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Nature is a Battlefield. Towards a Political Ecology

  • ID: 3758751
  • Book
  • 220 Pages
  • John Wiley and Sons Ltd
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In the midst of the current ecological crisis, there is often lofty talk of the need for humanity to overcome its divisions and work together to tackle the big challenges of our time. But as this new book by Razmig Keucheyan shows, the real picture is very different. Just take the case of the siting of toxic waste landfills in the United States: if you want to know where waste is most likely to be dumped, ask yourself where Blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans and other racial minorities live and where the poorest neighbourhoods are. This kind of environmental racism is by no means restricted to the United States: it is very much a global phenomenon.

Keucheyan show how the capitalist response to the crisis has been marked by a massive expansion in environmental finance . From carbon markets to pollution permits , climate derivatives and catastrophe bonds , we are seeing a proliferation of nature–related financial products. Instead of tackling the root of the problem, the neoliberal strategy seeks to profit from environmental risks.

Moreover, with the rise in natural disasters, resource scarcity, food crises, the destabilization of the poles and oceans and the prospect of tens of millions of climate refugees , Western powers are increasingly adopting a military response to ecological problems. The Cold War is over: welcome to the green wars . From New Orleans to the Siachen glacier via the Arctic floes, Keucheyan explores the landmark sites of this new climate geostrategy .

Through a sharp critique of the way capitalism responds to environmental disaster, this innovative book provides a fresh perspective on some of the most critical issues confronting our societies today.

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Chapter One: Environmental racism

A philosophical event

The colour of ecology

Hurricane Katrina as a ‘metaphor’ for environmental racism

The spatiality of racism

Lead poisoning and class struggle

Postcolonialism and environmental crisis: the conflict in Darfur

Ecological inequalities: A Marxist approach

The archaeology of environmental racism

Race and reforestation

Purifying nature

and naturalising race

Exporting the environment

The coming political ecology


Chapter Two: Financialising nature: Insuring climatic risks

Financial markets ‘plugged into’ nature

Principles of insurance

New risks?

The ontology of catastrophe

Risk and postmodernity

Cat (catastrophe) bonds

Nature as ‘real abstraction’

Carbon markets and unequal development

Constructing profitable markets

A ‘multi–cat’ bond in Mexico

Ecological crisis and the fiscal crisis of the state

A derivative nature

Nature as accumulation strategy


Chapter Three: Green wars, or the militarisation of ecology

A doctrine emerges

A benevolent dictatorship

Chaos specialists

Terrorism and climate change

The new military ecology

Conservation and counter–insurgency


Agent Orange

From the Cold War to green wars

The end of conventional wars?

Double movement

Climate refugees

Nuclear deterrence and ecological crisis

War and biofuels

The oceans destabilised

The scramble for the Arctic

The North Pole and globalisation

Commodifying the thaw

The speed of the circulation of capital


Conclusion: Game over?

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"We now have an eloquent new perspective on the crises of our time, illuminating the multiple links and intricate relationships among inequality/racism/globalization on the one hand, and the capitalist, financial, and military elites that drive them, on the other, all of this mediated by their multiple connections to the state and nature.Nature is a Battlefield is essential reading for understanding the next fifty years."

John Foran, University of California, Santa Barbara
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