Communications and the capitalocene: Disputed ecologies, contested economies, competing futures

Graham Murdock, Benedetta Brevini


There is now incontrovertible evidence that the accelerating rise in the earth’s temperatures and its associated environmental impacts, which begins with the emergence of an industrial capitalist order reliant on fossil fuels, has initiated a new phase of human and geological history. This phrase we call the Capitalocene, rather than the more common term Anthropocene. Communication systems are playing a central role in the Capitalocene. They are central and contested spaces for information and debate, and are the primary arenas promoting destructive hyper-consumption. Communication systems also constituted by material infrastructure and devices that deplete scarce materials and energy resources and generate pollution and waste. This article details how the proliferation of digital media under conditions established by the globalisation of neo-liberalism has exacerbated the negative environmental impacts of communications. It also examines the political and public relations offensive now being waged by the proponents of corporate business as usual, and explores the central issues facing proposals for radical change in the organisation of contemporary communications.

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