Earth Grab considers how global capitalism’s deployment of technology is liable to lead to disaster for the planet and most of those who live on it. It groups approaches to the deployment of technology into three:
1. “Geopiracy”. This relates to geo-engineering. Definitions are contested, but the following extracts from the work of reputable organisations such as the US National Academy of Sciences and the UK Royal Society give the flavour of what may be involved: deliberately exerting a cooling influence on the Earth in order to moderate global warming by reflecting sunlight,carbon dioxide removal from the atmosphere, constructing vertical pipes in the ocean to increase downward heat transfer. Neither I nor Earth Grab are able to give any explanation of why these august bodies should waste their time considering what is surely sheer madness.
2. “The New Biomassters”. Biomass is targeted by industry as a source of living “green” carbon which can generate electricity,produce fuels, ferilizers and chemicals and partially replace “black” fossil carbon –oil,coal and gas.
3. “Capturing Climate Genes”. The world’s six largest agrochemical and seed corporations are marketing genetically engineered crops designed to withstand environmental stresses such as heat, cold and drought. Their aim is to monopolise patents to control most of the world’s biomass.
Common characteristic of all these ingenious approaches is that they represent “technological fixes” to complex worldwide social, economic and technical problems, and that the motivation for advocating, developing and implementing these “solutions” is the pursuit of profits by corporate giants.
The book identifies potential harmful side-effects likely to be caused by such initiatives, and proposes numerous ingenious and imaginative measures by which they should be countered. But it cannot provide solutions likely to be adopted in the real world economy, which is run by major corporations aided and abetted by governments and international bodies. A vast and ever increasing number of those who govern these bodies believe against all the evidence such as that provided in Earth Grab that competitive capitalism can be managed and controlled in order to benefit the majority of the world’s population without causing undue damage to the environment.
Bronson, D., et al., 2011, Earth Grab : Geopiracy, The New Biomassters and Capturing Climate Genes, Oxford, UK., Pambazuka Press.
The full review was published in Energy and Environment, 2012, Vol23, No4: 755-756.