Achieving Carbon Neutrality by 2025, The UC Santa Barbara Approach

Colleen McCamy

In November 2013, University of California President Janet Napolitano challenged the UC system to achieve carbon neutrality by 2025 in scope 1 and 2 emissions, and thus was born the UC Carbon Neutrality Initiative. No other major university system has made such a significant commitment. Staff, faculty, and students from all ten UC campuses are working in close collaboration to develop solutions at the local and statewide level. Stakeholders are engaged in thoughtful discussions of how we can leverage the power of 10 major university campuses to scale up past efforts. UC Santa Barbara spent Summer 2016 rewriting our Climate Action Plan and a draft will be available for public review in Fall 2016. This talk will describe the draft climate action plan and the changes that will need to occur in order for us to achieve the goals in the plan. UCSB will have to reduce scope 1 and 2 emissions by 54,000 MT CO2e from 2025 projected BAU emissions levels in order to meet the 2025 carbon neutrality goal of zero net operating emissions. Behavioral, technological, communication, and policy interventions will be discussed in depth. Presenters will encourage participants to not only ask questions about the plan, but to offer feedback and ideas that could be incorporated into the final version of UCSB’s Climate Action Plan.

Colleen McCamy is a third year Environmental Science major who intends to pursue a concentration in the culture of social change and minor in art at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is an UCSB Sustainability Intern working with the UC Carbon Neutrality Initiative as a student engagement fellow. She is eager to empower her peers to get involved with the Carbon Neutrality Initiative and create a campus-wide consciousness of the initiative. Colleen also interns at the Research Experience and Education Facility (REEF) educating school programs and the public about marine processes through science exploration and works for the Intercollegiate Athletics sports events. Through her volunteer work with Amigos de las Americas, she also has experience with community-driven projects, stakeholder engagement, and empowering youth.

After Nemo: Animated Film and the Consequences of ‘Cute’ for Ocean Life

Justyna Poray-Wybranowska & Rachel Levine

Finding Nemo (2003) tells the story of a juvenile clownfish captured by a diver to be an aquarium pet. The film uses the point of view of marine animals to illustrate the trauma of their transition from reef to aquarium, and thus to criticize the aquarium fish trade and the human destruction of ocean environments more broadly. Despite both financial success and critical praise, Finding Nemo did not translate into an improvement for the lives of wild clownfish nor for improved conditions for the complex and fragile ecosystems in which they live. On the contrary, since the film’s release, the sale of clownfish for home aquariums has, according the World Wildlife Fund, nearly tripled.

We use Finding Nemo and its recent sequel Finding Dory (2016) to examine how and why humans respond to film representations of marine animals in one very specific way: by “making pets” (Tuan 1984). By reviewing ecological and economic data following the films’ releases, we demonstrate how these matters take particular form in viewing animated animals in family film. Using Sianne Ngai’s analysis of ‘cuteness’ as a construction embedded in speciated power, we argue that it is precisely the same human impulse to save and protect vulnerable marine animals that perpetuates the material conditions which continue to erode coral reef ecosystems and the biological resilience of the oceans more broadly.

A key step towards a more just climate future is to take seriously the type of fictional stories which shape how young audiences come to ‘know,’ and subsequently relate to, non-human animals and their natural environments. Fictional – and fanciful – representations of animal worlds critically inform the processes by which humans imagine, understand, and (re)produce relationships with the non-human world. We contend that a more equitable climate future includes the imagination inspired by animated film, but necessarily demands a re-thinking of the actions to which this imagination is put.

Justyna Poray-Wybranowska is a doctoral student in the English Department of York University in Toronto, Canada. Her background is in postcolonial literature and animal studies. Her doctoral research project examines how representations of the environment in contemporary literature, film, and digital culture affect people’s perceptions of vulnerability to climate change and the eco-social instability it brings.

Rachel Levine is a PhD student in the Department of Anthropology and jointly enrolled in the collaborative doctoral program in The School of the Environment at the University of Toronto. Rachel’s long-term research is concerned with animal-human relationships in circumstances of risk, vulnerability, and social isolation.

Bringing Indigenous Values to Bear on an Urban Land Ethic

Phil Arnold & Rachel May

The city of Syracuse sits on land that has been sacred to the Haudenosaunee (Six Nations) for at least a millennium. The heart of the city occupies former wetlands and salt marshes, whose remarkable productivity attracted people first for hunting, fishing, and foraging, and later for salt extraction and industrial manufacturing. These latter uses poisoned the waterways and filled the wetlands with industrial waste, and the once-thriving city became another casualty of Rust Belt decline. Much of that land now serves as transportation corridors or just vacant lots, and Onondaga Lake on the north edge of the city is one of the most polluted lakes in the country. Now there are concerted efforts underway to reclaim the disused or abused spaces as urban places in their own right.

The Onondaga Nation (one of the Six Nations) has been instrumental in leading efforts to revive Onondaga Lake and its environs in and around Syracuse. Their land rights action emphasizes the importance of healing the land and human relationships within the territory, and of practicing gratitude to the land, waters, and other natural forces, including the people. It is not easy to invoke indigenous values in an urban context, where growth and change and movement and flexibility take precedence over permanence, local knowledge and deep roots. We would like in this presentation to explore some of the efforts that have been made to surmount that divide in Syracuse and elsewhere in the context of broader theorizing about the need for an urban land ethic.

Philip Arnold is Chair of Religion and faculty in Native American Studies at Syracuse University. He directs the Skä·noñh—Great Law of Peace Center at Onondaga Lake. His books are Eating Landscape (1999); Sacred Landscapes and Cultural Politics: Planting a Tree (2001); The Gift of Sports: Indigenous Ceremonial Dimensions of the Games We Love (2012) and Urgency of Indigenous Religions (UNM Press, forthcoming). He is a member of Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation and the Indigenous Values Initiative.

Rachel May is PI on a project, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, to develop a digital atlas of the south shore of Onondaga Lake, and co-PI, with Phil Arnold, on an EPA Environmental Education grant to infuse indigenous values in the local secondary school and college curricula. Formerly a professor of Russian language and literature, Rachel holds a Ph.D. from Stanford in Slavic Languages and a Master’s from SUNY-ESF in Environmental Communications.

Carnism and Climate

Jerome Bump

In 2050, resources are distributed more justly, and extreme climate changes have been significantly reduced because we finally acted on the UNFAO report of 2012 : “Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation.” More importantly, “livestock is responsible for 65% of all emissions of nitrous oxide – a greenhouse gas 296x more destructive than carbon dioxide.”

In 2050 by greatly reducing the meat in our diet we achieved not only huge reductions in greenhouse gases but also helped distribute food more justly. The 50% of all grain that was fed to livestock in 2006 is now feeding people throughout the world. Because the holocaust of food animals is greatly reduced, there is now more justice for other species. We are also treating our environment more ethically. In 2013 animal agriculture was the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction. For example, in 2013 livestock production was responsible for much of the destruction of the Amazon basin, but now the area is slowly recovering and no longer are thousands of its indigenous people being killed to make room for cattle ranches. To look closer to home, in 2006 growing feed crops for livestock consumed 56% of the water in the United States and within a decade a severe water crisis was looming in parts of the country. Most of that water is now available for more equitable distribution throughout the country.

Jerome Bump is Professor of English at the University of Texas at Austin. He has taught the literature of nature and now teaches Critical Animal Studies. He is the author of a book, an edition, and sixty articles and chapters, including “Stevens and Lawrence: The Poetry of Nature and the Spirit of the Age” in the Southern Review; “Hopkins, the Humanities, and the Environment” in The Georgia Review; and “Poet of Nature,” a selection from his book reprinted in Critical Essays on Gerard Manley Hopkins. More recently, he published “Biophilia and Emotive Ethics” in Ethics and the Environment 19. 2 (Fall 2014): 57-89. He has also presented papers at many conferences, most recently at the Critical Animal Studies conference in Puerto Rico in 2015. He is currently working on the influence of the representation of animals in the works of Lewis Carroll on popular culture and the treatment of animals throughout the world.

Changing the Narrative: Viewing the Present from the Future

Christopher Bowman

The recent explosion of “climate fiction” publications, which range in format from novels by prominent authors such as Margaret Atwood and Cormac McCarthy to the sci-fi short story/academic article hybrid piece The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View From the Future by Naomi Oreskes and Eric M. Conway, generally tend to prescribe an impending dystopian future marred by geopolitical collapse and climate instability. While largely supported by recent nonfiction texts by Naomi Klein, Rob Nixon, and Timothy Morton, these depictions of the future nonetheless offer little indication that alternative futures are possible.

In contrast, this paper constructs a counternarrative by identifying sources of optimism and envisioning the outcomes of their implementation. Written in a style similar to Oreskes and Conway’s The Collapse of Western Civilization, this paper foregoes the former’s pessimism with visions of progressive political acts, such as dismantling Citizens United and increasing the regulation of corporate funding in politics, as well as social developments, such as a populist environmental movement fueled by the increasing number of communities exposed to the toxic practices of contemporary extractive industries.

Furthermore, while generations past have had influential voices such as John Muir, Aldo Leopold, and Rachel Carson, this paper also predicts the qualities of this generation’s environmental advocate whose voice embodies the paradigm shift from dependence on exploitation to the prioritization of global sustainability. While ultimately depicting a number of collisions with climate change, this paper charts a more likely—and optimistic—narrative for humanity than its apocalyptic predecessors.

Christopher Bowman is a PhD student in the English literature program and first-year writing instructor at the University of Minnesota—Twin Cities. He studies 20th- and 21st-century American literature and film, with research interests in ecocriticism, climate change narratives, relationships to technology, and gender studies.

Citizens Building Political Will

Emily Northrop

For the world to pivot away from the more catastrophic climate scenarios, the United States must exhibit leadership, including by cutting our greenhouse gas emissions beyond our Paris commitment. Much more effective grassroots climate activism is required to elicit the needed policy responses from elected officials. The Citizens Climate Lobby is a well-established organization of ordinary citizens who are building “political will for a livable world” by lobbying elected representatives, making public presentations, writing op-ed columns and letters to editors, and seeking endorsements. Organized into 265 local chapters in the US and 36 chapters across nine other nations, we promote the policy of a “carbon fee and dividend” to reduce emissions. The CCL was instrumental in the early 2016 establishment of the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus in the US House of Representatives, and on June 19th 900 lobbyists met with members of Congress and/or their staff in over 500 Congressional offices. Building on these and other successes the CCL provides a way forward on climate legislation. Effective lobbying entails building good relationships, civil discourse, deep listening, and respect. All of these practices are critical to effectively confront the myriad challenges of climate mitigation and, increasingly, climate adaptation. My presentation will briefly describe the history, structure, values, methods and successes of the CCL. I will then sketch the economics of the “carbon fee and dividend” policy, including the projected downward redistribute of purchasing power in the United States. I will also address the organization’s weaknesses and limitations.

As a climate activist Emily Northrop has petitioned policy makers, spoken publicly, and marched. As an academic economist at Southwestern University she has critiqued and developed alternatives to mainstream economics vis-à- vis climate change. These efforts include presenting “Fossil Fuel: Burn MORE or Burn LESS?” at the upcoming Macmillan EconED Conference, and writing “A Stable Climate OR Economic Growth?” that is under review at the Review of Social Economics. This year upon joining the Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL, http://citizensclimatelobby.org/) she combined her activist and economist roles. This direct political engagement has nudged to the side her expectation of utter climate catastrophe, and brought to the fore the vision for how to do better. In her view the CCL approach to political action and the specific policy they promote offer realistic hope for achieving the political breakthroughs needed to avert the worst case climate scenarios.

Climate Futures, Narrative Experiments

Marco Caracciolo

The call for papers for this conference invites “participants to experiment with perspectives on the multiple possible states of the world in mid-century.” This paper asks how narrative itself can become a laboratory for such experiments with the future. How can stories confront—and convey—the uncertainty of climate futures? Put otherwise, how does one build the open-endedness of climate change into a narrative?

I argue that climate change fiction has been largely unable to capture this sense of radical instability because it has tended to adopt a realistic framework that downplays the strangeness of humans’ position vis-à-vis nonhuman realities. Instead, I suggest looking for answers to the questions above in experimental narratives that put pressure on some of the fundamental features of storytelling, such as temporality, causality, or particularity. Even when they do not directly represent the realities of climate futures, these texts deploy strategies that can help us model and understand the complexity of humans’ embedding in the nonhuman world. I focus on five different strategies: posthuman gapping, multiple outcomes, biocatalogue, object-oriented plotting, and nonhuman psychology. I offer concrete examples for each of these strategies and argue for their relevance to any narrative that aspires to teach us how to live with uncertainty.

