Glacial Deaths, Geologic Extinction: my latest article now in Environmental Humanities

In my most recent article I examine what it might look like to think about extinction beyond species. I start with the increasing number of funerals for glaciers being held around the world. I started with the quite famous case of OK glacier in Iceland, but there have been others in Switzerland and, more recently, in Oregon in the United States.

The article is free to read here in Environmental Humanities. In it, I argue that grappling with the profound shifts of human impacts on the planet requires also not collapsing extinction to singular ideas of loss. This idea is not new to me, and many others have argued that prevailing notions of extinction (and corollary calls for species protection) don’t adequately account for other ways of reckoning loss, such as those of Indigenous peoples. What I do in the article is slightly different than just critiquing those accounts because I start out by reframining extinction itself not in biological, or species terms alone. Instead, I retrace some of the history of how extinction has always been referenced to a theory of the Earth (or geology) and that there is a way to think extinction about geological phenomenon (like glaciers) too. There could be many other cases as well–perhaps mountain top removal and the like–and I am thinking of how those might also be understood as I move forward with some of these ideas.

Here is the abstract:

In 2019 several funerals were held for glaciers. If enough glaciers die, could they go extinct? Is there geologic extinction? Yes. This article develops three arguments to support this claim. The first revisits Georges Cuvier’s original argument for extinction and its reliance on geology, especially glaciers. Retracing connections to glaciers and the narrowing of extinction to biological species in the nineteenth century, the author argues that anthropogenic forcing on how the Earth system functions—the Anthropocene—warrants rethinking extinction geologically. The second argument examines the specificity of ice loss and multiple practices responding to this loss: from art exhibits at United Nations climate change meetings to anticolonial claims for the right to be cold. The third argument consolidates a theme built across the article regarding how Isabelle Stengers’s notion of ecologies of practices provides an approach to geologic extinction that recognizes both relational and nonrelational loss.

Five new books in series on Kinship: Belonging in a World of Relations

From Humans and Nature and Co-edited by Gavin Van Horn, Robin Wall Kimmerer, and John Hausdoerffer

We live in an astounding world of relations. We share these ties that bind with our fellow humans—and we share these relations with nonhuman beings as well. From the bacterium swimming in your belly to the trees exhaling the breath you breathe, this community of life is our kin—and, for many cultures around the world, being human is based upon this extended sense of kinship.

Kinship: Belonging in a World of Relations is a lively series that explores our deep interconnections with the living world. These five Kinship volumes—Planet, Place, Partners, Persons, Practice—offer essays, interviews, poetry, and stories of solidarity, highlighting the interdependence that exists between humans and nonhuman beings. More than 70 contributors—including Robin Wall Kimmerer, Richard Powers, David Abram, J. Drew Lanham, and Sharon Blackie—invite readers into cosmologies, narratives, and everyday interactions that embrace a more-than-human world as worthy of our response and responsibility. These diverse voices render a wide range of possibilities for becoming better kin.

From the recognition of nonhumans as persons to the care of our kinfolk through language and action, Kinship: Belonging in a World of Relations is a guide and companion into the ways we can deepen our care and respect for the family of plants, rivers, mountains, animals, and others who live with us in this exuberant, life-generating, planetary tangle of relations.

Alternatives to the Anthropocene: CFP for special issue in Radical History Review

See the full Call for Papers here; a blurb is posted below.

Key deadlines: June 1 for abstracts, November for full papers.

A Call for Proposals from the Radical History Review

Issue number 145
Abstract Deadline:
 June 1, 2021
Co-Edited by Ashley Dawson and A. Naomi Paik

This issue seeks submissions that examine the voices of those who fought against the development of the Anthropocene, the geological age in which human activity has dominated the climate and environment. By “alternatives to the Anthropocene,” we invite discussion of at least three connected topics: the Anthropocene as a technocratic, scientific designation of our current epoch; the limits of this approach to periodizing the last 500 years; and the social movements that have challenged the extractive capitalism essential to this epoch. The issue thus presumes that the Anthropocene resulted not simply from world-changing technological innovations like the steam engine. Rather, it resulted from multiple political defeats that consolidated capitalist and colonialist modernity. We invite contributions that highlight struggles for environmental, social, and technological alternatives to the forces that produced the Anthropocene. Essays should examine these histories of resistance that might construct fruitful genealogies for the present environmental crisis and produce a more open and political reading of environmental history.

