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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: April, 2019
Apr 25, 2019

FINALLY an episode of the Cultures of Energy podcast that is for once totally wholesome and family-friendly and appropriate to listen to with your kids! Cymene and Dominic share their own thoughts about talking to children about climate change. And then (13:51) we welcome an author that will be well known (especially to listeners aged 8-12 and their families), Stuart Gibbs, the author of the very popular FunJungle, Spy School and Moonbase Alpha middle grade series. Stuart has thematized both climate change and animal conservation in his books and we talk to him about how readers have responded to those interventions, about his writing process in general, and why he thinks it’s important for adults to talk to children honestly about our environmental challenges. If you happen to be in the Houston area on April 30th, please check out Stuart’s reading at the Blue Willow Bookstore, deets here: https://www.bluewillowbookshop.com/event/stu-gibbs-0

PS And, as promised, here are some solid online resources for teaching especially younger kids about climate change and climate action: http://climatechangeconnection.org/resources/climate-friendly-schools/resources-for-schools/; https://www.commonsense.org/education/articles/4-free-tools-to-teach-about-climate-change; https://www.earthguardians.org/50simplethings/; https://thinkprogress.org/how-to-talk-to-a-5-year-old-about-climate-change-ef8ec30b1bd1/

Apr 18, 2019

Dominic and Cymene talk about sunburns, the petrocultural epic that is the reboot of Dynasty, and whatever ASMR is. Then (19:46) the terrific Dina Gilio-Whitaker joins us to talk about her new book, As Long as Grass Grows:The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice, from Colonization to Standing Rock (Beacon, 2019). A member of the Colville Confederated Tribes, Dina teaches America Indian Studies at Cal State San Marcos and is policy director and senior research associate at the Center for World Indigenous Studies. We begin by looking back at Standing Rock and the Idle No More movement and talk about how important those were to environmental politics and prospects of energy transition today. Then we talk about how to further the decolonization of the environmental justice movement. We cover colonial unknowing, the erasure of genocide, and the importance of land and place based ethics for human survival. Dina tells us about her research on Panhe, a long-standing Acjachemen sacred site threatened with development, the complexities of sovereignty and recognition it surfaces and then we talk about how far the Rights of Nature legal arguments can go in the settler courts. Finally we debate what’s the real surfing capital of the world, the Institute for Women Surfers project (https://www.instituteforwomensurfers.org), surf feminism, and why Dina and her collaborators see surfing as an environmental justice issue. PS Shout out to Krista Comer for this week’s episode and pls check out Dayla Soul’s film about women’s big wave surfing, It Ain’t Pretty (trailer at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6VDCZudTlg)

Apr 11, 2019

Cymene and Dominic discuss last month’s catastrophic blackout in Venezuela on this week’s podcast. Then (17:39) we’re thrilled to have the chance to chat with Geoff Mann and Joel Wainwright about their fascinating, provocative new book, Climate Leviathan: A Political Theory of Our Planetary Future (Verso, 2018). We start with how the book came to be and what they mean by the potential future scenarios of “climate leviathan,” “climate behemoth” and “climate Mao.” We then turn to how climate change might prompt planetary sovereignty and what will happen if global capitalism is allowed to define that sovereignty. We talk about the enduring power of nationalist sentiments and imaginaries, especially in the form of adopting a “war footing” against climate change, and why they think we shouldn’t put all our eggs in the Green New Deal basket. We debate to what extent Keynesianism is really petroknowledge and how the image of leviathan haunts political thinking today. We close with a fourth scenario they term “climate X” and what we can imagine about the possibilities of a non-capitalist locally-sovereign future. PS For those of you in the Houston area, please join us for Cultures of Energy 8 this week (details at culturesofenergy.org) or follow the live-tweets from the symposium via @cenhs

Apr 4, 2019

Cymene and Dominic celebrate a podcast milestone and bid adieu to 1990s Democrats and their market-loving, head-kissing ways on this week’s show. Then (15:40) Dominic has a chance to chat with NYU’s Jerome Whitington who has just published a fascinating book on hydropower in Laos—a country some are calling the “battery of Southeast Asia”—entitled Anthropogenic Rivers: The Production of Uncertainty in Lao Hydropower(Cornell U Press, 2019). We start off with where hydropower fits within the contemporary debate on renewable energy transition and why it receives so much less attention than solar and wind energy. Then we turn to how Jerome got interested in the Theun-Hinboun Dam project in particular and why he decided to frame the study in terms of knowledge and uncertainty. We discuss the importance of an experimental moment in the dam’s history when the power company sought to collaborate with environmental activists to allay concerns about the ecological and social impacts of the dam project. Jerome explains what he means by “technical entrepreneurialism” and we talk about how to think about the meaning of “anthropogenic” without getting stuck in nature/culture binaries. Shifting gears, we discuss Jerome’s current research on carbon accounting and he explains the influence of corporate accounting logics and Silicon Valley culture on practices like carbon offsets and why he doesn’t think carbon accounting is ultimately going to stop climate change. We close on the need for more academic activism on climate.

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