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The Ecological Rift: Capitalism's War on the Earth Paperback – November 1, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

John Bellamy Foster is editor of Monthly Review. He is professor of sociology at the University of Oregon and author of The Ecological Revolution, The Great Financial Crisis (with Fred Magdoff), Critique of Intelligent Design (with Brett Clark and Richard York), Ecology Against Capitalism, Marx’s Ecology, and The Vulnerable Planet.



Richard York is associate professor of sociology at the University of Oregon. He is co-editor of the journal Organization & Environment and co-author (with John Bellamy Foster and Brett Clark) of Critique of Intelligent Design.



Brett Clark assistant professor of sociology at North Carolina State University. He is co-author (with John Bellamy Foster and Richard York) of Critique of Intelligent Design.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Monthly Review Press (November 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1583672184
  • ISBN-13: 978-1583672181
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.6 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #211,620 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 39 people found the following review helpful By R. Jamil Jonna on November 4, 2010
Format: Paperback
Books detailing nearly every aspect of ecological and environmental crisis are literally overflowing the shelves. To me, The Ecological Rift stands way out from the pile in this important respect: it enriches your understanding of the roots of ecological crisis by deepening and contextualizing (non-controversial) empirical facts with careful (yet, critical) reconstructions of debates between the most thoughtful and influential voices addressing ecological issues throughout history. From ecologically minded 18th and 19th century political economists like Stanley Jevons and Karl Marx; environmental sociologists like James O'Connor and Allan Schnaiberg; to popular social critics like Herman Daly, Juliet Schor and Annie Leonard, and outspoken contemporary scientists like James Hansen, Richard Levins and Richard Lewontin). Even the Greek philosopher, Epicurus, contributes a range of remarkable insights. It feels like you've been transported to the world's premier conference on the environment as a witty, critical participant.

After reading a few chapters you begin to realize that fundamental ecological contradictions--such as the paradox of public wealth and private riches (Ch.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Ryan on November 7, 2010
Format: Paperback
At first I was a bit surprised to see "current affairs" as one of the topic areas on the back cover of The Ecological Rift. Other works by the authors I had read sweep the debates of social and natural science over the past two centuries or more on materialism, political economy, and ecology. This book is no less broad in scope reviewing, for example, paradoxes between public wealth and private riches and between sustainability and economic growth. They show these deeply troubled some earlier economic thinkers, only to be swept under the rug by more modern disciples of economics, and illustrate the relevance of those early insights to modern ecological problems.

However, by the end of the introductory chapter I could better see the appropriateness of the "current affairs" label. There are many books written on the growing and interconnected forms of ecological crisis that threaten the future of young people today. Bizarrely, as natural sciences warning have gotten starker, social scientists proposals have gotten weaker as evidenced by the popularity of ecological modernization--a managerial, technocratic perspective on environmental problems that tends to eschew both history and analysis of power relations:
"The danger lies not so much in the vast majority of social scientists..., who have essentially ignored...the ecological crisis...as in those who propose to manage the crisis (environmental economists, environmental sociologists, environmental political scientists), who profess they can "green" capitalism and green "modernity," all the time refusing to recognize that capitalism is not an immutable condition of human existence and that nature, far from being stabilized, is for all practical purposes being destroyed by this very system.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Donald A. Planey on August 11, 2012
Format: Paperback
"The Ecological Rift" is perhaps the most important book about the causes of ecological decline one could read right now. It's a plea by University of Oregon environmental sociologists John Bellamy Foster, Brett Clark, and Richard York for the reader to recognize the socio-economic causal factors behind climate change, ocean acidification, and the depletion of natural resources, and, just as importantly, for the reader to recognize their structural origin in our mode of production, e.g., capitalism.

In order to accomplish this, the authors focus each of the book's four parts on a different scientific and political perspective on the matter. By doing this, the authors demonstrate that whether one examines environmental crisis from the perspective of ecology, sociology, history, or political economy, that the environmental guilt of the capitalist mode of production becomes self-evident. The authors also critique mainstream attempts at integrating sociology and economics into ecology, and propose their own model for such an integration which roots itself in Epicurus' materialist epistemology, Marx's dialectical materialism, and scientific critical realism. Ultimately, they advocate the replacement of capitalism with an economy which both fulfills human needs, allows for greater democratic direction of resource use, and does not require compound rates of growth- in other words, they advocate socialism.

The first part of "The Ecological Rift" is primarily dedicated to a brief (yet excellent) defense of the theory of anthropomorphic climate change, and its connection to the growth economy. The authors cite a wide range of individual scientists and scientific institutions whose research clearly proves the human-caused nature of climate change.
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