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Ecosocialism and degrowth are great ways to become irrelevant

David McMullen

Platypus Review 167 | June 2024

ECOSOCIALISM IS NOW well entrenched in the “Left,” and is endorsed by many long-established sects. Proponents believe the deteriorating natural environment has created an urgent need to cast off capitalism and adopt this new green and crunchy variety of socialism. We will then be able to cease growing the world economy and start degrowing to a lower, steady state. Only in this way can we remain within “planetary boundaries”; for the present system cannot do this, with capitalist competition dictating both growth through the treadmill of accumulation and an indifference to environmental costs that do not show up on company balance sheets. Their slogan is “system change not climate change.”

I certainly agree that capitalism cannot deliver degrowth, but I also believe that a classless society based on social ownership, the only alternative to the present system, cannot deliver it either. Indeed, it requires continued growth and not degrowth. And in the case of the “Global South” this has to be über-growth. Now, even if I am wrong on this second point, and a green nirvana is possible and desirable, no new society with its own economy could be established in a relevant timeframe. So, if we need to get rid of capitalism to avoid ecocatastrophe, we are in strife.

Leading ecosocialist John Bellamy Foster whistles in the dark about the prospects by banking on ecosocialism coming to power on the back of a mass movement spurred into action by increasing eco-disasters but in sufficient time to avert eco-Armageddon.[1] However, creating a new ecosocialist global order would be a protracted process. An ecosocialist movement would have to emerge from obscurity, gain widespread support, and be able to take power in the larger economies and successfully run them. The resistance to overcome would be considerable and certainly violent.

Decoupling from nature

I believe it would be preferable to take a less grim view, and endeavor instead to do a better job of prodding and harassing our masters into taking far more effective action in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and ending our destruction of the biosphere. This is basically about well-directed government funding, and appropriate carrots and sticks.

On the biosphere front, there are a range of tasks. According to environmental scientist Erle Ellis,[2] these include: greatly reducing our impact on natural areas; returning land and water to nature as we increase their productivity in food production; reducing agricultural contaminants and making farming less hostile to other life; helping vulnerable native species to survive in exotic-dominated environments; getting people out of the countryside and into densely populated cities that are also increasingly home to other flora and fauna; and reducing and better managing industrial and mining pollution, and domestic waste.

There has to be far more government engagement with these issues. This has to be transparent and scrutinized by those who want results. Solution-oriented research has to be vastly increased. Laws against clearing of tropical forests have to be enforced.

On the greenhouse-emissions front, the primary problem is the low pain tolerance. People in the richer countries have a limited appetite for expensive emissions reductions while those in the poorer countries are unwilling to even begin the reduction process. This means far greater stress has to be put on developing the technologies that will take the pain out of zero emissions. However, at the moment public funding for research, development, demonstration, and initial deployment in the relevant areas is far too low. While steadily increasing in recent years, global public R&D spending was still only a measly $44 billion (USD) in 2022.[3] Nevertheless, despite poor funding, the amount of innovation in the last decade has been remarkable. Better resourcing is bound to bring faster and better results.

Wind, solar and batteries have become more efficient and cheaper, and offshore renewables are the new frontier. However, longer-term energy storage has to become less costly. This will be required wherever renewables take on the major share of electricity output. Also, we seem to have been putting too many eggs in the renewable basket given that some regions have poorer renewable resources than others, and electric power is not the only form of energy required.

Nuclear power, for example, should be receiving more love and attention. Indeed, there is the option of slotting nuclear reactors into existing fossil-fuel power plants and using the existing generating equipment, infrastructure, and grid.[4] Enhanced geothermal energy could be used in a similar way if the technologies pan out as hoped.[5] The underground heat would be available no matter where the old power plant is located. Given the large number of fossil-fuel power plants in emerging economies that still have many years of useful life in them, this retrofitting could be an attractive way to go.

