Dale Jamieson & Bonnie Nadzam, Ch 1, The Anthropocene

from Love in the Anthropocene

1.      Imaginary artifact world

         a.      An artifact: Something created/designed/constructed by humans

         b.      World of future been remade and almost entirely managed by human

         c.      “Rivers, lakes, oceans, forests, fields meticulously planned and tech maintained by humans”

                  i.      What would it mean to tech maintain the oceans?

         d.      “Weather profoundly affected by inadvertent consequences of human action and clumsy attempts to correct these perturbations and bring them under intentional human control”

         e.      Animals survive only at that margins, and only if existence can be justified to planetary managers

2.      World today not so different

         a.      “Wild elephants and rhinos protected from poachers by unmanned drones

         b.      Gorilla docs intensely monitoring last of wild Mountain Gorillas, intervening medically if necessary

         c.      Set of mobile gates isolate Venice and its lagoon from Adriatic Sea

         d.      In Dubai, can downhill ski in the Mall of the Emigrates

                  i.      Ski Dubai

         e.      Virtually all terrestrial biosphere has been transformed by human action, oceans not far behind

         f.      More seafood we eat produced by fish farming, than fishing

         g.      20 millions tons of human trash in oceans, much in the several hundred thousand square miles know as “Great Pacific Garbage Patch

         h.      Millions of pieces of debris from satellites, rocket boosters and lost equipment orbiting the planet

         i.      Few places largely immune are mtn tops, deserts and polar regions, but now even these areas transformed due to climate change

                  i.      Climate change vicious circle: Fossil-fuel driving CC opening up parts of arctic to oil/gas exploration which may lead to more fossil fuel driven CC and more areas of Earth exploited for fossil fuels

3.      Change is possible

         a.      “If we don’t’ change directions soon, we’ll end up where we are going”

4.      Ozone hole/climate change analogy

         a.      Brilliant scientists

                  i.      “If “brilliant scientists” had not alerted us to consequences of using CFCs in air conditioners and spray cans, ozone layer would have been destroyed and Earth rendered lifeless planet”

         b.      Brief era of international cooperation

                  i.      “The scientists and “a brief era of international cooperation” that solved the Ozone Hole problem

         c.      Analogy with climate change

                  i.      Brilliant scientists tell us we are destabilizing the climate and need to act decisively now

                           (1)    But we are not listening or believing

                  ii.     International cooperation has been a disaster

5.      Problem about caring for future when don’t know their values

         a.      How good or bad future will be depends in large part on the values of those future people

         b.      Lenape Indians who inhabited NYC in 17th century would probably be appalled by what many inhabitants of NYC love about it: its skyscrapers, subways, museums, bars, restaurants with a buzz

         c.      We may be appalled by tastes and desires of future people and they may despise what we think of as treasures we sacrifice to bequeath them (preferences/desires change)

         d.      But are there not objective, cross generational goods?

                  i.      Resources necessary for survival and health–clean air and water, nutrition, education

         e.      What if they like an artifactual world?

                  i.      Brian Barry:

                           (1)    People in future might learn to find satisfaction in totally artificial landscapes, walking on astroturf with plastic trees in which electronic birds sing overhead

                           (2)    “Can’t help but believe something horrible would have happened to them if not miss real grass, trees, birds”

         f.      Also we can help determine those values!

6.      Anthropocene

         a.      Humanity with its technological power is remaking the planet

         b.      Main driver of change on planet Earth is not volcanic activity, shift in tectonic plates or variation in solar radiation, but growing human population and its demand for energy/food/info/services/waste disposal

         c.      Last 250 years human caused not only CC, but species extinction, desertification, ocean acidification, ozone depletion, pollution

         d.      We have all witnessed massive changes often to our own neighborhoods (as trees are cut and houses, malls put up)

7.      Stability of Holocene being destroyed: Since 12,000 years ago (beginning of Holocene) earth systems unusually stable

         a.      Do we really want to be destabilizing the natural systems that have prevailed during the time everything we associate with humanity (agriculture, cities, writing) developed?

8.      The human technological world has changed the nature of relationship/agency/responsibility and this leads to helpless and a crisis in meaning

         a.      We have power to save a child in a faraway village by clicking on a link

         b.      But feel helpless in trying to stem climate change and other transformations of Anthropocene

         c.      Live in a world where everything affects everything else

                  i.      No one feels responsible

         d.      When I drive my SUV to 7-Eleven for a Slurpee, am I causing CC, contributing to it, complicit in it, or does it not matter what I do? Do these distinctions matter?

9.      Independent nature always been a background to human life and that is ending and with it, perhaps, the virtue of human humility

         a.      Book of Matthew tells us sun shines on just and unjust alike

         b.      With Geo-engineering we may be able to fix this oversight of nature

         c.      What becomes of this message of humility and compassion this teaching evokes?

10.    Possibility of new types of value in diminished world of Anthropocene?

         a.       Humans are prime movers of a rapidly changing world and creating an Anthropocene that is in many ways a diminished world

         b.      Will it be a world in which our most important values shrivel?

         c.      Will it provide ways to develop new rituals, relationships that are meaningful?

11.    Love in Anthropocene? How and where will love be possible in the artifactual world of the anthropocene?

         a.      Often love tied to nature; in many ways inseparable

                  i.      Examples

                           (1)    Special places were we have fallen in love

                           (2)    Activities we love to do

                           (3)    Or love of nature itself

         b.      Humans part of and/or separate from nature

                  i.      Not clear where nature ends and humans begin

                  ii.     We are living embodiment of natural cycles (carbon, nitrogen, breathing/respiration

                  iii.    To neglect natural world from which we are constituted is to ignore very matter of own bodies


12.    Ned’s worries

         a.      Is our world today really an “artifact?”

         b.      Are we really dominating nature?

Questions on Jamieson and Nadzam’s “The Anthropocene”

1.      What is an “artifact?” What are some reasons for thinking the nature on earth today is significantly artifactual?

2.      What is the difference between the problem with the ozone layer and climate change problem? What are two important factors that led to successfully addressing the ozone problem? How do those factors play out with respect to climate change? (Hint: Scientists and international cooperation).

3.      Jamieson and Nadzam identify a particular problem in sacrificing today to make sure the future has certain goods. What is that problem? How serious a problem is it?

4.      What is “the Anthropocene?” How will it be different from the Holocene in terms of stability?

5.      Jamieson and Nadzam use the example of “driving one’s SUV to the 7-Eleven for a Slurpee” in order to make what point? (Hint: Responsibility/agency)

6.      Jamieson and Nadzam note that “Book of Matthew tells us sun shines on just and unjust alike.” What does this have to do with geo-engineering, humility and compassion?

7.      Do you agree with Jamieson and Nadzam that in many ways love and nature are inseparable?