Capitalism is killing the world’s wildlife, not ‘humanity’ By Anna Pigott

Industrial agriculture, an activity that the report identifies as the biggest single contributor to species loss, is profoundly shaped by capitalism, not least because only a handful of “commodity” species are deemed to have any value, and because, in the sole pursuit of profit and growth, “externalities” such as pollution and biodiversity loss are ignored. And yet instead of calling the irrationality of capitalism out for the ways in which it renders most of life worthless, the WWF report actually extends a capitalist logic by using terms such as “natural assets” and “ecosystem services” to refer to the living world.

The New Dark Age

3 November 2018 — Climate & Capitalism
By failing to name the system responsible, the new Living Planet report undermines its own call for a collective response to the biodiversity crisis. 

Anna Pigott is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Environmental Humanities, Swansea University.

The latest Living Planet report from the WWF makes for grim reading: a 60% decline in wild animal populations since 1970, collapsing ecosystems, and a distinct possibility that the human species will not be far behind. The report repeatedly stresses that humanity’s consumption is to blame for this mass extinction, and journalists have been quick to amplify the message. The Guardian headline reads “Humanity has wiped out 60% of animal populations,” while the BBC runs with “Mass wildlife loss caused by human consumption.” No wonder: in the 148-page report, the word “humanity” appears 14 times, and “consumption” an impressive 54 times.

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4 thoughts on “Capitalism is killing the world’s wildlife, not ‘humanity’ By Anna Pigott

  1. Dr. Bramhall, at first, I didn’t appreciate the distinction between “capitalism” and “humanity,” since, in my mind, they go hand-in-hand. However, after reading the article, it has become much clearer, as stated in the following excerpt:

    By naming capitalism as a root cause, on the other hand, we identify a particular set of practices and ideas that are by no means permanent nor inherent to the condition of being human. In doing so, we learn to see that things could be otherwise. There is a power to naming something in order to expose it. As the writer and environmentalist Rebecca Solnit puts it:

    “Calling things by their true names cuts through the lies that excuse, buffer, muddle, disguise, avoid, or encourage inaction, indifference, obliviousness. It’s not all there is to changing the world, but it’s a key step.”

    The words we use do matter. Thanks for sharing.

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    • Thanks for your extremely thoughtful comment, Rosaliene. I essentially had the same reaction to the article, but I think you put it better. I find have have to continually remind myself that capitalism isn’t permanent.

      Like

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