The swiftness of glaciers: language in a time of climate change | Aeon Ideas
As consciousness of climate change has grown, a new class of dead metaphors has entered the English language. We speak routinely of carbon footprints, of wiping species off the face of the Earth, and of greenhouse gases, but we no longer see the feet, the hands, the faces and the backyard sheds that were once vivid when those phrases were newly coined. Geologists now talk of searching for the ‘human signature’ in the fossil record. Some geo-engineers want to inject vast clouds of sulphur aerosols into Earth’s atmosphere in the hopes of ‘resetting the global thermostat’. Many of these coinages attempt to give an intimate, human dimension to planetary phenomena that can seem intimidatingly vast and abstract. Adam Smith in 1759 responded similarly to the massive scale of economic forces by inserting the human body in the form of the ‘invisible hand’ of the market. Today, the science-fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson brings that dead metaphor back to life, complaining that, when it comes to the environment, ‘the invisible hand never picks up the check’.
language  climate  change  aeon 
11 hours ago
Elegy for a Country’s Seasons | by Zadie Smith | The New York Review of Books
Although many harsh words are said about the childlike response of the public to the coming emergency, the response doesn’t seem to me very surprising, either. It’s hard to keep apocalypse consistently in mind, especially if you want to get out of bed in the morning. What’s missing from the account is how much of our reaction is emotional. If it weren’t, the whole landscape of debate would be different. We can easily imagine, for example, a world in which the deniers were not deniers at all, but simple ruthless pragmatists, the kind of people who say: “I understand very well what’s coming, but I am not concerned with my grandchildren; I am concerned with myself, my shareholders, and the Chinese competition.” And there are indeed a few who say this, but not as many as it might be reasonable to expect.
climate  change  future  nyr  zadie  environment 
2 days ago
We are not the ones we have been waiting for – An und für sich
Two possibilities present themselves. The first is to call the elites on their bullshit. “We” didn’t torpedo climate change action, Bush’s asshole chief of staff did. “We” didn’t despoil the planet, corporate elites did. Human civilization has been placed on a trajectory toward extinction by identifiable individuals with institutional power. But to make good on those accusations, we need to take the bad-faith accusation of collective responsibility as a prophecy and become the collective agent that they say “we” already are.
climate  change  politics  blame 
4 days ago
How Not to Talk About Climate Change
So there’s a story to tell about the 1980s and climate change all right, but it’s not this one. The story that matters is one about an ascendant neoliberalism being put into practice: about the crushing of trade unions and the loss of counters to corporate power; the insistence on market solutions to replace regulation by governments being actively starved of resources. It’s about inequality and ever more conspicuous consumption; about the replacement of public with private goods, propped up by private debt instead of wage growth. It’s about moving more goods made with cheaper labor further and further around the globe, all while trumpeting the end of material limits. It’s about efforts to restart stagnant growth by removing all politically imposed constraints on capital, and moving the costs of doing business back onto people and the planet.
jacobin  climate  change  history 
4 days ago
Carbon Ironies | Wen Stephenson
Yes, of course, we’re fucked. (Though it’s important to specify the “we” in this formulation, because the global poor, the disenfranchised, the young, and the yet-to-be-born are certifiably far more fucked than such affluent, white, middle-aged Americans as Vollmann and myself.) But here’s the thing: with climate change as with so much else, all fuckedness is relative. Climate catastrophe is not a binary win or lose, solution or no-solution, fucked or not-fucked situation. Just how fucked we/they will be—that is, what kind of civilization, or any sort of social justice, will be possible in the coming centuries or decades—depends on many things, including all sorts of historic, built-in systemic injustices we know all too well, and any number of contingencies we can’t foresee. But most of all it depends on what we do right now, in our lifetimes. And by that I mean: what we do politically, not only on climate but across the board, because large-scale political action—the kind that moves whole countries and economies in ways commensurate with the scale and urgency of the situation—has always been the only thing that matters here. (I really don’t care about your personal carbon footprint. I mean, please do try to lower it, because that’s a good thing to do, but fussing and guilt-tripping over one’s individual contribution to climate change is neither an intellectually nor a morally serious response to a global systemic crisis. That this still needs to be said in 2018 is, to say the least, somewhat disappointing.)
climate  change  future  baffler 
4 days ago
We're well on the way to disastrous 'hothouse Earth,' climate scientists warn in new study | OregonLive.com
We're already seeing the results of a warming planet. But it could get a whole lot worse, scientists continue to warn.

