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.

Pratik Chakrabarti: Is Deep History White?

Violence against land defenders

There is important new work on the violence against land defenders worth reading over the summer. Here is a recent article in Global Environmental Change and a write up in The Ecologist with some background to it.

It is not easy reading; nor should it be owing to the continued violence against land defenders, many of whom are Indigenous peoples. Of course, land defenders face challenges on a variety of fronts and this new book on Berta Cáceres does a very good job of positioning land struggles in a broader context. Here is the blurb from the publisher:

Who Killed Berta Cáceres? Dams, Death Squads, and an Indigenous Defender’s Battle for the Planet


The first time Honduran indigenous leader Berta Cáceres met the journalist Nina Lakhani, Cáceres said, ‘The army has an assassination list with my name at the top. I want to live, but in this country there is total impunity. When they want to kill me, they will do it.’ In 2015, Cáceres won the Goldman Prize, the world’s most prestigious environmental award, for leading a campaign to stop construction of an internationally funded hydroelectric dam on a river sacred to her Lenca people. Less than a year later she was dead.

Lakhani tracked Cáceres remarkable career, in which the defender doggedly pursued her work in the face of years of threats and while friends and colleagues in Honduras were exiled and killed defending basic rights. Lakhani herself endured intimidation and harassment as she investigated the murder. She was the only foreign journalist to attend the 2018 trial of Cáceres’s killers, where state security officials, employees of the dam company and hired hitmen were found guilty of murder. Many questions about who ordered and paid for the killing remain unanswered.

Drawing on more than a hundred interviews, confidential legal filings, and corporate documents unearthed after years of reporting in Honduras, Lakhani paints an intimate portrait of an extraordinary woman in a state beholden to corporate powers, organised crime, and the United States.


David Schlosberg: Climate Change, Non-humans, and Relational Impacts

Patchy Anthropocene: Special Issue from Current Anthropology

I’m sure my ‘copy-and-paste’ will have some issues below [or not! many of the links seem to be working properly], so the direct link to this interesting set of papers is here. The special issue in Current Anthropology is titled “Patchy Anthropocene: Frenzies and Afterlives of Violent Simplifications” and looks to be open-access so far as I can tell.


Free AccessPatchy Anthropocene: Frenzies and Afterlives of Violent Simplifications: Wenner-Gren Symposium Supplement 20

Danilyn Rutherford

pp. S183–S185

First Page | Full Text | PDF (1490 KB) | Permissions

Free AccessPatchy Anthropocene: Landscape Structure, Multispecies History, and the Retooling of Anthropology: An Introduction to Supplement 20

Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, Andrew S. Mathews, and Nils Bubandt

pp. S186–S197

Abstract | Full Text | PDF (1343 KB) | Permissions

+ Show Abstract
Landscape Structure: Reading Extinction and Toxicity
Free AccessLearning to Read the Great Chernobyl Acceleration: Literacy in the More-than-Human Landscapes

Kate Brown

pp. S198–S208

Abstract | Full Text | PDF (1958 KB) | Permissions

+ Show Abstract
Free AccessThe Tree Snail Manifesto

Michael G. Hadfield and Donna J. Haraway

pp. S209–S235

Abstract | Full Text | PDF (3120 KB) | Permissions

+ Show Abstract
Modular Simplification and Feral Proliferation: Inhabiting Nondesigned Effects
Free AccessCoffee Landscapes Shaping the Anthropocene: Forced Simplification on a Complex Agroecological Landscape

Ivette Perfecto, M. Estelí Jiménez-Soto, and John Vandermeer

pp. S236–S250

Abstract | Full Text | PDF (1279 KB) | Permissions

+ Show Abstract
Free AccessLivestock Revolution and Ghostly Apparitions: South China as a Sentinel Territory for Influenza Pandemics

Frédéric Keck

pp. S251–S259

Abstract | Full Text | PDF (1346 KB) | Permissions

+ Show Abstract
Free AccessCattle, Capital, Colonization: Tracking Creatures of the Anthropocene In and Out of Human Projects

Rosa E. Ficek

pp. S260–S271

Abstract | Full Text | PDF (1450 KB) | Permissions

+ Show Abstract
Systems and Their Limits: Thinking with Models
Free AccessAn Unexpected Politics of Population: Salmon Counting, Science, and Advocacy in the Columbia River Basin

Heather Anne Swanson

pp. S272–S285

Abstract | Full Text | PDF (1385 KB) | Permissions

+ Show Abstract
Free AccessBeing Affected by Sinking Deltas: Changing Landscapes, Resilience, and Complex Adaptive Systems in the Scientific Story of the Anthropocene

Atsuro Morita and Wakana Suzuki

pp. S286–S295

Abstract | Full Text | PDF (1334 KB) | Permissions

+ Show Abstract
Free AccessOn Models and Examples: Engineers and Bricoleurs in the Anthropocene

Eduardo Viveiros de Castro

pp. S296–S308

Abstract | Full Text | PDF (1385 KB) | Permissions

+ Show Abstract
Radical Hope: On Not Giving Up
Free AccessPlants, Politics, and the Imagination over the Past 500 Years in the Indo-Malay Region

