Sparking a Worldwide Energy Revolution

[For more reviews from the Earth First Journal, click here]

By Sasha

A masterwork of social ecology, AK Press’s recent release, Sparking a Worldwide Energy Revolution, edited by Kolya Abramsky, is both a warning flare and a signal to opportunity. Through the book’s numerous, impressive articles written by scientists, activists and communities in resistance, we see the outline of hope emerging from behind the smoke and mirrors of capitalist solutions to climate change. Though its daunting 655 pages include some technical writing and eye-twisting diagrams, Sparking a Worldwide Energy Revolution engages the reader at every turn, opening up the space of emancipatory, community-based struggles for energy autonomy and social liberation.

In an age when even capitalists are asking, “Wouldn’t it be nice if we could have a system that worked better than capitalism, and didn’t pollute quite so much?”, where better to turn than to books like Sparking a Worldwide Energy Revolution, which move from start to finish along a rigorously anti-capitalist line. The theoretical basis for a horizontal movement relies on the Marxian analysis of the Midnight Notes Collective, George Caffentzis and others, while articles from such labor organizations as the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers’ Unions, the striking Vestas wind farm workers, and the China Labor Bulletin provide concrete examples of people resisting authoritarian false solutions to climate change as well as forecasts of greater worker militancy in the energy sector.

Some ecologists may take a half-glance at the activists and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) featured in this volume, and decide that it lacks a certain biocentricity necessary to begin discussing the plight of environmental destruction. Ecology, although the focus of this work, is not always the starting point, but the connecting thread. Reports representing people from South Africa to China, Bolivia to Denmark, India to Canada, manifest differing cultural constructs and diverse knowledges about the interaction between humans and the Earth. If Sparking a Worldwide Energy Revolution lacks the central idioms or shibboleths of biodiversity and Deep Ecology, it is because it pulls together many distinct discourses, binding them into a language of global revolution.

Part of what makes this book attractive is this humble, global justice-style manner of expanding on ecologically-based workers’ movements without over-determining them with a radical focus on environmentalism. We find Sergio Oceransky’s brilliant article dismantling the European carbon trading framework alongside Esperanza Martinez’s article on the Ecuadorian Yasuni compensation model, which seeks to find an equilibrium between oil extraction and ecological renewal. Other high points include an article on South Africa’s free electricity movement by Patrick Bond and Trevor Ngwane, a report by Dale Wen on the problems, parallels and progresses presented by China’s development, and a prophetic analysis of Japan’s nuclear industry by Gavan McCormack.

Readers of the Earth First! Journal will be familiar with most of the subjects discussed, and will find them expanded on at length for the first time together in an all-inclusive anthology. Through the diversity of ideas it represents, Sparking a Worldwide Energy Revolution lives up to its potential, making it one of the most engrossing, focused and inspirational book released on the subject of climate change resistance in a long time. Don’t miss out on the action.

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