A new study found that we might be heading toward a "hothouse Earth" scenario in which natural feedback loops -- such as massive methane release from melting permafrost -- would crank up the warming of the planet to disastrous levels. If this happens, even the ending of fossil-fuel emissions wouldn't arrest it.
science  climate  change  future 
4 days ago
How to Fight Climate Change – Mother Jones
And make no mistake: we are committed to burning every last hydrocarbon molecule in the earth’s crust. Norway is a lovely, green, socially conscious, Nordic-model democracy. But they are as rapacious as Saudi Arabia in making sure to extract every bit of oil they can from the North Sea. Or how about nice, socialist Canada? Ditto, and they even demand that we build pipelines across the Midwest to transport their oil. Poor, oppressed, earth-loving Africa? Ditto again. The only places on earth that aren’t busily extracting every bit of gas, coal, and oil they can are the places that don’t have any gas, coal, or oil.

In other words, we’re doomed—unless we can figure out a way to make fighting climate change free or cheap. That means renewable energy at scale that’s cheaper than fossil fuels. This is it. There is no other answer.
climate  change  politics  motherjones  solutions 
4 days ago
Climate change worries push travelers to these 'last chance' locales
The Maldives has seen the biggest spike in travel, as the island nation uses mass tourism to raise the funds necessary to adapt to climate change. That includes relocating thousands of people and building the necessary infrastructure to accommodate them.

The paradise atolls, famous for their turquoise waters and idyllic beaches, may be under water by 2100, according to the United Nations. That's a fate the Maldives is trying to avoid.
climate  change  travel  cnbc 
4 days ago
An Optimist's Guide to Solving Climate Change and Saving the World - VICE
Compared to a lot of what I've been reading lately, these experts read as delusional.
climate  change  future  vice  optimism 
4 days ago
Scientists aren’t impressed with New York Times’ new story on climate change – ThinkProgress
That fatalistic view conveniently lets key actors off the hook. The fact is that during the times the United States was seriously contemplating action to address climate change, those efforts were thwarted again and again by by the fossil fuel industry and its multi-decade disinformation campaign, as well as key Republicans dating back to the Reagan administration.

After all, somehow, the world came together in Paris in 2015 to agree to a deal that proved society capable of  “sacrificing present convenience to forestall a penalty imposed on future generations.” But today the United States stands alone in opposition, and it’s not because humans are incapable of acting together for the future benefit of all.
environment  climate  change  blame  history 
9 days ago
Capitalism Killed Our Climate Momentum, Not “Human Nature”
It was this convergence of historical trends — the emergence of a global architecture that was supposed to tackle climate change and the emergence of a much more powerful global architecture to liberate capital from all constraints — that derailed the momentum Rich rightly identifies. Because, as he notes repeatedly, meeting the challenge of climate change would have required imposing stiff regulations on polluters while investing in the public sphere to transform how we power our lives, live in cities, and move ourselves around.
climate  change  blame  klein  capitalism  politics 
10 days ago
The Problem With The New York Times' Big Climate Story - The Atlantic
Rich’s piece makes for vivid history. It alludes to plenty of real changes: the fracturing of a unified political elite, the breakdown of the alliance between high science and the national-security state. But it’s tempting, when revisiting the past, to assume that everything was better then. The history of just about every major American political issue is contested; it’s not surprising that climate change should be the same. But any sensible narrative of climate politics has to start and finish with the idea that opposition to climate policy grew in parallel with the scientific case for action. Telling the wrong story makes the case for action look easier than it is.
environment  politics  climate  change  blame  atlantic  meyer 
10 days ago
Who’s to Blame for Global Warming? | The New Republic
“Losing Earth” is an impressive piece of journalism for several reasons. One is simply that it’s the Times’ longest-ever article—and it’s about global warming. This comes at a time when much of the news media is failing to live up to its responsibilities covering climate change, an issue that affects the entire population, hundreds of ecosystems, and every economic sector. Rich’s story, too, is proof that the climate story can be told in an engaging—fast-moving, human-centric, funny, and frustrating—way.

