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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 a Mingomena Media production. Co-hosts are @DominicBoyer and @CymeneHowe
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Now displaying: 2024
May 24, 2024

Cymene and Dominic recap last week’s Petrocultures Los Angeles conference and discuss the new climate lawsuit filed in France seeking to press criminal charges against the CEO and directors of the French oil major TotalEnergies. Then (15:27) we welcome the brilliant and megatalented Rania Ghosn to the podcast. We start with the work of Design Earth, Rania’s practice together with El Hadi Jazairy and how the collaboration began. Rania explains how Design Earth seeks to explore how design can help respond to the climate crisis and why they tend to work in a narrative or speculative mode. We discuss their strategies for cultivating what she calls “geostories” at the intersection of art, science and design. From there we move to talking about what energy means in the context of design, how the ruins of carbon modernity will haunt urbanism and landscapes for many years to come, speculative ecofeminist storytelling, and the art of making exquisite corpses. We close talking about what it means to inherit the world in all its crisis and how to learn to live in a time of collapse.

Apr 27, 2024

Dominic and Cymene react to the police violence sweeping across US university campuses. Then (15:11) we are thrilled to welcome CNN’s Chief Climate Correspondent, Bill Weir, to the podcast. We begin with the big news of the day—the landmark legal ruling by the European court of human rights that Switzerland had violated the human rights of more than 2,000 older Swiss women by failing to cut its national greenhouse gas emissions. Then, we dive into Bill’s great new book, Life as We Know It (Can Be): Stories of People, Climate, and Hope in a Changing World (Chronicle Books 2024). We talk about how to balance nightmares and dreams in climate storytelling, techniques for building effective story arcs, the five stages of climate grief, and disrupting the idea that consumption leads to happiness. Bill explains the ideas of protopia and YIMBYism to us and emphasizes the need to act locally and with humility as he shares with us some of the more encouraging stories he’s encountered in his travels as a reporter. We close by discussing what Bill thinks has changed in terms of news coverage of climate change during the course of his long and storied career. Please listen and share!!

Mar 17, 2024

Cymene tries to convince Dominic to join the Freemasons on this episode of the Cultures of Energy podcast. Plus, a shallow dive into Buzkashi, the national sport of Tajikistan, the country that helped convince the UN to designate 2025 the International Year of Glaciers’ Preservation. Then (13:22) we are thrilled to welcome Siddharth Sareen from U Stavanger, author of The Sun Also Rises in Portugal (Bristol U Press, 2024) and the winner of this year’s Nils Klim Prize in Norway (go Sid!) We start with how Sid’s interests in energy research shifted from India to Portugal, an underappreciated star in solarity. We talk about the struggle between large scale solar and community solar in the context of aspirations toward a just energy transition. We discuss the environmental impact of solar and how it can be improved, and Sid explains why standards matter as solar becomes a more mature industry and how standards of commoning could help to constitute a better future for solar power. Finally, we discuss the need to pursue prefigurative politics as way of bringing more energy utopias into the world and allowing them to flourish.

Feb 29, 2024

Cymene accounts for her mysterious conversion from a coffee-drinker to a tea-drinker but [spoiler alert] it turns out she’s not a doppelganger after all. Then after some EV road trip talk (16:06) we are delighted to have Cristián Simonetti join us from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. We start with Cris’s research on concrete, one of the most abundant contemporary materials, and what it reveals about the course of the Anthropocene trajectory. From there we talk about the debate over the Anthropocene designation and how stratigraphers tend to petrify earth processes by valuing solids over fluids. From there we move to talking about ice and his interest in the viscosity of glaciers and soil. We circle back to concrete and how the Romans conceived of it as a solid fluid and as a conversation between the elements. Finally, we talk about the special role glaciers have played in the Chilean Anthropocene. Glaciers move like ketchup? Concrete is a colloid? For those and further revelations, please listen on!

Feb 6, 2024

Cymene arrives at the Covid party on this week’s episode and she’s got the sultry radio voice to prove it. We share a few words about a magnificent pug named Doug and Cymene discovers  Russell Brand’s rightward "grift drift" to her horror. Then (18:58) we welcome Laurie Parsons to the podcast to talk about his excellent new book, Carbon Colonialism (Manchester U Press, 2023), which originated from his long-term research on the Cambodian garment industry. Laurie explains how when it comes to climate change we’re really not all in it together: carbon colonialism creates northern resource feasts and luxury at the expense of great climate and social vulnerability in the Global South. From this discussion of the deep inequalities in climate impacts, we move to the way the COP process has been perverted in recent years, the contested landscape of climate resilience, the low profitability of extraction, ignorance as green capital, and whether there is a pathway toward a non-extractive global economy. Laurie explains to us his skepticism about the idea of sustainable consumption and his feeling that we’ve entered the age of environmental sophistry. Finally, we discuss six myths that Laurie has identified that help to keep carbon colonialism going. Enjoy!

Jan 24, 2024

The Cultures of Energy podcast is back with the first of several new episodes for 2024. First, Cymene and Dominic share what they've learned from their very late arrival to watching the show Survivor and why Shadow, their 75% chihuahua, has never worked a day in her life and proudly so. Then (11:40) the main part of this week's episode is a conversation between Dominic and Cara Daggett (https://www.caranewdaggett.com) about his latest book No More Fossils (online Open Access edition here: https://manifold.umn.edu/projects/no-more-fossils. Many thanks to Maggie Sattler from U Minnesota Press for organizing the conversation and for a wonderful job of producing and editing the interview. Next episode coming soon: a report on a cross-country electric adventure and a conversation with Laurie Parsons about his new book Carbon Colonialism.

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