Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Hickory smoke

The rich, faintly sweet flavour of Southern hickory wood adds a taste of imminent departure to my traditional Swedish hash (pyttipanna). I listen to the Islamic afternoon prayer asr being filtered through the walls, it is already that late and I am still struggling to find a working structure for my talk in Athens.

Originally, my plan was to base the talk entirely around my newly published article in Environmental Science & Policy but, given the program’s focus on environmental ethics, I have decided to tilt it more in favour of my recent work on environmental citizenship theory. The main argument will be that environmental citizenship theory instantiates a particular conception of what sustainability is and how it is to be achieved. By shifting down responsibility from states to individuals, the question of environmental sustainability is not only politically neutralized but also “framed” as one of great personal sacrifice.


Searching for a popular cultural illustration to this survivalism I came to think of the remake of the 1951 science fiction classic “The Day the Earth Stood Still”. In the original movie, the aliens come to Earth to warn us about the risk of nuclear cataclysm. Now the threat has of course been updated to, guess what, climate change! And the solution? Outright rejection of instrumental rationality as all Earth’s technology is rendered immobile in order to save the environment.

Though maybe just one movie, I would still say that its reasoning is symptomatic for the lack of imagination that I mentioned in my previous post. If only there was one new episode of Star Trek for every such movie...

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