And the insights about human nature are worth pondering. “We’re a medium-term species,” he said in April. “We plan ahead, but only so far. We’re willing to sacrifice comfort in the present for security in the future, but within reason.” But the fossil fuel industry and Republicans know that, and have successfully exploited it for the last thirty years. “Losing Earth” is thus not the whole story of human’s failure to act on climate change. Its flaw is that it’s painted as such.
climate  change  newrepublic  blame  past  history  future 
10 days ago
After Climate Despair – One Tale Of What Can Emerge « Professor Jem Bendell
It may feel that an eco-tragic outlook means you cannot have any meaningful vision of a better future for yourself, your community, or humanity. An absence of something positive to work towards can be destabilising and limiting. Some people will think you are depressed – or depressing – and need some “positive thinking”. For a personal vision, the answer may lie in developing a vision for how you will be approaching life, rather than imagining attributes of a lifestyle. This may parallel the dimensions of a collective vision. A future full of love and learning, rather than flying cars and fancy robots, could be a way to imagine a more beautiful world. And remember, the future will still be beautiful in its own way, no matter what life forms are in it – or if your favourite town is under water!
climate  change  despair  psychology  future  bendell  story 
10 days ago
Hope and mourning in the Anthropocene: Understanding ecological grief
Ecological grief reminds us that climate change is not just some abstract scientific concept or a distant environmental problem. Rather, it draws our attention to the personally experienced emotional and psychological losses suffered when there are changes or deaths in the natural world. In doing so, ecological grief also illuminates the ways in which more-than-humans are integral to our mental wellness, our communities, our cultures, and for our ability to thrive in a human-dominated world.

From what we have seen in our own research, although this type of grief is already being experienced, it often lacks an appropriate avenue for expression or for healing. Indeed, not only do we lack the rituals and practices to help address feelings of ecological grief, until recently we did not even have the language to give such feelings voice.
psychology  grief  hope  climate  change  environment 
29 days ago
Rising Seas Could Cause Problems For Internet Infrastructure : NPR
The Internet is particularly susceptible to flooding because data travels through underground cables buried along roadways and through tunnels. While the massive deep sea cables that carry data under the Atlantic and Pacific oceans are designed to be permanently underwater, other infrastructure such as copper wiring and power stations are not.

If thousands of miles of cable were flooded because sea level rise, it could potentially impact Internet reliability for millions of Americans in major cities. In fact, higher temperatures and more powerful storms, both of which are more likely as the climate changes, have already affected Internet hardware.
npr  climate  change  infrastructure  internet  future 
29 days ago
Opinion | Raising My Child in a Doomed World - The New York Times
When my daughter was born I felt a love and connection I’d never felt before: a surge of tenderness harrowing in its intensity. I knew that I would kill for her, die for her, sacrifice anything for her, and while those feelings have become more bearable since the first delirious days after her birth, they have not abated. And when I think of the future she’s doomed to live out, the future we’ve created, I’m filled with rage and sorrow.

