It all started with the invention of the steam engine. With revolutionary speed man made himself the earth subject. One invention chased the next, one technology topped the other. For more comfort. More consumption. More prosperity. And the earth? How long will it last? An uncompromising look at the past 200 years of industrial capitalism.
The rise of the sea level and the melting of the polar caps are symptomatic of a process that seems unstoppable. Governments and multinationals are increasingly being identified as responsible: environmental organisations are submitting petitions and famous personalities are calling for action. Researchers publish alarming figures: Since the beginning of the industrial age, over 1,400 billion tons of carbon dioxide have been pumped into the atmosphere. Biological diversity has declined rapidly, and predictions speak of 250 million to one billion climate refugees - projected to 2050. By 2100, almost 40 percent of the earth's surface will have conditions that no living organism on the blue planet has ever faced. If the life span of the Earth were to be broken down to 24 hours, Homo habilis would develop in the very last minute; the Holocene - the last 10,000 years - would correspond to the last quarter of a second and the industrial age to the last two thousandths of a second. In this short time man has developed such an immense power that he has been able to take power over the Earth system. "The Earth Destroyers" was created in collaboration with the scientific historians Christophe Bonneuil and Jean-Baptiste Fressoz. The authors take an uncompromising look at the last 200 years of industrial capitalism: they tell of the mining of fossil fuels, the invention of the automobile, nuclear power and mass consumption; of imperialism, of wars, of urban growth, of industrial agriculture and of globalization. The mission also wants to show who is responsible for all this. Because the blame for the environmental crisis lies not with humanity itself - historically it affects only a small minority, the first North Americans and Europeans. The richest 20 percent of the world's citizens are the worst CO2 sinners, and a fifth of the world's population today cultivates the wasteful way of life that developed in the bourgeoisie of industrial countries and colonial powers as early as the early 19th century.