Marco Caracciolo is a postdoctoral researcher at the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (Germany). He is mainly interested in phenomenological approaches to literature and cognitive narrative theory. His work has appeared in journals such as Poetics Today, Narrative, Modern Fiction Studies, and New Literary History. Marco is the author of The Experientiality of Narrative: An Enactivist Approach (De Gruyter, 2014) and A Passion for Specificity: Confronting Inner Experience in Literature and Science (co-authored with psychologist Russell Hurlburt; Ohio State University Press, 2016).

Climate Justice: A Call for Leadership

Margot Hurlbert

Achieving climate justice has been elusive. Global emissions have continued to rise, extreme weather events continue to occur with greater frequency, and a legally binding climate agreement remains elusive. Often part of the problem is the use of vague terms such as environmental or climate justice without a common definition. This paper 1) provides a common definition of climate justice through literature review and use of a survey; and 2) argues that strong leadership from all is required to move climate justice forward. Defining justice is important as it can provide guidance to climate negotiators.

Defining justice, as it relates to the relationships between people is challenging; integrating the environment adds another level of complexity. Climate is an important environmental justice issue. There are many reasons for this. First, climate and climate change is socially and culturally perceived and constructed; therefore making necessary changes to reduce greenhouse gases requires social action. Second, there is an inequitable global distribution of climate change impacts and adaptive capacity among rich and poor countries. Finally, historic greenhouse gas emission patterns arguably impact and inform the political and legal landscape into the future.

No one discipline has a monopoly on defining environmental justice and as a result, various themes emerge. This paper draws from literature on legal justice, distributive justice, participatory justice and an ethical practice, building a definition of climate justice and confirming this definition through survey. Three hundred and eleven contacts of member states, participants and observers of the UNFCCC completed a survey of both closed (10) and open-ended (7) questions through a Vovici survey platform. Questions probed issues of environmental justice including perceptions of a fair distribution of emission reduction obligation, satisfaction with the UNFCCC processes, and what improvements were required.

Margot Hurlbert has a B.Admin. (Great Distinction) from the University of Regina, an LL.B. (Osgoode), and an LL.M. (Osgoode) in Constitutional Law with a focus on Aboriginal and environmental issues, and Ph.D. (Amsterdam) in Social and Behavioural Science in relation to Adaptive Governance of Drought and Flood Margot has authored numerous journal articles, book chapters and scholarly papers on a broad range of justice topics but more recently on the subjects of Aboriginal justice, water and climate change adaptation. Her research interests focus on Aboriginal peoples, environment, energy, climate change, and water.

A Creative World Needs Child Centric Communities

Hasmukh Sapnawala

“We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can always build our youth for the future.” Franklin D. Roosevelt 32nd president of US (1882 – 1945)

We are in 2050. This is how the world looks:

People are living in the wilderness surrounded by nature, with nature, for nature.

Children are the center of the community because they are not just our future but they are our only future.

Most communities are self-sustained, interconnected ecopolis.

All discriminatory modes of identification have vanished or are moving towards extinction – religion, caste, color, ethnicity, nationality etc.

Health, happiness and harmony are the focus of every individual.

Learning, livelihood, and governance are what people live by.

The currency of livelihood is Goodwill. The importance of money is slowly vanishing.

We are in 2035. This is how the world looks:
A blueprint for a self-sustained, interdependent, nondiscriminatory, dynamic and realistic world has been defined.
Prototypes of ecopolis have been successfully implemented. Learning from implementations is being used to create a model that is dynamic and evolves with the needs of the time and space.
The world has started to move from a consumerist attitude of ownership towards to a compassionate attitude of sharing.
Reduce, reuse, recycle are second nature to everyone.
Industry has moved from measuring success economically to measuring success ecologically.

We are in 2020. This is how the world looks:
The world has realized the perils of its current greed based lifestyle and has started working on a framework for a needs based lifestyle.
The lifestyle is moving towards living in harmony with nature by making governments, industry, and community take responsibility and accountability for making the necessary changes.
Children as our only future is beginning to take root in all thinking, actions and policies.

Hasmukh Sapnawala was a consultant for implementation of emerging technology. To name a few – he has worked on the world’s first commercial Unix, cloud computing, Internet bank, Java smart card, Video on Demand, Mobile application platform, RFID etc.

He is currently actively involved in building an Experience Based Holistic Learning Environment (EBHLE) for children (ebhle.org). The prototype has been conceptualized and set-up at Sapna Ranch. The environment has started functioning in 2016 and will be fully self-sufficient in learning, sustenance, capital and energy by 2025. The model is meant to be replicated from 2020 onwards. EBHLE uses the principles of neuroplasticity, biomimicry, ‘Forgiving Design’ and ‘Go with the Flow’.

Delineating Climate Change Planning in Urban Governance: An Analysis of Where and How Vulnerabilities Get Addressed

Alison Kenner & Kerri Yandrich

As climate change planning (CCP) has become more common, so too has the range and diversity of initiatives to address current and future impacts. Two emerging emphases drive the proliferation and variation in CCP documents: The work that local governments are undertaking to plan for climate change, and the prompt to develop adaptation strategies alongside mitigation efforts. Municipal CCP must address the specific dynamics of the local context, including city infrastructure, ecology, communities, as well as existing sociopolitical capabilities and vulnerabilities. We propose an analytic frame for cross-city comparison; an analytic that extends beyond technocratic, economic, and resource-based initiatives solely, to assess how CCP attends to existing political capabilities and public health vulnerabilities — two dimensions of climate change impacts that are often left out of policy. This paper recommends a framework, based on existing climate justice and “health in all policies” scholarship, that can be used to steer and assess CCP at the city-level. Our framework is based in an analysis of planning documents in the 100 most populated U.S. metropolitan statistical areas. CCP documents are categorized by focus, robustness, and regional specificity. We highlight three CCP documents (Cleveland, Denver Philadelphia), which lead the field in their holistic, capacity building approach to city-wide action on climate change. While none of the CCP documents analyzed address human health impacts in-depth or detail, and few addressed political capabilities, we point to strategies that cities initiating CCP can use in these under planned areas.

Alison Kenner is an assistant professor of politics, and a faculty member in the Center for Science, Technology and Society at Drexel University. Her research investigates the U.S. asthma epidemic, with a focus on the environmental, place-based dimensions of the disease and its care.

Kerri Yandrich is the Climate Change Project Specialist for the State of Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, Division of Energy and Climate. Yandrich holds a M.S. in Environmental Policy from Drexel University. Before the present project, which analyzes climate change planning in U.S. cities, Kenner and Yandrich collaborated with public health workers, environmental nonprofits, and community organizers to design and host workshops on the health impacts of climate change in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Digital Materiality: Petrocentrism and Public Advocacy Rhetorics

Madison Jones

Ghost Bikes are a type of memorial unique to bicycle culture. A derelict bicycle is repurposed as a marker, designating a place where a cyclist has been seriously injured in a collision with a motorist. Often, these bicycles are spray painted solid white and attached to a fixed object, such as a street sign or lamp post. This presentation examines the use of ghost bicycles in Jacksonville, Florida, one of the most dangerous places in America to ride a bicycle. Ghost bicycles, found throughout the city, function as material public advocacy rhetoric, speaking powerfully to motorists in an otherwise petrocentric space. This presentation will showcase work with an Augmented Reality Criticism (ARC) project—“Death Drive(r)s: Ghost Bike (Monu)mentality”—created for the TRACE Innovation Initiative at the University of Florida. The project itself is an example of applied advocacy rhetoric. Because they can obstruct pedestrian right-of-way, violate encroachment ordinances, and are considered by some to be an eyesore, ghost bicycles are often taken down within weeks or months of their unveiling. This project augments electronic monuments, creating lasting and haunting memorials—digital ghosts of the bicycles—in the space the physical objects may no longer occupy. These haunting digital and material monuments speak to motorists who might not otherwise share a discourse space with cyclists. They underwrite and transform the petrocentric space of the nation’s most sprawled city, advocating for a future where non-motorists are no longer seen as obstructions for cars, nor as “alternative” transportation.

Madison Jones is a Graduate Research Fellow at the University of Florida—where he studies ecocomposition and environmental rhetoric and works with the TRACE journal & innovation initiative. He is editor-in-chief of Kudzu House Quarterly, a literary and scholarly journal devoted to ecological thought. Reflections on the Dark Water, his second poetry collection was released this spring from Solomon & George.

An article on Plato’s bioregional rhetoric forthcoming in ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment; and poems forthcoming in The Goose, ISLE, and Birmingham Poetry Review. Recent publications include coediting Writing the Environment in Nineteenth Century American Literature; poetry in Canary, Tampa Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, Greensboro Review, and elsewhere; book reviews in ISLE, Kenyon Review Online, Journal of Ecocriticism, and elsewhere.

Ecoswaraj or Radical Ecological Democracy: Transformative Pathways in 2050

Ashish Kothari

The ecological unsustainability and iniquitous nature of the current development model is prompting a search for alternatives. Are there transformative frameworks for a sustainable and equitable future, going beyond symptomatic solutions such as ‘green growth’? Do elements of these already exist in concept and in practice? If so, what principles can be derived from them, and what pathways could be available by 2050?

One such alternative framework, Radical Ecological Democracy, or eco-swaraj, arises from grassroots and conceptual initiatives that have sprung up around the world. This focuses on meeting human needs and aspirations of well-being through direct or radical democracy, localized economies embedded in ecological and cultural landscapes and free of centralized monetary monopolies, notions of human well-being that relate to actual needs of people and to qualitative values like satisfaction and social security, democratic knowledge and technology generation, and sustaining cultural diversity and exchange. It stresses that the locus of all such activity be neither in the state nor in corporations, but in local communities, self-defined in various ways, in rural and urban settings.

While focused on India, the presentation will also relate to alternative worldviews in other parts of the world, including buen vivir & sumac kawsay in Latin America, degrowth, solidarity economies and commons in Europe and North America, ubuntu- based movements in southern Africa. It will raise some key questions for further exploration, including the role of the state, and the political agency for achieving the transition.

Ashish Kothari is a founder-member of Indian environmental group Kalpavriksh (www.kalpavriksh.org), has taught at Indian Institute of Public Administration, and has been guest faculty in several universities including as Mellon Fellow at Bowdoin College, USA. He has coordinated India’s National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan process, served on boards of Greenpeace International and India, Indian Society of Ecological Economics, World Commission on Protected Areas, IUCN Commission on Social, Economic and Environmental Policy. He also helped establish the IUCN Strategic Direction on Governance, Equity, Communities, and Livelihoods (TILCEPA) and the ICCA Consortium (www.iccaconsortium.org). Ashish is a founding member of Global Sustainability University (http://our-global-u.org/oguorg/en/?page_id=597). Active in several peoples’ movements, he is a member of Indian government committees on National Wildlife Action Plan, Biological Diversity

Education in 2050 – Taking Back Our Schools

Sandra Lindberg

By 2025 public school and university teachers faced squarely how corporate profit schemes were robbing students of effective educational experiences. They organized and fought back.

By 2050, citizen revolt against corporatized education had partnered with those struggling for control over their working lives. What were once denigrated as unrealistic socialist ideas became preferred methods–on city blocks, in neighborhoods and wards, within entire cities and in states and regions. A democratic resurgence took hold.

In the schools, much fell away. With teachers, students and parents in the lead, school boards and teachers unions disappeared to be replaced with small and large planning committees so alive with ideas that many eagerly awaited their opportunity to become part of the process. Professional managers or ‘administrators’ became rare.

Some of the ideas no longer useful in 2050 included: scholarly activity based on competition, planning based on old concepts of efficiency and time management, approaches based on the unspoken assumption that resources for education were scarce, and a hierarchical system that over-emphasized so-called professionalism and expertise over knowledge of education based on student and parent experience, creativity, synergy, and the need to allow for a plethora of learning styles and goals.

Also left behind were classrooms with one teacher and thirty or more students. Teacher/student ratios improved to allow one teacher for every six students, partly because such important work was happening in the schools that many wanted to teach and partly because changes in how people contributed to society and were supported for their work meant that teaching positions grew in number to meet citizen demand. School funding was based on the needs of the teachers and students; huge discrepancies between one school and another disappeared, unless the funding differences addressed what had become impoverished and under-funded situations.

