||This paper aims at exploring the interrelations between the recent financial breakdown and the ongoing environmental crisis. Although there is a widespread agreement on the existence of a strong relationship between the two phenomena, the specific modality of such a relationship significantly varies according to different interpretations.
A first possible approach to this issue refers to the re-modulation of governments' interest in the question concerning the environment after the explosion of the financial crisis in the second half of 2008. Almost invariably, the urgency to face the economic crisis negatively affected the need to deal with ecological challenges such as climate change, loss of biodiversity and resource depletion. A good example is provided by French president Nicolas Sarkozy who, in 2007, launched an ambitious program of environmental reforms, called Grenelle de l’environnement, and, in 2009, resolutely forced the parliament to abandon the ecological standards suggested by that same program.
As we can see, a first interpretation of the relationship between the financial meltdown and the ecological crisis focuses on the indirect impact that the emergence of the former produces on the management of the latter.
Whereas before the crisis environmental policies were presented as necessary conditions to avoid ecological costs and to foster a new mode of wealth production, after the crisis they remained a priority just insofar as they could actively sustain a quick economic recovery. Which is to say: quite seldom.
Although this focus on the indirect impact is far from being false or unjustified, I argue that there is a more profound affinity between contemporary financial and ecological crises. Such an affinity is direct, intrinsic, and has to do with the very core of capitalist valorization in the current historical phase. To explore this link I will attempt to read some passages from Marx and Foucault in relation with the issue of nature as developed in the field of political economy. Before undertaking such a task, however, I need to clarify which kind of interpretation I follow in assessing the economic crisis.