Michael R. Dove

pp. S309–S320

Abstract | Full Text | PDF (1905 KB) | Permissions

+ Show Abstract
Free AccessFilthy Flourishing: Para-Sites, Animal Infrastructure, and the Waste Frontier in Kampala

Jacob Doherty

pp. S321–S332

Abstract | Full Text | PDF (1757 KB) | Permissions

+ Show Abstract
Beyond Man/Change/Earth: Imagining Otherwise
Free AccessAt Play with the Giants: Between the Patchy Anthropocene and Romantic Geology

Naveeda Khan

pp. S333–S341

Abstract | Full Text | PDF (1301 KB) | Permissions

+ Show Abstract
Free AccessFarming Odd Kin in Patchy Anthropocenes

Yen-Ling Tsai

pp. S342–S353

Abstract | Full Text | PDF (2244 KB) | Permissions

New Book: Andreas Malm’s, How to Blow Up a Pipeline

Latest from Andreas Malm moves from his initial work in history (Fossil Capital), to the polemical conceptual book (Progress of this Storm) to a call for civil disobedience.

From the Publisher’s website:

9781839760259Property will cost us the earth

The science on climate change has been clear for a very long time now. Yet despite decades of appeals, mass street protests, petition campaigns, and peaceful demonstrations, we are still facing a booming fossil fuel industry, rising seas, rising emission levels, and a rising temperature. With the stakes so high, why haven’t we moved beyond peaceful protest?

In this lyrical manifesto, noted climate scholar (and saboteur of SUV tires and coal mines) Andreas Malm makes an impassioned call for the climate movement to escalate its tactics in the face of ecological collapse. We need, he argues, to force fossil fuel extraction to stop–with our actions, with our bodies, and by defusing and destroying its tools. We need, in short, to start blowing up some oil pipelines.

Offering a counter-history of how mass popular change has occurred, from the democratic revolutions overthrowing dictators to the movement against apartheid and for women’s suffrage, Malm argues that the strategic acceptance of property destruction and violence has been the only route for revolutionary change. In a braided narrative that moves from the forests of Germany and the streets of London to the deserts of Iraq, Malm offers us an incisive discussion of the politics and ethics of pacifism and violence, democracy and social change, strategy and tactics, and a movement compelled by both the heart and the mind. Here is how we fight in a world on fire.

New Book: Simon Dalby’s Anthropocene Geopolitics

A great looking new title from Simon Dalby from the University of Ottawa Press.

Anthropocene Geopolitics: Globalization, Security, Sustainability

9780776628899_2We now find ourselves in a new geological age: the Anthropocene. The climate is changing and species are disappearing at a rate not seen since Earth’s major extinctions. The rapid, large-scale changes caused by fossil-fuel powered globalization increasingly threaten societies in new, unforeseen ways. But most security policies continue to be built on notions that look back- ward to a time when geopolitical threats derived mainly from the rivalries of states with fixed boundaries. Instead, Anthropocene Geopolitics shows that security policy must look forward to quickly shape a sustainable world no longer dependent on fossil fuels.

A future of long-term peace and geopolitical security depends on keeping the earth in conditions roughly similar to those we have known throughout history. Minimizing disruptions that would further put civilization at risk of extinction urgently requires policies that reflect new Anthropocene “planetary boundaries.”

This book is published in English.

Depuis la fin de la dernière période glaciaire, l’humanité a transformé sa niche écologique, modifié sa position dans l’écosystème, provoqué des changements climatiques radicaux et affecté la diversité des espèces aux quatre coins du monde, ce qui a entraîné l’apparition d’une nouvelle époque géologique, l’Anthropocène.

À l’échelle planétaire, les activités humaines exercent un impact direct sur les frontières qu’elles transforment durablement alors que ces mêmes frontières ont constitué le cadre naturel dans lequel l’humanité a pu prospérer durant les dix derniers millénaires. Les changements rapides qui affectent notre système terrestre remettent directement en cause les anciennes hypothèses qui considéraient des frontières stables comme le principal fondement de la souveraineté. Aujourd’hui, ces postulats périmés doivent impérativement être réévalués. Paradoxalement, la phase de mondialisation actuelle nécessite une redéfinition de la notion même de frontières stables. En effet, l’élargissement des droits de propriété et des champs de compétence pourrait en fait prévenir la mise en œuvre de mesures d’adaptation efficaces visant à répondre aux enjeux du changement climatique. Garantir la survie d’une économie fondée sur la consommation de combustibles fossiles demeure à ce jour une priorité politique comme le fait de devoir faire face aux catastrophes naturelles à l’échelle mondiale – ce qui rend les objectifs de durabilité d’autant plus difficiles à atteindre dans un environnement en pleine mutation où les rivalités politiques exacerbées façonnent la politique globale contemporaine.

L’entrée de la Terre dans une nouvelle époque géologique, l’Anthropocène (l’ère de l’homme), représente un formidable défi éthique, qu’il convient de relever en établissant une véritable politique de durabilité, et ce, au moment où l’humanité s’engage dans la dernière phase du processus de mondialisation. Dans un tel contexte, pour être réellement efficaces, les connaissances et les perspectives résultant des analyses académiques et des initiatives pratiques de toute nature devront être intégrées dans une vision globale.