Within the schools, comparative studies of many kinds played an essential role in order to leave behind old ways of thinking. Comparative political, economic and social systems were studied in great detail. Capitalism’s tyranny faded and socialism came to be understood as a complex set of ideas from which the new system would pick and choose to meet its needs and goals. Many classes attempted to unpack the unspoken and unfounded assumptions of capitalism regarding what kinds of work were valuable and why such a worker hierarchy had been developed. Comparative religion and ethics classes were offered in some schools as a way to build respect between different groups. As effective and de-mystified sexual education became part of the school system beginning in first grade,population growth slowed. Environmental studies, environmental remediation, and ways to balance human needs with available planetary resources formed the backbone of school curriculums. The study of history, especially the once invisible aspects of history involving the experiences and contributions of women, African-American, Hispanic, Asian, and First Nation people, became indispensable for transforming society. What was once called unpaid labor was also explored carefully. As a final way to break down walls between different kinds of workers, schools and communities adopted tactics used in Cuba after the socialist revolution, when intellectual workers and/or teachers spent a significant part of their summers helping with food production or other physical tasks necessary to repair what had been destroyed during the years of crisis. This approach also reconnected many who had lived for years in offices with a planet they had forgotten.

The social transformation that kicked capitalism out the door, that reintegrated humans with the planet, started when communities took back their schools.

Sandra is a retired theatre professor from Illinois Wesleyan University where she also served on the Environmental Studies faculty. She holds an MFA in Classical Acting/Theatre from the Old Globe’s Professional Acting Program at USD. Her ideas are influenced by the fiction of Octavia Butler, Starhawk, Ursula K. LeGuin, Margaret Atwood, the poetic history of Eduardo Galeano, and the philosophy of Istvan Meszaros. She is a local activist in the midwest, founding member of No New Nukes, and a member of Solidarity and System Change Not Climate Change.

The Emergence of Climate Change Populism in Ecocinema

Sophia Lavin

In 2016, climate change populism—the social condition where ordinary people embody and act on an emerging awareness of the destructive human behaviors that cause climate change—has become a potent transnational trend reflected in global cinema. My paper will join the international perspectives offered on the Stony Brook panel by showing how contemporary filmmakers use cinematic imaginaries to reveal the speculative fears humans have about global climate change—which largely include access to hydro, food, and energy resources, survival beyond extreme weather events, and coping with the occurrence of environmental illness. I argue that climate change populism is a global trend that emerged in early ecocinema films, such as Isao Takahata’s Pom Poko (Japan, 1994), an animated children’s film describing Japan’s largest housing development that eradicated the natural environment. These and other early works helped filmmakers embed climate change themes that now appear in more contemporary films, such as Michel Gondry’s Mood Indigo (France, 2013), whose narrative plots characters initially engaging in conspicuous consumption who are then blighted by environmental illness, and Béla Tarr and Ágnes Hranitzky’s Turin Horse (Hungary, 2011), whose characters negotiate extreme climate conditions for hydro resources. Speculative films, such as George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road (US, 2015), model ecofeminist perspectives that enact agency within the climate commons to address global environmental crises, and perhaps meet the conference goal of a “less worse-outcome for humanity by 2050.” The paper shows how filmmakers ultimately express the existential and cultural undercurrents of climate change populism, while interrogating how various socioeconomic classes will fare in the Anthropocene future.

Sophie Christman Lavin is a Ph.D. candidate in English Literature at SUNY Stony Brook University. Her research areas include: nineteenth and twentieth-century environmental literary criticism, film criticism, and gender studies. She is an Asst. Editor atVictorian Literature and Culture. Her recent teaching experience includes courses such as: Nature in the Nineteenth Century, Ecopoetics, and The Modern Victorian Environment. She is also an Open SUNY fellow in the Center for Excellence in Online Teaching. Her dissertation, “The Sustainable Citizen in Nineteenth and Twentieth-Century Literature and Film” examines sustainable citizenship in novels, poems, and film adaptations. Her scholarship has been published in Adaptation, The Journal of Ecocriticism, and Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and the Environment. Her forthcoming co-authored article with Ann Kaplan, “The Climate of Ecocinema,” will appear in The Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Communication.

“Fictions of Futurity”: Ecocritical Practice in Contemporary Fiction

Jessica Holmes

In my presentation I plan to examine narrative representations of nature and human nature in several contemporary texts—namely Indra Sinha’s Animal’s People and Alexis Wright’s The Swan Book. Each of these novels, I argue, seeks to both represent the existing state of the world, as well as serve as cautionary barely-fictional premonitions of human capacity and human impact upon the environment around us. The authors combine fiction-writing techniques with modern ecocritical practice in an effort to render literary embodiments of the Anthropocene. I will first close read several key moments in which I see fiction and ecocriticism intersecting to larger aims in these texts. Then, dipping lightly into narrative theory, I plan to consider the following questions in my discussion of the novels at large: What does it mean to represent the world as story? How can these texts serve to “imagine” and/or “create just climate futures”? And what role does literary form play in constructing practical critical approaches to global realities? Finally, how can/does fiction seek to preserve an endangered planet, and perhaps even reverse some of the damage already done?

Jessica Holmes is a PhD candidate in English Language and Literature at the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington. She received a Master of Fine Arts in Poetry from the University of Washington and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in English Literature from Lewis & Clark College. Her poetry has been published in the West Trade Review and the Lewis & Clark Literary Review.

Food Sovereignty: A strategy for generating a just future and reducing climate impacts

David Barkin

Dominant approaches to rural development have proven singularly unable to confront the structural challenges posed by a system where progress itself generates poverty and increasing environmental damage. This article places its accent on the direct action of communities to organize themselves to satisfy their food and other basic needs and those of their regions with self-help strategies that could be applied in both rural and urban areas. While generally applicable, this focus draws its inspiration from the experience of La Via Campesina, the largest social organization in the world, with chapters in more than 80 countries and 200 million members.

The food sovereignty approach offers a forward looking strategy to social mobilization, confronting the scourge of rural disintegration while also addressing the pressing issue of environmental balance. It proposes to direct political and social actions to the collective organization of communities to promote local mobilization and cooperation within and among communities, on a regional as well as on a much broader geographic scale. It functions by integrating experts into a well-proven farmer-to- farmer approach for the exchange of information and materials conducive to improving productivity and promoting diversity in accordance with local customs while also creating possibilities for improving the quality of foods being produced and their nutritional impact. Most organizations promoting food sovereignty consider agroecology to be the most effective approach to organizing production, emphasizing the use of locally available inputs and technologies as well as a diversity of cropping system adapted to local conditions.

David Barkin is distinguished Professor of Economics at the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana (Mexico). He was a founding member of the Ecodevelopment Center in 1974 and was a recipient of the National Prize in Political Economy. He is a member of the Mexican Academy of Sciences and Emeritus Researcher in the National Research Council. His numerous books focus on Mexican economic development, food systems analysis and sustainable development; they include: Innovaciones Mexicanas en el Manejo del Agua and La Gestión del Agua Urbana en México. Another of his books, Wealth, Poverty and Sustainable Development, a bilingual essay that enjoyed wide circulation can be freely downloaded. At present he collaborates with community groups to promote local capacities for self-government and ecosystem management. Among the areas in which these projects have functioned are: ecotourism, productive development of natural protected areas, forest rehabilitation, conservation and development, and waste water treatment for peri-urban communities.

Greenhorn Visions and the New Agrarian Activism: Imagining Alternative Agriculture in the Anthropocene

Bradley Jones

In this presentation I consider the possibilities and limits of food activism to imagine and enact just futures in the Anthropocene. To do so, I reflect on a grassroots community building and activist movement known as the Greenhorns, an 8 year old non-profit coalition of aspiring agrarians. In closely considering their practices and literature, I locate the Greenhorn’s engagement within the broader literature on food systems critique and within a framework sensitive to the “politics of resignation” and the “politics of possibility.” This case study reveals that alternative visions of sovereignty and social/environmental justice are produced alongside organic vegetables through the cultivation of what I call an “ethical agrarian imaginary” and the implementation of prefigurative political economics. Moreover, it emphasizes the subject-making potential of grassroots activism in which individuals learn to identify, to imagine, and to desire in ways that align with the political economic ends the movement seeks to engender. I suggest we should consider the emergence of alternative agriculture as a fertile site of becoming; cultivating not only new relationships between humans and nature but also between humans and other humans as they slide (not without friction) into new dispositions, sentiments, and subjectivities alongside work boots and soiled overalls.

Bradley M. Jones is a PhD student in Cultural Anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis. His research explores alternative agriculture, sustainability social movements, and neo-agrarianism in the United States. His research, reviews, and encyclopedia entries have appeared in CuiZine: the Journal of Canadian Food Culture; Food, Culture, and Society; Digest: A Journal of Foodways and Culture; Culture and Agriculture; and Gastronomica; among others. Brad is the founding editor of the Graduate Journal of Food Studies and the current President of the Graduate Association for Food Studies.

The Great Transformation: How We (Just) Avoided a Climate Catastrophe

Jeremy Lent

A historian looks back in 2050 at the dramatic events of the past thirty years, the seeds of which are traceable to the first two decades of the century. He describes how, in the 2020s, the world drew closer to catastrophe, suffering from climate chaos, gaping wealth inequalities, global corporate power grabs, and rising political extremism. Carbon taxes and investments in renewables were proving insufficient marginal fixes to a broken system. By the 2030s, the world seemed headed for a reprise of the 20th century with another mid-century global bloodletting, this time with the threat of regional nuclear conflicts. However, as civilization careened ever closer to the brink, it was swept in another direction by grass-roots communities across the world connected through a shared foundation of core values emphasizing quality of life over material possessions. Empowered by ever deepening internet-enhanced connectivity, hundreds of millions of citizens began striking and demonstrating in a coordinated movement for a Great Transformation, demanding a new framework for global governance. Included in their successful demands were a global wealth tax, new corporate legal structures requiring triple bottom lines, substitution of GDP with GPI (Genuine Progress Indicator) to measure national prosperity, and a UN declaration of the Rights of Nature, enforced through establishment of the crime of ecocide. The historian notes how these new structures of governance all arose from early 21st century ideas, and assesses how they offer a tenuous but hopeful pathway to a sustainable, flourishing future in the second half of the century.

Jeremy Lent is an author whose writings investigate the patterns of thought that have led our civilization to its current crisis of sustainability. He is founder of the nonprofit Liology Institute, dedicated to fostering an integrated worldview that could enable humanity to thrive sustainably on the earth.

His book, The Patterning Instinct: A Cultural History of Humanity’s Search for Meaning, (Prometheus Books, May 2017), traces the deep historical foundations of our modern worldview, showing how different cultures throughout the world have made sense of their universe. Taking the reader on an archaeological exploration of the mind, it uses recent findings in cognitive science and systems theory to reveal the hidden layers of values that form today’s cultural norms. Further information at his website.

Greening the Blue:Environmental Activists and Climate Action within the American Labor Movement

Todd Vachon

“Jobs versus the Environment” has been the mantra of the mainstream media when it comes to unionized workers and environmental issues. High profile cases like the historic struggle between timber workers and defenders of the spotted owl in the Pacific Northwest have served as great news stories for media outlets concerned with ratings and advertising revenue. But what of the countless instances of cooperation between labor and the environmental movement, such as joint support for environmental legislation like the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts? To be sure, there are specific instances in which some unions clash with some environmental interests and other instances when they cooperate, but what are the necessary and sufficient circumstances under which America’s largest social movement will step up to the challenge of climate change?

As part of an ongoing ethnographic research project, this paper explores the role of environmental activists within the labor movement pressing for change from within. Some leaders and rank and file members have been working diligently to make climate change a “labor issue” in the years since the WTO protests in Seattle. Many unions have been brought on board, but others still support climate killing projects such as the Keystone XL pipeline. I explore the role of activist pressure within the labor movement—with a focus on “just transition” policies and a “Green New Deal”—as a necessary step to eroding one of the many “pillars of support” for the fossil fuel industry in the U.S.

