August 16, 2015

Fear of passivity At times Zizek suggests that it's better to do nothing. This doing nothing resonates with a certain passivity, perhaps better described as impassivity. With climate change, is it the case that passivity is what is feared? from here: For the post-Cold War generation, the primary global threat comes not from action, but inaction. Last year, the American Association for the Advancement of Science warned that within a few decades, climate change will have “massively disruptive consequences to societies and ecosystems,” including widespread famines, lethal heat waves, more frequent and destructive natural disasters, and social unrest. Despite the litany of warnings like these, governments have utterly failed to take meaningful action. At this point, climate change can be limited or accelerated, and humans can adapt to some degree, but significant damage to the planetary ecosystem can no longer be averted. According to Washington, D.C.- based forensic psychiatrist Lise Van Susteren, the expectation of climate-change disasters is causing “pre-traumatic stress disorder.” In an interview with Esquire in July, she explains that the symptoms look much like those of post-traumatic stress disorder: “the anger, the panic, the obsessive, intrusive thoughts.” Signs of pre-traumatic stress are increasingly evident among those who stare at the problem of climate change head-on: climate scientists, climate journalists and climate activists. The Esquire piece profiled a number of climate scientists and activists who experienced profound psychological trauma in the course of their work. ... Paul Ehrlich is an ecologist at Stanford University and the coauthor of a recent paper...
Depressed climate scientists from here For more than thirty years, climate scientists have been living a surreal existence. A vast and ever-growing body of research shows that warming is tracking the rise of greenhouse gases exactly as their models predicted. The physical evidence becomes more dramatic every year: forests retreating, animals moving north, glaciers melting, wildfire seasons getting longer, higher rates of droughts, floods, and storms—five times as many in the 2000s as in the 1970s. In the blunt words of the 2014 National Climate Assessment, conducted by three hundred of America's most distinguished experts at the request of the U. S. government, human-induced climate change is real—U. S. temperatures have gone up between 1.3 and 1.9 degrees, mostly since 1970—and the change is already affecting "agriculture, water, human health, energy, transportation, forests, and ecosystems." But that's not the worst of it. Arctic air temperatures are increasing at twice the rate of the rest of the world—a study by the U. S. Navy says that the Arctic could lose its summer sea ice by next year, eighty-four years ahead of the models—and evidence little more than a year old suggests the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is doomed, which will add between twenty and twenty-five feet to ocean levels. The one hundred million people in Bangladesh will need another place to live and coastal cities globally will be forced to relocate, a task complicated by economic crisis and famine—with continental interiors drying out, the chief scientist at the U. S. State Department in 2009...

Jodi Dean

Jodi Dean is a political theorist.

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