Anthropocene roundup: Latour, Grinspoon, and more…

A bit more grist for the Anthropocene mill…

Latour has a new article out on agency in the Anthropocene here. Working at a university I’m never quite sure what is behind a paywall, so if you want a copy feel free to email.

A number of other items/articles out lately too. This one is about how the determination of the Anthropocene is likely to be made – safest bet likely still nuclear radiation/fallout around 1950. A second is about taking “ownership” of the Anthropocene, primarily with respect to food. A third is on Anthropocene research questions for the Arctic. And finally, here is a post on the Anthropocene at the recent EGU.

Also, Dr. Grinspoon’s lecture on Terra Sapiens has a new subtitle regarding the human chapter in the history of the Earth.

Newly appointed: next disappointment? Canada names new environment minister

Yesterday the Canadian Government announced a new cabinet minister for the environment. The previous minister, Peter Kent, was recently eviscerated as quite possible Canada’s worst environment minister ever.

He certainly has presided over a precipitous fall. But the trend towards poor environmental regulations did not start with him. In fact, a 2010 article in Ecology Law Quarterly asks: What ever happened to Canadian environmental law? (PDF).

So, all this to say, the new minister is not inheriting a particularly envious portfolio.

The new minister is Leonna Aglukkaq the former minister of health and also the current chair of the Arctic  Council. When the latter post was assigned to her, researcher’s at McGill wrote an open letter stressing the need for an emphasis on food and housing security. Unfortunately, the tone so far set is one of development as a priority and everything else as a trickle-down effect.

A rising tide floats all boats, so they say. But it can also flood a lot of people out.

Anyhow, this emphasis on the North is all being set in a broader context of Arctic security, First Nations rights and a host of geopolitical issues regarding climate, sovereignty and the like. With that said, there is an interesting new article freely available on the the “New North” – a phrase that recurs often but which is laden with a set of assumptions about for whom the area should be governed and how. You can download it here (pdf).

And here is the abstract:

References to a “New North” have snowballed across popular media in the past 10 years. By invoking the phrase, scientists, policy analysts, journalists and others draw attention to the collision of global warming and global investment in the Arctic today and project a variety of futures for the region and the planet. While changes are apparent, the trope of a “New North” is not new. Discourses that appraised unfamiliar situations at the top of the world have recurred throughout the twentieth century. They have also accompanied attempts to cajole, conquer, civilize, consume, conserve and capitalize upon the far north. This article examines these politics of the “New North” by critically reading “New North” texts from the North American Arctic between 1910 and 2010. In each case, appeals to novelty drew from evaluations of the historical record and assessments of the Arctic’s shifting position in global affairs. “New North” authors pinpointed the ways science, state power, capital and technology trans- formed northern landscapes at different moments in time. They also licensed political and corporate influence in the region by delimiting the colonial legacies already apparent there. Given these tendencies, scholars need to approach the most recent iteration of the “New North” carefully without concealing or repeating the most troubling aspects of the Arctic’s past.

Arctic Sea Ice Minimum Volumes, 1979-2012

A short, powerful video on the loss of Arctic Sea Ice via The Anthropocene Journal:

Arctic mining, Canadian leadership: questionable recipe?

As I’ve mentioned before, Canada is coming under increased focus as the headquarters for most of the world’s mining corporations.

This year, Canada begins its 2 year period as chair of the international Arctic Council ending 2015. Canada has named Leonna Aglukkaq to this role. Several researchers at McGill recently wrote an open letter to Aglukkaq, highlighting the need for human security over resource development amongst Arctic communities.

The concerns expressed by the researchers were confirmed (again) earlier this week by news that a diamond mine was abandoned in Nunavut by its operating company  and left without environmental reclamation.

In this context, there is a very interesting piece out in Water Canada about the rush for mining and its effects on water in the North. This piece came out very close to the publication of The Future of Mining in Canada’s North (PDF) from the Conference Board of Canada.

It will be important to keep threading all of these strings together.