Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Happy Samhain!

Just done the Trick or Treating with the kids and now listening for the door. So far we are up to seven eight groups of assorted ghouls, ghosts, witches and zombies, and will have to see if we can beat last year's total of fourteen. Slightly more relaxed than the last couple of years, though, when we hosted large Halloween parties. Some great costumes this year.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

CFP: Weaponising Speculation

In the same week that I started to make some creative use of the term 'weaponising' in my teaching (after enjoying its deployment at AUFs for some time) comes news of this Speculative Realist conference at Dublin. This is likely to be a great event, especially given the para-academic emphasis, which I am thinking about a lot at the moment. It particularly struck me, while preparing a new  lecture on the Enlightenment yesterday, that some rather important historical periods of European philosophy have been shaped by thinkers outside the university. This certainly isn't news to many, but the following passage by Copleston resonated with me when I read it, reminding me of what could be the role of the para-academic in the future. 
The modern philosophers in the pre-Kantian period ... were in the majority of cases unconnected with the work of academic teaching. Descartes was never a university professor. Nor was Spinoza, though he recieved an invitation to Heidelberg. And Leibniz was very much a man of affairs who refused a professorship because he had quite another kind of life in view. In England Locke held minor posts in the service of the State; Berkeley was a bishop; and though Hume attempted to secure a university chair, he did not succeed in doing so. As for the French philosophers of the eighteenth century, such as Voltaire, Diderot and Rousseau, they were obviously men of letters with philosophical interests. 
Of course for this to work, I would expect future history to note of the early twenty-first century philosophers that X was a copywriter, Y was a postal worker and Z was long term unemployed, perhaps adding that they were women and men of blogs with philosophical interests.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Romm's Guide to Global Warming Impacts

A quick link to a post from Joe Romm's Climate Progress that presents an accessible synthesis of the scientific literature on and likely consequences of continuing on our "business as usual" emissions path. The impacts of which include:

•Staggeringly high temperature rise, especially over land — some 10°F over much of the United States

•Permanent Dust Bowl conditions over the U.S. Southwest and many other regions around the globe that are heavily populated and/or heavily farmed.

•Sea level rise of some 1 foot by 2050, then 4 to 6 feet (or more) by 2100, rising some 6 to 12 inches (or more) each decade thereafter

•Massive species loss on land and sea — perhaps 50% or more of all biodiversity.

•Unexpected impacts — the fearsome “unknown unknowns”

•Much more extreme weather

•Food insecurity — the increasing difficulty of feeding 7 billion, then 8 billion, and then 9 billion people in a world with an ever-worsening climate.

•Myriad direct health impacts

...  these will all be happening simultaneously and getting worse decade after decade. Equally tragic, a 2009 NOAA-led study found the worst impacts would be “largely irreversible for 1000 years.”