Capitalism's Environmental Crisis—Is Technology the Answer?

  • John Bellamy Foster
Keywords: Climate Change, Ecology, Political Economy

Abstract

The standard solution offered to the environmental problem in advanced capitalist economies is to shift technology in a more benign direction: more energy-efficient production, cars that get better mileage, replacement of fossil fuels with solar power, and recycling of resources. Other environmental reforms, such as reductions in population growth and even cuts in consumption, are often advocated as well. The magic bullet of technology, however, is by far the favorite, seeming to hold out the possibility of environmental improvement with the least effect on the smooth working of the capitalist machine. The 1997 International Kyoto Protocol on global warming, designed to limit the greenhouse gas emissions of nations, has only reinforced this attitude, encouraging many environmental advocates in the United States (including Al Gore in his presidential campaign) to advocate technological improvement in energy efficiency as the main escape from the environmental mess.
Published
2000-12-01
Section
Review of the Month