We are nowhere near a “hydrogen economy” but there is notable progress. We have had the recent “discovery” that hydrogen remains in its elemental state in vast subterranean deposits.[6] Ongoing efforts are being made to bring down water-electrolysis costs so that it can compete with natural gas reforming.[7] Hydrogen trucks and tractors are beginning to appear.[8] Airbus says it will have large hydrogen-powered passenger aircraft available from 2035.[9]

Industrial processes have to be decarbonized. We are beginning to see progress in the development of “green” cement,[10] steel,[11] and aluminum.[12]

The other greenhouse gasses, particularly methane and nitrous oxide (N2O), have to be dealt with. Agriculture is the primary culprit in both cases. Cow and sheep digestion causes most of the methane emissions. Strategies being developed include feed additives, improving feed efficiency, genetic selection, and manure management. Then there is the move to plant-based meat alternatives and cultured meat. In the case of N2O the problem is inefficient use of nitrogen fertilizer.[13] Prevention measures include: ensuring the fertilizer is delivered to the plant, when it can use it, through precision farming methods; using chemicals that impede microbes responsible for creating N2O; and genetically modifying a microbe that can directly supply nitrogen to plants.[14] Better detection and measurement of methane emissions from fossil-fuel extraction and landfills is expected to prompt more effective abatement measures. Research and development into direct air capture of CO2 is being pursued and will certainly be needed when the task is to bring down accumulated CO2 levels later this century. R&D and pilot projects make sense at the moment.

While doing its best to help build a movement that presses the government for more effective policies, a genuine Left would certainly not pass up the opportunity to point out how capitalism is a poor performer when it comes to avoiding and fixing environmental problems. There are various “market failures.” Environmental damage is an external cost so there is no market incentive to do anything about it. Even where a price is placed on emissions or other environmental damage, there is still the public good or free-rider problem that limits spending on developing cleaner technologies. These new technologies may also not be welcomed by incumbent firms if they devalue their existing plant. Capitalism also has “government failure” where special interests undermine effective action. This would explain why governments have concentrated so much on funding renewable energy while starving research and development, and why they have shackled the nuclear power industry.

Innovations such as those discussed above that aim to reduce our impact on the natural environment, while we still grow the economy, have come to be called “decoupling.”[15] This means our production has a decreasing impact even when it involves increasing amounts of energy and materials. We leave more land and water for nature, and stop using the atmosphere as a waste dump. This decoupling so far has been quite limited and localized. It has to become global and be on a scale large enough to reduce impacts to acceptable levels. “Decouple rather than degrowth” ought to be our catch-cry.

Degrowthers are not impressed

Degrowthers are not impressed by the decoupling solution. They have three arguments that I can make out. Firstly, decoupling from some environmental impacts just means greater “coupling” with other impacts. Secondly, decoupling is bound to be temporary as long as products are made of materials or consume them in their production. Thirdly, any decoupling will be too slow or too late given the urgency of achieving zero emissions and protecting the biosphere. Let us look at these three arguments in turn.

Decoupling just means new kinds of coupling

Giorgos Kallis reminds us that past decoupling was indeed just a new and greater form of coupling, and contends that this would also be the case with any present or future decoupling. Techno-fixes just cause new problems down the road:

Previous “substitutions” (from forest trees to fossil fuels, or the mythical one from whales to kerosene that the eco-modernizers love the most) did not reduce environmental damage; they scaled it up. Forests spared, climate screwed. Georgescu-Roegen’s key insight was not that there are entropic limits to growth (even if there are, they are not that relevant for our time frame). It was that increasing rates of energy use unavoidably speed up disorder, aka “entropy”. Oil, which seemed comparatively “clean” when first found, disordered the climate. The disorder nuclear radioactivity will bring is not hard to guess.[16]

The reference to “entropy” is just mumbo jumbo and I will leave it at that. On nuclear power, he has a number of objections. He says firstly that the number of accidents can only increase with an exponential growth in reactors. If there is a one in a million chance of a reactor having a serious accident and you have one million reactors, you can expect to have an accident. But we need to keep in mind a few things: future reactors will be safer; the effect of past nuclear accidents has been greatly exaggerated by the anti-nuclear lobby; and a world with a very large number of nuclear reactors will be more economically advanced than we are, and far better able to deal with any eventuality.

