Fossil Capital: The Rise of Steam Power and the Roots of Global Warming

Monday, May 9, 2016 at 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm

Lang Cafe, Eugene Lang College 65 West 11th Street New York, NY 10011

Join Creative Publishing and Critical Journalism at the New School for Social Research and Verso Books to celebrate Professor Andreas Malm’s groundbreaking new publication, Fossil Capital: The Rise of Steam Power and the Roots of Global Warming, which sheds light on the entwinement of capitalism and global warming. Malm will be joined in conversation with Anthony Galluzzo of Jacobin magazine to discuss capitalism’s long promotion of fossil fuels with the rise of steam power.

Fossil Capital: The Rise of Steam Power and the Roots of Global Warming is Andreas Malm’s comprehensive and masterfully written history that claims it all began in Britain with the rise of steam power. But why did manufacturers turn from traditional sources of power, notably water mills, to an engine fired by coal? Contrary to established views, steam offered neither cheaper nor more abundant energy—but rather superior control of subordinate labour. Animated by fossil fuels, capital could concentrate production at the most profitable sites and during the most convenient hours, as it continues to do today. Sweeping from nineteenth-century Manchester to the emissions explosion in China, from the original triumph of coal to the stalled shift to renewables, this study hones in on the burning heart of capital and demonstrates, in unprecedented depth, that turning down the heat will mean a radical overthrow of the current economic order.

About the author:

Andreas Malm is a professor of human ecology at Lund University, Sweden. His works have appeared in numerous journals such as Environmental History, Historical Materialism, Antipodeand Organization & Environment. He is the author, with Shora Esmailian, of Iran on the Brink: Rising Workers and Threats of War, and of a half a dozen books in Swedish on political economy, the Middle East and climate change. He is currently working on the sequel, provisionally titled Fossil Empire, on how Britain deployed steamboats, railroads and their shared foundations – mines and depots of coal – to creat, subordinate and penetrate the peripheries of the 19th century world economy. His writings have appeared in Jacobin.