Wright and Nyberg are not however, misty-eyed hippies dreaming for a return to social democracy of the post-war period, but rather business professors with many years of research into the corporate world under their belts.
Through nine chapters they set out their case, which involves 'revoking Schumpeter's concept of 'creative destruction' as a source of economic and social dynamism' and instead characterising 'the link between economic growth, corporate innovation, and environmental destruction as a process of 'creative self-destruction' in which economic expansion relies on the continued exploitation of natural resources' (p. 6). They give clear descriptions of climate change, corporate capitalism, the successful incorporation of mainstream environmental critique in the 80s and 90s via the win-win...