Todd Vachon is a doctoral candidate at the University of Connecticut where his research and teaching interests include labor and social movements, the sociology of work, and social stratification. His previously published works have explored a variety of labor-related issues, including the relationship between teacher unionization and high school student achievement, the relationship between unionization and worker’s attitudes on environmental issues, and the effect of globalization and labor market transformation on union density in U.S. metropolitan areas. Todd’s dissertation will explore the goals, tactics, and effectiveness of environmental activists within the American Labor Movement. In addition to his scholarly interest in labor, Todd is also serving as the first President of the recently organized UConn Graduate Employee Union, UAW Local 6950

Guanaroca: Using a Creation Myth to Raise Awareness of Climate Change

David Taylor

Teatro del los Elementos, a theatre group based in Cumanayagua, Cuba, has blended performance, community activism, and sustainability for well over twenty years. They maintain not only a busy schedule of local and national performances, but they also practice sustainable farming in collaboration with the Fundación Antonio Núñez Jiménez de la Naturaleza y el Hombre, a non-governmental scientific and cultural institution dedicated to the research and promotion of culturally and socially directed environmental protection. Their performance Guanaroca retells the creation myth of the Guanaroca Lagoon, a story that borrows from both Yoruba and Taino mythology. However, putting this myth into performance is intended to point to the negative effects of climate change on the lagoon (especially rising sea levels). Taylor’s presentation will discuss the origins of the myth and how Teatro de los Elementos’ performance raises awareness of the lagoon’s peril due to climate change. Footage of the entire performance of Guanaroca will be available via a Vimeo link.

David Taylor is an Assistant Professor in the Sustainability Studies Program at Stony Brook University. He is the author and editor of seven books. Taylor has traveled to Cuba multiple times in the last five years working with the University of Havana, Artes and Escenicas Cubanas, and Fundación Antonio Núñez Jiménez de la Naturaleza y el Hombre. His research in Cuba examines the use of performance arts as a means of environmental outreach and education about sustainability and climate change.

Imagining Plant-Like Futures? Vegetal Intelligence in Brian Aldiss’ Novel Hothouse (1962)

John Ryan

In Through Vegetal Being (2016, written with Luce Irigaray), Michael Marder asserts that “by robbing plants of their time, and especially of their future, we deny a future to human and all other living beings.” For Marder and other critical plant studies scholars, the future of humanity is contingent on our alignment with vegetal temporality and the envisaging of a societal order with peculiarly plant-like attributes. In his deconstruction of Western metaphysics, Marder appears in alignment with the ethnobotanist and psychonaut Terence McKenna, whose heuristic “plan/plant/planet” positions the botanical kingdom as a creative organizational matrix for the twenty-first century.

How might we imagine humanity in 2050 as more plant-like—as in higher synchronization with vegetal temporality in our scientific, technological, cultural, and interpersonal pursuits? How might we resist denying a future to plants and, thus, to ourselves and other beings? And how might the genre of science fiction enable us to build up the imaginative faculties and transgressive outlooks required for doing so? In the context of these questions, this paper will undertake a reading of Brian Aldiss’ Hothouse, recipient of the 1962 Hugo Award for Best Short Fiction. The novel is a work of futuristic science-fiction with prominent vegetal protagonists, such as omnivorous spider-like plants. Humans grapple in the narrative with the threat of extinction by, for instance, seeking refuge in the canopy of a gargantuan banyan tree.

I argue that works of science fiction, such as Hothouse, narrativize the ideas of Marder and McKenna by allowing readers to suspend chronos-inflected, reductionistic conceptions of plants. The first step toward a plant-like future—if that is even desirable in the first place—is the eschewing of conventional ideas of vegetal nature as a relatively unmoving, unfeeling, non-sentient constituent of our perceptual domains.

John Charles Ryan is Honorary Research Fellow in the School of Humanities at the University of Western Australia in Perth. From 2012 to 2015, he was Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the School of Communications and Arts at Edith Cowan University. His teaching and research activities cross between the Environmental and Digital Humanities. In particular, he has contributed to the fields of Ecocriticism and Critical Plant Studies. He is the author, co-author, editor, or co-editor of 10 interdisciplinary books, including the Bloomsbury title Digital arts: An introduction to new media (2014) and The language of plants: Science, philosophy, literature (University of Minnesota Press, forthcoming 2017). In 2016, he is living in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand.

Human Behavioral Evolution and Climate Change: Evolved Dispositions, Climate Action, and Integration with the Humanities

John Mustol

Scientific study of climate change has been intense in recent decades, and the findings are in: climate change is occurring, and without appropriate action, by 2050, our world will be a more difficult place to live in – for us and for other creatures. But humans, not the climate system, are causing the problem. So why not address the cause rather than the result and turn our powerful science on ourselves? What can science tell us about what kind of creatures we are, why we behave as we do, and how we might change our behavior? Many sciences can help: psychology, anthropology, biology, etc. We evolved within ecosystems, so could it be that in so doing, we acquired evolved behavioral patterns and dispositions that influence our behavior toward the ecosystem, and hence, toward the climate system? Might evolutionary biology reveal some human traits by which we might change our behavior? I suggest some possible answers to these questions. Some evolved behavioral patterns that might make appropriate action difficult include self-interest, anthropocentrism, temporal-spatial discounting, opportunism, acquisitiveness, and in-group preference. But features that might offer ways for change include sociality, culture, empathy, and a capacity for self-transcendence. I shall discuss these traits and how, when joined with ideas from the social sciences and humanities, they might help show a way forward to make 2050 and beyond less difficult and more livable – for us and for other creatures.

Born in San Jose and raised in San Diego, John Mustol is a fourth generation native Californian. He has a B.S. in zoology and became a medical doctor in 1977. Trained in general surgery, he has served 8 years in the Comoro Islands as a medical missionary and then was in private practice in Virginia for 8 years. He retired from medicine in 2001, obtained a Master of Divinity, a teaching credential, and a Master of Theology, and he worked two years as an assistant church pastor. He is currently working on a Ph.D. in theology and ethics (dissertation writing) at Fuller Seminary, Pasadena. His focus is the integration of human evolutionary biology, neuropsychology, and Christian theology for environmental ethics. He is married for 42 years and currently lives in San Antonio, TX to be near family and grandchildren.

Liberation Communications: How Participatory Framing Fomented the People-Powered Movement for Just Transition

Celia Alario

In 2050 we celebrate a shared understanding of what ‘climate justice’ and ‘clean technology’ look like when grounded in a ‘rights-based approach’ to climate solutions. The idea of a ‘rights’ or ‘equity’ based approach to climate action isn’t new—having come to prominence in the first two decades of the century—but civil society has finally succeeded in defining (and codifying via policy) a standard of excellence for governments, businesses and clean technology innovators. It’s one that promotes solutions to problems of a changing climate while also fostering and upholding human rights, rights of Indigenous Peoples’, workers, women, rights of future generations and of the more-than-human world. Of course the global economy in 2050 is far from a true ‘energy democracy’, as humanity continues to ferret out the noxious tendrils of capitalism run amok after decades of unchecked neoliberalism, but communications channels are full of inspirational examples of ‘just transition’, and pop culture is saturated with authentic voices of change agents fecund with solutions.

It is said that everything moves at the speed of trust. We got here in just 24 years by radically transforming the way social movements operate, starting with how human beings (especially those purporting to work for justice) behaved with one another. We developed trust. We moved beyond merely transactional efforts to transformational ones, in relationships, grassroots organizing, campaigning and teaching. I’ll share how—through participatory research, participatory framing, community driven journalism, the gamification of civic engagement, and transformational leadership development—we built power in communities most directly impacted by climate chaos, retooled our activism and finally learned to put relationship before task, recognizing that quality relationships supported true empowerment and authentic self-expression, which allowed for greater participation, and ultimately fomented our deepening democracy.

Celia Alario is a communications strategist and educator. She cavorts with grassroots change agents, artists, academics and journalists who share her love for social justice, planetary healing and culture shaping. For more than 25 years Alario has collaborated on groundbreaking media campaigns, provided one-on-one coaching for communications staffers, trained hundreds in spokesperson skills and placed thousands of social justice and environmental stories in media outlets worldwide. Alario offers courses in Environmental Communications for the Environmental Studies Department and the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at her alma mater, UC Santa Barbara. Alario is researching ‘Best Practices’ in the field of grassroots capacity building as a Masters Candidate at the Centre for Civil Society, in Durban, South Africa. She’s on the Board of the Center for Story-Based Strategy, and the Advisory Boards of IVAW (Iraq Veterans Against the War) and Kindle Project. She alternatively chases her poodle across the majestic red rock landscapes of Moab, Utah and the effervescent coastlines of Santa Barbara, California. Find her on Twitter @celiaalario.

Linda Hogan’s Dwellings: Our Only Future is to “Restore and Honor” the Treaties “We Once Had with the Land”

Márgara Averbach

In Dwellings, A Spiritual History of the Living World, Linda Hogan breaks away from European world views in every possible sense. The book combines genres that are seldom mixed in European writing: first person anecdotes and “science reporting”; “science reporting” and “magic stories”; “History” and “story”, among others. As most Native authors, she handles space and time as one complex dimension, not two. Therefore, Dwellings is an unclassifiable book, which is fitting because Hogan proposes a non-European relationship between humans and Nature.

Hogan divides the text into loosely related chapters but the book is one and the idea behind it is that human beings “have strayed from the treaties we once had with the land”, and must honor them again if we are to have a future as a species. The idea is developed in scientific explanations, personal anecdotes, poetry and more. Hogan describes the deep crisis we are faced with globally while giving examples of ways in which to “restore and honor” the Treaties. This seemingly contradictory tone is part of her rejection of the European binary thinking which has led us to this situation. As in Evo Morales’ speeches, Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything and Eugenio Zaffaroni La Pachamama y el humano¸ Hogan conceives humans as part of Mother Earth, the “dwelling” we are destroying to our own risk. To express this view of humanity, she “reinvents the enemy’s language”, English, a language of Europeanorigin, not made to express these ideas.

PhD in Literature (University of Buenos Aires), Literary Translator (IES J. R. Fernández). She has translated 68 novels, and teaches US Literature at UBA. She received the FOCAL, Canadá (2005), Mellon (2006) and Fulbright (2003) scholarships. She has published 38 books for children and young adults: La charla, Las carpetas, Umbrales, El año de la Vaca, Los que volvieron; for adults: Aquí, donde estoy parada, Cuarto menguante, Una cuadra, winner of the National Library Award (2007). Some academic books: Memoria oral de la esclavitud; Manual de traducción literaria; Caminar dos mundos. Awards: the Konex Diploma al Mérito por LIteratura Juvenil (2014), Conosur Award for Translation (2007), First Prize for Children Short Stories (Madres de Plaza de Mayo, 1992); First Prize, Short Stories on Identity (Abuelas, 2001). Her books El año de la Vaca and El agua quieta were “Destacados de ALIJA” (2004, 2016) as was her translation of There was an old lady (2011).

Making Cosmopolitical Commons in the Ruins of Europe

Miriam Tola

What will Europe look like in 2050? Some suggest that the European Union will no longer exist. The acceleration of climate change, regimes of governance by debt, the resurgence of nationalism and racist migration policies will create a divided continent, one where the uneven distribution of precarity will condemn many people and places to an unbearable life. Patches of the continent will perhaps resemble the apocalyptic landscapes imagined by science-fiction writer James G. Ballard in the 1960s: drowned worlds scarred by anomic violence. Rather than lingering on the disasters produced by the intersection of ecological and economic precarity, this presentation directs attention to collectives that strive to persist in ruins of Europe. Specifically, it envisions the proliferation of struggles for the commons as more just mode for dwelling on earth. The cosmopolitical commons of this unknowable yet accessible future, however, does not entail the distinction between “social commons” and “natural commons,” active human subjects and malleable resources. Instead, it involves the interplay of disparate beings, not all of which are human. Working back from the future to the present, my presentation finds traces of the cosmopolitical commons in an episode of struggle occurring in Rome, Italy, where an urban lake has recently become a central actor in a prolonged mobilization for the commons. This is an instance of commoning where is hard to tell when nature ends and the social begins.

Miriam Tola is an independent scholar currently based in Rome, Italy. Situated at the intersection of critical theory and feminist and postcolonial environmental humanities, her work has appeared in Hypatia, Theory & Event, PhaenEx, and is forthcoming in South Atlantic Quarterly. Her first book manuscript, currently in preparation, is titled Ecologies of the Commons. Considering the metamorphosis of the commons from Medieval Europe to contemporary political theory and movements, this project examines limits and possibilities of the commons for troubling the hegemonic Western model of the human. New projects include a research focusing on organizations that propose to consider nature as a right-bearing entity. She received a PhD in Women’s and Gender Studies from Rutgers University, and has been a Visiting Scholar in the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program at Northeastern University.

