With COP-21 over, what we take away from this deal that defines how "we" relate to "our" planet, how we think about the "stuff" we take from the planet, in a word our collective understanding of the planet and that which is "ex-terranean," perspectives continue to jostle for our attention.
In the Times, the economist Paul Krugman is, somewhat, hopeful: "Did the Paris climate accord save civilization? Maybe. That may not sound like a ringing endorsement, but it’s actually the best climate news we’ve had in a very long time." He is hopeful because of two majors changes: (1) China's role has change--the country is cutting coal consumption; and (2) while the Republican party continues to fall "ever deeper into a black hole of denial and anti-science conspiracy theorizing," we now realize that this might not matter as much, for Obama is taking executive action in certain areas. Krugman's hope derives most of its energy, however, from "new technology [which] has fundamentally changed the rules": "costs of solar and wind power have fallen dramatically, to the point where they are close to competitive with fossil fuels even without special incentives." Krugman's final words are hopeful: "I don’t think it’s naïve to suggest that what came out of Paris gives us real reason to hope in an area where hope has been all too scarce. Maybe we’re not doomed after all."
But can we really be that hopeful? Or at least that tritely hopeful... Camille Seaman's piece sobers us up from too much hope, quickly: "We’ve Already Reached the Tipping Point on Global Warming. I’ve Seen It." Her stunning photos of the snow-less terrains near the North Pole tell us what's already happened: "we" are not separate from "nature." (For more on Seaman, see here)
I salute the New York Time's decision to give a front-page, courageous and much needed, editorial to the question of gun control in the USA: "It is a moral outrage and national disgrace that civilians can legally purchase weapons designed to kill people with brutal speed and efficiency." It says a lot about our world that the first NY TImes front-page editorial since 1920 is about how humans shoot humans, rather than about global warming and what's happening at the conference in Paris. The world is already full of climate refugees, and Paul Krugman in the Times wrote a fabulous piece this week: "Future historians — if there are any future historians — will almost surely say that the most important thing happening in the world during December 2015 was the climate talks in Paris. True, nothing agreed to in Paris will be enough, by itself, to solve the problem of global warming. But the talks could mark a turning point, the beginning of the kind of international action needed to avert catastrophe." The slow violence of global warming however is so much harder to see than gun killings. As scholars one of our jobs is perhaps just that, to make the hard-to-see more visible, even if only by talking about it.
Project THE HUMANIST anthropocene
is a thought archive and workspace of Phillip John Usher (NYU) at the crossroads of early modern humanism and the problems and insights of the Anthropocene. Main Research Page.
ASLE (Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment)
Environmental Humanities (journal)
Resilience (A Journal of the Environmental Humanities)
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