The Paradox of Green Commodities
MetadataShow full item record
In this dissertation, I establish a theoretical and empirical critique of modern forms of environmentally sustainable technology. Theoretically, I critique the application of environmentally sustainable technologies in modern capitalist economies using the treadmill of production theory and metabolic rift theory. I also expand on these theories by developing an analytical concept – the displacement paradox. The displacement paradox refers to a counterintuitive phenomenon, where green technologies expand rather displace traditional production processes. Empirically, I assess the assumptions of the displacement paradox by analyzing the relationship between organic farming and agrochemical application, organic farming and greenhouse gas emissions, organic farming and water pollution, and alternatively fueled vehicles and total fuel consumption per vehicle. In each of these cases, I find that green technology (in the form of organic farming and alternatively fueled vehicles) is not displacing traditional production processes, and instead expanding alongside them. I argue that these findings are a result of the broader socioeconomic structure that green technology is produced under. Specifically, I contend that because current socioeconomic systems are established around traditional production processes, to substantially reduce environmental degradation, green technologies must operate as a social and technological counterforce to traditional production processes. Currently, the green technologies explored in this dissertation act as a technological alternatives to traditional production processes, making them commodities that sustain the current structure of social relations, as opposed to social and technological counterforces to environmentally hazardous forms of production. I conclude that in order for green technologies to successfully reduce environmental degradation, they must be established under social conditions that support their use over traditional production processes.