A thoughtful review by Richard Seymour of Drew Pendergrass and Troy Vettese’s new book “Half-Earth Socialism”.
The “half-earth” part of the title refers to a radical plan to combat climate change. The authors believe that nature is too complex for humanity to engineer, and that it can only thrive if we leave it alone; so half the earth should be left to re-wild; humanity must survive with the space and resources that remain. Ideally, that would mean doing so in a fair and equitable economy:
“The ‘half-Earth’ arcadia, as Vettese and Pendergrass acknowledge, is riddled with peril. In the hands of governments and scientific bureaucracies, it is likely to be a ‘colonial’ solution in which the poor are displaced from their land; conflict intensifies between governments using military force to conserve territory, private military contractors, poachers, and those driven off the land; and the drivers of resource extraction are left unaddressed. Vettese and Pendergrass’s solution is not to abandon half-Earth, but to radicalise it as part of a socialist reformation of the global economy, in which democratic planning replaces markets and state bureaucracies. The goal of such a transformation is to use ‘natural geoengineering’ through rewilding to ‘draw down carbon’ – thereby avoiding dangerous options such as solar radiation management – and ‘create a fully renewable energy system’.”
Seymour digs into exactly what’s problematic with Pendergrass and Vetesse’s analysis, but it’s perhaps the beginning of something interesting.