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Ukraine Protests

Just as environmental media have a penchant for the spectacle of “disaster porn,” so does political media reveal a strong attraction to what Politico’s Sarah Kendzior, in “The Day We Pretended to Care About Ukraine,” calls the “apocalypstickle.”

An ugly word for political observers’ weird fascination with apocalyptic imagery. Brueghel, Bosch . . . and heightened internet traffic.

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“COUNTRY UNDER RECONSTRUCTION. SORRY FOR THE INCONVENIENCE.” (from Ukrainian anarchist group Blackmaidan)

“It is as if, for a moment, the ‘projection’ of the outside world has stopped working; as if we have been confronted momentarily with the formless grey emptiness of the screen itself…”  (Slavoj Zizek, describing the scene outside a traveling couple’s window in Robert Heinlein’s “The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag”)


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Acceleration & the (long?) Now


Starting a discussion on these topics here.



Since I was traveling at the time, I failed to note an interesting story that got covered in the science press about the organizational support and funding behind the climate denial movement.

As reported in articles in Scientific American, The Guardian, and elsewhere, a recent peer-reviewed study published in Climatic Science by sociologist Robert Brulle supports many claims that have been made by environmental scientists and activists documenting the organizational support and funding behind the climate denial movement — a close to $1 billion a year machine of nearly 100 organizations.

Most revealingly (or rather, obscuringly), denialism has been able to cloak its funding sources behind what have effectively become “money laundering” operations like View full article »



Over at A(S)CENE, we are starting to read Nigel Clark’s Inhuman Nature: Sociable Life on a Dynamic Planet as well as the Punctum Books open-access collection Making the Geological Now: Responses to Material Conditions of Contemporary Life.

Clark’s book has attracted some very intrigued — and a few rather ecstatic — reviews from geographers and social theorists, including a book review symposium in Progress in Human Geography.  Back cover blurbers Barry Smart, Myra Hird, and Adrian Franklin call it “magnificent” and “compelling” (Smart), a “watershed for social theory” (Hird), and “possibly one of the most important books you are ever likely to read, View full article »

Some mean temperatures…

Not that readers of this blog need to be reminded of this, but some of our friends might (if you have friends like Donald Trump)…


Generalizing about global climate change from a cold snap is like predicting who will win the world series based on a single ball or strike in pre-season. The two things are about the same thing — temperature, baseball — but there’s little real connection between them beyond that.

This Washington Post article from the last U.S. “polar vortex” is helpful in putting things into perspective.

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Ukrainian update


Regular readers will know of my interest in Ukraine, where I lived for a year as a Canada-USSR Scholar in 1989-90, and where I’ve visited at least ten times since, for varying lengths of time.

I’ve been following events unfolding there from afar, and have begun a blog called UKR-TAZ: A Ukrainian Autonomous Zone, which collects statements by Ukrainian writers, scholars, and cultural leaders on the revolution (which is what it should be called, at this point).

The following is a pretty good summary of important facts about the revolution. It’s a complex situation, so there’s always a risk of oversimplification. But this is a very good start.




Announcing A(S)CENE

A new blog has been launched in conjunction with my class “Environment, Science, and Society in the Anthropocene.”

It’s called A(S)CENE and its tag line is “Beyond the Anthropocene: Bracketing an Era.”

A(S)CENE is a blog dedicated to discussions of the Anthropo(s)cene — the scene of humanity’s ascendance to a biogeological force — and of what might follow it.

Further information is available here. The first set of readings can be found here.

Anyone with an interest in the subject matter can participate. Many of the readings (and viewings) will be open-access; I’ll try to make any others available where possible.




Anthropocene readings

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I’m thinking of making my Spring semester graduate class, “Environment, Science, and Society in the Anthropocene,” into a semi-public seminar series, with a blog where we will share links to readings and videos as well as discussions. (Actual meetings will not be online, but will be open to interested members of the UVM community.) Stay tuned for an announcement here.

Alongside a retracing of some of this past year’s Anthropocene Project, we’ll be focusing on a select handful of main texts, with Nigel Clark’s Inhuman Nature: Sociable Life on a Dynamic Planet being central among them. (Peter Sloterdijk’s In the World Interior of Capital: Towards a Philosophical Theory of Globalization and Rob Nixon’s Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor, or parts thereof, will likely accompany it.)

The brief course description reads as follows.

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I predicted back in 2010 that globalizing and technological trends would lead disparate religious traditions to find common ground on socially divisive issues like abortion and gay rights.

Just as environmentalism, feminism, and indigenous rights were partnering various more liberal church groups with environmental and social justice organizations, contributing to the development of an ”eco-egalitarian” global civil religion, so would socially conservative movements — among Christians, Muslims, Jews, and others — lead to a quasi-religion of global “social traditionalism.”

What I didn’t foresee is how quickly this convergent tendency would grow between American Evangelicals and one of the most introverted of international churches — the Russian Orthodox Church. The two had not long ago been arch-rivals in what sociologist of religion Eileen Barker called the “opium wars of the new millennium” — skirmishes over religious turf in the former Soviet Union.  View full article »