Every day brings new pangs of grief. Seeing the world afresh through my daughter’s eyes fills me with delight, but every new discovery is haunted by death. Reading to her from “Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?,” I can’t help marveling at the disconnect between the animal life pictured in that book and the mass extinction happening right now across the planet. When I sing along with Elizabeth Mitchell’s version of “Froggie Went a-Courtin’,” I can’t help feeling like I’m betraying my daughter by filling her brain with fantastic images of a magical nonhuman world, when the actual nonhuman world has been exploited and despoiled. How can I read her “Winnie the Pooh” or “The Wind in the Willows” when I know the pastoral harmony they evoke is lost to us forever, and has been for decades? How soon do I explain to her what’s happening? In all the most important ways, it’s already too late.
climate  change  children  family  future  nyt 
29 days ago
Prominent Lawyer in Fight for Gay Rights Dies After Setting Himself on Fire in Prospect Park - The New York Times
Friends said that after he left the organization, Mr. Buckel became involved in environmental causes, which he alluded to in his note as the reason he decided to end his life by self-immolation with fossil fuels.

“Pollution ravages our planet, oozing inhabitability via air, soil, water and weather,” he wrote in the email sent to The Times. “Most humans on the planet now breathe air made unhealthy by fossil fuels, and many die early deaths as a result — my early death by fossil fuel reflects what we are doing to ourselves.”
choice  climate  nyt  environment 
29 days ago
We Can't Do It Ourselves - LOW-TECH MAGAZINE
In sum, individuals can make pro-environmental choices based on attitudes and values, and they may inspire others to do the same, but there are so many other things involved that focusing on changing individual “behaviour” seems to miss the point. Trying to persuade people to live sustainably through individual behaviour change programmes will not address the larger and more significant structures and ideas that facilitate and limit their options.
lowtech  choice  environment  climate  change  behavior 
29 days ago
The Best Question To Ask on the Last Day of Class | HASTAC
Today is the last time we will all be in a room together. Take a moment to write out the one question you would really like to ask--of the profs, of another student, of everyone in this room.
teaching  hastac  pedagogy  reflection  writing  questions 
11 weeks ago
America’s Brand of Capitalism Is Incompatible With Democracy
In these grisly conditions, social democrats see a textbook case of malignant capitalism. Democracies cannot survive on norms alone. When markets are left under-regulated — and workers, unorganized — the corporate sector becomes a cancerous growth, expanding until it dominates politics and civil society. An ever-greater share of economic gains concentrates in ever-fewer hands, while the barriers to converting private wealth into public power grow fewer and farther between. Politicians become unresponsive to popular preferences and needs. Voters lose faith in elections — and then, a strongman steps forward to say that he, alone, can fix it.
capitalism  democracy  economics  politics  nymag 
11 weeks ago
Disrupting the Commons: Dockless Bikes and Scooters Create Layers of Community Instability - Motherboard
The bikes and scooters offer a way for monied denizens of the new order of technology to swiftly glide over the debris in a city, without having to come in contact with it, and to move at a pace where they can avoid being a target of harassment or crime. Being in motion also “protects” people from having social cooperative human interaction with others in the Commons. Thus, the bikes and scooters enable avoidance of both sociability and the community problems they cause, which desperately need the help of all to be present in the Commons in order to resolve.
transportation  technology  vice  community 
11 weeks ago
Fascism is back. Blame the Internet. - The Washington Post
The Internet has revived fascist habits of mind. Smartphones and news feeds structure attention so that we cannot think straight. Their programmers deliberately appeal to psychological tactics such as intermittent reinforcement to keep us online rather than thinking. Is pulling your phone out 80 times a day really a free choice? Companies know that interruptions to flow are more likely to get a response, which is why the experience of a smartphone or a social platform is so jarring. Once attention is gained, it is kept by deliberately bottomless feeds that reinforce what we like and think. Researchers have found users of the Internet believe they know more, but in fact are less able to recall what they think they know.
history  politics  culture  philosophy  fascism  internet  wapost 
11 weeks ago
How everything on the internet became clickbait | The Outline
As the internet grew as a source of news, the number of separate firms appealing to smaller niches exploded. This setup is perfect for people motivated primarily by diversion and duty — anyone with an internet connection has access to more high-quality information sources than Harvard professors 50 years ago could have dreamed of. It turns out that there just aren’t many people who want to take advantage of that; most of us are more into drama and display. And so social media ate the internet; we have overwhelmingly rejected the library for gossip blogs.
outline  media  internet  commentary  criticism 
11 weeks ago
Why Michigan Needs To Tax its Bottled Water Industry - CityLab
