Audio from Apple 6: “Is the City a Machine for the Making of Gods?”

For those interested Kester Brewin has posted the audio as well as a pdf of the handout I refer to in my talk. I was really encouraged by the event (despite the World Cup induced low turn out), which sees people outside the walls of academy coming together to talk about ideas in a very serious manner. I think you’ll see from the Q&A that the audience was quite engaged and did not shy away from challenging me on a number of issues. I wish I could have spoken with more who attended the event and hope that these events continue and grow.

In Defense of a Grey Ecology: Think Biospherically, Act Ecosystematically

The last post on this topic was largely polemical and so I thought I would expand on some of the concepts presented in concentrated form there. Let’s focus on a well-worn maxim of environmentalism, “Think globally, act locally”. It is important for people to understand that there is a disconnect between the political environmental movements and the science of ecology. The two sometimes overlap, of course, but there is a lot of work to be done to bring them together in a more fruitful union. This old environmental maxim hints at that disconnect for it overcodes the scientific via the political. Global and local are not strictly speaking technical scientific concepts, they are metaphors that are appropriated from the spatial approach to politics and this leads to all sorts of ideological coloring of environmentalism. Some can be quite nefarious, for instance the recent Red Tory appropriation of “localism” aims at a kind of “greening” that’s been common to the Conservative party since David Cameron came up with the idiotic slogan, “Vote blue, go green”. Again, there is no respect here for ecosystem science, as the conservative localist isn’t concerned with the actual ecotones (the corridors that mark off a kind of porous boundary from one ecosystem to another), but only with a crude notion of the parish. This localism pushes a return to parish boundaries without any regard for what that would mean ecologically, but still make use of a green veneer. In short, the environmental movement needs to begin to take more from the science of ecology, to make some kind of peace with its scientific character (which often offends the environmental steward), and from there, with that knowledge, we can begin to create a more rational, more human, and ultimately successful political ecology. Read the rest of this entry »

In Defense of a Grey Ecology: The Amphibology of the Greenest Green and the Blackest Black

It is probably narcissistic to think that the last paragraph of Owen’s recent Guardian piece is due in part to a conversation we recently had when he was visiting Nottingham, but during that conversation I talked to him about the importance of a militant urban ecology for facing the current ecological crisis. In truth I shouldn’t say crisis, because in a time where there is nothing but crises and crises that the capitalist system feeds off of we risk losing our bearings, we risk distraction, and the kind of hysteric worry that comes when one is assured that there is no real hope of coming through the crisis. This is not a crisis, it is but a spur, a spur to think more rationally, more humanly in the generic sense, towards a kind of disinterested, unalienated earthly humanity. So what follows is a bit of a note on Owen’s piece in an effort not just to combat the usual stupidity of the comments that litter CiF, but the stupidity of the “green” movement itself. That stupidity that thinks the answer to the ecological crisis is hair shirts, apologies to Gaia for being human, and the working towards the death of millions in the name of some kind of “respect for nature”. Read the rest of this entry »

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