Kallis says that supporters of nuclear power assume that from here to eternity we will have the capacity to deal with nuclear reactors. Elsewhere, he explicitly refers to the prospect of a civilization downturn.[17] All I will say is that I have no interest in making provisions for a human race that has regressed to some backward state. Kallis also raises the specter of earthquakes. However, according to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, existing plants are already earthquake proof, and you can of course avoid placing them on fault lines.[18]

This radiophobia is shared by Fred Magdoff and Chris Williams, who chime in with the usual claims about the many safety problems associated with the operation of nuclear plants and the safe disposal of nuclear waste that can last for thousands of years.[19] Jason Hickel takes a different tack. He sees nuclear power as part of the mix but warns that it would be a dangerous gamble to rely too heavily on them, because if we do not manage to stabilize the climate, “nuclear sites will be vulnerable to severe storms, rising seas and other disasters that could turn them into radiation bombs.”[20] Given that nuclear power plants are basically concrete and steel bunkers I am sure they could be designed to withstand the worst kind of weather. They would certainly fare better than solar or wind farms.

Now, let us delve further and see if there are any problems with other technologies being researched or adopted with the aim of reducing our impact on the atmosphere, oceans, land, waterways, and biosphere.

What about mineral extraction?[21] It is certainly true that renewable power generation requires more materials in its construction than fossil-fuel power, and batteries are materials intensive. However, there is not the large fuel extraction of coal and gas power, and we also have the option of adopting nuclear and enhanced geothermal power that require the least extraction.

Agriculture will have to become more capital-, and hence material-, intensive if it is to reduce emissions, and the use of land and water. This will involve more irrigation equipment, IT, robotics, and factory processes. However, there is nothing to suggest that the required materials would contribute to the extraction industry being dirtier than it already is. Furthermore, agriculture will still be a small share of overall material consumption. With extraction, the main focus should be ensuring that it becomes progressively cleaner and more efficient in its use of water.

What about the use of land?[22] Wind and solar are quite land-intensive, and their location would need to be chosen to avoid serious environmental impacts. The greater need for transmission lines is a similar problem. At the same time, solar power could to some extent be combined with other uses. It can be attached to buildings and other structures or combined with food production, given that fruit and vegetables require different parts of the solar spectrum, and prefer shade for some of the day. Also, offshore wind and solar avoid the land problem altogether. Nuclear and geothermal power take up very little land area. As for the distribution of hydrogen, I cannot imagine it would be worse in land use than fossil-fuel distribution. When looking at land use we of course should keep in mind the prospects for land-saving technologies in agriculture and human settlement. The eventual stabilization of the population later this century will also constrain the demand for land.

The techno-fixes we have been discussing do not seem to entail major, new water-use problems. Besides, any additional use would tend to be dwarfed by the adoption of economizing technologies in agriculture and other sectors.

Replacing combustion heating with geothermal heat pumps does not appear to add any new hazards. And there will be limited growth in heating because the population is not expected to grow in the cooler climates.

Decoupling is only temporary

A second argument against decoupling is that it can only be temporary if products or inputs are made of anything material. While you can reduce the amount of materials in a physical product you cannot eliminate them entirely. So, even if we manage to reduce our impact on land, air, freshwater, and oceans from our present output of materials to acceptable levels, their continual growth will ensure that eventually they will breach those levels.

As Hickel points out, you can reduce the amount of wood in a wooden table but you cannot reduce it to zero:

There are physical limits to material efficiency, and once we start to reach them then the scale effect of growth drives material use back up in the long run. For instance you might be able to produce a wooden table more efficiently, but you can’t produce a table out of nothing. In the end you’ll need a minimum amount of wood, and once you reach that limit, then any growth in table production is going to come along with a corresponding growth in wood use.[23]

And Kallis reminds us that “Infinite growth powered by wind energy, for example, would require infinite land devoted to wind farms, which is physically and logically impossible.”[24] Increased material efficiency both in production and in the use of the final product can only take you so far. A wood table will always require some timber, and timber will always require some amount of land and water at the expense of nature. Wind power will always require some land and component materials no matter how efficient we make wind-power generation or our use of electricity.

Even substitutions are no help in the long term. You could make tables out of aluminum or plastic instead of wood. But this would present similar problems. More material extraction, transporting, and processing is bound eventually to take up more land and water, both directly and indirectly. What was within acceptable bounds would at some point cease to be. Furthermore, we need to take into account that increasing amounts of physical objects take up space, and this enlarges human settlement and reduces the areas left to nature. With the pollution that accompanies many production and consumption activities we have a similar problem. Only if we eliminate all pollution can we permanently decouple from it.

