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For someone who teaches media and environment, it’s heartening to see people like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and one of her advisors, Cornell legal star Robert Hockett, break through the media din. Even Tucker Carlson had to admit that “it’s nice to have a smart person” on his show to explain things. (Students, take note.)

First, Ocasio-Cortez: Continue Reading »

Tangerine Reef

And here is Animal Collective’s beautiful International Year of the Reef collaboration with marine biology art-science duo Coral Morphologic, entitled Tangerine Reef:

More on Coral Videography, “pioneers of avant-garde coral macro-videography,” on their web site.

I’ve been trying to convince acclaimed northeast Vermont brewer Shaun Hill to add Whitehead’s Process and Reality to his Philosophical Series of ales, stouts, lambics, and porters, on the pretext that it was written down the road from the brewery. But also because Nietzsche, Foucault, Emerson, Thoreau, and Deleuze would appreciate his company. (Shaun says he first has to read the book.)

Meanwhile, here is French avant-garde guitar maestro Richard Pinhas’s take on the book, performed with Japanese noise master Tatsuya Yoshida (a.k.a. Merzbow) and drummer Masami Akita. Three of the album’s four tracks can be heard here.

AllMusic’s Thom Jurek writes about the music:

Rojava at risk

I’ve posted here before about the Kurdish experiment in social-ecological-feminist radical democracy that’s been unfolding in the unlikeliest circumstances in the northern Syrian region of Rojava. Donald Trump’s sudden announcement of a complete U.S. military withdrawal from Syria now leaves that experiment extremely vulnerable… which puts anti-war* activists into an uncomfortable position.

(I add that asterisk to “anti-war” because I see the anti-war goal as occasionally requiring civil and even military defense, for instance when a people and land are under attack by a foreign invader. There are shades of grey here, but the point is to work continuously toward creating the conditions for lasting peace even while protecting one’s citizens from annihilation.)  Continue Reading »

I was interviewed yesterday by the local CBS-affiliated WCAX news show on the topic of how to motivate Vermonters to take action on climate change (while Bernie Sanders and Cornel West were speaking just up the road). What was used of our interview was fairly minimal, so I thought I would share the notes I prepared in the moments between getting their questions and doing the interview.

The entire piece can be read or viewed hereContinue Reading »

For many, President Trump’s babbling and incoherent responses to last week’s National Climate Assessment (“I’m too smart to believe it, just look at our air and water and what those other countries are doing…”), following on from his even less coherent responses to California’s wildfire tragedies (“They should rake more, like the Finns”), merely reconfirm that Americans elected a huckster and a clown to the highest office in the land.1

But for careful watchers of right-wing responses to climate science, Trump’s comments show something else as well. Instead of the carefully prepared propaganda campaign we’ve seen in previous years (crafted at places like the Heartland Institute or the moderately more reasonable, but ideologically libertarian, Cato Institute), Trump appears to have been caught scrambling for talking points. Continue Reading »

Heads in the sands

It’s not surprising that the Trump administration would wish to bury the nearly 1700-page Fourth National Climate Asessment, Volume 2: Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States, a report written by over 300 scientists representing 13 federal agencies, by having it released on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving when most Americans are too busy shopping (or sleeping off their holiday revelry) to pay attention to anything.

It’s not just Trump’s (and other Republicans’) coziness with the oil and gas industries, and their dislike of the implications of climate science, that accounts for it. It’s also that they are busily gutting government while they can (as Fintan O’Toole explains in this week’s New York Review of Books) and the report makes it painfully clear what that kind of strategy will lead to. (It ain’t pretty.)

1700 pages is a lot to read, but if you live in the US (and plan to stay put for a while), you ought to at least read the Summary Findings, the Overview (chapter 1), and the regional chapter on the part of the country you live in.

Feverish World (2016-2068): Arts and Sciences of Collective Survival was premised on the acknowledgment that the coming decades will be feverish in more ways than one — climatologically, politically, economically, militarily — and that the arts will be essential in helping us come to terms with that feverishness. In my comments opening the symposium, I laid out the organizing committee’s thinking about this “feverishness.” In a follow-up event on November 30, EcoCultureLab will explore ways to move forward locally so as to be better able to “meet” that feverishness.

My hunch is that the only emotionally productive and sustainable ways forward will be to focus on transforming today’s (and tomorrow’s) challenges into ecotopian capacities: How do we remake society into one that can sustain itself ecoculturally (without fossil fuels and grotesque inequalities) into the longer-range future? What are the visions that can guide this process forward?   

The following were my opening comments at the Feverish World Symposium. The ecotopic visioning remains ahead of us.

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Peircian thinker Gary Fuhrman has posted an interesting piece on the naming of the Anthropocene, entitled Holocenoscopy. Noting that the word Holocene means nothing more than “entirely recent,” as opposed to the Pleistocene, which means “most recent,” so there’s really nowhere left to go with naming geological periods after their recentness, Fuhrman suggests we look to another meaning associated with the Greek suffix -cene: not the new (kainos, καινός) but the common (koinos, κοινός). (Christians may recognize the term koinonia, κοινωνία, as a reference to fellowship and communion.)

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I am a pro-life, values-based conservative.

I wish and act to conserve the conditions that have allowed human life to flourish on this planet for the past 12,000 years, conditions whose continuance today is threatened.

I wish and act to conserve the values — of cooperation, respect, and physical and emotional sustenance — that have enabled human sociality and creativity to flourish amidst a diverse array of life forms, whose diversity and cohesion today is threatened.

I wish and act to conserve the movement toward protecting the dignity of all humans and all sentient beings.

Those who act today to dismantle those conditions, defile those values, and imperil that movement can claim only to conserve their own wealth and privilege at the expense of others.

It’s time to decide what should be conserved and what should be uprooted.

Be a conservative. Vote them out.

Inspired by the daily litany of depressing news (and by reading Latour’s Down to Earth), I’ve succumbed to the temptation of writing a manifesto. Manifestos are cheap, I know, but we have to start somewhere. (And so many questions arise as you write one: about the proper balance between critique and vision, between generality and nuance, between vanguardism and mass appeal, between big tent-ism and more specific forms of address.) Comments are welcome, as are signatures (see below). Or share your own manifestos. Eventually one of our experiments might lead to something… This version was slightly revised at 4:17 pm EST on October 28, 2018.

To anyone paying attention to science, it’s become increasingly evident that the future of humanity is in question. We are at a precipice that calls for dramatic changes in the ways we live on this Earth.

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Review of Bruno Latour, Down to Earth: Politics in the New Climatic Regime, Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2018.

Down to Earth is in significant part a restatement of Bruno Latour’s theorizing over the last few decades, made more incisive in the light of Trumpism (and other illiberal populisms) and brought to bear specifically on the moment of Trump’s rejection of the Paris Climate Agreement. Latour assesses this rejection as a clarifying moment in what we are up against:

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