At first sight, the coronavirus pandemic is just another random natural disaster. On a closer look, however, the pandemic unfolds in confrontation with pre-existing social institutions. Andreas Malm’s analysis goes even further. In his recent book Corona, Climate, Chronic Emergency: War Communism in the Twenty-First Century (forthcoming with Verso books) he argues that the origin and proliferation of this plague are tightly intertwined with global capitalist production that destroys natural habitats, consumes land and wildlife, trades commodities around the globe, and moves people from one side of the planet to the other at a speed unprecedented in history. Malm’s analysis places capitalism at the heart of the natural disaster, thereby implying a remedy that not only treats symptoms, but eradicates the root causes of the evil.
Andreas Malm is Associate Senior Lecturer in Human Ecology at Lund University and currently Fellow at the Humanities and Social Change Center Berlin. His research focuses on the climate crisis and political strategies to deal with it. He worked especially on the politics of fossil fuels and on the relation of society and nature. Malm is the author of Fossil Capital: The Rise of Steam Power and the Roots of Global Warming (Verso, 2016) and The Progress of This Storm: Nature and Society in a Warming World (Verso, 2018).