So, how should we respond to all this? First off, one very important form of decoupling — that from greenhouse-gas emissions — has the prospect of being permanent. But beyond that they are quite correct because they are simply expressing the truism that you cannot infinitely increase production of stuff on a finite planet. But how relevant is this?

Leaving aside greenhouse emissions, our production of agricultural products is arguably the source of the greatest impact on the environment. It is responsible for 70% of human water withdrawals and occupies almost half of habitable land. While this sector’s use of these resources are still to peak, they will come down dramatically later this century as a result of increased productivity, particularly through removing animals from most meat production, and a slowdown in the growth of food production as the population stabilizes or possibly declines later this century. The end of population growth will also be accompanied by greater land efficiency in areas of human settlement as we build more high-rise housing and perhaps burrow more into the ground. At the same time urbanites will be able to leave more water for nature as they become increasingly efficient in its use.

Meeting increasing amounts of energy with onshore wind and solar will indeed place an increasing demand on land. However, the impact can be mitigated by choosing less sensitive locations, and, as already mentioned, in the case of solar by placing them on existing structures or coexisting with some types of crops. Then there are low land-use alternatives such as offshore wind and solar as well as nuclear and geothermal.

Industrialization and construction of infrastructure and housing in the developing countries will cause their materials consumption to increase dramatically in the next half century. However, a large part of this will be construction materials that are not a major cause of environmental impact. Furthermore, this surge will eventually slow down as this basic development task is completed.

Even just with the technologies we can expect to be deploying this century, decoupling has quite a long time horizon. This can be extended indefinitely when we take into account the fact that the science and technology of future centuries will give our descendants vastly greater ability to both harness and care for the natural environment. These would no doubt seem to us like magic if someone were to come back and tell us about them, much like someone now traveling back to 1900 with a dozen copies of Wired magazine.

Decoupling too slow

Degrowthers say that decoupling on its own would be too slow to avert catastrophe. Greenhouse emissions must come down as quickly as possible, and the sixth mass extinction is just around the corner. They make the obvious point that converting growing levels of production capacity to zero emissions will take longer, and emit more gasses and cause more environmental damage than if we abandon a lot of that capacity and produce less.[25]

There is also no doubt that the general inadequacy of our greenhouse-emission efforts has built in considerable delays. Even if we put on the accelerator, there will be a long lead time as technologies reach sufficient maturity, supply-chain capacity is created, and facilities are constructed. However, no matter how pessimistic you are, the fact still remains that ecosocialist degrowth is just non-operational silliness and that doing what we can to mitigate and prepare for problems under the present system is the only policy. That means getting behind decoupling and also putting special stress on the kinds of development that will help people, particularly the most vulnerable, to deal with the impact of climate change and other environmental impacts.

The revolution needs growth

Not only is continued economic growth possible, it is also highly desirable given that economic development has scarcely started in much of the world. On top of that, it is a basic tenet of Marxism that the creation of a modern industrial base by capitalism is the primary prerequisite for revolution, and is the driver of the other two prerequisites. These are the transformation of most people into employees of capital, who have everything to gain from revolution, and the dismantling of much of the old pre-capitalist cultural conditions that Marx referred to as the “muck of the ages.”[26]

Marx was quite clear on this: “The development of the productive forces of social labour is capital’s historic mission and justification. For that very reason, it unwittingly creates the material conditions for a higher form of production.”[27] Reaching a high level of development creates the prospect of sharing material prosperity, humanizing work and having ample free time. We have a long history showing how we are not prepared to share the opposite — poverty and toil. These two blights have been the very basis of class society. So, we need to achieve a level of material conditions where the benefits of living in a convivial classless society considerably outweigh the benefits of being a “winner” under dog-eat-dog capitalism.

