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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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Now displaying: September, 2017
Sep 28, 2017

Dominic and Cymene chat about community wind power, bioplastics, sucropolitics, and the inevitability of edible children’s toys. Then (11:10) Cymene sits down to talk with economist-turned-philosopher John Broome, Emeritus Professor at Oxford and author of Climate Matters: Ethics in a Warming World (Norton, 2012) to talk about morality, ethics and climate change. John explains why he thinks moral messaging around climate change has been ineffective thus far and how we can appeal to self-interest to stimulate climate action. We talk about the intergenerational externalities of high carbon lifestyles, how large scale actions like a carbon tax could change the identity of future generations, and the need to reform mainstream economic theories of efficiency, value, goodness, and nature. John argues that our duty to future generations is not a duty of justice but of making the world a better place. Does economics have a place for ethics? Listen on and find out!

Sep 22, 2017

Dominic and Cymene share fun facts about ice worms and water bears on this week's bonus episode of the podcast. Then (9:27) we continue our effort to process this storm season philosophically by welcoming old friend and new dad, Roy Scranton, to the podcast. We start with his now all-too-prescient NYT article, “When the Next Hurricane Hits Texas,” and discuss why Harvey was not even the worst kind of hurricane we might anticipate in Houston. We talk about what’s worth preserving, reincarnation in the Anthropocene, rethinking ontological relations, climate change as hyperobject, the election of Trump as a collective threat response, why we can’t put off addressing societal relations and ethical commitments any longer, and what to tell our children about catastrophes now and coming. Roy explains why he doubts the efficacy of individual action to solve climate change but also why he thinks it’s so important that we continue to live and find joy in our world. This leads to some moving reflections on parenting and climate change and we close with Roy’s new work and what we can and can’t learn from collective action during the WWII era for the fight against climate change today.

Sep 19, 2017

Cymene and Dominic wonder whether haunted houses can help in the fight against climate change. Then (11:55) we welcome Britt Paris (UCLA) and Sara Wylie (Northeastern U) to the podcast to bring us up to speed on what the Environmental Data Governance Initiative (EDGI, https://envirodatagov.org) has been doing to monitor the unfolding anti-science agenda at the EPA and other federal agencies, especially recent cuts to environmental justice initiatives. We talk about how they both got involved in EDGI, the important of open source infrastructure to their work, the language and practice of data rescue, what the collective has discovered about what went on in the first 100 days of the Trump presidency, what we can learn from the successful resistance to the Reagan administration’s efforts to dismantle the EPA, and what is contained in their remarkable new report, “Pursuing a Toxic Agenda: Environmental Injustice in the Early Trump Administration” (http://100days.envirodatagov.org/pursuing-toxic-agenda/). We discuss the EPA’s “starvation diet” even under Obama, how to optimize the relationship between communities and data and why a move toward a decolonizing and feminist principles of “environmental data justice” would be a step in the right direction. Finally we close with climate change as an environmental justice issue, the need to build alternative data gathering systems, the future of EDGI and how you can get involved with their work if you feel so moved, dear listeners.

Sep 15, 2017

Please enjoy our first live Cultures of Energy show in which Cymene, Dominic and Penn sociologist Daniel Aldana Cohen (of Hot & Bothered podcast fame, https://www.dissentmagazine.org/tag/hot-bothered) talk to Nerd Nite Austin about how to expand our emotional range when dealing with the Anthropocene, the limits of environmental austerity messaging for changing high carbon behavior and, while waiting for the global North to finally get around to embracing a degrowth ethos, why we might want to experiment with embracing low carbon leisure and pleasure activities that could help us to decarbonize our modern lives faster while still having fun. Bonus: you’ll also learn about a low carbon drinking game involving the words “capitalocene” and “chicken bones.” Special thanks to Lewis Weil and JC Dwyer for organizing the event and to Jacob Weiss for ace sound engineering. Watch for the event video coming soon to https://vimeo.com/nerdniteaustin

Sep 7, 2017

Dominic and Cymene plug low carbon leisure and pleasure and consider the world of competitive dishwashing. Then (8:49) we welcome to the podcast the amazing Naveeda Khan from Johns Hopkins. We compare the experiences and media coverage of recent flooding in Houston and South Asia, noting especially how terms like “shelter” and “refugee” are deployed differently. Then Naveeda shares her reflections on her trips to the COP meetings and explains what she learned about South-South politics and the anthrocentrism underlying international climate remediation efforts. From there we talk about her remarkable ethnographic work with chaura communities living on shifting riverine islands in northern Bangladesh. We discuss whether Bangladesh is indeed the world’s posterchild for climate precarity, how to think with rivers and about their evolving personhood, how local thinking in the riverine communities challenges both Islamic eschatology and northern climate change discourse, Bangladesh as global future, and Romanticism. We muse on Islamic cosmology, creaturely beings, and ecological thought and then close with a discussion of loss vs. damage. Listen on!

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