Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

The Scorched Earth

James Hansen and colleague's latest paper, 'Climate Sensitivity, Sea Level and Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide', appearing in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society here and here [warning: pdf download], is suitably blunt. Burning all fossil fuels would generate approximately 20 degrees C average warming over land areas and appoximately 30 degrees C at the poles. Certainly fatal for civilization, most human life as we know it and countless other-than-human species and beings too. Hansen et al conclude that, '[i]t seems implausible that humanity will not alter its course as consequences of burning all fossil fuels become clearer.' But they then add the caveat, '[y]et strong evidence about the dangers of human-made climate have so far had little effect.'  Quite - or arguably there is no evidence whatsoever of the brakes being applied yet. The race for unconventional fossil fuels is just heating up.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

News from Balcombe

Some recent news on the anti-fracking protests at Balcombe from an ex-student of mine here.

For an interesting and pointed critique of the economics of fracking and an overview of the ecological costs, I'd strongly recommend Richard Heinberg's Snake Oil: How Fracking's False Promise of Plenty Imperils Our Future. Alan Tootill's Fracking the UK also looks good, although I have yet to read it.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

One Skyscraper. Six Women. No Permission.

"Behind-the-scenes film captures the build-up and the experience of six ordinary women who climbed the tallest building in Europe to protest against Shell’s plan to drill for oil in the Arctic."

Friday, 19 July 2013

An Extreme Weather Primer

A good short documentary introduction to current extreme weather events, presented by Anja Taylor.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

British Eco-Activists Scale the Shard in London

Re-blogging this from Climate Progress, information on an amazing protest climb in London. Online signatures requested in support here.
 Six environmental activists began scaling the tallest building in London on Thursday morning in a symbolic protest against the oil company Shell and its practice of arctic drilling.
The activists, who Greenpeace identified as Sabine, Sandra, Victo, Ali, Wiola and Liesbeth, picked the building — named The Shard — because it is “modelled on a shard of ice” and “sits slap bang in the middle of Shell’s three London headquarters.” They started their “ice climb” at 4:00 am London time, and plan to “unveil a massive art installation at the top.”
At time of publishing, the climbers had reached 230 meters on their 72-story journey. You can watch a live feed of the climb here.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Speculations IV is available

Find Speculations IV here, containing some great articles on the current state and trajectory of Speculative Realism.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Science versus the Feelies in the post-400ppm Era

Another wonderful assault on the madness of global warming denial by Potholer54. Very funny in places, especially the graphs, and well worth circulating.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Climate Change is Simple

A pithy and powerful TED Talk intoduction to climate change - or, more specifically, global warming - by David Roberts. A more affecting remix of the talk, with imagery and music, can be found here.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013


I'm re-blogging this from Feminist Philosophers, as I was somewhat ashamed at not knowing the name Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin. I was similarly shamed by my seven year old daughter a couple of weeks ago when, at bedtime, she asked me to name ten women who had discovered or invented something. I think I did somewhat better than she expected, rolling off Marie Curie, Ada Lovelace and Rosalind Franklin quite quickly (atlhough I didn't get Franklin's name quite right either), but it was painful not being able to do it and even more disheartening that at the tender age of seven she expected me to fail. So, dad will be endeavouring to do a better job of this in the future.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Time And Relative Dimensions In ... Gender

A well-conceived and enjoyable mix of alternate history, feminism and fandom is available here. Probably best appreciated by Brits, this is a parallel television universe that I would love to be able to tune in to. I think all of the choices map very well on to their male Gallifreyan counterparts. Of course, if there is a television series that captures the crossover between speculative and weird realism for me, it would be the 1979-1982 BBC series, Sapphire and Steel. Withdrawn objects, vibrant matter, time as an object and agentival, a being that exists in every photograph ever taken. Scary, weird fiction/realism at its televisual best.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Philosophy as Spiritual Ordeal

For any philosophers, academic or otherwise, who have bracketed or repressed the category and practice of “spirituality” from their thinking, I would strongly suggest that you consider looking at Joshua Ramey’s new book The Hermetic Deleuze. I won’t try and summarise a book that I haven’t read in its entirety yet, but there are an excellent series of discussions of the book at An und für sich here, here and here (and also here, here and here). In part the book is concerned with the hidden role of hermeticism and, more broadly, esoterica and spirituality in Deleuze’s philosophical oeuvre. But the scope is certainly broader than this, extending to an all too frequent awkwardness with and denial, erasure or suppression of the “spiritual” in much philosophical discourse and practice.

Suffice it to say that I have found this provocative and troubling. Why? Because I have certainly engaged in such a process of self-censure with regard to spirituality myself. While a lot of my earlier years were spent reading esotericism, gnosticism, hermeticism and occultism, I have been incrementally distancing my philosophical self from such potential contaminants to reason for twenty years now. And this is despite teaching both philosophy and contemporary incarnations of such esoteric traditions at university. I only started to forcefully question the viability and value of this bracketing quite recently: first when I started to revisit and then teach Daoism after a long absence, then when I came across Isabelle Stengers surprising, pragmatic Marxist and pro-Deleuzean engagement with feminist witchcraft, and also when I was called out on the issue in a book review of my Goddess as Nature by Sarah Penicka-Smith. I’ve been dodging my discomfiture with “spirituality” and its relation with philosophy for too long, and Ramey’s evocation and prescription of philosophy as spiritual ordeal may be an idea that I can accept.

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Not a Smart ALEC

As an interested observer of the US Empire/Plutocracy, who tends to alternate between morbid fascination and abject horror, I was  suitably shocked by Joe Romm’s coverage of the American Legislative Exchange Council here. This year it seems that ALEC are pushing forwards with bills to promote the teaching of climate change denial in the public school system.

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) - known by its critics as a “corporate bill mill” – has hit the ground running in 2013, pushing “models bills” mandating the teaching of climate change denial in public school systems.

January hasn’t even ended, yet ALEC has already planted its ”Environmental Literacy Improvement Act“ - which mandates a “balanced” teaching of climate science in K-12 classrooms - in the state legislatures of Oklahoma, Colorado, and Arizona so far this year.

Ah yes, the joy of the balanced curriculum. Is this the false balance that promotes all perspectives as equal, no matter what the justificatory and evidential weight behind them? Can one expect a nice Flat Earth narrative to balance out those annoying Spherical Earth stories, so beloved of globalization theorists, one world government types and tree-hugging ecologists? Can one expect some good old Moon landing denial to create some balance to that flag planting, technological triumphalism in the history books? Unsurprisingly, no - once again, if you follow the money, it seems that some people might actually have an economic interest in certain ideas being promoted rather than others. Who would have guessed?
Anyway, in a similar vein, here is a good recent takedown of Moon landing denialism, with some useful commentary on similar types of denialism at the end.