Marx makes the point in The German Ideology: “this development of productive forces . . . is an absolutely necessary practical premise, because without it privation, want is merely made general, and with want the struggle for necessities would begin again, and all the old filthy business would necessarily be restored.”[28]

In Socialism: Utopian and Scientific (1880), Engels makes the additional point that only with capitalist development of the productive forces is it possible for a complex society to do without a privileged stratum:

The separation of society into an exploiting and an exploited class, a ruling and an oppressed class, was the necessary consequences of the deficient and restricted development of production in former times. So long as the total social labor only yields a produce which but slightly exceeds that barely necessary for the existence of all; so long, therefore, as labor engages all or almost all the time of the great majority of the members of society — so long, of necessity, this society is divided into classes. Side by side with the great majority, exclusively bond slaves to labor, arises a class freed from directly productive labor, which looks after the general affairs of society: the direction of labor, State business, law, science, art, etc. It is, therefore, the law of division of labor that lies at the basis of the division into classes.[29]

The newly discovered green Marx

There have been considerable efforts by “eco-Marxists” to rebut the view that Marx was a “productivist” and to reassign him to the green pantheon. They point to his notes and writings on such matters as soil degradation and deforestation that display a concern about unsustainable relations with nature. Be that as it may, his support for growth is certainly attested to by a number of well-known remarks.

In Part I of his “Critique of the Gotha Program” (1875), Marx refers to the need to set aside a portion of the social product for the expansion of production.[30] A few paragraphs down where he discusses the condition required for the higher stage of communism in which everyone contributes according to their ability and receives according to their needs, he includes the requirement that “all the springs of co-operative wealth flow more abundantly.”[31] I suspect he would consider the present level of development in the richer countries sufficient to pass this test but not the rest of the world where over 80% of people live.

Then we have Engels in Anti-Dühring (1877) referring to how the advent of socialism would bring about the “constantly accelerated development of the productive forces and . . . a practically unlimited increase of production itself.”[32] The drafts of the book were all discussed with Marx so it is not just Engels being “productivist.”

John Bellamy Foster contends that Marx and Engels would change their tune under current conditions: “However, the context in which they were writing was not today’s ‘full-world economy,’ but rather a still early stage of industrialization. In the period of industrial development, extending from the beginning of the eighteenth century until the first Earth Day in 1970, world industrial productive potential increased in size around 1,730 times, which from a nineteenth-century perspective, would have seemed ‘a practically unlimited increase.’”[33]

But much of the world is still in an early stage of industrialization, and the growth number he cites is silly. At the beginning of the 18th century, industrial development would have been microscopic. So the level in 1970 is inevitably going to be an astronomical increase. However, if we just take the growth over the 20th century in GDP, the increase in size according to the IMF is a less spectacular 19 times, and GDP per capita five times.[34]

Kohei Saito goes further than most, and claims that Marx in his later years became a deep green, seeking a return to village life, and repudiated historical materialism and the view that capitalism was preparing the grounds for a future classless society.[35] He finds this new Marx in his correspondence with Russian populist Vera Zasulich where the latter speculates about the revolution in Russia being based on traditional communal ownership. However, it is easy to see that Saito’s interpretation is nonsense.

In the letter Marx says that his studies had convinced him that the commune would be “the fulcrum for social regeneration in Russia” as long as it does not succumb to harmful influences and is then “assured the normal conditions for spontaneous development.”[36] Furthermore, the 1882 preface to the Communist Manifesto (1848) makes clear that Marx is not thinking of abandoning modern industry and returning to the Middle Ages: “If the Russian Revolution becomes the signal for a proletarian revolution in the West, so that both complement each other, the present Russian common ownership of land may serve as the starting point for a communist development.”[37] Marx makes the point even clearer in the first draft of the letter to Zasulich where he wrote: “Precisely because it is contemporaneous with capitalist production, the rural commune may appropriate all its positive achievements without undergoing its [terrible] frightful vicissitudes.”[38]


Ecosocialists contend that people in the richer capitalist countries simply do not need so much stuff and that they are victims of “consumerism” encouraged by the manipulation of advertising. According to Magdoff and Williams, advertising and marketing “convert people to consumption as a way of life, a path to personal happiness, a means of overcoming feelings of emptiness, loneliness, and dissatisfaction that are generated by a system that stresses individualism, competition, and consumerism.”[39] At the same time they “make people feel inadequate in their bodies and lifestyles.”

So, ecosocialists consider the moderate level of affluence achieved by the average person in these countries as mainly unnecessary and indeed damaging. You could certainly say that about some of this consumption. It is affected by our behavioral or psychological problems generated by capitalism. Retail therapy fills an emotional hole and caters to feelings of inadequacy. Many people are fashion victims. Bad habits and perversities lead to consumption that subtracts from our wellbeing, and a lot of health care is only repairing the damage done by unhealthy consumption. Then there are positional goods purchased for display rather than utility which are part and parcel of class society.

