“In Bad Faith: These People will get Nowhere,” Jessica Ernst on Fracking

New special issue on the “hydrosocial cycle” in Geoforum

Jessica Budds, Jamie Linton, and Rachel McDonnell have co-edited a special issue on the hydrosocial cycle. A number of interesting papers to be found among them. They are all available here (subscription required, I’d bet if you email the authors for free copies they’d be happy to oblige).

New edX course on the global water crisis by Karen Bakker

UBC’s Karen Bakker has a new online course freely available here.

Here is the course description:

How can we innovate to solve the world’s water crisis? Mobilizing water-related design in pursuit of environmental sustainability is one of the most cutting-edge topics in architecture, engineering, planning, urban design, and urban ecology. In this course, students will learn about innovative solutions to the global water crisis, featuring Vancouver–one of the world’s leading cities for blue-green design. Students will explore multiple perspectives from interdisciplinary research in the social and natural sciences, develop an understanding of the interconnections between water and other environmental security issues (the ‘water-energy-food-health nexus’), critically analyze innovative strategies, and be inspired by examples of regenerative sustainability in action.

Using compelling documentary-style videos, the course features architects, planners, artists, engineers, and academics that have been central to creating real-world innovations which link water and sustainability in the built environment. Specific topics include: blue-green building design; eco-health; the role of water in environmentally-sensitive urban planning; waste-to-resource conversion at the neighborhood scale; urban stream regeneration; water ethics; and regenerative sustainability. Students will meet the inspiring founder of the Center for Interactive Research on Sustainability (one of the greenest buildings in North America); visit North America’s largest wastewater-to-energy plant; learn from architects designing urban waterscapes as ‘landscape infrastructure’ along Vancouver’s revitalized waterfront; travel along one of North America’s largest revitalized urban streams, which has become a hub for community engagement and traditional food production; and explore the creation of a ‘watershed mind’ with an award-winning poet and artist. Lectures and engaging readings will supplement the videos, enabling students to learn about some key challenges of the global water crisis; the interconnections between water, energy, food, and land security; and the potential for making positive contributions through integrated, sustainable urban management.

Wisconsin Mining Standoff w/ Winona LaDuke

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“Have you heard about the Wisconsin Mining Standoff? The GTac mining proposal? What about the Enbridge pipeline expansion? guest host Rebecca Kemble was joined by Wisconsin’s 29th Senate District Candidate Paul DeMain, Harvard educated economist Winona LaDuke, founding member of the Wisconsin Citizens Media Cooperative Barbara With, and chairman of the Bad River Ojibwe Mike Wiggins to discuss the creative responses to resource extraction proposals in the Lake Superior Basin.

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Martin Rudwick’s new book: Earth’s Deep History

Martin Rudwick’s Bursting the Limits of Time represented a major work in historical geology; An interesting video on geology and the genesis account below, as well as news he has a new book due out next week:

9780226203935Earth’s Deep History (University of Chicago Press)

Earth has been witness to mammoths and dinosaurs, global ice ages, continents colliding or splitting apart, comets and asteroids crashing catastrophically to the surface, as well as the birth of humans who are curious to understand it all. But how was it discovered? How was the evidence for it collected and interpreted? And what kinds of people have sought to reconstruct this past that no human witnessed or recorded? In this sweeping and magisterial book, Martin J.S. Rudwick, the premier historian of the earth sciences, tells the gripping human story of the gradual realization that the Earth’s history has not only been unimaginably long but also astonishingly eventful.

Rudwick begins in the seventeenth century with Archbishop James Ussher, who famously dated the creation of the cosmos to 4004 BC. His narrative then turns to the crucial period of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, when inquisitive intellectuals, who came to call themselves “geologists,” began to interpret rocks and fossils, mountains and volcanoes, as natural archives of Earth’s history. He then shows how this geological evidence was used—and is still being used—to reconstruct a history of the Earth that is as varied and unpredictable as human history itself. Along the way, Rudwick defies the popular view of this story as a conflict between science and religion and reveals that the modern scientific account of the Earth’s deep history retains strong roots in Judaeo-Christian ideas.

Extensively illustrated, Earth’s Deep History is an engaging and impressive capstone to Rudwick’s distinguished career.  Though the story of the Earth is inconceivable in length, Rudwick moves with grace from the earliest imaginings of our planet’s deep past to today’s scientific discoveries, proving that this is a tale at once timeless and timely.

Dipesh Chakrabarty: The civilizational roots of Indian democracy

It was recently reported that India will build its largest dam ever; a project for the most part bereft of environmental or social assessments. In that light, this lecture by Dipesh Chakrabarty seemed appropriate.

My latest article on water governance is now out

Nate Matthews and I have a new article out in the International Journal of Water Governance that compares the promises of “good water governance” in two very different contexts: the communist Lao PDR and liberal democratic Alberta. It’s part of a special issue on anarchy in water governance. The editorial introduction is available for free here. Our article is here, and if you want a copy shoot me an email as I expect to receive the finalized pdf any time now.


‘Good water governance’ in Lao PDR and Alberta, Canada emerged in different political contexts of, respectively, communism and democracy. Yet both espouse similar principles of participation, transparency and accountability. Drawing on multiple methods, this paper examines how contests over governance affect the adoption of, and mechanisms for, ‘good water governance.’ It gives particular emphasis to how both scale and context influence, and at times curtail, the promises of good water governance. In both Lao PDR and Alberta, we examine how governance mechanisms have been wielded by what we call closed communities. These communities are part of the dark side of water governance. They espouse good governance principles yet retain political power apart from them. We suggest good water governance is far from guaranteed by particular political systems, new institutions or even legislation.

Paul Sabin: Our gamble for Earth’s future

If you’ve not had a chance to read Paul Sabin’s new book, The Bet, I would recommend it. Here’s the blurb from Yale University Press and a video from the author:

“In 1980, the iconoclastic economist Julian Simon challenged celebrity biologist Paul Ehrlich to a bet. Their wager on the future prices of five metals captured the public’s imagination as a test of coming prosperity or doom. Ehrlich, author of the landmark book The Population Bomb, predicted that rising populations would cause overconsumption, resource scarcity, and famine—with apocalyptic consequences for humanity. Simon optimistically countered that human welfare would flourish thanks to flexible markets, technological change, and our collective ingenuity. Simon and Ehrlich’s debate reflected a deepening national conflict over the future of the planet. The Bet weaves the two men’s lives and ideas together with the era’s partisan political clashes over the environment and the role of government. In a lively narrative leading from the dawning environmentalism of the 1960s through the pivotal presidential contest between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan and on into the 1990s, Paul Sabin shows how the fight between Ehrlich and Simon—between environmental fears and free-market confidence—helped create the gulf separating environmentalists and their critics today. Drawing insights from both sides, Sabin argues for using social values, rather than economic or biological absolutes, to guide society’s crucial choices relating to climate change, the planet’s health, and our own.”

Ursula K. Heise – Legally Gone: Endangered Species Laws and Culture