Geosocial Speciesism: The End of Climate Politics

Ice melts, colors run. Photo by JB Hardy.

(Some thoughts on a recent research article, ‘The Politics of Climate Change Is More Than the Politics of Capitalism’ by Dipesh Chakrabarty, published 02/2017 here)

Humans are both in and of the Earth—just try telling us that.

In a research opinion piece, Dipesh Chakrabarty of University of Chicago dissects our seemingly opposing approaches to the spectre of climate change: a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to stem the rising tides while clinging to the framework of the capitalist paradigm, or an acknowledgement that our agency as humans at the top of the food chain is inextricably linked to the function and demise of all life (and non-life) on the planet.

Through the discussion of a host of recent climate literature, including many critical views of his own earlier writing, he argues that these two perspectives are both layovers along the same continuum that defines the evolution of the Anthropocene. All humans—past and present, poor and rich, developed and developing—contribute to the epoch in their own ways, on their own scales.

While we ultimately may be able only to diagnose but not solve the ‘wicked problem’ of climate change, it is useful to remember that survival of just the rich and capable is still, in some respect, survival of the species. Is it worth the risk?