msb ~028 Metamorphosis

Metamorphosis

David Malone, Metamorphosis

No one does interesting, thoughtful science films quite like David Malone. So it’s great to see again 2013’s Metamorphosis: the science of change. There’s the familiar but fascinating science of insects shape-shifting from one form to another — caterpillar to butterfly — or taking on completely new behaviours — locusts switching from loners to swarms. Explanations of tadpoles interpreting environmental cues to trigger their transformation into frogs. And there’s the disturbing, radical story of creatures that are two life forms simultaneously: genetically identical but morphologically distinct, radically different. Continue reading “msb ~028 Metamorphosis”

msb ~025 Magical thinking

Magical thinking

Image: Pixabay

An article for Uneven Earth provides timely illustration of yesterday’s reflection on imagination (rather than make-believe) being “a means of breaking out of the ‘dull round’ of the ‘ratio’ of abstract reason”. In Pulling the magic lever, Rut Elliot Blomqvist critiques techno-utopianism. “Ideas about the importance of the imagination in an age of political and ecological crisis are popping up everywhere: in the arts, in activism and other forms of politics, and in a wide range of academic disciplines and fields,” she writes. But without a critical view of these imaginaries, “we risk being trapped in the same old stories even as we see ourselves as thinking outside the old story box.” Continue reading “msb ~025 Magical thinking”

msb ~023 Technofossils, fuel for thought

Technofossils — fuel for thought

Technofossil, Jared Farmer

In his contribution to the fascinating Future Remains, historian and geohumanist Jared Farmer discusses ‘technofossils’. Our technological remains last far longer than our personal relationships with these relentlessly multiplying gadgets, structures and infrastructures. Will probably outlast current civilisations. Possibly our species. And technofossils will not be just our artificial constructions; our (re)engineering of the biosphere is also a technological feat that leaves its mark for future archaeology. So, while long-forgotten subway tunnels — “worm tracks of mammoth size — might become sedimentary molds for locomotion traces”, just as telling a marker will be the distinctive layer of fossilised bones of trillions of broiler chickens, a “proxy for the ‘Great Acceleration’ of postwar global change.” Continue reading “msb ~023 Technofossils, fuel for thought”

msb ~021 Tune in, all senses on

Tune in, all senses on

Fox and Woods

How many signals from ‘out there’ do we miss? Our animal senses — already selectively filtered to the exacting ‘survive-and-thrive’ demands of our species-niche within the more-than-human world — have become blunted by the restricted environment we’ve created for ourselves. Can our de-tuned faculties of seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, smelling still reach out beyond the ‘low bandwidth, high volume’ saturation of 70+ years of Great Acceleration? Very probably yes — with practice and attention. Imagination is the greatest technology we can deploy in our favour here, humility its renewable fuel. Continue reading “msb ~021 Tune in, all senses on”

msb ~019 Tell it slant

Tell it slant

Florida, by Lauren Groff

In this Edge Effects interview, Lauren Groff offers perspective for any ‘climate fiction’ writer feeling environmental despair even while celebrating nature. “My only talent is as a writer. That’s the only thing I can do. So now I feel as though I am being immoral if I am not addressing it somehow in my work. Of course, I write literary fiction, so it can’t be polemical. If it’s polemical, I’ve failed. I need to do something more scalpel-like, something a little bit sideways.” Continue reading “msb ~019 Tell it slant”

msb ~013 On anticipatory history

On anticipatory history

Anticipatory history – edited by Caitlin DeSilvey, Simon Naylor & Colin Sackett

A year ago on ClimateCultures, I discussed a book I’d first encountered in 2011 and have been using ever since. Anticipatory history arose from an interdisciplinary network, exploring possibilities in ‘looking back’ at environmental change to help us ‘look forward’ to what futures we might shape. I was doing my MA Climate Change at the time and, in the network’s latter stages, I was able to contribute some work on ‘storying adaptation’ to their final symposium. Continue reading “msb ~013 On anticipatory history”

msb ~005 Creating greener narratives

Creating greener narratives 

“Amazing eels”… Avalon Marshes, Somerset 2017
Photograph: Mark Goldthorpe

An email from a friend in Australia brought a pleasant reminder of a week spent at Bath Spa University one year ago. We were part of an Association of Commonwealth Universities summer school: Masters and PhD students from all over the Commonwealth and the disciplinary spectrum, all looking at the role of environmental arts and humanities. It was a great opportunity to build connections between ideas and practices as much as between people, thanks to the great work of our hosts, Bath Spa’s Research Centre for Environmental Humanities. 

Continue reading “msb ~005 Creating greener narratives”

msb ~004 Impact beyond the factory walls

Impact beyond the factory walls

Gripple Energy Lab – from Stories of Change

One of the many excellent passages in the book Energetic which didn’t quite make it into my ClimateCultures review today is this interview with Gordon Macrae at Gripple:

“One of the things we recognised, probably about seven or eight years ago, was that we have an environmental impact. It started from having the Carbon Trust come in and do an energy audit. They said, ‘Your carbon footprint is great, you’re only using 500 tonnes of carbon.’ And I thought about that and said, ‘That’s rubbish!’ because if you look at the amount of carbon that we’re using, up and down the supply chain, it’s significantly more than that.” Continue reading “msb ~004 Impact beyond the factory walls”

msb ~003 Getting energetic with utopias

Getting energetic with utopias

The book from Stories of Change: the past, present & future of energy

I’m drafting my ClimateCultures review of Energetic, the book from the Stories of Change project on the past, present and future of energy. I helped organise the 2016 launch conference, with TippingPoint, the Open University and others, and it’s great to see the wealth of thinking and creativity the project’s generated. Energetic includes an account from Dan Barnard of fanSHEN on engaging people with future thinking, and their principles are good ones to adopt and adapt: Continue reading “msb ~003 Getting energetic with utopias”