Modeling Environmental Benefits on Health in a More Urbanized World

Rick Thomas

In 2008, for the first time in human history more people were living in cities than the countryside. As the human population reaches nearly 10 billion by 2050, the percentage of city-dwellers is expected to rise to 70%. While there are many benefits of a more urbanized world, such a trend has also been associated with a drop in mental health through increased incidences of depression, anxiety and stress. As such, while the world in 2050 will certainly be more crowded, it appears likely to be a sadder, more anxious place as well.

But does it have to be? This talk discusses the feasibility of one possible solution. It is a growing observation that after accounting for differences in socio-economic statuses and other relevant factors, urban greenspace has been shown to reduce incidences of mental disorders. However, tackling this problem it is not as simple as cities ramping up public parks—city space is a valuable resource and parks must compete with business, residential and other facilities, all of which tend to be perceived as greater revenue streams.

I argue this perception isn’t inherently true. In its ability to improve mental health, urban greenspace frees up resources that currently go towards treating depression and anxiety disorders, for example. As a result, by investing in more greenspace, cities stand to be not only healthier, but better off financially as well. What is needed then, is a way for city planners and governing officials to model how these benefits change as they invest in greenspace in order to make informed decisions on the best type, quantity, and distribution parks in cities. In my talk I will walk the audience through in greater detail why such a model is necessary, what it would look like, what it would accomplish and the work being done to make it happen.

Rick Thomas is a Master’s Candidate at the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has held research positions working on climate change and sustainable agriculture projects at the University of Minnesota, UC San Diego, Stanford University, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He spent the summer of 2016 collaborating with researchers at Stanford on the urban greenspace model described above. He has previously presented ideas of natural health benefits at the International Children & Nature Network Conference in May of 2015 and is an author of several environmental fantasy novels, one of which is published and available on Amazon Kindle.

Narrative and Anthropocene Imagination

David Rodriguez

An essential part of action in the present is enabled by our image of the future. But its bearing is not just found through the conditions of the image as it is projected—a hotter world, a wetter world—it is contingent on our theories about imagination, about how we believe these images are projected and embedded in narrative.

This presentation will work from 2050 to the present through a speculative test of twentieth-century theories of imagination that are rather unselfconsciously concerned with how the imagination of the world in the present can affect the future. These can be juxtaposed with contemporary texts pushed to experiment with these same imaginative concerns but through a selfconsciousness encouraged by the anthropocene. Jean-Paul Sartre’s concept of the image as the world-negated can be mapped onto Alan Weisman’s The World Without Us, already a superficial attempt at an imaginative negation; Edward S. Casey’s concept of the image not as world but as a world-frame can be seen in the concern with positioning a future world within the present in Lucy Helton’s manipulated landscape photography in Actions of Consequence; and the concept of storyworlds within narrative theory as immersive representations of an imagined world are expanded by a narrative such as 10:04 by Ben Lerner, which compresses the 2011 and 2012 hurricane seasons into a cyclical and eerily whimsical autobiographical novel.

Through this analysis, I show how the imaginative experience of these anthropocene texts can vitally supplement our theorizations of imagination, both of which are necessary to meet the imaginative challenges of climate change.

David Rodriguez is a PhD candidate in English at Stony Brook University who has recently presented on bird’s-eye view description in Hawthorne and Sarah Orne Jewett at the International Society for the Study of Narrative conference in Amsterdam, imagination and catastrophe at the American Comparative Literature Association conference at Harvard, and unnatural narrators in the natural world at the Association of Literature and Environment biennial conference at University of Idaho. His dissertation focuses on cases of aerial description in 20th-century American fiction and the experience of space in narrative. He co-organizes the Cognitive Science in the Arts and Humanities speaker series at Stony Brook and has participated in the Project Narrative Summer Institute at Ohio State as well as the Summer Course for Narrative Study at Aarhus University.

Narrative in the Anthropocene

Erin James

My presentation imagines how narrative can best represent the environmental changes that are to come. Specifically, it engages recent discussions about the Anthropocene to imagine a theory of narrative that is sensitive to matters commonly associated with the epoch. This discussion of an “Anthropocene narratology” poses the following questions: how do the new conceptions of time and space demanded by the Anthropocene diversify narratological concepts of chronology and spatialization? How does the awareness of self-narration associated with the Anthropocene complicate our notion of omniscience and first-person narration? How does the intertwining of humans and other species in the Anthropocene shed new light on the representation of non-human narrators? And, perhaps most importantly, how does the idea of the Anthropocene as an epoch in which humans literally “write” the Earth challenge our very understanding of narrative itself and its functions?

I argue that an “Anthropocene narratology” stands to enrich a universal model of narrative by incorporating ideas pertinent to this new geological epoch and developing a richer vocabulary for analyzing individual narratives in the age of the Anthropocene. I also make a case for narrative in the Anthropocene—for narrative as the dominant rhetorical mode of this epoch—by tracing the similarities between the two. I thus argue that, contrary to what some scholars pessimistically suggest, we stand to understand better the current state of the world and our relationship to it by engaging with narrative.

Erin James is Associate Professor of English at the University of Idaho, where she also directs the MA in English. She published The Storyworld Accord: Econarratology and Postcolonial Narratives with the University of Nebraska Press in 2015. Her additional publications include essays in the Journal of Narrative Theory and the Journal of Commonwealth and Postcolonial Literature, The Bioregional Imagination (U of Georgia P 2012), and Teaching Ecocriticism and Green Cultural Studies (Palgrave 2012). Her work explores the intersections of ecocriticism and narrative theory and questions the role narratives stand to play in a response to today’s environmental crisis.

Networked and Compassionate Eco-Noetic Environments – Art, Technology Design and Education Beyond Utopia

Lila Moore

In 2050, the Internet exists everywhere and anywhere one may wish to engage with networks. It has transformed into a cluster of independent webs, consisting of self-regulating and interconnected partially virtual worlds and environments. Initially, this trajectory triggered suspicion and fear. Terrorist attacks, global crime and violence left a devastating legacy. However, at the margins of culture, networks artists, consciousness hackers, cyborg designers and interdisciplinary innovators sought to holistically realign the environment and the human body along with the exploration of consciousness. By 2040s, the design and technology of eco-noetic environments became mainstream, gradually reducing violence towards the environment and catalyzing the emergence of novel, compassionate cultural narratives.

The narrative of violence is evident in Anthropocene. To transform the narrative, the context has to shift. The carbon-neutral format of this online conference is an opportunity to explore an alteration in context. Although face-to-face interaction cannot be replicated, research and practice from the fields of networked performance and learning, VR, and cyberception demonstrate that new technologies and methodologies can evolve and improve our involvement with the body-mind, one another, and the environment. Furthermore, they can induce states of compassion and communitas in participating individuals and groups. These potentials catalyze a different landscape in which distance and proximity, presence and meaning are noetic, i.e., mind-based and compassion-oriented. As a result, we are re-learning to navigate the environment via new types of landscape technology design, and imagine our environments as eco-noetic, i.e., in compassionate symbiosis with our body-mind and nature.

Dr Lila Moore is the founder of the Cybernetic Futures Inst., an online platform for the study of technoetic arts, consciousness and the spiritual in art and film. The platform utilizes innovative educational methodologies for learning in compassionate environments, and for counteracting the prevalent narrative of violence. These concepts were developed during her post-doctoral project at the Planetary Collegium, Plymouth University (2015).

Dr Moore is an artist film-maker, screen-choreographer, networked performance practitioner and theorist. She holds a PhD degree in Dance on Screen, Middlesex University (2001) and an MA in Film, Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. She participated as speaker, curator, performer and writer in a series of conferences and performances on ecological issues organized by the Waterwheel Platform (2013-2016). Additionally, she lectures at the BA Department for Mysticism and Spirituality, Zefat Academic College, Israel, leads international networked workshops in Kefalonia, Greece and London, UK, and exhibits works internationally.

Not to be written, but absorbed: Oceanic futures in 2050

Melody Jue

Imagining the future always requires a specific form of imagining recording media. Consider how the “Anthropocene” is imagined as a stratigraphic layer in the making, variously “marked” by the anthropogenic emission of carbon, or deployment of nuclear weapons (Steffen: 2015). Geologic strata can be variously marked and cut through with other materials—and it would be easy to say that we are in the process of “writing” our future into being this very instant. But what about the oceans—does it make sense to say they will be “written” in the same way? I suggest that the oceans, as saltwater mixed with life, require new ways of speaking about the future; that this future is not by being written or inscribed like a book, but materially absorbed into bodies. Moving beyond the medial paradigm of writing, I argue that the porous concept of “absorption” is useful as an umbrella for conceptualizing the multi-scalar changes that will come to characterize the oceans in 2050: ocean acidification, sea-level rise, coral bleaching, and the global decline of fisheries. My aim is to incorporate my own underwater footage of local kelp forests and the coastal environment in this talk, in order to persuasively show how the ocean changes the medial paradigm (writing → absorption) through which we imagine and talk about the future in 2050.

Melody Jue is Assistant Professor of English at UC Santa Barbara. Her research centers on case studies of ocean alterity to bring about shifts in consciousness and the critical practices of the humanities. She brings first-hand experience as a scuba diver, leading her to question how terrestrial concepts necessarily change when submerged in an ocean milieu. Professor Jue’s current book project, Wild Blue Media: Thinking Through Seawater, displaces key concepts in media theory into the ocean, seeing how the ocean environment necessitates different theoretical orientations. Her publications have appeared in Grey Room (MIT Press), Green Planets: Science Fiction & Ecology, Animations: An International Journal, Humanities Circle, and a forthcoming essay in Women’s Studies Quarterly.

The Power Equation and Climate Justice in 2050

Pallav Das

The miasma of climate change suffocating societies all around the world and inflicting rampant socio-economic injustices on the disadvantaged is not just a result of unsound environmental or energy policies, or even misjudgments on their societal implications. It is, in fact, an unambiguous expression of the power dynamic operating within societies where a small elite has captured the political decision making process so as to secure total command over the process by which resources are used and allocated. Whether through well-organized, yet sham rituals within the façade of electoral democracies or by sheer brute force in ethically inured autocracies, the elites worldwide have been able to further their own economic interests at the cost of the environment. The fact that climate change and its consequent injustices now recognize no international borders is a result of the manner in which the power elites around the world have coalesced in their supplication to the dictat of international capital, which too moves freely from one country to the next in pursuit of endless growth and profit, in total defiance of any residual notion of national sovereignty. The proposed paper would inquire the evolution of power relations as capitalism progressed through its mercantile, industrial and finance incarnations, both, through colonial and post-colonial periods, and where it stands today. It would then examine the path of alternative economic development situated in the egalitarian dissemination of power, being crafted by popular movements, indigenous peoples, and initiatives of systemic change, which could lead us to a new era of climate justice in 2050. The paper would finally explore what this societal scenario free of power domination would look like and how power itself would be redefined in an egalitarian and environmentally just world.

Pallav Das has pursued a twin-track career in environmental conservation and creative communications. He has designed and launched innovative campaigns, and founded and led private and non-profit organizations, including Kalpavriksh. Pallav has documented some of India’s most pressing development challenges through his film work, including films on violence against women and the threat of HIV/AIDS among street children.

Revising Our Future: The Online Writing Center and its Eco-Friendly Potential

Mandy Olejnik

Online education – the face of our future. There’s been a prominent shift toward online learning in response to the technological evolution of the 21 st century, and with the increasing trend of online courses, programs, and degrees comes the prospect of online writing center services. The utility of such online features remains a constant debate in writing center studies as some universities may limit online services to students taking online classes while others may have more open policies. Additionally, this utility further splits into two segments: utility to the student and utility to the environment.

As this presentation will address, some scholars may view online writing centers as decentralizing while others praise its ability to branch out to more students, but what about its environmental and overall impact and effectiveness? With an online writing center, students and consultants are able to forego visits to campus (and forego the release of emissions when commuting to campus) by using online technology. While not being able to exactly replicate an in-person consultation, these online appointments allow for more students to participate in writing center sessions and ultimately contribute to an eco-friendlier learning process.

When considering the pros and cons of online writing center services, then, more than human-centered utility should be taken into consideration. This talk will explore both the human-centered and environment-centered aspects of online writing center services and will compare such services to those of online and hybrid courses, thus adding more to the ongoing discussion on online writing center tutoring.

Mandy Olejnik is an MA student in Composition and Rhetoric at Miami University of Ohio. She earned a BA with a dual major of Writing and Rhetoric and French Language and Literature at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. Focusing primarily on writing center studies, Mandy has worked on research projects that have centered around rhetoric’s influence on the writing center, audience awareness in the writing center, and ethos in the writing center. She teaches first-year writing at Miami and serves as a graduate writing consultant at the Howe Writing Initiative in the Farmer School of Business.

