Women and half-earth socialism: should half the earth be rewilded by at least half the sky. It’s not a half-assed slogan and more than running with wolves. It’s also more than GAIA essentialism even if some cultural imperatives make that prospect more ideologically palatable. Environmental politics cannot be outsourced to a market. The recent passing of Mike Davis reminds us of the importance of radical activism like deploying a rewilding campaign that is global in scale. A half-earth capitalism would not be able to contain itself and is incapable of considering the violence of even the domesticated interaction of humans and animals. Choosing to make sustainable habitats primary would require rethinking public property and giving wilderness habitat priority over economic development. One way of raising consciousness could come from playing an online crisis planning simulation game. “The authors collaborated with designers from the Jain Family Institute and Trust to create a video game based on the book, at play.half.earth.
The global evolutionary game is getting more complicated, even if the Giant Meteor could still arrive. If we actually could rewild a significant portion of the earth, pandemic spreads (and their reactionary politics) have shown how dangerous epidemic spillover would be. At this moment in history there are likely more eco-leninists than we might expect.
Why one-half? The crucial factor in the life and death of species is the amount of suitable habitat left to them. As defined by the theory of island biogeography, a change in area of a habitat results in a change in the sustainable number of species by approximately the fourth root. As reserves grow in size, the diversity of life surviving within them also grows. As reserves are reduced in area, the diversity within them declines to a mathematically predictable degree swiftly – often immediately and, for a large fraction, forever.
When 90% of habitat is removed, the number of species that can persist sustainably will descend to about a half. Such is the actual condition of many of the most species-rich localities around the world. In these places, if 10% of the remaining natural habitat were then also removed, most or all of the surviving resident species would disappear.
Experiments in solar geoengineering, in an attempt to generate a global cooling effect, are now being funded by billionaires such as Bill Gates. A spectrum of scientists warns against pushing such experiments as we do not yet know and understand the catastrophe such measures could cause when deployed on a large scale.
Half-Earth Socialism: A Plan to Save the Future from Extinction, Climate Change and Pandemics, authored by Drew Pendergrass and Troy Vettese, begins by painting a dystopian future set in 2047, where solar radiation management is used to control global warming. The costs of such geoengineering technology soon catch up in the form of disruption to global weather systems and irreversible carbon lock-ins that prevent transition to low-carbon alternatives.
Stemming from a utopian tradition, Half-Earth Socialism is a thought experiment for the decades leading up to 2047, revealing the inadequacy of current strands of environmentalism that are predicated on outsourcing politics to the market. The concept of ‘Half-Earth’ is taken from entomologist EO Wilson, whose research has shown the need to rewild half of the planet to staunch the hemorrhaging of biodiversity. Half-Earth Socialism takes this concept forward. The book outlines how various measures pushed by the market and its ‘high priests’ – the neoliberals – will fail to prevent a global ecocide by the mid-century, which marks the centennial of their movement’s birth and its subsequent intellectual, political and economic hegemony.
As the book lays out the inevitable dystopian future facing us as a result of the current global measures to combat climate change, the authors also bring out the possibilities of how this can be avoided. Half-Earth Socialism strongly argues that despite the deteriorated state of the biosphere, there is still time to reverse its decline and work towards the creation of a just society.
At a time when much climate literature emphasizes inadequate “deals” with capitalism or catastrophe-prone nuclear and geoengineering technologies, it’s refreshing to read two uncompromising proposals for ecological revolution. Despite coming from different political traditions, anarchist and Marxist, they reach overlapping conclusions regarding the necessity to reject elites’ false solutions, reduce global production, support participatory planning, and establish healthier relations with nonhuman beings. With solutions at hand, and the dead-ends increasingly obvious, the ways forward appear to be getting clearer.
First, Peter Gelderloos’s The Solutions Are Already Here: Ecological Revolt from Below, is a cartography of movements resisting extraction, growing local food, and restoring ecosystems. Compared to the ecocidal ruling class and its spurious opposition among the mainstream left, autonomous uprisings can be remarkably effective using a minimum of resources. Based on extensive research and interviews, Gelderloos demonstrates that this web of struggle “represents the best hope for our planet” (146), should it further scale up and coordinate efforts.
He discusses, for example, Mexico’s town of Cherán where P’uerépecha residents militantly rose up in 2011 and kicked out loggers, drug cartels, police, and politicians. Ever since, they have self-governed using horizontal methods of popular assembly and communal mediation (127). Volunteer patrols, accountable to popular councils, confiscate chainsaws from unauthorized loggers and monitor that farmers follow the ban on growing water-intensive avocado trees for commercial purposes. The town has implemented one of Mexico’s most advanced recycling programs, and with help from an impressive tree nursery, they’ve reforested over half of the previously deforested area.1
Appealing to Verso Books’s mainly Marxist audience, Vettese and Pendergrass sometimes exhibit a strange infatuation with central planning, going so far as to speak nostalgically of the Soviet Union’s Gosplan. I find these parts the least convincing, particularly in light of Gelderloos’s devastating critique of the state.
As Gelderloos argues, states throughout history have demonstrated ecocidal patterns in order to maintain control over their populations. First, Gelderloos refers to James Scott’s work on states imposing monocultural agriculture and forestry. Homogenous crops are easier to surveil and tax, and they keep populations relatively immobile. Second, he notes that states tend to impose dependence by seizing the commons from communities with the most stakes in and knowledge of local conditions. This often takes the form of deliberate environmental destruction, an act of “catching the fish by draining the pond,” such as when the U.S. government exterminated bison to take away a food source for Great Plains peoples. Even land grabs in the name of conservation have an ecologically destructive effect in the longer term, since states are far worse caretakers than commons-based communities directly invested in protecting their surroundings (19-20, 28).
Still, as much as I share Gelderloos’s belief in making ourselves ungovernable, I do think our movements could use considerable practice in self-governance. It’s understandable that he rejects the desirability of a unified global plan (168), such as that of Vettese and Pendergrass, and considers heterogeneity and decentralization to be assets for movements. However, I can’t help but feel he’s understating the necessity for coordination and structure. While there’s plenty of discussion of cooperatives and communes, there’s little talk about how they’d confederate and achieve bioregional, continental, or even worldwide goals. It’s worrying that Gelderloos doesn’t seem to hold out hope for preventing a cataclysmic 2 degree Celsius temperature rise above pre-industrial levels (182), enough to lock in the “Hothouse Earth” trajectory leading to much higher temperatures.10
If we’re going to prevent such scenarios, a great deal of bottom-up planning and cooperation will be required. Syndicalism and social ecology barely appear in the book, but these theories provide detailed alternatives to statecraft. If we horizontalists don’t provide convincing theories of stateless planning, I worry that we’ll lose ground to eco-Leninists.
Oct 16, 2021 Giant Meteor 2020 is a kind of a campaign that was started just as a joke but people took it way more seriously than anyone expected it. This all started from the president's election of America of 2016. In 2016, American president election was a hot topic for all the world as everyone expected it.