Sunday, 16 July 2017

Jodie Whittaker is Doctor Who

Well, in news unrelated to ecological collapse and the crisis of civilization, Jodie Whittaker has been announced as the latest regeneration of Doctor Who. Now I daresay that there are many who may be viewing this little cultural event as the end of their worlds (and/or a sign of the destruction of British values, the triumph of liberalism, ‘political correctness gone mad’ etc., etc.), but as a long-time Whovian, it seems a pretty solid choice to me. My seven year-old son, who can identify any type of Cyberman at a glance (and can categorise people’s year of birth by whichever doctor was in role at the time), is fine with it; and so is my daughter. Admittedly this doctor will be the shortest and is also from West Yorkshire, and clearly such physical and social/cultural factors can make a difference. But there have been quite a few Northerners in the role, and, come on, Sylvester McCoy was only one cm taller. So there aren’t any major issues here. I just hope Jodie is made of stern stuff. The forthcoming social media, vitriol-fest will likely be a truly depressing sight to behold. I wonder if poor Peter Davidson could have withstood the Twitterstorm that would have followed his replacement of Tom Baker. Personally, I just hope the scripts and stories are good.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

The Cthulhucene Now!

This is a talk I gave at the recent CenSAMM Climate and Apocalypse conference on 29th June, an amazing two-day event, with an excellent programme of international speakers. The full programme can be accessed here, with the individual sections being slowly rolled out over the next few days.

My talk starts a little abruptly in this section, the first sentence is: ‘My proposal today is that the ways in which we frame and mythologize our current age may require serious reassessment ...’

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Doomsday Clock corrected (finally)

My suggestion from November 9th 2016 that the Doomsday Clock was running slow and needed correcting now seems to have been agreed upon by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists and the clock has moved 30 seconds closer to doomsday. Full story here.

Unfortunately, there can't be much satisfaction in predicting the apocalypse.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

The US Endarkenment - Day 4

Well, day four of the US Endarkenment Project and if the above story is even remotely true, then the president's new thought police are to be commended on the speed of their assault on, and appropriation of, the state apparatus of knowledge, science and environmental protection (an incredibly impressive epistemic "blitzkrieg"). I suspect that by day ten all references to climate science, global warming, ecological degradation, the environment, pollution etc. will have been expunged from government institutions; while other sources of knowledge production and dissemination (universities and academia, for example) may take a few weeks longer. But don't worry, soon you will be told what to say and think. The new government is clearly committed to unburdening its citizenry of the troublesome complexities and distractions of experts, scientists and whinging liberals. For every inconvenient truth/fact, the new government seems to have a nice alternative fact to make the transition easier.

More here, here and probably in many other places over the next few weeks, before the US goes completely dark.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

"This ... is what patriarchy looks like"

‘This photograph is what patriarchy looks like.’ Reince Priebus, Peter Navarro, Jared Kushner, Stephen Miller and Steve Bannon watch as Donald Trump signs the executive orders in the Oval Office, 23 January 2017. Photograph: Evan Vucci/AP

The assault on women's reproductive rights begins, full report by Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett in the Guardian.

Monday, 23 January 2017

2016 - A Doom-laden Retrospective

Lest I become too positive and complacent following Saturday's marches and protests, Desdemona Despair has usefully delivered its fifty doomiest stories of 2016.
22 January 2017 (Desdemona Despair) – For a long time, Desdemona has feared that when the effects of global warming become obvious to everyone, governments will shut down our Earth observation science, so that collectively, the human species can bury its head in the sand.
The year 2016 saw huge strides toward this goal of dismantling science and blinding us all. The May government in the UK and the Turnbull government in Australia defunded their climate science research programs. In the U.S., the Trump team declared that they are seeking quick ways of withdrawing from the Paris agreement on climate change, and that NASA Earth science will be defunded. Scientists undertook a desperate effort to copy public climate data from government servers, in the event that Trump’s climate denialists order its destruction.
The most ominous threat to science rose in the advanced economies, as ultra-nationalist populism captured the governments of the U.S. and the Philippines, and threatened the social democracies of Europe. Surely, the doomiest story of 2016 was the ascension of Donald Trump’s antiscience forces. Trump leads the vanguard of reactionary politics that rejects the expertise of thousands of scientists globally, substituting random opinions from blogs and “alt-right” propaganda mills.
With murderous force, reactionary parties oppose efforts to reduce carbon emissions and to preserve indigenous lands: 2016 saw the assassination of numerous defenders of the natural world, including Honduran activists Berta Cáceres and Nelson García. The government of Cambodia banned a film about murdered rainforest activist, Chut Wutty, and the UN declared that governments globally are undertaking an extraordinary war on freedom of expression.
For the fifty top stories of environmental and eco-political doom and despair, read on here.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Resistance is fertile! (not futile)

Well I've shed a few tears today, following the Women's Marches in Washington and around the world, listening to the speeches. This is one of the few times in the past year that I haven't felt completely despondent about the whole human project. No need for analysis here, I can deconstruct my liberalism, ambiguous hopes, and own need to get active quite adequately later. But, for the moment, I'll take this resurgent women's movement and the anti-Trump sentiment as something that I value immensely.

[Photo from the Leeds solidarity march against Darth Trump]