Rising Sea Levels and Low Lying Islands in 2050

Christina Gerhardt

“Let Them Drown,” Naomi Klein’s 2016 London Edward W. Said lecture, called attention, as Rob Nixon’s Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor had done, to the nexus of climate change, racism and poverty. But she shifted the spotlight onto the oft-overlooked low-lying island states. And their current day situation is dire. On May 6, 2016, scientists announced that five Solomon Islands have disappeared due to rising sea levels.

Low lying island nations and sub-Saharan Africa have been hardest hit by the twin effects of poverty and climate change. A 2012 World Bank report revealed that of the twenty nations with the highest average annual losses in Gross Domestic Product resulting from climate change related storms, eight are Pacific Islands. Climate change impacts the world’s poor the most and, according to Oxfam, half of the Pacific Island population lives in poverty.

This proposed paper presents what the situation of low-lying island states is projected to be by 2050. It will outline the key issues related to rising sea levels, which include not only flooding of housing but also the salination of limited drinking water and of agricultural lands making life on remote islands increasingly unsustainable, and the solutions being put forward to them by Pacific Islanders. It dovetails with my current book project focusing on this topic.

Christina Gerhardt is Assistant Professor of German and Environmental Humanities and at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. She is the author of Nature in Adorno and the editor of Climate Change, Hawaii and the Pacific – both under review. She has received grants from the Fulbright Commission and the DAAD. She has held visiting appointment at Harvard University and at Columbia. University. Previously, she taught in the Department of German at the University of California at Berkeley. Her writing has been published in Capitalism, Nature and Socialism, Cineaste, Film Quarterly, German Studies Review, Mosaic, New German Critique, Quarterly Review of Film.

The Role of Environmental Literature in Mitigating Climate Change

Teja Dusanapudi

Scientific literature has always had a strong impact on the world. Darwin’s Origin of Species inspired revolutionary understandings of biology, economic policy, a point of controversy among debates about race, and innumerable biological phrases that have worked their way into the modern lexicon. It should then come as no surprise that literature involving the climate can change perception and catalyze action just as much as Darwin’s work. Rachel Carson’s magnum opus, Silent Spring, erased the egregious environmental negligence that allowed for events such as the Cuyahoga River Fire, and created a generation defining movement for environmental rights, resulting in not only new waves of both ecological writing and awareness but also public policies to protect the flora and fauna of America. This single book still remains relevant decades later, and its impact must be emulated again. In order to change our as­of­now inevitable environmental outcome in 2050, we must create widespread changes to not only the laws that allow for exploitation but also to the increasingly information saturated public. And the only feasible way to create this widespread change is through literature. Even now, texts such as Paul Hawken’s Blessed Unrest seek to raise awareness of the results of our anthropogenic pollution, but no work has yet to fill the void in the public presence Silent Spring left. For a better future in 2050, we must have a second Silent Spring to once again awake the general public to our environmental plight so that change can be made.

Teja Dusanapudi is a senior in high school who writes eco­poetry, ecocritical essays, and has won awards at the state level for his essays along with qualifying in international competitions. He is currently in the final stages of development of an app that assists colorblind people with their impairment.

Scaling Quelccaya

Meredith Leich and Andrew Malone

The near-global glacier retreat of recent decades is among the most convincing evidence for contemporary climate change; this retreat can pose serious problems for the communities proximate to the glaciers. But many glaciers are far from population-dense centers; how can a glacier’s scale, both physical and temporal, be communicated to those faraway? The project of artist-scientist team Meredith Leich and Andrew Malone, Scaling Quelccaya proposes an alternate system for presenting climate change data, designed to evoke a more visceral response through a visual, geospatial, poetic approach. For the past year, we have focused on the Quelccaya Ice Cap, the world’s largest tropical glaciated area, located in the Peruvian Andes. Drawing on 30 years of satellite imagery of the Quelccaya, we have explored the glacier’s retreat using 3D animation and gaming software, to bring it into a virtual juxtaposition with a model of the city of Chicago, placing the two sites in a framework of intimate scale. Using Chicago as a cosmopolitan North American “measuring stick,” we apply speculative mathematics to determine, for instance, the amount of ice that has melted on Quelccaya over the last 30 years and what the height of an equivalent amount of snow would fall on the city of Chicago (circa 600 feet, higher than the Willis Tower). Mirroring the collapse of space brought about by cellular technology and social media, this virtual approach seeks a more imaginative, psychologically-astute manner of portraying the sober facts of climate change, by inviting viewers to learn and consider without inducing fear.

Meredith Leich and Andrew Malone are an artist-scientist team working on an ongoing project about the Quelccaya Ice Cap in Peru. Their collaboration was awarded a 2015-16 Arts, Science & Culture Initiative Graduate Collaboration Grant from the University of Chicago. Andrew Malone studies the mechanisms, timing and scope of abrupt climate change events during the last 20,000 years, especially the interplay between the atmosphere, ocean, and cryosphere. He is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Geology at Lawrence University and studied at UChicago (PhD, expected 2016) and Wheaton University (BA, 2011).

Meredith Leich is a Chicago-based writer, painter, and animator, who works with climate change and narrative. She is currently a graduate student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in Film, Video, New Media, and Animation (2017) and also has degrees from Swarthmore College (2008) and the San Francisco Art Institute (2013).

Saving the Earth from Outside of its Structures: Ecofeminism and James Tiptree Jr.’s A Momentary Taste of Being

Selena Middleton

This paper explores the ways in which science fiction exposes the mutability of our humanity within the context of ecological collapse as depicted in James Tiptree Jr.’s A Momentary Taste of Being. Tiptree’s narrative explores the transformation of the crew members of an interstellar voyage when they come into contact with an alien species. While this transformation is relayed to the reader through the horrified voice of Dr. Aaron Kaye, a look at the role and voice of his sister Lory offers different conclusions.

In order to establish the competing structures from which Aaron and Lory speak, I engage briefly with a history of nature’s place in Western culture, and the challenge of Darwin’s theory of evolution, before moving on to contemporary theories of hybridity via Donna Haraway and Stacey Alaimo. In this way, I establish an understanding of the interconnectedness of all lifeforms in their supportive (or oppressive) structures—a concept that extends human vulnerability to include wounds not only inflicted upon ourselves, but connecting the devastations that we mete out on the land to sites of human weakness. Tiptree’s novella, A Momentary Taste of Being, questions the very root of humanity—what is a humanity that is capable of such destruction that renders an entire planet uninhabitable? Where do these capabilities come from and where do they lead? Tiptree’s work posits that the alien, an unknown element, needn’t be met with horror or grief.

While the nihilism of Tiptree’s story is shocking, the human drives she isolates as part of the monstrous transformation are key to understanding and imagining a different future. Tiptree’s novella suggests that the root of our ecological conflict is desire—the same desire that compelled explorers across oceans to subjugate and colonize also compels us to push human civilization further and further into natural spaces, transforming them in our own image. This paper will use Tiptree’s narrative to explore what can be done with such desires. Can these human energies be harnessed as a force toward sustainability rather than continual propagation and annihilation?

Selena Middleton is a 4th year PhD student in the Department of English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada. Her working dissertation title is “Old Myths in the New Anthropocene: Negotiating the Terms of Exile in Ecological Science Fiction.” This project explores the ways in which the mythical mode of exile is the primary environmental and psychological landscape of the Anthropocene, a space which ecological science fiction has occupied for some time. These futuristic texts envision the affective turn of human lives within these spaces, which are quickly becoming our present in an anthropocentric ecology. Selena’s essay “Utopia and the Colonized Pastoral: Africa, Myth, and Blackness in Greg Bear’s Queen of Angels” was recently published after winning the Foundation Essay Prize.

Simulating Futures: An Inquiry into the Efficacy of Cli-fi as the Literary Genre of the Anthropocene

Pooja Agarwal

Anthropogenic climate change is the number one contemporary concern which needs to be tackled by the entire humanity in a joint and collaborative effort towards an ecologically sustainable and just future. As much as there is a need to envisage and incorporate viable plans and policies at the macro level of international co-operation amongst nations, organizations, and parties, there is a need at the very micro level to raise environmental consciousness in every individual. Climate change is a grim concern, but more than often it fails to trigger a warning alarm in the lay citizen because often its impact is little felt directly. While the human race has entered the Anthropocene, the climate change discourse is largely restricted to political and scientific alleys. There is an urgent need to educate the lay citizen about the impending future that awaits us if we continue to indulge in erratic and excessive materialism and consumption. The current paper concedes that creative simulation of imagined futures, often dystopian, apocalyptic, and catastrophic in nature can in fact shake the reader out of complacency, and mobilize her/him into definite action and bring about a change at the very level of an individual. Cli-fi (climate fiction) has emerged as an effective and pertinent literary genre that can raise important environmental questions, and contribute significantly towards a just and green future, and the current paper is an attempt to systematically analyze the efficacy of cli-fi as the imaginative literature of the twenty first

Pooja Agarwal is a Research Scholar at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur. Her research focuses on utopian impulse in post 1960s new wave science fiction writing that has been deeply informed by ecological concerns. She has been a faculty at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Harcourt Butler Technological Institute, Kanpur. Pooja has also been a freelance writer, contributing articles to the Kanpur edition of Times of India. She is an aspiring author of short stories and poetry. She has publications in Indian Literature (Sahitya Akademi), Indiaree, and Muse India. Pooja completed her M. Phil program from the CSJM University, Kanpur. She is currently involved in her thesis work. As a research scholar she has presented papers at national and international conferences, and has marked publications in peer-review journals. She is also a member of international bodies including the Library of British Consulate, the American Library, The Society for Utopian Studies, and The Indian Association of Science Fiction Studies.

Solutions to a changing climate: stories from the past and present to inform the future 

Julie Maldonado

Storytelling is one of our oldest and most basic forms of communication. It is how we remember, learn, teach, and experience the world. A common cross-cultural way of explaining often starts with, “Let me tell you a story.” Stories serve as powerful conduits of knowledge among and between people and across generations and locales. Considering the power of stories at this critical time, as we enter into a new climate system, this panel addresses the following question: How can storytelling – and the lessons informed by stories – foster the creation of sustainable and culturally-appropriate solutions to climate change among and between people with various technical and traditional perspectives, approaches, and objectives?

Julie Maldonado (PhD, anthropology) is the Director of Research for the Livelihoods Knowledge Exchange Network (LiKEN), a link-tank for policy-relevant research toward post-carbon livelihoods and communities. She also works as a consultant for the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals, working with tribal communities on developing climate change adaptation plans, and is a lecturer in the Environmental Studies Program at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Julie also co-organizes Rising Voices: Collaborative Science with Indigenous Knowledge for Climate Solutions. Dr. Maldonado worked for the U.S. National Climate Assessment (NCA), was a lead author for the NCA’s Indigenous Peoples, Land and Resources Chapter, and was lead editor and organizer for the Climatic Change Special Issue and book, “Climate Change and Indigenous Peoples in the United States: Impacts, Experiences and Actions.” Julie has consulted for the United Nations Development Programme and World Bank on development-induced displacement and resettlement, post-disaster needs assessments, and climate change. Her doctorate focused on impacts of environmental change in coastal Louisiana, where her work continues as a Support Team member for the Isle de Jean Charles Tribe’s Resettlement Team.

Still Something Other: Graffiti and Ecology In the Context of Extreme Weather

Evan Gromel

At the end of his 1974 Esquire article “The Faith of Graffiti,” Norman Mailer describes graffiti as having an “unheard echo” through which “all the lives ever lived are sounding now like the bugles of gathering armies across the unseen ridge.” This presentation considers graffiti as what ecotheorist Timothy Morton has coined “ambient art,” or “a poetic enactment … that collapses the subject-object division, upon which depends the aggressive territorialization that precipitates ecological destruction.” It examines the graffiti that arose in the months following Hurricane Katrina’s landfall in New Orleans, specifically that which characteristically inscribes the question of its own essence, such as that documented in Richard Misrach’s collection Destroy This Memory. Drawing also from Morton’s works Ecology Without Nature and “Ecology as Text, Text as Ecology,” as well as Kristie Fleckenstein’s Embodied Literacies, this presentation discovers such instances of graffiti art, along with Mailer’s considerations of it as both expression of the ego and collaborative endeavor, are synonymous with these dialectical images that Morton believes “at once mask and open up the possibility of a more profound view.” In this respect, the presentation illustrates the possibility of discovering an ecological mode of art within a form of expression traditionally perceived as a type of social capital, and thus the possibility of a world where earnest ecological consciousness can emerge from where it was once understood to be purely simulated, or outright dismissed.

