Green growth protects the industrial model, not nature

On September 14, 2020, in front of an audience of digital business leaders, Emmanuel Macron uttered this dense, mature and nuanced statement about opponents of 5G: I hear many voices rise to explain to us that we should address the complexity of contemporary problems by returning to the oil lamp ! I do not believe that the Amish model solves the challenges of modern ecology. »

In a stimulating book, Green growth versus nature – A critique of market ecologyeconomist Hélène Tordjman sets out to deconstruct this rude opposition »according to her, representative of our harmful relationship with nature since the advent of capitalism: a utilitarian, anthropocentric relationship that forcibly puts people above other life forms, when such an attitude is in reality only a matter of neoliberal ideology.

With great didactics despite the complexity of the subject, the lecturer at the Sorbonne Paris Nord University shows how under the guise of ecological and digital transformation »of progress » or even off green growth »the major international institutions, states and multinationals do not ultimately only to aggravate the ecological crisis that they and they, hand on heart, claim they will stop … after being the cause of it.

en “ financing of nature »

This essay is thus about the production of new organisms intended to produce petrol or plastic, f. big data », nanotechnology or even privatization of genetic information, transformed into resources intended for commercial exchange. In short, revenue generation and financing of nature »phenomena that have the consequence of inducing a certain form of dematerialisation and delegemisation: a forest is no longer perceived as a stand of trees with different species and characterized by subtle interactions, but as a stand of biomass and / or a carbon drain ».

A vision based on performance enhancement » and the pursuit of maximum profit »considered catastrophic by the author, who remembers it the myth of the neutrality of science and technology » is hardly relevant the interplay between power games, institutional structures and ideological impregnation results in favoring certain possibilities among the many possibilities that science explores ».

Contrary to what the Liberal Party has claimed for forty years, it is possible to imagine other lasting solutions. »

It also clearly shows how the search for efficiency, specific to financed capitalism, sometimes, turns towards himself » : in line with Jacques Ellul, a critical thinker of the technical society, she thus devotes fascinating pages without manicism to the self-growth and autonomy of modern technology: New techniques will again create new problems, which will require the invention of new means, and this in an endless process. »

Eat or drive, you have to choose »

To support his thesis, and not without humor, Hélène Tordjman explains, for example, that pt. eat or drive you have to choose » : The growing production of agrofuels to supply the tanks in our cars thus involves the conversion of land that was originally dedicated to food crops … which is also mostly utilized by the agro-industrial system, which in addition to being extremely polluting would produce much less food than small farms (the latter would be the source of 80 % of food in non-industrialized countries, according to a 2014 study conducted by the association Grain).

This is enough to pressure the researcher to outline some lines of thought and action for a paradigm shift, far from the alleged green spots » highlighted for example in green pact » European launched in 2019. Contrary to what has been claimed by the Liberal Party for forty years, it is possible to imagine other lasting solutions »she writes with reference to self-management or even a project of social security of food » carried by farmers and engineers.

Aware that these local initiatives of agroecology and farming will not be enough to change the system » – she also calls for getting out of capitalism, and humbly adds that she has no plan B to propose »Hélène Tordjman believes that a first step could be a far-reaching reform of the common agricultural policy (CAP). That said, it would be necessary to do this a little political courage ».


  • Green growth versus nature – A critique of market ecologyHélène Tordjman, published by La Découverte, 352 pp., 22 euros, 2021.

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