Friday, September 30, 2016

Varadero

Friday morning on a backstreet near Paddington Station. Like last time in London, I have been absorbed by marking but now I am finally nearing the end of the alphabet. Meanwhile, high above the usual Heathrow approach, an A330 belonging to Air Berlin is making its way from Düsseldorf to Cuba. Despite my promise to cut down on my coffee consumption, I order an Illy double espresso and allow myself to disappear into the blue dreamy sky above.

Regardless of the Brexit gloom, London is still London. Yesterday at the National Portrait Gallery one could really tell that the history of these islands has never been straightforward or free of moral contradictions. Yet, coming from small-town Umeå, it is still true magic to be able to follow up some highly authentic Vietnamese food with Italian coffee at Frith Street before heading over to Islington for some mixology escapades.

Over the next two weeks, I will work full-time with my co-authored book project with little time for blogging. On 13 October, the Ukraine awaits.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Ten years

Documenting a decade at the very frontline of champagne socialism, Rawls & Me has definitely had a good run. I am still undecided if I want to continue the weblog for another decade but today, exactly ten years ago, I wrote my first post suggesting that, in the universe of blogs, supply exceeds demand. I still think that holds true, at least to some extent. Yet, the long format blog post does have a certain currency in these Twitter times.

Concluding this decade of imperfectly interlaced biographies, the immediate future of Rawls & Me will take you along to London and Chernobyl. Then, early next year, there will be Baltimore for the 58th Annual Convention of the International Studies Association which, I just learned, has accepted my paper for presentation in a panel on “Images of the Future in the Anthropocene”. Beyond that, the road lies open.

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Friday, September 16, 2016

Intergenerational justice

Some ten years ago, I did a bit of work in applied ethics on our moral obligations towards future generations. Among other things, I was able to publish a paper in the journal Organization & Environment on how to reduce the highly asymmetric influence that current generations, in particular through climate change, exercise on the well-being of future generations. Like most academic papers, it has only generated a handful of citations and, in retrospect, I do not think I was able to add much to what others had already said.

Afterwards, I moved on, primarily to work on climate policy but also different notions of environmental citizenship. However, on the 27th of September, I have been invited to serve as opponent for the final seminar of a PhD thesis on the non-identity problem in intergenerational justice at Stockholm University. Despite teaching full-time, this means that I have spent the last days rediscovering a lot of literature and coming back to many of the thoughts I had a decade ago. If I can find the time, I will write a follow-up post on this after the seminar. For now, I am afraid I have to go back to reading...

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Saturday, September 10, 2016

Saffron

Already it is barely above freezing and completely dark when William wakes everyone up to a new day. During the three or so hours before taking the bus to the nursery, there is plenty of time to make pancakes, run a washing machine or two and maybe, but just maybe, get a brief moment to read the world news.

Today, it feels like the whole world is inside a cold rain cloud. A perfect setting to get a taste of what is to come. Frying some sweet potatoes and onions with saffron and cayenne pepper, I make the kind of lunch that makes one survive the long winters of the High North. Zucchini, chickpeas, whole tomatoes and some freshly whipped aioli on top. Of course served with a Czech lager and some wheat levain bread.

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Sunday, September 04, 2016

Lakeside

One late night almost ten years ago, I was out driving near Page, Arizona. In the dark without a GPS, I was trying to find a Best Western motel which I had been able to book at a rather incredible $40 rate which seemed like a steal since every picture on their website looked really scenic. However, the reason for the low rate would soon be all too clear as the motel had two “wings”, one facing the beauty of Lake Mead and the other a 2250 megawatt coal-fired powerplant called “Navajo Generating Station” (obviously, my room was in the latter wing). Not only was the view highly dystopic, the powerplant also gave away a fair share of noise which made sleeping rather difficult.

Looking out at the coal power plant at night, I remember thinking that this is what we are doing to the planet and ourselves. Rather than the clean high-energy future envisioned in StarTrek (which by the way is turning fifty on Thursday), we are burning through brownish-black minerals of fossilized carbon. To me, coal is somehow emblematic “Ork-tech”. It is the kind of technology that we should have left behind decades ago where it not for irrational fears of nuclear energy. Thus, it is somewhat ironic that the greatest achievement of the so called “environmental movement” may be that it has made the world safe for coal.


And now, it seems as I have had better luck and scored a more permanent upgrade to the wing with the “lake view”. As the construction of the neighbourhood is almost finished, it feels nearly as idyllic as Hobbiton with kids playing and lots of green stuff.  If now only people would share a moral commitment to making this universal rather than taking it as an unreflected privilege or, worse, pursue “feel good” policies that will keep the rest of the world trapped in fossil Mordor.