As long as private companies are selling Michigan’s water, I believe, the state should at least tap portion of their profits to fund public water infrastructure improvements and wetland restoration. Taking this step might also discourage bottlers from endangering the public, wildlife, and Michigan’s farmers by harvesting too much water.
water  michigan 
11 weeks ago
Tolkien and Twitter | L.M. Sacasas
With Twitter as with the Ring, those like Boromir who are most naively intent on using its power for good are also those who are most likely to be corrupted by its power.
sacasas  twitter  tolkien  commentary 
11 weeks ago
Opinion | The Cost of Paying Attention - The New York Times
Attention is a resource; a person has only so much of it. And yet we’ve auctioned off more and more of our public space to private commercial interests, with their constant demands on us to look at the products on display or simply absorb some bit of corporate messaging. Lately, our self-appointed disrupters have opened up a new frontier of capitalism, complete with its own frontier ethic: to boldly dig up and monetize every bit of private head space by appropriating our collective attention. In the process, we’ve sacrificed silence — the condition of not being addressed.
attention  nytimes  crawford 
11 weeks ago
The United States of Guns
America is a stuck in a Groundhog Day loop of gun violence. We’ll keep waking up, stuck in the same reality of oppression, carnage, and ruined lives until we can figure out how to effect meaningful change. I’ve collected some articles here about America’s dysfunctional relationship with guns, most of which I’ve shared before. Change is possible — there are good reasons to control the ownership of guns and control has a high likelihood of success — but how will our country find the political will to make it happen?
politics  guns  kottke  culture  society 
11 weeks ago
Michael Chabon: Are Kids the Enemy of Writing? | GQ
If I had followed the great man's advice and never burdened myself with the gift of my children, or if I had never written any novels at all, in the long run the result would have been the same as the result will be for me here, having made the choice I made: I will die; and the world in its violence and serenity will roll on, through the endless indifference of space, and it will take only 100 of its circuits around the sun to turn the six of us, who loved each other, to dust, and consign to oblivion all but a scant few of the thousands upon thousands of novels and short stories written and published during our lifetimes. If none of my books turns out to be among that bright remnant because I allowed my children to steal my time, narrow my compass, and curtail my freedom, I'm all right with that. Once they're written, my books, unlike my children, hold no wonder for me; no mystery resides in them. Unlike my children, my books are cruelly unforgiving of my weaknesses, failings, and flaws of character. Most of all, my books, unlike my children, do not love me back. Anyway, if, 100 years hence, those books lie moldering and forgotten, I'll never know. That's the problem, in the end, with putting all your chips on posterity: You never stick around long enough to enjoy it.
writing  children  gq  chabon 
11 weeks ago
Roman Polanski, Quentin Tarantino, and The Myth of the Male Artistic Genius | Bitch Media
Those who try to separate the art from the artist are setting up an illogical argument: The art was always separated, which is why these male auteurs had the license, the support, and the cover to victimize as they did and still make more celebrated art. In the aftershocks of predatory unveilings, we have seen multitudes mourn the loss of the genius of these men. We need to now consider that we have elevated what we’ve inscribed as genius at the expense of the humanity and potential of people they silenced, erased, and preyed upon. We need to examine the destruction wrought by the archetype, and acknowledge that we have let it fuel rape culture and sexual exploitation. We need to acknowledge that genius has been a construct all along—that it may not actually exist.
genius  art  film  bitch  culture 
11 weeks ago
The Erotic Professor - The Chronicle of Higher Education
What makes sex an ever-present possibility for the erotic professor — something to be embraced, according to Gallop; something to be held in tense abeyance, according to Deresiewicz, Figlerowicz, and Ramachandran — is not only these vast tracts of time but also the cultural code, the easy rapport, of people with money, whether they have it or teach it. Unlike most students at CUNY, the erotic professor’s students come to her with enough cultural capital to know how to acquire and accumulate more. The student pays for access; the professor provides it. It is a communion of the knowledge class and the ruling class, a marriage of mind and money rather than of souls.
che  students  professors  sex  academia 
11 weeks ago
America's 'Cadillac Desert': Is there a substitute for fresh water? - Resilience
It turns out that there is no substitute for potable water—despite what economic theory may wish to assert. To get enough of it in many locales will be increasingly expensive as we turn to ever more exotic means to extract water while both population grows and climate-enhanced droughts diminish replenishment of existing sources.
water  future  resilience 
11 weeks ago
How technology is designed to bring out the worst in us
Technology feels disempowering because we haven’t built it around an honest view of human nature. The reason we called our new project the Center for Humane Technology is it starts with a view of ourselves.

