For all my skepticism toward most “climate skepticism,” I find the case of Judith Curry very interesting. This recent post at her blog Climate Etc. repeatedly resorts to metaphors like “‘Alice down the rabbit hole’ moments” and “bucket[s] of cold water being poured over my head” to describe her experiences venturing outside the warm world […]
Posts Tagged ‘climate change’
I’ve been posting links to Earth Day news in the shadow blog (which you can follow in the column to your right on the Immanence main page). The most interesting news, to my mind, was the initiative for a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth and the calls to establish an international climate […]
Greenpeace has done a nice (counter) intelligence report on Koch Industries’ funding of the climate denial machine. According to the report, the Kansas-based petroleum and chemical industry conglomerate funded a network of lobbyists, think tanks, and front groups including the Mercatus Center, the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, and others, […]
Trusting a weather forecaster to tell you about climate change is like trusting the view from your bedroom window to inform you about what’s happening in China. (Unless, of course, you live in China.) Why is this so hard to understand? These pieces at the New York Times, Dot Earth, and Grist help us get […]
Dipping once again into the public debate around climate change science — today it’s in the responses to MIT climatologist Kerry Emanuel’s op-ed in the Boston Globe, to which no less than 15 comments were added in the couple of minutes it took me to write these first couple of sentences — I’m realizing that it’s not enough to refer to a “climate denial machine” (as I’ve done here before). There is certainly an organized, machinic quality to denialism, with well-funded nodes of misinformation generating the talking points disseminated across the internet/mediasphere by climate denialists. But the intensity of many of the comments has made me think about the virtues and pitfalls of another frame, that of “hysteria,” since it really seems akin to the kinds of hysterias chronicled by historians like Norman Cohn and the more familiar territory of conspiratorial claims and counter-claims around such issues as alien abductions, satanic ritual abuse, or JFK and 9-11 conspiracy theories.
At the same time, there’s a risky irony in suggesting that climate change denial is a hysteria, since to deniers it’s precisely the claim of anthropogenic global warming that appears hysterical and millennialist. Hysteria, both the diagnosis of it and the thing itself, relies on a reading of “signs” or “symptoms” as indicative of a cause much larger than what one can easily deal with. There’s a monster lurking behind those markings on one’s skin, or in the body politic. And just as conspiracy theories aren’t wrong by definition (and my listing of those in the previous paragraph wasn’t intended to suggest that those ones were), so hysterical reactions aren’t necessarily unproductive — they are a response to something that one cannot respond to in a more direct and appropriate way. The politics of climate change, in any case, carries something of the “paranoid style” that Richard Hofstader identified in American politics back in the 1960s. But since then, we’ve moved more deeply into a kind epistemologically unmoored world, a world in which we rely on experts to inform us about basic risks that are not directly perceivable by us (such as those from nuclear radiation, environmental contaminants, and the like) but in a context where the structures of epistemic authority are no longer holding up well at all, in which common sense is undecideable and skepticism extends “all the way down”, as Jodi Dean has put it. This is especially the case in societies characterized by wide cultural divides, such as that of post-Bush II America. [. . .]
Having published the results of its 12-part investigation into the leaked/hacked climate scientist e-mails at the University of East Anglia, the Guardian is now inviting “web users to annotate the manuscript to help us in our aim of creating the definitive account of the controversy.” It’s a kind of public version of peer review for […]
Just a quick follow-up to the previous post… After the East Anglia flare-up, Paul Krugman was right to ask what fuels the rage behind climate denialism. Anyone who has perused any popular web site on environmental and climate issues will be struck both by the numbers and the utter vehemence of the denialist community. Looking […]
Asked by an old and dear friend what I make of the recent “Climategate scandal,” I thought I’d do a quick check on sources summarizing the effect of the hacked East Anglia e-mails on climate change science. To my surprise, the Wikipedia article on the topic is probably as good a place to start as […]
The responses to the final COP-15 “deal” from the environmental and social justice communities seem, at this point, to be largely negative. It’s a start, some acknowledge, but it’s pretty late to be starting, and it’s really pretty vacuous — a lost opportunity. My last post tried to put a positive spin on things by arguing that the events in Copenhagen reflect the tension between two models of democracy, and that there is hope for the future in the very crystallization of the second model. Let me expand on that a little.
What makes COP-15 a turning point is that a new set of connections are being forged in the heat of the confrontation of active citizens from around the world with the reality of global political-economic power structures. Paul Hawken’s “largest movement in the world,” the movement of movements made up of environmental, social justice, and indigenous rights civil society organizations — which isn’t a movement yet until it begins to move and act in a coordinated manner — and Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri’s “multitude” — the multiple and internally differentiated force that is, or that can become, capable of acting in common toward a global democracy — are both being born today, in the stark meeting of global justice activism with ecological reality.