Philosopher Oxana Timofeeva explores human conceptions of the sun, from ancient mythologies and philosophical metaphors to modern techno-scientific designs to extract virtually unlimited amounts of energy. In this elegant essay, Timofeeva offers a mythological rejoinder to unbounded techno-scientific ambitions, noting that the endless pursuit of extraction, even when applied to solar energy, is likely to end up like an ecological Icarus.
The Petrocultures Research Group's After Oil Collective recently began its After Oil 3 (AOS 3) project. One result of the first AOS 3 meeting is a six-episode podcast series called Volatile Trajectories, which has just been released online and as part of the Environmental Humanities Month 2022 Program. The podcast episodes were written and recorded over a day and a half at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity in October 2022. They feature leading and emerging energy humanities researchers in conversation about how we move beyond fossil fuels and climate crisis.
Could organizing power systems regionally on an "energyshed" model empower citizens and redistribute the political control of energy systems in a democratic direction? In this introductory exploration, Darin Barney highlights the political implications of energysheds, arguing that they "will be made, not found."
Climate fiction stories, sometimes known as "cli-fi", have captured the imagination of writers and their readers. But it isn't yet clear if reading dramatic narratives about climate change can or will translate into action. Amidst a significant push for new narratives to shift climate anxiety into action, researcher Misty Matthews-Roper has turned to book clubs to understand the social power of reading cli-fi. She reports on her preliminary findings about how social reading can create meaningful conversations about how to live and respond to the ongoing climate crisis.
"Climate change," writes Andrew Pendakis, "is not a box on a diplomatic checklist: it’s now the checklist itself." In this provocative essay, Pendakis argues that the increasingly aggressive posture of US policy towards China threatens to undermine the kind of radical and collaborative actions that the climate crisis demands. To have any hope of addressing the crisis, the United States must abandon xenophobic nationalism and adopt a much more open and cooperative position on China.
Achieving net-zero is a complex process beset by many challenges. Writing about the Canadian context, Temitope Onifade, a legal scholar and instructor in climate law and policy at the University of British Columbia, explains the need to develop and apply a "low carbon justice" approach to the actions that Canada takes to reduce its carbon emissions. If it doesn't prioritize justice, Onifade argues, Canada will once again fail its most vulnerable populations.
In this author's note on her new co-authored book, A Strategic Nature, Melissa Aronczyk explores the connection between public relations and carbon democracy. Aronczyk also details her surprising relationship with E. Bruce Harrison, the PR pioneer who dedicated his career to crafting messages for chemical and energy companies and whose contributions to our contemporary "culture of publicity" continue to shape political struggles over the environment.
In this author's note on his new book, Pipeline Populism, geographer Kai Bosworth explores the challenges of forging the kinds of broad and effective political coalitions required to achieve a just and sustainable future.
In late January 2022, hundreds of big rigs bannered with Canadian flags rolled across the nation’s highways in “The Freedom Convoy,” a movement of purportedly ordinary truckers opposed to COVID-19 mandates. Throughout the whole ordeal, however, surprisingly little was said in the news media about the convoy’s energy politics. In this feature essay, Tanner Mirrlees, an Associate Professor in Communication and Digital Media Studies at Ontario Tech University, peels back the layers of energy politics at the heart of the convoy, revealing its alignment with carbon elites.
In the final installment in our series on the impact of Timothy Mitchell's "Carbon Democracy," historian Troy Vettese explores Mitchell's unique scholarly method. Vettese argues that the power and originality of Mitchell's books, including "Carbon Democracy," stems from his adoption of approaches from postcolonial studies and Actor Network Theory (ANT). Mitchell has avoided ANT’s tendency to conservatism and has instead practised a radical critique of the economic, environmental, and political structures that he studies.
In the third installment in our series on the impact of Timothy Mitchell's "Carbon Democracy," communication studies researcher Ayesha Vemuri explores Mitchell's larger oeuvre to argue that mainstream responses to address the climate crisis can be understood as extensions of what he calls “the rule of experts.” By maintaining a global hegemony of elite expertise over that of local and indigenous knowledges, efforts to address the ecological crisis uphold structures of power that undergird the ecological crisis. If we want to develop just responses to climate change, we will need a new approach to expertise.