Black Box: A Record of the Catastrophe, Volume 1

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The packaging was an electroplated galvanized steel box, enclosed in a black nylon mesh that was tied off at each end by heavy gauge metal wire. A card that had information about the release, including the limited edition numbering, was attached to the packaging via a wire tie. The top lid was stamped with the "Black Box" logo. Inside the packaging were the following items stacked from top to bottom in this order : a single sided poster, the information booklet the same that was included in the regular release , Disc 1, a coaster with the "Black Box" logo on it, Disc 2, a "Black Box" patch, Disc 3, and a postcard you could mail in for a free catalogue from Wax Trax!

All of this sat on a bedding of "69 feet of audio tape outtakes. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. All Media Network. The absence of a historical perspective on the conservation, even accumulation, of catastrophe is a major barrier to needed change in our time. Many environmentalists, including some who perceive themselves as being on the left, persist in believing that we can address our immense and growing ecological problems without altering our fundamental social-production relationships.

All that is necessary in this view is the combined magic of green technology and green markets.

The Black Death: The Greatest Catastrophe Ever

Short-term fixes are presumed to be adequate solutions, while society remains on the same essential course as before. Indeed, the dominant perspective on ecology can be characterized, I believe, as consisting of three successive stages of denial: 1 the denial altogether of the planetary ecological crisis or its human cause ; 2 the denial that the ecological crisis is fundamentally due to the system of production in which we live, namely capitalism; and 3 the denial that capitalism is constitutionally incapable of overcoming this global ecological threat—with capital now being presented instead as the savior of the environment.

The first stage of ecological denial is easy to understand. This is the form of denial represented by Exxon-Mobil. Such outright denial of the destructive consequences of their actions is the automatic response of corporations generally when faced with the prospect of environmental regulations, which would negatively affect their bottom lines. It is also the form of absolute denial promoted by climate-change denialists themselves, who categorically reject the reality of human agency in global climate change.

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The second stage of denial, a retreat from the first, is to admit there is a problem,while dissociating it from the larger socioeconomic system. The famous IPAT formula, i. The answer then is sustainable population, sustainable consumption, and sustainable technology. This approach, though seemingly matter-of-fact, and deceptively radical, derives its acceptability for the vested interests from the fact that it generally serves to disguise the more fundamental reality of the treadmill of capitalist production itself. The third stage of denial, a last-ditch defense, and exhibiting a greater level of desperation on the part of the established order, is, I would argue, the most dangerous of all.

Hunter Lovins, and Jonathon Porritt. Implicit in all such views is the notion that capitalism can be made sustainable, without altering its accumulation or economic growth imperative and without breaking with the dominant social relations. The exponential growth of the system ad infinitum is possible, we are told, while simultaneously generating a sustainable relation to the planet.

This of course runs up against what Herman Daly has called the Impossibility Theorem: If the whole world were to have an ecological footprint the size of the United States we would need multiple planets. Whenever the destruction is too severe the system simply seeks to engineer another spatial fix. Yet, a planetary capitalism is from this standpoint a contradiction in terms: it means that there is nowhere finally to externalize the social and environmental costs of capitalist destruction we cannot ship our toxic waste into outer space!

Market-based solutions to climate change, such as emissions trading, have been shown to promote profits, and to facilitate economic growth and financial wealth, while increasing carbon emissions. From an environmental standpoint, therefore, they are worse than nothing—since they stand in the way of effective action.

Nor are the technologies most acceptable to the system since not requiring changes in property relations the answer.


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These schemes carry with them the potential for even greater ecological disasters: in the first case, this could lead to a reduction of photosynthesis, in the second the expansion of dead zones. The potential for the accumulation of catastrophe on a truly planetary level as a result of geoengineering technology is so great that it would be absolute folly to proceed in this way—simply in order to avoid changes in the mode of production, i.

The Black Death: The Greatest Catastrophe Ever | History Today

Science tells us that we are crossing planetary boundaries everywhere we look, from climate change, to ocean acidification, to species destruction, to freshwater shortages, to chemical pollution of air, water, soil, and humans. However, because a warmer atmosphere holds more water vapor, global warming must also increase the intensity of the other extreme of the hydrologic cycle—meaning heavier rains, more extreme floods, and more intense storms driven by latent heat.

Natural catastrophes are thus likely to become more severe and more frequent occurrences in the lives of all living beings. The hope of some scientists is that this will finally wake up humanity to its true danger. How are we to understand the challenge of the enormous accumulation of catastrophe, and the no less massive human action required to address this? Keynes argued that we should rely for at least a couple more generations on the convenient lie of the Smithian invisible hand—accepting greed as the basis of a spontaneous economic order.

It would then be necessary for humanity to address the enormous inequalities and injustices produced by the system, engaging in a full-scale redistribution of wealth, and a radical transformation of the ends of production. It is a world prey to the enormous unintended consequences of accumulation without limits: namely, global economic stagnation, financial crisis, and planetary ecological destruction. Keynes, though aware of some of the negative economic aspects of capitalist production, had no real understanding of the ecological perils—of which scientists had already long been warning.

Today these perils are impossible to overlook. Hence, nothing is fairer —more just, more beautiful, and more necessary—today than the struggle to overthrow the regime of capital and to create a system of substantive equality and sustainable human development; a socialism for the twenty-first century. Dear Reader, we make this and other articles available for free online to serve those unable to afford or access the print edition of Monthly Review. Endangered Far Corner. Far Corner Far Corner. Waxed Oop Fast 'N' Bulbous. Racket Science Forever Einstein.

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