Saturday, May 19, 2012

Marx’s Ecology and the Understanding of Land Cover Change

By Ricardo Dobrovolski
Monthly Review
May 2012
The spread of humans worldwide, especially in the last two hundred years, has been associated with the growing human domination of the earth. This domination has not only entailed an increasing world population, but also rising and unequal wealth—all of which has been accelerated by the regime of capital. 

Such domination of the environment is expressed by among other things: 

(1) the change in the flux of elements and substances on Earth, i.e., the global biogeochemical cycles (of which the most famous manifestation is the rising level of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases responsible for climate change);  (2) the growing threat of species extinction; and  (3) the huge land cover change (LCC)—the substitution of natural habitats such as forests, swamps, and grasslands by cropland, pasture, roads, and urban areas.

Modern natural sciences have made enormous inroads in understanding both ecological problems and the social drivers of LCC. However, they have been unable to generate a systematic understanding of how the regime of capital has governed LCC. Karl Marx developed more than 150 years ago, in the context of a social-science critique, an unparalleled theoretical approach to environmental crisis based on two concepts: differential land rent and the metabolic rift.

Read more HERE.

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