But having said this, there is still a great deal of production that is clearly undersupplied. We need a better and larger housing stock with all the modern conveniences, rapid and convenient transportation, education infrastructure, a diverse food supply for a healthy lifestyle, every hospital having 5-star accommodation, and a healthcare system that takes life expectancy up to 100 and beyond. Then there are much better disaster-response arrangements and an asteroid-defense system.

On top of that there should be more consumption resulting from healthy habits and behavior. For example, we need more gyms, sports fields, sports clothing, artificial ski slopes, skateboard rinks, garden supplies, and equipment for science hobbyists.

Degrowthers claim that needs are limited and that beyond a certain income we are no happier. It is true that people are sometimes “happier” in poorer societies. They live under more traditional conditions where everything is settled and certain, and they are more embedded in the community. They become unhappier with more stuff because they now live under the alienating conditions of capitalism, not because they have more stuff. And the solution is not to go back to traditional poverty but to go forwards to an advanced post-capitalist society.

It is also true that, at any point in time, as income increases, its marginal utility declines. An extra dollar meets a less pressing need than the previous dollar. However, over time new and better products become available to better meet our needs or create new ones. Those extra dollars then start to have more utility.

Planned obsolescence can be a source of unnecessary consumption. Manufacturers colluding to limit the lifespan of lightbulbs is a classic historical example.[40] The fashion industry introduces new styles every year. The latest car model is a positional good that you need to replace regularly. However, this problem can be exaggerated. Most people are not watching for the latest fashions, and cars go to the second-hand market, not the scrap heap. There is also a conflation with genuine obsolescence. You do not need electronic goods to last forever if they are rapidly improving.

It is also true that we could share a lot of things rather than owning them individually, and without too much inconvenience.[41] Phone apps that allow you to make bookings are encouraging more of this. Car share is an example. You would also expect more sharing in a future society. Under capitalist conditions people’s behavior works against it. You cannot always rely on other people to look after what is being shared. There is the problem of dealing with the “challenging” people that capitalism generates. And people under this system are far more withdrawn than they should be because of the psychological battering they receive. They would rather not deal with others.

There are of course considerable limits on the benefits of sharing. The things being shared will receive more wear. A washing machine that is constantly in use will have to be more durable and costly or replaced more often than one only used a few times a week. Also, it is difficult to share something that everyone wants to use at the same time.

What about the rich? Their high consumption is both for display, and for multiple extra layers of comfort and convenience. It is indeed wasteful. However, it is matched by the want of the poorest section of society. We need a transfer of consumption here, not an overall reduction. |P

[1] John Bellamy Foster, “There is still time for an ecological revolution to prevent Hothouse Earth,” Climate and Capitalism (August 25, 2018), available online at <>.

[2] Erle C. Ellis, “To Conserve Nature in the Anthropocene, Half Earth Is Not Nearly Enough,” One Earth 1, no. 2 (October 25, 2019): 163–67, available online at <>.

[3] International Energy Agency, World Energy Investment 2023 (2023), available online at <>.

[4] See J. Hansen, et al., “Investigating Benefits and Challenges of Converting Retiring Coal Plants into Nuclear Plants: Nuclear Fuel Cycle and Supply Chain” (September 13, 2022), prepared for the U.S. Department of Energy, available online at <>.

[5] See June Kim, “Enhanced geothermal systems: 10 Breakthrough Technologies 2024,” MIT Technology Review, June 8, 2024, available online at <>, and Loz Blain, “Fusion tech is set to unlock near-limitless ultra-deep geothermal energy,” New Atlas, February 25, 2022, available online at <>.

[6] See the Office of Communications and Publishing of the United States Geological Survey, “The Potential for Geological Hydrogen for Next-Generation Energy” (April 13, 2023), available online at <>.

[7] See Leonardo Vidas and Rui Castro, “Recent Developments on Hydrogen Production Technologies: State-of-the-Art Review with a Focus on Green-Electrolysis,” Applied Sciences 11, no 23 (December 2021), available online at <>.

