How the rich are destroying the Earth

Hervé Kempf

Book - 2008

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2nd Floor 363.7/Kempf Checked In
White River Junction, Vt. : Chelsea Green Pub. Co c2008.
Item Description
Originally published: France : Editions du Seuil, 2007.
Physical Description
xiv, 124 p.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
Main Author
Hervé Kempf (-)
Other Authors
Leslie Thatcher (-)
  • Catastrophe. and then what?
  • Environmental crisis, social crisis
  • The powerful of this world
  • How the oligarchy exacerbates the ecological crisis
  • Democracy in danger
  • Emergency and optimism.
Review by PW Annex Reviews

In this frequently iconoclastic, and surprisingly humorous book, Kempf, environmental editor of Le Monde, puts together familiar themes--ecological crisis, the widening gap between rich and poor, and the threat anti-terrorism poses to democracy--to point out the elephant in the room: the fact that the income and conspicuous consumption of the "hyper-rich" need to be reduced so the world's poorest can receive justice and the middle classes will "consume less; the planet will be better off; and, we'll be less frustrated by what we don't have." Kempf references Thorstein Veblen's Theory of the Leisure Class, arguing that Veblen's theories--once made obsolete by the narrowing of incomes in the twentieth-century--are relevant again due to the rise of a new international aristocracy. He may infuriate right-leaning American readers allergic to discussions of class warfare, but he's equally hard on the "wobbly" left, "pickled in the idea of progress as it was conceived in the nineteenth century." Although the book's message is deeply disturbing, its uniquely French style of lighthearted, even optimistic seriousness makes it a refreshing and entertaining read. (Sept.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Examining the link between global ecology and the global economy, a French journalist critiques the role of the world's wealthy elite in impeding democratic initiatives designed to alleviate the world's ecological and social crises. Original.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

A best seller in France, and already translated into Spanish, Italian, Greek, and Korean, Hervé Kempf's How the Rich Are Destroying the Earth now appears in its first English edition. Bringing to bear more than twenty years of experience as an environmental journalist, Kempf describes the invincibility that many of the world's wealthy feel in the face of global warming, and how their unchecked privilege is thwarting action on the single most vexing problem facing our world.In this important primer on the link between global ecology and the global economy, Kempf makes the following observations: First, that the planet's ecological situation is growing ever worse, despite the efforts of millions of engaged citizens around the world. And second, despite environmentalists' emphasis that "we're all in the same boat," the world's economic elites--who continue to benefit by plundering the environment--have access to "lifeboats" that insulate them from the resulting catastrophes.Societies have not been able to effectively combat the expanding ecological crisis because it is intimately linked to the social crisis in which the ruling form of capitalism has been organized to impede democratic initiatives. This link explains the failure to make progress against the greatest emergency of our time, because in this relationship the oligarchy plays an essential and destructive role. For this reason, solving the ecological crisis depends on disrupting the power of the world's elite.We cannot understand the entwined ecological and social crises, Kempf argues, if we don't see them as the two sides of the same disaster--a disaster that comes from a system piloted by a dominant social strata that has no drive other than greed, no ideal other than conservatism, no dream other than technology. But Kempf also calls for measured optimism: "Despite the scale of the challenges that await us, solutions are emerging and--faced with the sinister prospects the oligarchs promote--the desire to remake the world is being reborn."