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Monthly Review: An Independent Socialist Magazine

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Neoliberalism -- Effect on climatic changes, Climatic changes -- Political aspects, Climatic changes -- California -- Social aspects, Climatic changes -- Chile -- Social aspects, Pacific Gas and Electric Company -- Management


The climate crisis is proving to be antithetical to the neoliberal machines that define current forms of social organization. On the one hand, reducing fossil fuel consumption, the largest contributor to climate change, requires collaborative efforts. These efforts must take into consideration the foundational role of fossil fuels in modern economies. We must acknowledge, for instance, that most peoples’ livelihoods are tethered to fossil fuels, which recent studies have demonstrated is not the result of random historical development but deliberate policy.1 Fossil fuels continue to be used as a form of social domination—a means to expropriate productive and reproductive labor. In the meantime, renewable sources of energy have become a favored climate-conscious alternative to fossil fuels. Yet, renewables lack many of the characteristics that have made fossil fuels so desirable in production processes, limiting their ability to expropriate human labor. Renewables do not lend themselves to centrally located reserves or the formalized distribution patterns that allow firms to profit from the extraction, production, and consumption of energy, as fossil fuels do. At the same time, climate catastrophes, such as wildfires and hurricanes, disrupt the infrastructural momentum of fossil fuel economies, destabilizing the mechanisms of capital accumulation that derive from the production and consumption of these fuels. We see both of these problems coming to a head in the recent crises unfolding in Chile and California.


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