In Thompson’s piece “A Radical Hope in a Warmer World”, he discusses how the lives we have grown accustomed to living in are vulnerable. The consumer culture we have so carefully cultivated is in desperate need of a change if we are to help diminish the catastrophic effects of climate change. As Thompson puts it, “today’s consumer culture would not be possible without the Industrial Revolution and so is intimately connected, at least historically, to the burning of fossil fuels for energy (Thompson 2).” As of right now most of our fuel is closely tied to the burning of fossil fuel and throughout history we have been “exploiting carbon-based forms of energy” (Thompson 3). I agree that our lifestyles need to change pretty dramatically, and we can’t just wait for technology to be our safety net. Especially since we have a limited amount of time before the effects of climate change become too great. But in what ways do we need to change our lifestyles? And how do we get people to do it? While I agree with Thompson that our lifestyles do need to change, how should we go about it?
It is hard for me to imagine a world where people actively change their lifestyles to limit the effects of climate change when we are currently living in a time where there are people who still don’t believe climate change is a big deal. Or they just don’t believe it is a real thing. I think a lot of people, especially here in the US have grown accustomed to the lavish lifestyles we lead and I’m not positive people are ready to change that. Especially since those who are currently feeling the effects of climate change right now, and those who will soon feel the effects of climate change are really not the ones causing most of the damage to the climate right now. Climate change is going to affect the powerful and rich last and I don’t see them giving up their lifestyles anytime soon.
The author of “A Billion Black Anthropocene or None” suggests that the way Geology is discussed and displayed undermines the long history of exploitation of people of color, specifically black and brown people. The author states that when categorizing matter as property and properties, “the slave in this formulation is rendered as matter, recognized through an inhuman property relation” (Yusoff 17). The author goes on to highlight how the way we talk about geology can ultimately suggest that those who were exploited were just objects. She seems to be arguing that by writing geology the way that we do we are in our own way justifying all the exploitation that occurred, we are erasing the human aspects of those who were wronged.
When we are writing, especially about history it is easy to forget that the events that are being discussed actually happened and it directly affected real people at that time. It is so easy to distance yourself from it, but the word choices we use matter. Like the author discussed, the way we describe something can help to humanize a person or with a few quick changes we can completely strip them of their human aspects.
I thought this piece was really interesting to read, though I did have to read it more than once to understand it fully. I still feel as though I didn’t completely understand everything that was pointed out in this chapter, but hopefully being able to discuss it in class will help to clarify the last few things that I am not as clear on.
Even though Lynn White Jr. and Pope Francis come from completely different sides when discussing the impacts humans play on the environment, they both share at least a few common points. One piece of contention that both Lynn White Jr. and Pope Francis share is the section of Genesis where it states humans have “dominion” over the earth. Pope Francis actively calls out people for incorrectly interpreting the bible and states that “we must forcefully reject the notion that our being created in God’s image and given dominion over the earth justifies absolute domination over other creatures” (Francis 49). While Pope Francis attempts to change the way, people look at the earth through the eyes of the bible, Lynn White Jr. takes a different route. He argues that the way the bible was written gives people the notion that they are more important than any of the other creatures on this planet. He suggests that because of that line in Genesis people believe that “no item in the physical creation had any purpose save to serve man’s purpose” (White 4). Ultimately, while they go about it in different ways, both Pope Francis and Lynn White Jr. seem to conclude that when people view themselves as “above” the environment they will treat it with very little care. They will place their own personal comfort over everything else, creating and fueling this ecological crisis.
An Honors Colloquium in Environmental Arts and Humanities