Sunday, August 30, 2015

The environmental risks of incomplete globalization

Over the last days I have put together a couple of abstracts for papers that I hope to present at different conferences next year. First out is a paper called "The environmental risks of incomplete globalization" which aims to directly confront established discourses within green political theory. The paper tries to bring more of the darkening clouds of the real world into debates about sustainability. Abstract as follows:

"As the liberal optimism of the long nineties has faded into a world of growing wealth inequality, resurging nationalism, and escalating interstate tensions, there is less certainty about the prospects of eventual economic convergence and global integration. Beyond the formidable human cost of maintaining a divided world with strict immigration controls, the possibility of delayed or incomplete globalization also gives rise to a number of environmental risks. While mainstream environmental political theory tends to see strength in localism, history rather shows that the existence of a robust world trade system is crucial to offset local resource scarcities and that cosmopolitan norms of solidarity are essential for helping communities rebuild after environmental catastrophe. More importantly, failure to transition to a fully integrated high-energy planet will take away some of the urgency of climate change and allow the current focus on non-scalable low-carbon technologies to continue. Instead of actively planning for a sustainable world of universal affluence, there is a risk that ad hoc, methodologically nationalist climate mitigation responses may inadvertently contribute to a new pattern of climate injustice by which global warming continues, although at a somewhat slower pace, while permanently keeping billions of people in poverty (in some cases under the guise of “sustainable livelihoods” powered by small-scale renewable energy) is seen as a necessary price for avoiding a climate emergency"

Sunday, August 23, 2015

In French

The late philosopher Georg Henrik von Wright once remarked that not learning French was one of the most significant omissions in his education. While more people may be confident speaking English in France today than in the past, I realize that, just as for von Wright, not knowing French limits my world.

As a contrast to the awaken world and the airy, white and minimalist Scandinavian home that I have come to live in, my night-time dreams are less confined by linguistic or temporal barriers. I sometimes find myself surrounded by the décor of the late 60’s in Paris as captured by Bertolucci or thrown back to street-side cafés that made me think of slow mornings in Tangier.

Sipping the last glass of French bubbles (sorry to disappoint but only Badoit mineral water as Eddie woke me up well before 5 am), I realize that August is almost over. In a week tomorrow, I will again be teaching political philosophy to a new batch of undergraduates. Starting with the classics and the ancient Greek universe, it is a journey through time as good as any, including a couple of less expected stops such as Christine de Pizan. As for the modern part, there is a distinct echo of Stephen Eric Bronner and his class that I took at Rutgers in 2008.