Silicon Valley is reckoning with having had a bad philosophical operating system. People in tech will say, “You told me, when I asked you what you wanted, that you wanted to go to the gym. That’s what you said. But then I handed you a box of doughnuts and you went for the doughnuts, so that must be what you really wanted.” The Facebook folks, that’s literally what they think. We offer people this other stuff, but then they always go for the outrage, or the autoplaying video, and that must be people’s most true preference.

If you ask someone, “What’s your dream?” that’s not a meaningless signal. A psychotherapist going through an interview process with someone is accessing parts of them that screens never do. I think the [traffic] metrics have created this whole illusion that what people are doing is what people want, when it’s really just what works in the moment, in that situation.
technology  ethics  people  via:ayjay 
february 2018
Don’t knock kids for rereading books. Encourage them to read, full stop | Andrew McCallum
A new report seems to agree with me. It claims secondary pupils are falling behind in their reading because they are not moving on from writers they first met in primary school. It cites data showing the 10 most popular books in secondary were all written by Jeff Kinney and David Walliams. In corresponding data for primary pupils the books were all written by Kinney, Walliams and Roald Dahl. The report comes from Renaissance Learning, which runs the Accelerated Reader programme in schools. This directs pupils to choose books based on their assessed reading age. It has a vested interest in constructing reading as a linear process to be tracked and measured. Is reading development really this simple though? I would argue that it’s much more complicated, particularly in the early teenage years. Of course we want children to tackle more challenging material as they grow older. But there are good reasons not to worry if your 13-year-old is yet again reading Walliams’s Billionaire Boy, so long as they still enjoy reading, do it regularly, and have teachers who can gradually nudge them towards new material
reading  via:ayjay 
february 2018
The Case Against Reading Everything
To read widely—to flit from book to book, writer to writer—is to flaunt an open mind while never stopping long enough to fill it up. Consider instead what Chris Wiman, the previous editor of Poetry magazine, said about the consumption of poetry: “Seamus Heaney has noted that if a person has a single poem in his head, one that he returns to and through which, even in small ways, he understands his life better, this constitutes a devotion to the art. It is enough.” Devotion to art, in other words, is a devotion to individual works—and not many, at that.
reading  via:ayjay 
january 2018
Bryan Garner on rules and writing
On writing and rules, those to follow and those to ignore.
BryanGarner  writing  via:M.Leddy 
july 2017
List: 8 Male Authors to Read Before You Die - McSweeney’s Internet Tendency
"Alone in the woods, except for a dozen-or-so friends who visit daily, the neighborhood kids who play in the pond, and his mom who frequently delivers food to him on foot, Thoreau is able to explore the depths of his physical and political existence in relationship to nature. He concludes that the key to a contented life is profound simplicity, which only requires enough money to buy land, build a house, not work, and have enough solitude to really listen to your own brilliance."
reading  literature  gender  mcsweeneys  humor  summary 
july 2017
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