If money makes the world go round, oil sure comes a very close second. With surging worldwide demand, upward price trends (despite recent falls) and dwindling reserves concentrated mainly in US-unfriendly states, this priceless fossil fuel has become a major magnet for conflict, instability and power politics. Most recently, this has been borne out by the imperialist forays by Russia into the Caucasus, and by the US in Iraq and Afghanistan. The slavish and unwavering pursuit of oil as the catalyst to economic growth also remains the principal cause of global warming, with energy related emissions set to double by 2050.
From Reykjavik to Rio, from Woolies to Whittards, the fall out from the economic downturn reverberates like a Mexican wave around virtually every inhabited corner of the globe. But this crisis, just as surely as it began, will eventually peter out – but not before wreaking misery and destitution upon millions. Alongside this latest recession is the environmental crisis, with far more irretrievable consequences, and a severity we are now only just waking up to.
Over 100 years ago Karl Marx foretold, how the inbuilt tendency of industrial capitalism to expand would give rise to not only continual cycles of boom and slump, but also the phenomenon we now call “globalisation”. More contemporary analysts, such as Murray Bookchin and the social ecology movement of the late 1960s and 70s, later warned of the profound ecological crisis that we now face.