We seek submissions that offer new insights into what Joan Martinez Alier and Ramachandra Guha call “the environmentalism of the poor,” which has resisted the colonial, capitalist histories that have wrought epochal environmental destruction. How would environmental history transform if we centered the environmentalism of the poor? What are the cultural and political expressions of such environmentalisms in diverse historical and geographic circumstances? What continuities link movements across time and space?  We welcome contributions on any time period. We particularly seek work that contests dominant readings of the Anthropocene as a post-1800 phenomenon and centers environmental history that examines the beginning of the era of European colonial expansion.

Possible topics include:

  • Modes of resistance of diverse “environmentalisms of the poor”
  • Transnational political solidarities constellated around resistance to the Anthropocene
  • Explorations of existing historiographic schools that excavate overlooked popular environmentalisms, like Subaltern Studies
  • Alternative modes of production to colonial/capitalist modernity, including traditions of Indigenous peoples and people of African descent
  • Environmental impacts of slavery and racial capitalism, including environmental engagements of the Black radical tradition
  • Alternative theories to the “Anthropocene” grounded in resistance movements, like “Plantationocene.”
  • Critiques of the scholarly formulation of the Anthropocene, like interventions from Black feminist critiques of geology or Indigenous critiques of the Anthropocene’s temporality
  • Analysis of alternatives to imperialist movements around nature like “conservation” and “preservation”
  • Alternative genealogies for contemporary resistance movements like Blockadia and the Green New Deal

We encourage contributions from historically under-represented groups. Procedures for submission of articles: By June 1, 2021, please submit a one-page abstract summarizing the article as an attachment to with “Issue 145 Abstract Submission” in the subject line. By July 15, 2021, authors will be notified whether they should submit a full version of their article for peer review. The due date for full-length article submissions will be in November 2021.

Please send any images as low-resolution digital files embedded in a Word document along with the text. If chosen for publication, you will need to supply high-resolution image files (at a minimum of 300 dpi) and secure permission to reprint the images. Those articles selected for publication after the peer review process will be included in issue 145 of the Radical History Review, scheduled to appear in January 2023.

Adam Tooze: Transformation, Climate, and Financial Crisis

New book on, The Red Deal: Indigenous Action to Save Our Earth

The Red Nation

A powerful guide to Indigenous liberation and the fight to save the planet.

One-part visionary platform, one-part practical toolkit, The Red Deal is a platform that encompasses everyone, including non-Indigenous comrades and relatives who live on Indigenous land. We—Indigenous, Black and people of color, women and trans folks, migrants, and working people—did not create this disaster, but we have inherited it. We have barely a decade to turn back the tide of climate disaster. It is time to reclaim the life and destiny that has been stolen from us and rise up together to confront this challenge and build a world where all life can thrive. Only mass movements can do what the moment demands. Politicians may or may not follow—it is up to them—but we will design, build, and lead this movement with or without them.

When the Red Nation released their call for a “red deal,” it generated coverage in places from Teen Vogue to Jacobin to the New Republic, was endorsed by the DSA, and has galvanized organizing and action. Now, in response to popular demand, the Red Nation expands their original statement filling in the histories and ideas that formed it and forwarding an even more powerful case for the actions it demands. 

The Red Deal is a call for action beyond the scope of the US colonial state.  It’s a program for Indigenous liberation, life, and land—an affirmation that colonialism and capitalism must be overturned for this planet to be habitable for human and other-than-human relatives to live dignified lives. The Red Deal is not a response to the Green New Deal, or a “bargain” with the elite and powerful. It’s a deal with the humble people of the earth; a pact that we shall strive for peace and justice and a declaration that movements for justice must come from below and to the left. 

Read more here.

Leanne Simpson: A short history of the blockade

Lianne Simpson’s new book, A Short History of the Blockade is now out with the University of Alberta Press.

