China’s contribution to ecological disaster

In a forthcoming book China’s Engine of Ecological Apocalypse (Verso 2018) upon which this eye-opening article is based Richard Smith offers a frightening view of how China’s economy, currently growing ar 7% per annum (doubling GDP every 10 years) is locked in to accelerating the trajectory towards ecological disaster. Smith argues that the built-in drivers and barriers of China’s hybrid bureaucratic collectivist-capitalism not only render the idea that China could lead the fight against climate change implausible but also reinforce China’s role as the leading driver of global warming and thus, planetary collapse.

The article concludes rather contentiously as follows:

Right now, we’re living in the most critical moment in all of human history. As the prospect of imminent planetary ecological collapse looms ever larger, support for capitalism is crumbling everywhere and people around the world are desperately searching for an ecologically sustainable and more equitable socio-economic system. We may fail to build that better world, and that may be our fate. Yet, inured as I am, somehow I still can’t believe that humanity won’t find a way. Somehow, perhaps irrationally, I just can’t believe that after more than a million years of evolution, and after all the astonishing achievements of thousands of years of human civilization and culture, we’re going to throw it all away and drive ourselves and many other species off the cliff to extinction to save our 300-year-old system of capitalism, let alone to save China’s ghastly 40-year-old system of police-state capitalism. That would be an appallingly sad coda to life on Earth.

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