Chair: Avi Brisman
Capitalism, Corruption, Consumption and Climate Change
Author: Crook Martin, University of London
Title: Capitalist Mode of Conservation as Genocide: Green Accumulation by Dispossession
It is ironic that the political-economic tools used by governments and NGOs to mitigate ecological destruction are, like environmental degradation itself, violating the human rights of indigenous people in East Africa and elsewhere. This paper argues that market mechanisms implicated in new forms of conservationism are failing to address environmental degradation or ‘decarbonize’ the global economy and transform the capitalist mode of organization into a more sustainable capitalism. Instead, market conservationism compounds the ecological destruction wrought by the capitalist mode of production by supporting the treadmill of accumulation. Drawing on the sociology of genocide inspired by Lemkin and the ‘value analysis’ found in Marxist political economy and ecology, this paper shows that the capitalist mode of conservation gives rise to new forms of colonialism (e.g., land grabs/dispossession of indigenous land), which in some cases leads to genocide. This paper argues that the rise of market conservationism is part of a long history of capitalist development and its crisis-prone relationship to nature—one that extends the commodification of nature in an attempt to solve recurring accumulation crises. The paper concludes by showing that this new ‘ecological regime’ is unlikely to usher in a new sustainable capitalism and will continue to violate the rights of indigenous people in Africa (in particular, the Sengwer and Ogiek—East African indigenous groups).
Keywords: capitalism; conservation; environmental degradation; genocide
Author: Short Damien, University of London
Title: Power, corruption and lies: policing environmental protests in the UK
This paper will explore the policing of anti-fracking environmental protectors' protests in the UK and the surveillance and intimidation that accompany it by both the police and private security firms and the extractive industries. Via a mixture of interview data and insights from participant observation, the paper paints a worrying picture for citizens who wish to resist the continuing exploitation of unsustainable fossil fuel development in the era of anthropogenic climate change.
Keywords: anthropogenic climate change; anti-fracking; policing; protests
Author: Smith Oliver, University of Plymouth
Rob White, University of Tasmania; Avi Brisman, Eastern Kentucky University
Title: Plastic and Ecocide: Green Criminology, Criminal Harm and the Pursuit of Eco-Justice
Our relationship with plastic is a complex one. While the undeniable benefits of plastic have transformed our lives, it is also responsible for some of the most pressing environmental threats of our time. The disposable use of plastic is contributing to the rapid accumulation of waste, and the introduction of microplastic into marine environments is especially deadly. The ecological damage wrought by plastics in the environment might well be considered simply an unfortunate by-product of global consumer culture. By adopting a harm-based approach, however, we reconceptualise many of the processes of production, consumption and destruction of plastics as, in effect, crimes. For example, from an eco-justice perspective, we discuss the intergenerational inequity of plastic use, incorporating the notion that the victims include not only humans, but ecosystems and specific flora and fauna. Engaging with a harm-based approach, we locate environmental degradation and related ecological damage and destruction in the context of global capitalism and the pursuit of economic growth. Making the use of plastic problematic opens a pathway to considerations of responsibility and accountability, and fundamentally issues of social and ecological justice.
Keywords: capitalism; consumption; ecocide; eco-justice; plastic
Author: White Rob, University of Tasmania
Title: Climate Change Criminals
The missing link in discussions and debates about climate change are the carbon criminals. These consist of governments (the key focus for climate action) and transnational corporations (the key drivers of global warming). While state-corporate collusion in support of activities that add to and rationalise carbon emissions is widely acknowledged, rarely are such activities and denials of harm subject to the discourses of criminalisation. Recent efforts to name these as transgressions and injustices have done so under the rubric of ecocide. There is foreknowledge of the immense harms, and yet global warming continues apace. This presentation explores the dynamics of carbon criminality through exposition of the five pillars of a newly emergent ‘climate change criminology’. This involves identifying the perpetrators of climate-related harm, dealing with issues of apportioning responsibility, condemning the actions of corporate climate vandals, and addressing the causes of climate injustice through public critique and social activism.
Keywords: carbon criminals/criminality; climate change; climate change criminology; climate injustice; corporate climate vandals; ecocide