Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Pike Place Roast ®

It is 8:24 p.m. and I am drinking coffee. For once not an espresso-based beverage. Outside the spring has come to an abrupt end. Inside I am experience another wave of Bodil Jönsson’s infamous “ställtid”, disheartening as ever.

This state is intimately shameful for an academic person, to spend a whole day editing an empty page in the word processor, knowing that other people go about doing “real” work while I just sit here and struggle to find even the first syllables.

The tentative title is simple enough: “Individual guilt or collective progressive action? - assessing the strategic value of environmental citizenship theory”. In principle I know how the argument is going to be played out, I have already spent too many conference drinks outlining why environmental citizenship, as envisaged by Andrew Dobson, fails to capture the progressive potential of our time, why we should replace its moralistic approach and its illiberal “deep changes in attitudes” with a politics of radical engagement. Or, in other words, why we need an inspiring global vision for the 21st century, a vision beyond those website calculators that tell us that our lifestyle would only be sustainable if we had the resources of so and so many planets.

Those calculators, and Dobson’s favoured concept of “ecological space”, assume that there is a finite amount of ecological space and then simply go on by dividing that space with the number of people on the planet. Obviously, such a static approach is fundamentally flawed since it completely disregards from the impact of technology over time. It is a bit like saying that if everyone would be living under stone-age conditions there would not be enough bear furs to go around.

Though it may be sufficient to simply answer “Star Trek” to my weblog audience I know that an academic response to Dobson has to be somewhat more… elaborate. So, back to work!



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