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Cultures of Energy

Cultures of Energy brings writers, artists and scholars together to talk, think and feel their way into the Anthropocene. We cover serious issues like climate change, species extinction and energy transition. But we also try to confront seemingly huge and insurmountable problems with insight, creativity and laughter. We believe in the possibility of personal and cultural change. And we believe that the arts and humanities can help guide us toward a more sustainable future. Cultures of Energy is sponsored by Rice University’s Center for Energy and Environmental Research in the Human Sciences (CENHS, pronounced ‘sense’). Join the conversation on Twitter @cenhs and on the web at culturesofenergy.com
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May 24, 2018

Dominic and Cymene wish Westworld was better on this week’s episode of the Cultures of Energy podcast and then dry their tears with the news that the trailer and website for the “Not Ok” film has launched. Please check it out at https://www.notokmovie.com. We then (12:16) welcome University of Chicago historian Hervé Reculeau to the podcast to talk about how Bronze Age civilizations in Mesopotamia coped with climate change. Hervé explains how recent attention to paleoenvironmental evidence has helped to disrupt and complexify narratives of civilizational health and collapse in the region. That gets us to his research on irrigation as a tool against advancing aridification and why massive infrastructure projects of the period may have had very little impact. We talk about the ways in which past civilizational collapses are being mobilized now as commentaries upon our present ecological crises and Hervé cautions against projecting our own environmental problems on to ancient societies. Did ancient societies have conceptions of “climate” at all? Can understandings of “climate change” coexist with weather gods? Listen on and find out!

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