This old but excellent Discard Studies post demonstrates how, in transforming choices for greater sustainability, our focus should be on infrastructures that produce waste etc or lock in unsustainable consumer choices further down the line. In contrast, our usual focus on making individuals ‘aware’ – despite its merits – depends on many steps, reaches a limited number of people and has to battle against those same infrastructures. “Focusing on these systems for change actually scales up to the scale of the problem.” Continue reading “msb ~063 The problem with awareness”
I may need to spend time tracking down TV classics from the 1960s to 80s. Adam Scovell’s excellent survey of British TV fictional alarm calls reminds us how Anthropocene warnings have been with us for almost as long as the Great Acceleration itself. “It’s not that these programmes were ahead of their time: it is more frustratingly, that we have moved on so little in how we deal with the monumentality of ecological issues and their increasing scarring of the strata of our planet; the danger has been growing but with far more fervour than our willingness to address it.”Continue reading “msb ~061 Anthropocene foreshadowings”
As the BBC reported before today’s IPPC special report, “for decades, researchers argued the global temperature rise must be kept below 2C by the end of this century to avoid the worst impacts. But scientists now argue that keeping below 1.5C is a far safer limit for the world. Everyone agrees that remaining below that target will not be easy.” Going for Gold in the Understatements Olympics?Continue reading “msb ~049 Last call?”
There are no natural sources of polychlorinated biphenyls only natural sinks, such as Killer Whales and other predators. As such, PCBs are part of the pattern of whorls and loops that make up the human fingerprints we’re learning to understand as the Anthropocene: spooky fingerprints that circulate around us within other living beings.Continue reading “msb ~044 The haunting”
What instruments does imagination offer? Microscopes and telescopes selectively bring the small and distant into human focus. But selecting some things means excluding others, helping to simplify the complex. What if an instrument could bring complexity itself within our scope?Continue reading “msb ~036 Macroscopes of the mind”
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”
I categorised yesterday’s post under Predicaments without actually using the word. Discussing climate change, I’ve favoured ‘predicaments’ over ‘problems’ (even ‘Wicked Problems’) since I read John Michael Greer’s definition. In the Archdruid Report, Greer described the difference: “a problem calls for a solution; the only question is whether one can be found and made to work … A predicament, by contrast, has no solution. Faced with a predicament, people come up with responses. Those responses may succeed, they may fail, or they may fall somewhere in between, but none of them ‘solves’ the predicament, in the sense that none of them makes it go away.” Continue reading “msb ~012 Problematic problems: predicaments”
I’ve been enjoying this Ecologist post by Daniel Christian Wahl, Six key questions in whole systems thinking. As well as advocating the much-needed shift from “reductionist and quantitative analysis informed by the narrative of separation” to interacting with the world as if it were ‘more than the sum of its parts’, he highlights the danger of elevating system levels ‘above’ that of the detail. It’s in the detail that the diversity (also the devil) lies.