Monday, September 30, 2019

The Climate Paradigm and Individualized Technologies of the Self

Margaret Renkl's op-ed in the New York Times offers an excellent list of actions everyday citizens can take to promote diverse life in their immediate environments:
Renkl, Margaret (2019, September 30). Three Billion Canaries in the Coal Mine: What does it mean for us that birds are dying? And what can we do about it? The New York Times. Available 
A new study in the journal Science reports that nearly 3 billion North American birds have disappeared since 1970. That’s 29 percent of all birds on this continent.
Renkl's list of citizen actions includes pressure on legislators, rejecting pesticides, herbicides, and single-use plastics, among other helpful technologies of the self aimed at saving the eco-system upon which we all depend.

I believe these individualized solutions can help mitigate eco-collapse by providing refuges of last resort.

However, they are not in themselves enough to forestall collapse when there exist hazards whose risks are so catastrophic that they outweigh the sum total of effects from individualized technologies of the self.

The world's biggest polluters are increasingly being defined exclusively in terms of CO2. 

There is something very strange about that when you consider how many billions of tons of pesticide, herbicides, and other toxic chemicals that are released into the eco-system globally.

For example, a scientific article published in 2009 estimated annual pesticide use alone at that time to be over one billion pounds annually (link):
Alavanja M. C. (2009). Introduction: pesticides use and exposure extensive worldwide. Reviews on environmental health, 24(4), 303–309.
Chemical pollution is deliberate and it is toxic. Yet, it has disappeared from the search results of the world's biggest pollutors.

I'm not saying chemical pollution is a larger or more pressing problem than climate change. I'm saying that chemical pollution is a well-established hazard to biological life and it is no longer recognized as one of the world's biggest pollution problems according to search results using a Google search.

Some pollutants are more visible than others.

And some polluters are more visible than others.

In the past, governments were often cast as the biggest polluters because of their toxic radioactive and chemical wastes, followed by corporations.

In climate change, everyone seems equally complicit, although, in fact, we are not if we measure complicity in terms of actual CO2 emissions.

Despite the centralization of the levers of pollution, we rarely read at all about some of the most toxic pollutants, especially radionuclides, resulting from weapons, medical waste, nuclear power and processing of rare earths.

Why is it that CO2 has become the only pollutant that matters?

I am not saying CO2 doesn't matter. Our built infrastructures and emissions are empirically impacting in dangerous and unpredicatable ways the eco-systems upon which we depend.

I am getting at is that there are sets of relationships, such as climate change and eco-collapse, that are more visible in search results and political discourse and other sets of relationships that are, in comparison, relatively marginalized, such as the deliberate and incidental contamination of life with toxic chemicals, radionuclides, and electro-magnetic radiation.

This set of observations lends itself to further interrogations about how hazardous material phenomena are selectively perceived and represented in mass mediated, political and cultural representations, thereby shaping policy priorities and social preferences.


  1. Let the trolls fillup the comment space with climate denial and corporate propaganda now. Facist and neonazi propaganda . Pronuclear garbage and triangulating.

    1. Reprinted with author's permission

      Trump’s tweet threatening ‘civil war’ is a ‘basis for impeachment’: Harvard Law professor

      President Donald Trump is experiencing a backlash in response to repeating a far-right evangelical pastor’s threat that impeachment could lead to civil war in the United States. And a Harvard Law School professor is asserting that repeating the pastor’s comment is, in itself, a “basis for impeachment.”

      Over the weekend, Trump supporter Robert Jeffress — far-right pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas and a prominent figure on the Christian Right — appeared on “Fox and Friends” and railed against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for coming out in favor of an impeachment inquiry. Jeffress, during a Sunday appearance on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends,” angrily defended Trump and told co-hosts Pete Hegseth and Jedediah Bila, “I do want to make this prediction this morning: if the Democrats are successful in removing the president from office, I’m afraid it will cause a Civil War

      Trump took to Twitter and repeated Jeffress’ “civil war” threat, and John Coates — a law professor at Harvard University — saw Trump’s tweet and responded, “This tweet is itself an independent basis for impeachment: a sitting president threatening civil war if Congress exercises its constitutionally authorized power.”

      Trump’s tweet has also been condemned by Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a military veteran who tweeted that having “visited nations ravaged by civil war,” he found the tweet “beyond repugnant.” Kinzginer served in the U.S. Air Force during the Iraq War.

    2. The worst nuclear disaster you’ve never heard of — Beyond Nuclear International

      Mayak may still be churning radioactivity into the environment. Rosatom continues to process large amounts of used nuclear fuel to make Mox, for it's crappy reactors. Rosatom continues to create huge vats of radionuclide waste in the process.

      via The worst nuclear disaster you’ve never heard of — Beyond Nuclear International

      Proves how unsafe nuclear waste is. A huge tank of strong beta-gamma emitter-stew exploded.. Full of the most extreme heat-generating, radionuclides. Radionuclides that happen to also be the most deadly. Cobalt60, Iodine129, Cesium134-137, Iridium, Ruthenium, Strontium 90, RTecnetium any pyrophoric Plutonium. It contaminatied thousands of square miles. The killer residue continously present. Far worse than a siingle nuclear bomb explosion.
      If thos happened at Handford, which it could, it would radoinuclide contaminate Idaho, Washington and Oregon on a par with Chernobyl or Fukushima.


      Death of the “new republic” in Brazil

      Brazil's institutions are collapsing one by one. The separation between the executive, the legislative and the judicial powers is a sham. There’s a state within the state. EspaƱol

      The openMovements series invites leading social scientists to share their research results and perspectives on contemporary social struggles

      Marielle was a child of the slums of Rio de Janeiro. She was black, beautiful, young and charismatic. She studied sociology and had an MA in public administration. She was a feminist, LGBT+, Black and human rights activist. Elected on a progressive agenda, she was an active councilwoman of the city of Rio de Janeiro since 2016. She was assassinated on the 14th. of March. Four bullets from a 9-millimeter gun transpierced her body. They also killed Anderson Pedro Gomes, her driver.

      It was a political assassination. Probably perpetrated by the military police or the paramilitary squads, or both, because the police officer who intervenes in the slums against the drug lords during the day can be active as militiaman during the night. The message from the overlords of the underworld was loud and clear. Don´t mess with us! Whoever stands up from or for the people from the periphery and the slums to denounce the violations of human rights will be killed, tortured or “disappeared”.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.