When I began my involvement with environmental politics in the 1980s, the main currents of radical or critical thought were represented by deep ecologists (or biocentrists), social ecologists (gathered around Murray Bookchin and his Institute for Social Ecology), and ecofeminists, and they seemed more at odds with each other than united. Marxists and socialists (especially around the journals Capitalism Nature Socialism and Monthly Review) were only just starting to embrace ecological thinking. “Eco-anarchism” had grown out of Bookchin’s first forays in the late 1960s, but its representatives were often at odds with each other, due as much to personality clashes (Bookchin’s being one of them) as to anything else. On the other hand, liberal and reformist environmentalism had become pretty mainstream, even if attacks upon it had already registered substantial successes in the Reagan and Thatcher (counter-) revolutions.

At the time, bioregionalism seemed a promising movement that was more practically based — more rooted in local forms of grassroots organizing than in theoretical debates Continue Reading »

When one of our cadre of eco-cultural theorists gets noticed — more so, fêted — by one of the leading newspapers in the world, we need to take note and celebrate with him. In this case, it’s Timothy Morton getting called “the philosopher prophet of the Anthropocene” by The Guardian, in a profile titled “A reckoning for our species.”

With his dozen or so books (at least half of them monographs), Tim has been incredibly prolific as an eco-critic, literary historian of Romanticism, and theorist of the ecological crisis. Long-time readers of this blog will know my critical engagements with the OOO orientation  Continue Reading »

Trump’s speech on his decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord included so many questionable statements, it’s hard to know where to start. Fortunately, others have. Among the better fact-checks are the Washington Post’s (this one and this one), FactCheck.org’s, NPR’s, PolitiFact’s, and the Huffington Post’s.

Foreign Policy’s summary (which comes from a partisan source, but is mostly non-controversial) in Why Abandoning Paris is a Disaster for America captures the essential implications of Trump’s decision very well in these 5 points: Continue Reading »

Since it’s the Holocene that has provided the conditions for the (human-led) biogeochemical experimentation that has now likely achieved a runaway state, and since “Holocene” was never anything other than a placeholder term — it only means “entirely new” — it seems inappopriate to replace it with the term “Anthropocene.”

“Holocene” begins as a leap of faith — that this interglacial may somehow be different from previous Pleistocene interglacials. Until the evidence for that becomes conclusive — that is, until planetary systems settle into a new and different holding pattern — we should just call our era the “Late Holocene” and leave it at that (i.e., ambiguous). We have no idea how it will end or what will follow; we only know it’s likely to be short. The dream of human sustainability is still mostly science-fiction. (Even if indigenous cultures have shown it’s not entirely unimaginable.)

All that said, “Anthropocene” is a good conversation starter. We’ll need a new one in a few years. (Perhaps something more apocalyptic.)

In the parallel universe where good news remains possible…

A team or 70 researchers from 22 countries and led by Paul Hawken has produced a very interesting analysis of potential climate change solutions. The analysis, released last month as a book called Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming, “maps, measures, models, and describes the 100 most substantive solutions to global warming.”  Continue Reading »

The recent social media meme listing 10 concerts people have attended accompanied by one they didn’t (“find the lie!”) has incited me to complete a list that started out as a “50th anniversary of the concept album” brainstorm over drinks one night last year. The question here is a little different: What are the most formative and significant albums of the album era?  Continue Reading »

I’m happy to see that The Variety of Integral Ecologies: Nature, Culture, and Knowledge in the Planetary Era, an anthology co-edited by Sam Mickey, Sean Kelly, and Adam Robbert, has finally been published by SUNY Press. It is, to my knowledge, the first scholarly anthology that both assesses the Integral Ecology developed by Sean Esbjorn-Hargens and Michael Zimmerman from Ken Wilber’s integral theory (examined in a series of posts and cross-blog discussions here) and, at the same time, proposes a wider set of reference points for the very idea of integral ecology (or ecologies, rather). The editors’ introduction is excellent and many of the chapters look very good. Congrats to the editors!

My own chapter is a development of a paper I had been invited to give at UC Davis’s Environments and Societies colloquium series. Much of it can be read at the book’s Google page. It’s also woven into the book I’m currently finishing up. More on that soon.

While the French elections arguably offer little choice for those looking for radical eco-political options, there is a tendency to see in them — as in other recent political shifts — something that is altogether more negative than it need be.

Slavoj Zizek, for instance, argues that the choice between Macron and Le Pen is a “false choice” and that the reasonable thing to do is to abstain from it altogether. (Yanis Varoufakis provides a powerful response here.)

But the choice in these elections Continue Reading »

The American Anthropological Association’s publication yesterday of guidelines on public scholarship marks a significant advance in the recognition of public scholarship within academe.

Anthropology may have good reasons to be in the forefront with this, but it is not the only field in which public scholarship and community engagement are valued and recognized. Numerous efforts have been made toward this end, particularly in the field of community engaged research, which is arguably more advanced in gaining recognition in the tenure and promotion process than the kinds of public outreach referred to in the AAA’s guidelines.

Some useful resources for publicly engaged scholars include Continue Reading »

May Day (Beltane, Walpurga’s Day, et al.) is a good time for reflecting on politics, ecology, and possibility. The following can be considered part of a series on this blog.

When neoliberalism is understood as the alliance between economic liberalization and social liberalization — that is, between those who would “liberate” capitalist markets (who sometimes get called fiscal conservatives, but who are always economic globalists) and those who would liberate us, individually, from the rigidity of communal social norms — then it becomes understandable why the primary popular alternative on offer today is the kind of “populism” that would defend “traditional” social values while claiming (even if mostly just pretending) to also want to reign in market forces. Thus the popularity of Trump, Farage, Le Pen, and their ilk.

The left’s decline is due in no small part to Continue Reading »

Opening the ISSRNC conference on Mountains and Sacred Landscapes with a set of images from anti-pipelines and indigenous solidarity events, Karenna Gore (daughter of Al and founding director of the Center for Earth Ethics) said something that struck me as an evocative distillation of what’s really at stake in the world.

The Trump administration’s Inquisition-like demolition of environmental governance, she suggested, is “no match for a metaphysics of humanity interconnected with its sacred landscapes.”

Let’s think about this for a bit. What’s at stake, she is saying, is metaphysical.

Continue Reading »

We all know the media ecosystem has been changing rapidly, with media scholars scrambling to understand how and where things are headed. “Fake news” and “post-truth” are the glib catchwords of the day; “filter bubbles,” “echo chambers,” “ideological segregation,” “information cascades,” “algorithmic filtering” (along with the all-encompassing “Algoricene“), and “meme magic” are among the more, or less, helpful technical terms being proposed. Exactly when the post-truth era began is harder to pinpoint — as is the point at which “fake news” becomes (real) “information war.”

An interesting forthcoming article by University of Washington researcher Kate Starbird examines the “alternative media ecosystem” by focusing on the production of the kinds of narratives that are fairly exclusive to the “alternative,” as opposed to mainstream, “media ecosystem.” Continue Reading »

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