[8] See “Hydrogen Trucks Market: Hydrogen Trucks Market By Product, Application, Range & Region | Forecast 2023 to 2033,” Future Market Insights (December 2022), available online at <>, and Peter Hill, “Big tractor engine makers bet on hydrogen as future fuel,” Farmers Weekly, February 3, 2024, available online at <>.

[9] Airbus, “ZEROe: Towards the world’s first hydrogen-powered commercial aircraft,” available online at <>.

[10] See “Green Cement: Definition, Types, Advantages, and Applications,” The Constructor, available online at <>.

[11] See “Global Steel Plant Tracker,” Global Energy Monitor, available online at <>.

[12] See the Aluminum Association, “Anode Technology a Game-Changer for Aluminum,” available online at <>.

[13] See Ula Chrobak, “The world’s forgotten greenhouse gas,” BBC, June 3, 2021, available online at <>.

[14] See Pivot Bio, “Building Better Nitrogen: Harnessing the Power of Nature,” available online at <>.

[15] See Linus Blomqvist, Ted Nordhaus, and Michael Shellenberger, Nature Unbound: Decoupling for Conservation (Oakland: Breakthrough Institute, 2015), available online at <>.

[16] Giorgos Kallis, In Defense of Degrowth: Opinions and Minifestos, ed. Aaron Vansintjan (Brussels: Uneven Earth Press, 2018), 60, available online at <>.

[17] Giorgos Kallis, “An Ecomodernist Mishmash,” Degrowth (May 7, 2015), available online at <>.

[18] U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, “Backgrounder on Seismic Reviews at U.S. Nuclear Power Plants” (June 2018), available online at <>.

[19] Fred Magdoff and Chris Williams, Creating an Ecological Society: Toward a Revolutionary Transformation (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2017), 91.

[20] Jason Hickel, Less is More: How Degrowth Will Save the World (London: Penguin Random House, 2020).

[21] See World Nuclear Association, “Mineral Requirements for Electricity Generation” (updated May 7, 2024), available online at <>.

[22] See World Nuclear Association, “Nuclear Energy and Sustainable Development” (updated April 16, 2024), available online at <>.

[23] Jason Hickel, “Better Technology Isn’t The Solution To Ecological Collapse,” Fast Company, March 26, 2018, available online at <>.

[24] Giorgos Kallis, Degrowth (Newcastle upon Tyne: Agenda Publishing, 2018), 104.

[25] See Hickel, Less is More, and Jason Hickel and Giorgos Kallis, “Is Green Growth Possible?” New Political Economy 25, no. 4 (April 17, 2019): 469–86, available online at <>.

[26] Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, “Proletarians and Communism,” in The German Ideology (1845–46), in Marx & Engels Collected Works, vol. 5 (London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1975), 53, available online at <>.

[27] Karl Marx, Capital, vol. 3 (London: Penguin, 1981), 368.

[28] Marx and Engels, “Idealism and Materialism,” in The German Ideology, in Marx & Engels Collected Works, vol. 5, 49.

[29] Friedrich Engels, “Historical Materialism,” in Socialism: Utopian and Scientific (1880), available online at <>.

[30] Karl Marx, Part I, in“Critique of the Gotha Programme” (1875), available online at <>.

[31] Ibid.

[32] Friedrich Engels, “Theoretical,” in Anti-Dühring: Herr Eugen Dühring’s Revolution in Science (1877), available online at


[33] John Bellamy Foster, “Planned Degrowth: Ecosocialism and Sustainable Human Development,” Monthly Review 75, no. 3 (July–August 2023), available online at <>.

[34] International Monetary Fund, “The World Economy in the Twentieth Century: Striking developments and policy lessons,” in The World Economic Outlook May 2000 (2000), available online at


[35] See Kohei Saito, Marx in the Anthropocene: Towards the Idea of Degrowth Communism, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2022).

[36] Karl Marx to Vera Zasulich (March 8, 1881), available online at


[37] Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, “Preface to the 1882 Russian Edition,” in The Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848), available online at <>.

[38] Karl Marx, “The ‘First’ Draft” of letter to Zasulich (March 1881), available online at <>.

[39] Magdoff and Williams, Creating an Ecological Society, 55.

[40] See Adam Hadhazy, “Here’s the truth about the ‘planned obsolescence’ of tech,” BBC, June 12, 2016, available online at <>.

[41] See Hickel, Less is More, 67.