She gave this talk recently on it:

New book from Jamie Lorimer: The Probiotic Planet: Using Life to Manage Life

A great new book from Jamie Lorimer out soon from University of Minnesota Press. From the publisher’s website:image_cover_medium

Most of us are familiar with probiotics added to milk or yogurt to improve gastrointestinal health. In fact, the term refers to any intervention in which life is used to manage life—from the microscopic, like consuming fermented food to improve gut health, to macro approaches such as biological pest control and natural flood management. In this ambitious and original work, Jamie Lorimer offers a sweeping overview of diverse probiotic approaches and an insightful critique of their promise and limitations.

During our current epoch—the Anthropocene—human activity has been the dominant influence on climate and the environment, leading to the loss of ecological abundance, diversity, and functionality. Lorimer describes cases in which scientists and managers are working with biological processes to improve human, environmental, and even planetary health, pursuing strategies that stand in contrast to the “antibiotic approach”: Big Pharma, extreme hygiene, and industrial agriculture. The Probiotic Planet focuses on two forms of “rewilding” occurring on vastly different scales. The first is the use of keystone species like wolves and beavers as part of landscape restoration. The second is the introduction of hookworms into human hosts to treat autoimmune disorders. In both cases, the goal is to improve environmental health, whether the environment being managed is planetary or human. Lorimer argues that, all too often, such interventions are viewed in isolation, and he calls for a rethinking of artificial barriers between science and policy. He also describes the stark and unequal geographies of the use of probiotic approaches and examines why these patterns exist.

The author’s preface provides a thoughtful discussion of the COVID-19 pandemic as it relates to the probiotic approach. Informed by deep engagement with microbiology, immunology, ecology, and conservation biology as well as food, agriculture, and waste management, The Probiotic Planet offers nothing less than a new paradigm for collaboration between the policy realm and the natural sciences.

New (free!) book on Blue Ethics: Ethical Perspectives on Sustainable, Fair Water Resources Use and Management

This open access book, available in French or English, is pitched at the intersection of policy and ethics. A description below and a link to the site to download it for free is here.

Blue Ethics: Ethical Perspectives on Sustainable, Fair Water Resources Use and Management

From the website: “For many policy makers, urban managers, water experts, technicians or activists, ethical perspectives in water management are not important or do not bring any added value. A debate seems to be locked between those stressing mainly the right of access to water for all and those who cannot go beyond economic realism. The sustainable use of a resource that becomes under growing pressure, in terms of extraction, allocation and recycling looks as a technical issue, not to say a technocratic one. This collective book claims the opposite. The many issues faced by the access to water as well as the sustainable use of the resource rely on open negotiations, settling conflicts, tariffs structure while expanding delivery and managing fairly water’ scarcity. In all these processes, ethical values do matter.”

Michael Sandel on the Tyranny of Merit: What becomes of the common good? (his new book)

Nice interview with Michael Sandel on his new book out this week (or soon, depending where you are).

Arendt in the Anthropocene, our new paper on Being Earthbound

I’m happy to say that a new paper I co-wrote with Oliver Belcher is now out and open-access with Environment and Planning D: Society and Space.

The article starts by paying attention to how Hannah Arendt foregrounded her provocative work in The Human Condition with the claim that humans are earth-bound creatures. This idea is not one that is just a one-off but rather, we argue, a helpful way to make sense of different aspects of her work in that book…which is obviously a quite wide-ranging piece of scholarship but one in which Arendt keeps returning to issues that arise when humans start acting into nature and not merely upon it. Here is the abstract, and the pdf is on my publications page or at the link above:


Hannah Arendt developed a twofold account of ‘being earthbound’ directly relevant to Anthropocene debates regarding the political. For Arendt, both senses of ‘being earthbound’ arose as humans began to act into nature, not merely upon it. The first sense is oriented to a political ontology of process, which arose as human actions – political, technological, scientific – nullified modernist conceits separating humans from nature. The second sense is one of earth alienation, which is referenced specifically to a scientific praxis coincident with advances in science and technology that alienates common sense experiences in politics. Though not unqualified, these two senses of being earthbound anchor our argument that Arendt offered prescient resources for understanding the political in the Anthropocene at the intersection of science, capital and world. The article ends by contrasting Arendt’s account of being earthbound with Bruno Latour’s recent interventions on the politics of Gaia.