Half-Earth Socialism

A Plan to Save the Future from Extinction, Climate Change and Pandemics

Paperback, 240 pages

English language

Published April 19, 2022 by Verso.

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4 stars (8 reviews)

Over the next generation, humanity will confront a dystopian future of climate disaster and mass extinction. Yet the only ‘solutions’ on offer are toothless cap-and-trade programmes, catastrophic geoengineering schemes, and privatized conservation, which will do nothing to reverse the damage suffered by the biosphere. Indeed, these mainstream approaches assume that hyper-consumerism in the Global North can continue unabated. It can’t.

What we can do, environmental scholars Troy Vettese and Drew Pendergrass argue, is strive for a society able to ensure high living standards while stabilizing the environment: Half-Earth socialism. This means:

• Rewilding half the earth to absorb carbon emissions and restore biodiversity • A rapid transition to renewable energy, paired with drastic cuts in consumption by the world’s wealthiest • Global veganism to cut down on energy and land use • Worldwide socialist planning to efficiently and equitably manage production • The involvement of everyone—even you!

As this thrilling …

1 edition

reviewed Half-Earth Socialism by Troy Vettese

A taste of one possible future

4 stars

This is a slim volume and only an intro to these topics, but a welcome addition to Utopian Socialism nonetheless. The main takeaways are in the summary—vegetarianism/veganism, renewables, rewilding, etc. are needed to keep global warming down and to preserve the maximum number of species, while also keeping humans happy and healthy. It advocates using state-of-the-art planning within a global socialist structure to give humans a range of options for achieving this.

The book takes healthy swings at Marxist Prometheanism, neoliberal market worship, Malthusian dystopiansm, and dangerous geoengineering gambits. I found the section on "in natura" economics fascinating and will read more on this, which is one of the main goals of the authors—to spark further learning on the topics herein.

The authors trace one of the more hopeful and plausible pathways humanity could take. More grounded than solar punk, more developed than cottagecore, and incomparably better than any dystopia. …

Lots of interesting stuff, but ultimately a bit unsatisfying?

4 stars

Half-Earth Socialism is bracketed by two pieces of, I don't know, science fiction, describing a mid-century earth that's a geoengineering dystopia, and then a half-earth socialist utopia. In between is a lot of really thought-provoking material about topics such as BECCS, nuclear power, and other forms of half-earth rewilding, together with a discussion of neoliberalism and the socialist calculation problem. There's some really interesting, if a little mind-bending, description of how society could function without money. Ultimately, though, I'm not sure I'm convinced by the model they describe, nor by the way we might get there and, can I confess, I wasn't thrilled at the mention of dormitories in the future utopia?

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