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The futures discussed in this book primarily arise from awareness of the potentially disruptive impact of climate change and ecological instability on human societies. Part of the paradox of cultural, social and ethical life in all societies is that it is directed towards a future that can never be observed, and never be directly acted upon, and yet is always interacting with us. As a result actions depend on imagination and political action. Future-loaded terms like ‘anthropogenic climate change’, ‘food ...
The futures discussed in this book primarily arise from awareness of the potentially disruptive impact of climate change and ecological instability on human societies. Part of the paradox of cultural, social and ethical life in all societies is that it is directed towards a future that can never be observed, and never be directly acted upon, and yet is always interacting with us. As a result actions depend on imagination and political action. Future-loaded terms like ‘anthropogenic climate change’, ‘food security’, ‘sustainability’, ‘energy security’, and ‘biodiversity’ evoke a specific politics that privileges scientific or economic knowledge, while potentially suppressing the contestations within, and between, those knowledges. Remedies like carbon taxes, carbon trading, renewable energy and nature conservation risk obscuring forms of social and cultural difference in favour of the proposed moral unity of ‘global humanity’ on a threatened planet. These are ‘holistic’ projects that suppress parts of the world, or particular social dynamics, in favour of others. By contrast, this book’s framework embraces an appreciation of difference and non-holism, as it is unlikely that one solution to the many disruptive futures perceived throughout the world can be found. Indeed any such ‘one solution’ may increase the disruptive effects found in local situations. Each chapter invites reflection on diverse ways of comprehending global warming and other manifestations of major environmental change, as well as on the forms, and shapers, of agency that influence people’s understanding and response.
In order to encourage the appreciation of the different future worlds either imagined and emergent in the present, the scope of the chapters extends beyond the usual geopolitical focus on the North Atlantic world, to encompass Nepal, islands in the Pacific, Sweden, coastal Scotland and remote, regional and urban Australia.
The book is uniquely informed by empirically based and multidisciplinary social science modes of inquiry, together with a broad-ranging examination of the ‘futures’ based discourse, policy and politics that have become an intrinsic part of the contemporary world. It will appeal to researchers and postgraduate students in environmental anthropology, environmental studies, psychology and politics.
Introduction: The Social, Psychological and Conceptual Problems of Disruptive Future Ecologies Part 1: Intellectual and Speculative Engagements with Climate Change, or the Future 1. Ethics and Transition in an Unstable World 2. Future Panics: Catastrophe and Utopia in Mythologies about Population Growth in Public Policy 3. The Anthropology Of Climate Change: Can We Make A Difference? 4. The First Draft of The Future: Journalism in the Age of the Anthropocene Part 2: The Politics of Engagement with Foreseen (and Unforseeable) Futures 5. Futures of Governance: Globalization and Sustainability in Tuna Fisheries 6. Official Optimism in the Face of an Uncertain Future: Swedish Reactions to Climate Change Threats 7. Another Future is Possible: Living Well and ‘Bio-Civilisation’ Part 3: Environmental Change in Specific Places and Cultures 8. Imagining International Development Practice: Climate Change, the World Bank and Kiribati 9. When Climate Change is not yhe Concern: Realities and Futures of Environmental Change in Village Nepal 10. The Ontologies and Ecologies of Hardship: Past and Future Governance in the Central Australian Arid Zone Part 4: Body and Psyche 11. Climate Change Conversations: the Role of Future Imaginings 12. Wrecks and The Presence of Past and Future Crises 13. Natural Scepticism, Weather Certitudes and Climate Change Concern Part 5: Technological Fantasies about Planetary Futures 14. Chasing ‘Ecopolis’: The Inner Urban Eco-Community as a Novel Ecotopian Project 15. Geo-Engineering, Imagination and the Problem Cycle 16. Pre-Emptive Speciation: Directing the Evolution of Synthetic Biospheres