Evan Gromel is a PhD student working in the Department of English at the University of Calgary. Prior to beginning the PhD program, he worked as an adjunct and temporary full-time instructor of English at Hudson County Community College in Jersey City, New Jersey, USA. Before teaching, Evan earned his Master’s degree in English at the State University of New York at Albany. His master’s thesis draws connections between poetic origin in the writing of Rainer Maria Rilke and the speculations and imaginations of several prominent turn-of-the-century scientists. Evan’s primary research interests involve the interstices of ecocriticism and science studies, particularly where aporia in scientific method and observation precipitate shifts in meaning of the ecological.

Storefronts for Good: Local Action through Coursework

Susan Dieterlen

Cities matter to climate change adaptation, due to urbanization and greater density. Cities worldwide are also sites of social and economic inequality, as amply demonstrated by recent public discourse.

Local, repeatable actions can sidestep government dysfunction and financial limits, while strengthening community. Neighborhood storefronts are an everyday nexus of sustainability and justice, fighting food deserts, unemployment and vacancy while improving walkability. Increased walkability improves access to jobs, amenities, and education for those who can’t afford to drive, while directly addresses climate change by decreasing tailpipe emissions.

This critical topic will be explored in an experiential seminar course, proposed for Spring 2017 at Syracuse University. Student projects focused on programming, policy, and/or urban design will be informed by campus sustainability events and additional reading-based discussions. A final poster session will share students’ projects with campus and community. This course leverages the history of experiential learning through architectural design studios, while targeting academic units across campus, from public administration to African-American studies to law. Input from a variety of community stakeholders determined the storefront topic. These stakeholders will remain involved throughout the course, benefitting both students and community.

Expected course outcomes include recognition of the value of neighborhood storefronts and of small manageable actions in fighting climate change and inequality. This course structure and stakeholder engagement process also may be adapted to strengthen community around other climate change/just city topics and identify and promote local-scale action in other cities.

Susan Dieterlen holds joint appointments as a Research Assistant Professor in the School of Architecture at Syracuse University, and as a Faculty Research Fellow at the Syracuse Center of Excellence for Energy and Environmental Systems. She is a registered landscape architect with several years of full-time professional practice experience, and teaches design studios and other interdisciplinary courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels. In addition to an undergraduate professional degree in landscape architecture from Purdue University, Dr. Dieterlen holds a Master of Landscape Architecture and a doctorate in Landscape Architecture from the University of Michigan. Her research revolves around human behavior and environments during economic transformation, with special emphasis on postindustrial urban wilds, the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy, and immigrant neighborhoods. She is the author of Immigrant Pastoral: Midwestern Landscapes and Mexican-American Neighborhoods (Routledge, 2015) as well as multiple peer-reviewed articles and the blog City Wild.

Stories of Nuclear Disaster and the Anthropocene

Heidi Hutner

My talk will focus on my research that includes interviews with victims of nuclear disaster. I will discuss the silencing of nuclear victim stories, and the denial of factual and scientific information on the negative impact of radiation. I will discuss the effects of nuclear contamination on women and children (far more damaging than on adult white men, and safety regulations do not account for this). I will describe the locations I’ve been visiting (heading to Japan, to Fukushima with a biologist who studies the impact of radiation on animals and humans) and this summer I visited a former nuclear weapons plant in Colorado, where I met with scientists and community activists. I will also briefly discuss the work of community activists and scientists in New York as well as histories of activism throughout the U.S.—including interviews with indigenous community anti-nuclear activists in the Southwest. I will bring in film narratives and literary texts briefly to highlight the cultural/cognitive dissonance between masculinist conceptions of weaponry and energy production, versus stories of mothers, children, indigenous community members, and scientists that counter popular pro-nuclear myths.

Dr. Heidi Hutner teaches and writes about environmental literature, and film, environmental justice, ecofeminism, ecocriticism, and film and media at Stony Brook University, where she is the director of the Sustainability Studies Program and Associate Dean in the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences. She is at work on two environmental nonfiction memoirs, ECO-GRIEF: A Story of Outrage, Courage and Hope, and NOWHERE: Tales of an Atomic Mom; she writes essays on environmental themes for environmental anthologies published by Oxford UP, Palgrave, Rowman-Littlefield among others; and she contributes regularly to popular magazines and news sites. Hutner hosts the webisode, Coffee With Hx2, in which she interviews sustainability experts, authors, composers, scientists, and artists. Her website: HeidiHutner.com, includes her full CV.

A Tale of How Radical Climate Justice Just Might Get Us All to 2050 in One Piece [a novella in progress]

John Foran

In 2014 Naomi Oreskes and Richard Conway published a much-discussed vision of the world – The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future – in which humanity survived into the twenty-fourth century, but at a terrible cost: billions of climate refugees in the second half of the twenty-first century, 60-70 percent species extinction, the entire populations of the continents of Africa and Australia wiped out.

This “future history,” however, was tone-deaf to the impact that today’s global climate justice movement might make in altering the story for the better, and possibly much for the better. In other words, the book was not based on any adequate sociological or humanistic foundations.

After identifying these problems, I will sketch an alternative story, at once a more hopeful, and hopefully more plausible, history of the future to 2050.

Much hinges on how those of us alive at this critical moment in history respond to these challenges in the next three decades.

Clearly, we must avert the extreme catastrophe likely following from the “business as usual” plans of the fossil fuel corporations and their allies, as well as the more enlightened version contained in the recent “Paris Agreement” by the global political and economic elite. I will conclude by venturing into the uncharted territory of a post-capitalist world that much of the global climate justice and allied social movements are starting to prefigure. To join in, bring your wildest imagination, most caring hearts, and new knowledges of all kindsJohn Foran is Professor of Sociology and Environmental Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, teaching courses on climate change and climate justice, activism and movements for radical social change, and issues of alternatives to development and globalization beyond capitalism. His books include Fragile Resistance: Social Transformation in Iran from 1500 to the Revolution (1993) and Taking Power: On the Origins of Revolutions in the Third World (2005). He has served as UCSB’s Sustainability Champion, works on the UC Carbon Neutrality 2025 effort, and is co-facilitator of this year’s Critical Issues in America series – Climate Futures: This Changes Everything. His research and activism are now centered within the global climate justice movement, and can be found at the Climate Justice Project [www.climatejusticeproject.com] and the International Institute of Climate Action and Theory [www.iicat.org]. He is a member of 350.org, the Green Party of California, and System Change Not Climate Change.

A Tale of Two Sofias: Contested Visions for an Argentine Agriculture in 2050

Since the 1990s, Argentina’s agricultural landscape has been dramatically transformed through a process of soyification whereby a diversified supply of traditional crops grown mainly to feed the domestic population has been replaced by monocultures of genetically modified soybeans grown for export. The introduction and proliferation of GM soya was enabled by neoliberal restructuring of the Argentine economy in the 1990s and has been a major driver of the expansion of the soya frontier (Lapegna 2015a; Goldfarb and Zoomers 2013; Newell 2009; Otero 2008; Teubal 2008).

While soya expansion in the region is promoted by powerful actors as a ‘green’ way of encouraging rural development and energy independence, the soyification development model has created conditions of threatened food sovereignty and environmental crises such as deforestation, leaching, erosion, and soil and water degradation. Additionally, it has caused severe human health threats from increased use of agrochemicals, along with increased inequality and unemployment and forced displacement of rural and indigenous peoples (Newell 2009; Teubal 2008; Turzi 2011).

This presentation explores the distinct modes of knowledge production which lie behind competing visions for the future of Argentine agriculture, using two figures as an entry point. The first is the animated star of one of Monsanto Argentina’s PR campaigns: Sofia, the nine billionth person on the planet, born January 1st, 2050. The second is Sofia E. Gatica, environmental justice activist, recipient of the Goldman Environmental Prize, and core member of the ongoing four-year blockade against the construction of a Monsanto plant in Malvinas, Argentina.

Ingrid is a second-year doctoral student in sociocultural anthropology at UCSB. She holds a BA in linguistics from CUNY Brooklyn College and an MA in anthropology from the University of Chicago. Her interests, very broadly stated, are in environmental justice praxis and involve looking at the entangled production of capitalist value, hunger, global health inequality, and environmental despoilment. Her dissertation research lies at an intersection of environmental and medical anthropologies, and focuses on the socio-environmental health effects of ‘soyification’ (the expansion of soya monocultures) in Argentina.

Technocraft: Feminist Materials

Kara Stone

This talk will be a post-mortem by the artists of Technocraft discussing the process of creating the piece as it relates to re-considering women’s histories in technology, and the digital’s relationship to materiality and the earth. The talk will include photos and videos of the art piece which is composed of a deconstructed computer that we then reconstructed or replicated with traditional crafting techniques, and hung piece by piece. We ripped apart a computer and dissembled the hundreds of tiny pieces made up of a large variety of mined fragments of the earth that have been polished and made sleek to remove the memory of anything organic. We then used traditional crafting methods to add on and recreate the pieces, hanging each piece separately to be able to see its guts. This project was inspired by the dichotomies of feminine and masculine, the handmade and the technical, the material and the immaterial. Women and crafting have an integrally linked history with computer and digital technologies yet technology has become gendered as masculine and craft as feminine, deepening a perceived crevasse that separates the forms of making. It also takes up ideas of the Anthropocene, or the Anthrobcene as Jussi Parrika calls it, by recycling a discarded computer, a massively growing source of waste, and using its pieces to point towards its roots in feminine making and origins in the earth.

Kara Stone is an artist and scholar interested in the affective, somatic, and gendered experiences of mental illness, wellness, and healing as it relates to art production, videogames, and traditional crafting. Her artwork has been featured in The Atlantic, Wired, and Vice. She holds an MA from York University in Communication and Culture and is currently a PhD student in Film and Digital Media with a designated emphasis in Feminist Studies at University of California at Santa Cruz.

The Ontological Brakes of Primordial Time

Benjamin Ross

In a world preoccupied with speed, it is easy to envision a Snow Crash-esque cyberpunk dystopia in the year 2050: a world of isolated protagonists trying to stay ahead as we confront a deeply fractured world of self-serving privatizing interests. To posit that we are moving too fast is too familiar – we are constantly urged to work, consume, and experience more. In fact, this speed is welcomed by “accelerationists” that say we are not moving fast enough.

To avoid this future and apply the ontological brakes, I would like to suggest that within this fascination with acceleration is the hidden presupposition that time exists only as an arrow moving forward in minutes, days and years. Furthermore, this derivative, measured view of time must be paired with a primordial view of time which sees all of time in any given object.

While Tiptree’s nihilism is shocking, the human drives she isolates as part of the monstrous transformation are key to understanding and imagining a different future. Tiptree’s novella suggests that the root of our ecological conflict is desire—the same desire that compelled explorers across oceans to subjugate and colonize also compels us to push human civilization further and further into natural spaces, transforming them in our own image. This paper will use Tiptree’s narrative to explore what can be done with such desires. Can these human energies be harnessed as a force toward sustainability rather than continual propagation and annihilation?

With a derivative view of time, causality primarily flows from an agentic humanity to objects. The primordial view takes an evolutionary perspective as its basis, and a vitality intrinsic to materiality emerges. The challenge of our time is just that – a re-evaluation of time itself which results in a view that matter is much more variable than typically conceived, resulting in an ontological re-evaluation of humanity as a particularly rich collection of materials being continuously modified in a world of vital matter. In this emphasis on primordial time, speed loses its appeal and urgency returns to the idea that matter matters not just to us, but as us.

Benjamin Ross is a PhD student at the University of North Texas in the department of philosophy and religion. After obtaining his MA in Humanities at Southern Methodist University, he self-published his thesis as the book Millennial Mysticism. His research interests include Zen Buddhism in which he is a student under a master in the Sanbo Kyodan lineage, Vital Materialism, the philosophy of time, and ancient philosophy. His non-research interests include Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, rock climbing, and eating pizza with his girlfriend.

