Two news bits from the past week or so:

(1) The UN has announced that the proportion of people who are chronically undernourished in the world has fallen by nearly half — from 23.3% to 12.9% — over the last 25 years. Only a handful of countries — Haiti, North Korea, Zambia, Namibia, and the Central African Republic — remain in the high hunger category, which means that over 35% of their populations are chronically hungry.

(2) The Canadian government-appointed Truth and Reconciliation Commission, chaired by Justice Murray Sinclair (who is Ojibway), has concluded its six-year report by naming Canada’s many decades-long “residential school” system for indigenous youth a form of “cultural genocide.”

The latter may not sound like good news, but for those who already knew that it was that, official recognition is a significant victory.

Make of those what you will.

I’ve reported previously on how critics see the “Anthropocene” concept as overgeneralizing from the causal nuances of actual responsibility for climate (and global system) change. In an excellent summary of recent writing on the topic, ecosocialist climate observer Ian Angus answers the question “Does Anthropocene science blame all humanity?” with a definitive “no.”

That doesn’t mean that the term doesn’t lend itself to a blanket all-humanity-is-to-blame position. It just shows that its main proponents do not, in fact, hold such a position.

The debate continues.

The semester is over, the grades are submitted, the sun is shining after a beautiful heavy rain, and the trees on the streets of Burlington are in full bloom — cherry blossoms and flowering dogwoods, magnolias and crabapples (at least those are my guesses).

And this song lilts the afternoon as I watch the traffic outside my office window.

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There is a lot being said about the unexpected rout of the long-ruling Progressive Conservative government in the oil-rich Canadian province of Alberta by the socialist New Democrats. Some of it (on the left) is euphoric and over the top — which is understandable given the seemingly helpless state of the left across much of North America. But the implications of this shakeup in the northern heart of the oil industry are worth pondering.

Among the NDP’s campaign promises were raising the corporate tax rate from 10% to 12%, carrying out an oil-royalty review, increasing income taxes on the top 10% of earners, raising the minimum wage to C$15 an hour, funneling any new energy-royalty revenue to a savings fund, banning corporate (and union) political party donations, and withdrawing provincial support from the controversial Northern Gateway pipeline project.

Here are some thoughts on what this political shake-up means for the environment and the left.

The video of my talk on “Speculative Ecologies of (Post)Cinema: Cinema In and Beyond the Capitalocene,” is now up on Vimeo and at Shane Denson’s web site. It is from the SCMS panel “Post-Cinema and/as Speculative Media Theory,” featuring Steven Shaviro, Patricia Pisters, and Mark Hansen.

I discuss the archive, the cloud, the common, the slippery morphing image (of digital cinema), the Anthropocene and Capitalocene, and the unrepresentability of ecological collapse…

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Some 2500 years ago, a man named Siddhartha Gotama articulated what have come to be known as the “4 Noble Truths”: the truth of dukkha, or fundamental suffering (that there is a basic unsatisfactoriness to life), the truth of its causes (that it arises from an ignorance and misperception of the nature of things, which are conditionally-arising-and-passing — process-relational, rather than stable and possessible), the truth of its cessation (that liberation from ignorance is possible), and the way of its cessation (the so-called Noble Eightfold Path).

In a similar spirit, I’m trying to capture my talk for this weekend’s iCreate Cape Breton workshop, in Sydney, Nova Scotia, in four pithy propositions. The talk is entitled “From Ecological Sacrifice Zones to a Global Movement of Movements,” and one of those sacrifice zones — the infamous Sydney Tar Ponds, now a public park called Open Hearth Park (see photo below and the Fifth Grade anticipatory vision for it, above) — is nearby.

Here are the 4 propositions.

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Trembling yet?

The New York Times reported this week that

“The United States Geological Survey on Thursday released its first comprehensive assessment of the link between thousands of earthquakes and oil and gas operations, identifying and mapping 17 regions where quakes have occurred. […]

“By far the hardest-hit state, the report said, is Oklahoma, where earthquakes are hundreds of times more common than they were until a few years ago because of the disposal of wastewater left over from extracting fuels and from drilling wells by injecting water into the earth. But the report also mapped parts of eight other states, from Lake Erie to the Rocky Mountains, where that practice has caused quakes, and said most of them were at risk for more significant shaking in the future.

“’Oklahoma used to experience one or two earthquakes per year of magnitude 3 or greater, and now they’re experiencing one or two a day,’ Mark Petersen, the chief author of the report, said.”

More here. The report is available here; abstract here.

I just noticed, for the first time, how many of my publication titles begin with a verb in present continuous (or progressive) mode: words like claiming, stirring, stoking, opening, orchestrating, coloring, weathering, de/composing, re-examining, teaching… If I include subtitles, I get mapping, theorizing, stalking, collapsing, crafting. And when I add talk and conference paper titles, there’s screening, greening, searching, recentering, reimagining, re(b)ordering, constructing, deprogramming (really).

I’m not sure what that says about me… That I like continuous motion?

(I know: what’s with the parentheses and slashes? They’re almost all old… Notch them up to the pomo-ism of youth.)

The following is a significantly revised version of an article I posted to the Indications blog (and etc) five and a half years ago. I was curious to see how much of it still holds (a lot, I think), so I’ve revisited it and expanded its proposed sort-of-canon, in the second part of what follows, into a list of 33 or so classics and quasi-classics of the environmental studies — and, at least through substantial overlap, environmental humanities — field(s). Comments welcome.



Is there an Environmental Studies canon?

An e-mail asking about an “environmental studies canon,” sent to the ASLE listserv in 2009 by veteran environmental writer John Lane, might have flared up into a full-throttle debate over the joys and pitfalls of disciplinary canonization, but quickly fizzled out, probably due to its coinciding with the end of summer and beginning of the fall semester. John’s proposed list, shared below, reflected the “mainstream” American environmental studies consensus fairly well, and the responses pointed both to its problems and to the breadth of unquestioned support some of its texts would get from those who teach in the field.

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Those who missed the panel on “Post-Cinema and/as Speculative Media Theory” at last week’s Society for Cinema and Media Studies conference in Montreal will be able to view the videos of the talks at medieninitiative. Steven Shaviro, Patricia Pisters, Mark Hansen and I entertained a standing-room only crowd (see the audience spilling out into the hall here).

The first talk, which is up already, is Steven Shaviro’s brilliant exegesis of “The Rhythm-Image,” which Shaviro proposes as the title for the unwritten third volume of Gilles Deleuze’s Cinema series. (The list of such possible titles — “Cinema 3.0” for the non-committal — continues to grow, as Shaviro shows on a slide at around 4’45”.) The other talks will be added soon.

Meanwhile, here’s a poster for the upcoming Cultures of Energy research symposium at Rice. It promises to be a packed 48 hours of interesting talks. Mine will be called “Cinema, Ecology, and the Death of Carbon Capitalism.”

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