In this thrilling and capacious book, Troy Vettese and Drew Pendergrass challenge the inertia of capitalism and the left alike and propose a radical plan to address climate disaster and guarantee the good life for all. Consumption in the Global North can't continue unabated, and we must give up the idea that humans can fully control the Earth through technological "fixes" which only wreak further havoc.
Rather than allow the forces of the free market to destroy the planet, we must strive for a post-capitalist society able to guarantee the good life the entire planet. This plan, which they call Half-Earth Socialism, means we must:
- rewild half the Earth to absorb carbon emissions and restore biodiversity
- pursue a rapid transition to renewable energy, paired with drastic cuts in consumption by the world's wealthiest populations
- enact global veganism to cut down on energy and land use
- inaugurate worldwide socialist planning to efficiently and equitably manage production
- welcome the participation of everyone – even you!
Accompanied by a climate-modelling website inviting readers to design their own "half earth", Vettese and Pendergrass offer us a visionary way forward – and our only hope for a future.
Troy Vettese is an environmental historian and a Max Weber fellow at the European University Institute, where he is affiliated with the ECOINT project. He studies the history of environmental economics, energy-systems, and animal life under capitalism. His writing has appeared in Bookforum, New Left Review, the Guardian, n+1 and many other popular and scholarly publications.
Drew Pendergrass is a PhD student in Environmental Engineering at Harvard University. His current research uses satellite, aircraft and surface observations of the environment to correct supercomputer models of the atmosphere. His environmental writing has been published in Harper's, the Guardian, Jacobin, and Current Affairs.
"Capitalism is clearly destroying the planet. If socialists want to offer a real alternative to profit-driven catastrophe, they need to rethink deeply ingrained assumptions and abandon ruinous habits. Building a society that operates within ecological constraints requires an unleashing of our political imaginations, and this book helps us do just that. You may not agree with every word of this bold and provocative book, but it raises urgent and necessary questions that the left must grapple with before it's too late."
– Astra Taylor, author of Democracy May Not Exist, But We'll Miss it When It's Gone
"Half-Earth Socialism conclusively demonstrates how a liveable future requires a fundamentally different relationship to the Earth, the only home our species has ever known. A must read for post-capitalists and those who care about the climate crisis."
– Aaron Bastani, author of Fully Automated Luxury Communism
"Vegan cookbook meets Minecraft, starring an economist of the Munich soviet republic as unlikely hero – here is a book unlike any you've read. Half-Earth Socialism flips the age of dystopias into a renewal of the genre of utopia. Unlikely to suit everyone's taste, it empowers readers to write their own recipes for a future in peril: an exercise in democracy few books have dared to undertake."
– Andreas Malm, author of Fossil Capital
"The best way to subvert a dystopia is to plan a utopia. In Half-Earth Socialism, Vettese and Pendergrass delve into this vital work of practical dreaming. So what does a better world look like? Blending science, history, philosophy and fiction, the authors thoughtfully chart a possible future to avert the worst impacts of the climate crises. Importantly, beyond climate mitigation and adaptation, this book tackles the critical need to address large-scale system change. Read this book if you not only dream of saving the world, but want a plan for how to do it."
– Ziya Tong, science broadcaster and author of The Reality Bubble
"Finally, the book we have been waiting for. A real plan, simple and elegant. Half the planet is re-wilded. Within the vision of this book, is admirable forensic research, the science, that can power a vegan socialist world. Up to now, the capitalization of nature, has successfully delivered profit for the few, at the expense of all life. Capital is indifferent to the cries from slaughterhouses, the roar of anguish of burning forests, the animals who cannot flee infernos and flooding, sea creatures drowning in oceans of plastic and chemicals. The neo liberal capitalist ship sails on, a soulless machine, extracting humanity from humans. We can no longer see many stars through the haze of pollutants, but the stars shine on, within the idea of utopian socialism. We don't don't want to go to the stars as colonizing billionaires, we want to see the stars. This remarkable book, points the way."
– Sue Coe, artivist, author of Dead Meat, Cruel, and Sheep of Fools