Three Fragments to Generate Alternative Visions of Climate Futures

Laurence Marty

The unprecedented transformations caused by climate change will bring us to unchartered territories.
In the face of uncertainty, projections about our futures have been mainly limited to utter chaos on Earth (e.g. Mad Max) or escape to other planets as the only solution to humanity’s survival (e.g. Star Trek). Expanding the scope of potentialities, including prefigurative experiments developed by social movements, can allow us to create alternative and fairer climate futures. Indeed, it seems central to deploy feminist and post-colonial narratives in which climate change is no more a disembodied reality which does not concern us.

I propose to give the floor to three fictional characters. Affected by climate change, materially and emotionally, they will tell their own stories from today to 2050. A refugee woman who found asylum in a permaculture and feminist urban community, an activist who participates in the creation of a self-directed and self-sufficient university after public financing have drastically dwindled over time, and a former unionist whose coal mine faced mass occupation by the climate justice movement and whose industry collapsed because of the coal economy crash. Developed from experiences lived and observed during my fieldworks and interviews (especially the anti-coal movement Ende Gelande in Germany, the occupation against an airport project in France called the ZAD, collectives for climate justice based in Paris, and different permaculture places), the three stories take place in Europe.

Laurence Marty is a feminist and climate activist and academic. Currently, Laurence’s work and activism focus on the systemic links and edges between economics, women, minorities and ecology. She is part of different collectives which explore pre-figurative forms of resistance through occupations, direct actions, empowerment trainings and transformational organizing processes. To create experimental visions that untame imagination and foster care for humans and non-humans, she also explores alternative ways of doing research and writing through a feminist and post-colonial perspective, using in particular fiction and dialogues between subjectivities. She holds a Master’s degree in Social Science from Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) and Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS) in Paris, France, and a Permaculture Design Certificate. She is doing a PHD at EHESS focusing on climate justice movement building in Europe, exploring in particular how the ecological movement interacts with feminism, anti-racism and more broadly social justice. .

Tomorrow’s Fields: Social Farming in 2050

Catherine Day

Agriculture contributes at least nine percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, from sources including production of nitrogenous fertilizers, land-use change, and cattle production (US EPA n.d.). Currently dominant influences on farm choices include agro-chemical companies like Syngenta and Monsanto. By locking farmers into proprietary choices of seeds and chemicals for fertilization and pest management, these corporations often serve to limit farmers’ potentials to seek out new alternatives that would rely on less energy intensive means of enriching soils and managing plant-life.

This paper imagines a U.S. agriculture in 2050 that has allowed for a resurgence of democratic input into farming, as was a common feature of agriculture in the early 20th century (McConnell 1969). The 20th century growth of the corporate expert in agriculture has increasingly hidden knowledge behind walls of industrial secrecy. By contrast, the advent of social media and participation by farmers in new technologies are providing opportunities for agricultural knowledge to be increasingly reclaimed by and shared among farmers. This paper envisions a shift in agricultural knowledge-making. By 2050, public mapping and story-telling technologies will make it increasingly feasible for farmers to share intimate local knowledge of feasible land management options. Corporate information will give way to a return to a combination of public-scientific and widely-shared-local knowledge on farming practices. As farm become increasingly interwoven with conservation networks, new blending of ideas will spur innovation towards more ecologically-oriented agriculture practices that leave behind dependence on fossil fuels and embrace species diversity.

Catherine Day is a Ph.D. candidate in the Geography Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She researches farmer decision-making in the face of climatic challenges. Her past research examined the agricultural context of farmers in Niger who have dealt with the increasing volatility of an already highly variable and semi-arid climate. Her current research is exploring how New Mexican farmers and their extended networks of advisors and input providers make decisions in the face of drought and other severe weather challenges. The counties where she is conducting field work have been heavily impacted by water shortages in the form of unusually limited rainfall and increasingly limited irrigation water from the Rio Grande or from the Ogallala aquifer. From her time spent with New Mexican farmers, she is increasingly convinced that more connections among farmers will help bring about needed transformation of agricultural systems in the U.S.

Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) and the Inang Bayan: Postcolonial Environmental Memory and Climate Change in Filipino Ecocritical Writings

Jeffrey Santa Ana

This paper studies Filipino ecocritical writings in English (prose, poetry, and narrative) that depict the confrontation between global climate change and diverse cultures across the Philippines. By examining Philippine literary anthologies about Typhoon Haiyan (called “Yolanda” in the Philippines), which caused catastrophic destruction in the Visayas, particularly on Samar and Leyte, on 7-8 November 2013, this paper argues that Filipino ecocritical writings recover a suppressed history of United States imperialism and express what I call a postcolonial environmental memory: the social remembering of Western imperial modernity and neocolonialism as a historical cause and cost of ruinous environmental transformation in the Inang Bayan (the Philippine Mother-Nation or motherland). Through a postcolonial environmental memory, Filipino writers speak in defense of the natural world and articulate a sense of place and belonging in their respective societies and diverse cultures. Through their postcolonial memory narratives, these writers communicate to the world the devastating costs and consequences of global warming and human-induced climate change. By examining, in particular, the Philippine anthology AGAM: Filipino Narratives on Uncertainty and Climate Change, edited by Renato Redentor Constantino (Quezon City, Philippines: Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities, 2015), this paper scrutinizes the suppressed histories of colonial violence in the Inang Bayan at a time of catastrophic climate change. The paper shows how Philippine literary anthologies about Typhoon Yolanda address a global environmental crisis in ways that are inseparable from assessing the effects of (post-) imperial modernity and neocolonialism in the Philippines.

Jeffrey Santa Ana is Associate Professor of English at Stony Brook University, the State University of New York. He has research interests in Asian American and Asian-Pacific diaspora studies, critical race studies, postcolonial studies, gender and sexuality, environmental humanities, and memory studies. He is the author of Racial Feelings: Asian America in a Capitalist Culture of Emotion (Temple University Press, 2015). He is currently working on a new book project titled Postcolonial Environmental Memory: Remembering Place and the Natural World in the Asian-Pacific Diaspora, which examines ecological crisis and remembering the natural world in postcolonial Asian-Pacific cultural works (literature, memoir, graphic narrative, and film).

The Vegan Metamorphosis from 2050

Sailesh Rao

The early decades of the 20th century saw a monumental transformation in human civilization. The transformation was from consumption to compassion as an organizing value and from competition to cooperation as an organizing principle for human civilization. Just as in Nature where the caterpillar gorges itself before forcibly undergoing a metamorphosis in the chrysalis, our over-consuming human ancestors reached a point of being forcibly transformed into compassionate, life-affirming butterflies. Vegan life-affirming butterflies!

In hindsight, it is easy to deduce that such a vegan metamorphosis was inexorable but no one could have predicted that the nonlinear system change would occur within the short span of a decade starting in 2016, both from a scientific perspective and from a religious and spiritual perspective. During the Caterpillar phase, humans unintentionally built all the tools and technologies needed to regulate the Earth’s climate and organize an equitable global human society. But as a consequence, the ecological footprint of human civilization exceeded the biological capacity of the Earth by over 60% and the Earth was marinating in ever accumulating toxic pollution. At that point, humans had no choice but to treat all Life as sacred in order to preserve that on which they depended for their own survival. Such a revolutionary change in human outlook had the added benefit of inducing spiritual awakening, resolving social justice issues, elevating human connection with all Life and improving human health and well being. It was that quest for “moral singularity” that healed the Earth, regenerated Life and led humanity to true global sustainability.

Sailesh Rao is the Founder and Executive Director of Climate Healers, a non-profit dedicated towards healing the Earth’s climate. A systems specialist with a Ph. D. in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA, conferred in 1986, Sailesh worked on the Internet communications infrastructure for twenty years after graduation. In 2006, he switched careers and became deeply immersed, full-time, in the spiritual and environmental crises affecting humanity. He is the author of the 2011 book, Carbon Dharma: The Occupation of Butterflies and the forthcoming Carbon Yoga: The Vegan Metamorphosis.

A View from the Future: Climate, Capitalism, Existentialism

Brad Hornick

In the first decades of this millennium, two converging and evidently intractable factors led toward terminal planetary crisis – the perilous trajectory of planetary bio-physical processes, and the persistence of underlying and causal socio-economic forces. Together, these two trajectories represented an existential crisis and nihilist threat/opportunity for people, cultures and movements.

Climate modelling of gradual and linear changes to earth systems started to be eclipsed by warnings of abrupt climate change and the passing of climate “tipping points”. Changes to earth systems implied a degree of material destruction of nature and society/nature rift, requiring wholesale transformation and challenge to systems of power within a civilization-wide emergency mode.

The speed at which climate mobilization then ratcheted-up and started to correspond to the depth of necessary society-wide changes – on an epochal and more universal scale than had hitherto been imagined — on par with the great historical shift from feudalism to capitalism.

On an affect level – for change agents, systems of governance and general populations – the conceptual reorientation required to embrace necessary strategic focus first provoked massive existential “trauma” coinciding with the questioning of foundations of meaning, purpose or value and the ambivalent desire to retain or challenge those meanings.

But dominant BAU discourses quickly became over-powered by the awakening of a revolutionary zeal to act collectively to solve common life-and-death problems. Society-wide consciousness was now much more informed by two analytical pillars: rigorous clarity of empirical physical science together with equally rigorous critical understanding of capricious power and private interests.

People clamoured for ecosocialist revolution! And while the world is still suffering from the massive destructive effects of capitalist commodity consciousness, communities have now given prominence to people and planet over profits.

Brad Hornick is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Sociology/Anthropology at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada. He has been active in multiple local and global climate justice campaigns and organizations, including the System Change Not Climate Change network – the North American Ecosocialist network. He has written and presented on various themes: the climate justice movement, climate science, critical political economy and existentialism. The summary above refers to the core themes of his dissertation research and is an expression of the lived experience of his participant research as a climate justice activist.

Weakening Nationalities: The Anthropocene as an Era of Personal Responsibility

Larissa Basso

We are living in times of paradox: globalization has never been so intense, neither has fragmentation. While countries are more and more connected and a large-scale war between the greatest economies seems unlikely, smaller-scale – but extremely disruptive – conflicts are more and more common and complex. Climate change, the greatest challenge of our contemporary geopolitics, could increase instability even more, given the predicted consequences of rising global average temperatures to current living styles. Current institutions seem incapable of successfully dealing with this reality; maybe this is so because they were developed in times in which groups were organized and best represented by the nation state, but, in many aspects of contemporary life, this is no longer the case. Considering this reality of the Anthropocene, we propose imagining a world in which fragmentation is intensified as a means to deal with current key issues, such as climate change. Negotiations in intergovernmental forums in which supposedly unitary (homogeneously composed) nation states are represented are not being effective. We propose to acknowledge the heterogeneity that exists inside of a nation state and to consider it beyond its borders. By implementing different measures considering personal/group carbon footprint, climate change could be more successfully tackled and a more just climate future could be created.

Larissa Basso is a PhD Candidate at the Institute of International Relations, University of Brasília, Brazil, and a Visiting Scholar at the School of Global Policy and Strategy, University of California San Diego.

Working with Dirty Hands: A Christian Realist Environmental Ethics

Dallas J. Gingles

TIn my paper, I draw on the 20th century ethicist, Reinhold Niebuhr’s, “Christian realism” to argue that we are right to feel regret, remorse, and even guilt when we realize that, as an inevitable consequence of our human limitations, we are always already complicit in the problem of climate change. We fool ourselves and delude our neighbors when we deny this complicity, either because we are culpably ignorant or because we selfishly hope to avoid being compelled to change our way of life.

By clearly implicating us in the moral problems we identify (in this case the systems contributing to climate change), Christian realism obliges us to pursue alternative forms of life. But many other ethical outlooks provide this much. The important insight of Christian realism is that it not only requires us to foster resistance to evil, it also requires us to learn to live well within the systems and cultures we currently inhabit—even though we know it is our existence in that world that renders us guilty in the first place. Christian realism rejects the whole idea of keeping our hands clean—either by denying our guilt or by attempting to escape from all forms of injustice. Both of these options render us incapable of actually pursuing proximate goods and penultimate solutions within our world because they eschew anything except goods that are pure and solutions that are complete.

Whatever we do in the next 30 years to insure that the Earth continues to be habitable, we should be realistic about our limitations, and even—and especially—within those limits be indefatigable in pursuing goods and solutions of all kinds.

Dallas Gingles was homeschooled on the banks of the Trinity River in rural East Texas. He is a first-generation college student, and recently completed his Ph.D. at Southern Methodist University. In his dissertation he used the work of Dietrich Bonhoeffer to address the problem of dirty hands. He and his wife Rebecca live in Dallas with their two-year-old son, Graham.