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Anthropocene? More like ‘Capitalocene’

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Interview. We asked sociologist Jason W. Moore about the human impact on the world ecology. ‘My hope is that this theoretical research may provide useful insights for the social movements around the world that are fighting not only the effects, but especially the root causes of climate change.’

written by Gennaro Avallone, Emanuele Leonardi

Topic Climate change

June 10, 2018

In the discussion of the global ecological crisis, there is more and more talk about the Anthropocene, a term resulting from the combination of Greek words “anthropos” (human) and “kainos” (new). This concept refers to the global scale of the impact of human activity on the composition and functioning of the “Earth system.” In its most common version, the idea of the Anthropocene is based mainly on ecological considerations. In particular, this points to the accelerated extinction of a large number of species, the progressive reduction in the availability of fossil fuels and the increase in greenhouse gas emissions, including carbon dioxide and methane. Although this is a very recent phenomenon on the geological scale, by now it has been very clearly established that anthropic (i.e. human-originated) activity is the direct cause of these phenomena, and has profoundly influenced the transformations of the environment on a global scale.

The perspective of a “world-ecology,” developed by Jason W. Moore, does not dispute any part of this picture from a descriptive point of view; it does, however, manage to capture some further aspects which are also backed up by indisputable data. The American sociologist criticizes the “Anthropocenic” narrative in that it focuses only on the effects of ecological degradation. In this way, the analysis of the causes of that deterioration is actually being neglected, thus making it harder both to identify those responsible for the ecological crisis and to search for political solutions to the problem. Instead, we must get to the root of the matter, recognizing that capitalism,........

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