Some stories bear repeating. This one’s a nightmarish scenario worthy of the direst Sci-Fi blockbuster: a planet’s species controlled from birth in machine technologies, enduring rapid growth beyond natural limits, shunted to mass-engineered death for meat harvesting. Flash forward to a distant future: the hidden enslavers have gone; only countless bones, in vast graves scattered across the planet, tell that the enslaved creatures were ever there. Fantasy? Maybe not so much — if you’re one of the 23 billion chickens alive at this moment. ‘Dominant species’ might be a stretch, but maybe in the eyes of the mythical alien archaeologists – landing on Earth after humans have gone, shaking tentacled heads at the wonders in the rocks – chicken bones will dominate their reconstructions of what ‘on Earth’ went on here.Continue reading “msb ~097 Reading the bones”
A light bulb looks back to our before (“the guttering candle, and the dish of oil / to thread the eye of a needle, read / or cast shadows on the walls”) and its after (“when with a quiet tick / the luminous spell of our filament broke / you cast us off; and now you wish / a light perpetual and free”), advising us in our bright exile: remember the banished constellations, “the antiquated powers of the moon.”Continue reading “msb ~081 Out of range”
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”
So far, I’ve only managed to watch 30 minutes of the BBC’s excellentDrowning in Plastic: impossible to stomach the full hour-and-a-half at once. Footage of shearwaters dying from the plastics their parents unwittingly fed them is, appropriately, gut-wrenching: the animals as oblivious to their plight as we are to our hour-by-hour petrochemical churn that creates it. So – like the other recent BBC 90 minutes on landfill – I’ll be taking this in chunks. But the first viewing leaves me wondering how to respond to another plastics piece today, on a colourful ‘future forest’ made entirely from three tons of recycled plastic waste…Continue reading “msb ~045 Future forest, plastic tide”
When I was an environmental student in the early 90s, I chose the Mediterranean for a study on transboundary pollution. From memory, oil pollution into that sea worked out at over 17 Exxon Valdez disasters every year. That Alaskan tanker spill was still big news back then, driving a lot of environmental awareness. In contrast, 17 equivalent marine disasters in the Mediterranean, year on year: barely commented on. Of course, oil pollution’s just one facet of what we’re now learning to call the ‘plastisphere’ – the planetary zone that encompasses the discarded petroleum-based products and packaging that’s smothering rivers and swirling in ocean eddies, but also the leaked, spilt and spewed fossil fuels with which we make the plastics and push them around the world.Continue reading “msb ~034 Our Plastisphere future?”
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”
Form follows garbage, a new film by friend and Finding Blake colleague James Murray-White for GroundWork Gallery, follows artist Jan Eric Visser. Visser transforms everyday garbage into art — and a new kind of environmental politics.