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Academic & Professional Books  Environmental & Social Studies  Economics, Politics & Policy  Economics, Business & Industry  Environmental Economics

Profit An Environmental History

Coming Soon
By: Mark Stoll(Author)
280 pages
Publisher: Polity
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  • Profit ISBN: 9781509533237 Hardback Nov 2022 Not in stock: Usually dispatched within 6 days
  • Profit ISBN: 9781509533244 Paperback 06 Sep 2024 Available for pre-order
Selected version: £24.99
About this book Contents Customer reviews Biography Related titles

About this book

Profit – getting more out of something than you put into it – is the original genius of Homo sapiens, who learned how to unleash the energy stored in wood, exploit the land, and refashion ecosystems. As civilization developed, we found more and more ways of extracting surplus value from the earth, often deploying brutally effective methods to discipline people to do the work needed.

Historian Mark Stoll explains how capitalism supercharged this process and traces its many environmental consequences. The financial innovations of medieval Italy created trade networks that, with the European discovery of the Americas, made possible vast profits and sweeping cultural changes, to the detriment of millions of slaves and indigenous Americans; the industrial age united the world in trade and led to an energy revolution that changed lives everywhere. But when efficient production left society awash in goods, a new sort of capitalism, predicated on endless individual consumption, took its place.

This story of incredible ingenuity and villainy begins in the Doge's palace in medieval Venice and ends with Jeff Bezos aboard his own spacecraft. Mark Stoll's revolutionary account places environmental factors at the heart of capitalism's progress and reveals the long shadow of its terrible consequences.


1. How It Started
2. Trade and Empire
3. The Wonders of Coal and Machines
4. Age of Steam and Steel
5. Conserving Resources
6. Buy Now – Pay Later
7. Stepping on the Gas
8. Selling Everything
9. The Rise and Globalization of Environmentalism
Conclusion: Profit: Capitalism and Environment


Customer Reviews


Mark Stoll is a Professor of Environmental History at Texas Tech University.

Coming Soon
By: Mark Stoll(Author)
280 pages
Publisher: Polity
Media reviews

The Toronto Star

"[...] eye-opening [...] Sweeping in scope yet grounded in intriguing particulars, this offers fresh perspective on an economic system 'we cannot live with [...] and cannot live without.'"
Publishers Weekly


"With knowledge, skill and stories of inventors, entrepreneurs and conservationists, [Stoll] traces developments in technology, transportation, energy, communication, trade and finance."

"A concise and interdisciplinary history of capitalism [...] an excellent read for history enthusiasts."
World History Encyclopedia

"A story of incredible ingenuity and villainy that begins in the Doge's palace in medieval Venice and ends with Jeff Bezos aboard his own spacecraft. Mark Stoll's revolutionary account places environmental factors at the heart of capitalism's successes and reveals the long shadow of its terrible consequences."
Climate and Capitalism Ecosocialist Bookshelf

"A sweeping and yet highly readable overview of human economic history, from foraging to modern industrial society. It surpasses all others in richness of detail and attention to environmental consequences."
– Donald Worster, University of Kansas

"Our world today is threatened by a resource extractions-driven global economy, the most severe symptom of which is the fossil-fueled warming of our planet. Could tackling the climate crisis be the critical first step in charting a new course that places planet over profit, and sustainability over stuff? Read this book and learn how we got into this mess and how we might just get out."
– Michael Mann, Presidential Distinguished Professor, University of Pennsylvania and author of The New Climate War

"This book offers important messages – but also fascinating asides and illuminating statistics, as it tells what may be the central tale of the human story."
– Bill McKibben, author The Flag, the Cross, and the Station Wagon: A Graying American Looks Back at his Suburban Boyhood and Wonders What the Hell Happened

"Profit is a must-read for anyone who's ever wondered, 'where do we go from here?' The answer begins with understanding how we got here, and that's the compelling story Profit tells. From the first human miners through the impetuous chaos of the Industrial Revolution to our current impasse between short-term profit and long-term survival, Stoll explains how 'we have always profited at nature's expense' – and how, if we truly understood the magnitude of this price, we'd know that nature offers the key to our survival."
– Katharine Hayhoe, Texas Tech University, author of Saving Us: A Climate Scientist's Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World

"Incisive and compelling [...] an enjoyable deep read."
– Ramya Swayamprakash, H-Environment

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