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This week, Roqayah and Kumars are joined by Matthew Kenner, author of Geohell: Imagining History in the Contemporary World, and Chris Oestereich, researcher and writer on economics and ecology, for a discussion of the left’s greatest unaddressed challenge in the 21st century: the problem of the contradiction between economic productivity and ecological sustainability. They begin with an explanation of the true meaning of “Geohell,” the much memed concept that has its origin in Matt’s reading of Dante’s Inferno. Matt and Chris give a rundown of the dependence of human civilization on the exploitation of the environment since the advent of agriculture millennia ago, emphasizing the increasing complexity and exploitation inherent in that process. They explain how even left-wing paradigms for development rely on notions of economic productivity that are in conflict with the demands of an environment undergoing catastrophic climate change.
Matt and Chris describe structural and ideological impediments to transitioning to an ecologically sustainable society, and explain the shortcomings of the “ecomodernist” strain of socialist thought that pushes technological fixes to climate change and views a future of “fully automated luxury communism” as not only desirable but attainable. The crew discusses the necessity for ecological economics, which currently lacks influence in the mainstream of the economics discipline, to frame maximizing growth as a principle that assumes impossible levels of energy consumption.
Follow Matt on Twitter @cutasterfee, and Chris @costrike.
A transcript for this episode will be provided upon request. Please send an email to deleteuracct @ gmail to get a copy sent to you when it is completed.