Friday, December 2, 2016

Anything new in the cli-fi world?

Anything new in the cli-fi world?

A major news portal, THE CLI-FI REPORT, with several icon buttons to choose from here: cli-fi.net


Any new interviews or news articles or opeds on the horizon?

A big interview with a literary website in the USA is coming up soon, scheduled now and the reporter is calling next week.

Any good literary articles or book reviews of cli-fi novels recently?

Biggest next big thing is Kim Stanley Robinson's new cli-fi novel titled ''NEW YORK 2140'' and skedded for a March 14, 2017 pub date.

Cli-fi in Hollywood. Any new cli-fi movies in production or pre production or ready for release soon?

The new Nicolas Cage movie is shooting in Canada now, and set in 2030 near future. Dystopian cli-fi. Cage will star in the action thriller “The Humanity Bureau,” with shooting in British Columbia.

Rob King is set to direct from a script written by Dave Schultz. Sarah Lind, Jakob Davies and Hugh Dillon have also joined the cast.

The story is set in 2030 with global warming wreaking havoc in parts of the American Midwest. In its attempt to take hold of the economic recession, a government agency called The Humanity Bureau exiles members of society deemed unproductive and banishes them to a colony known as New Eden.

Cage will play an ambitious and impartial caseworker who investigates a case appealed by a single mother (Lind) and her son (Davies). RELEASE DATE: SUMMER 2017

In academia, any new cli-fi classes set for this semester or next? Any recent academic articles or quotes from them worth highlighting?


Yes, a lot is happening within academia and among academics worldwide now with cli-fi. Symposiums, online forums, academic papers, and more.

  

A professor tells this blog: "I’m awaiting word now on a possible grant for a project on cli-fi where I, in collaboration with two colleagues from another college, will have reading groups read cli-fi novels in their location (so, ''The Water Knife'' in AZ, Kim Stanley Robinson's "NEW YORK 2140"  in NYC), journal about their reading, and discuss it with us. We’ll try to take some measure of the effects of cli-fi novels on their imaginations of the future and their climate politics."  

See ''The Holocene Hangover'' by University of Chicago professor  Fredrik Albritton Jonsson .  

Thomas Davis in the English department at OSU in Ohio notes that he will be teaching a cli-fi seminar in the spring of 2018, adding:  "A bit far off, but I’m collecting materials now."

Some forthcoming cli-fi related papers from the desk of Austrian professor Alexa Weik von Mossner:
Troubling Futures: Cli-fi Modes and the Feeling of Risk
The short article is part of an extended forum on the meaning of the term “cli-fi” for American Studies in the journal Amerikastudien/American Studies. It examines American climate fiction through the lens of risk theory (Beck) and through psychological approaches to the perception of risk (Slovic, Leiserowitz), including both fiction and non-fiction formats in its deliberations as well as a number of hybrid formats that imagines the risks associated with climate change.
(forthcoming in an essay cluster on cli-fi in Amerikastudien/American Studies, edited by Julia Leyda and Susanne Leikam)
Climate Risk and the Thrill of Terror in Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Water Knife
The Water Knife is perhaps Paolo Bacigalupi’s his most successful attempt to date at conjuring future climatic conditions in a way that allows readers to imaginatively experience them. The essay uses the analytical tools of cognitive ecocriticism to demonstrate how Bacigalupi’s dystopian novel uses the human bodies of characters and their sensual and affective capacities in order to allow readers to imaginatively experience a decidedly unpleasant future world. Bacigalupi uses anthropogenic climate change as a catalyst for drastic developments in the ecological, economic, and social realm, inviting readers to understand on a visceral level that changed climatic conditions will inevitably lead to such conflicts and vulnerabilities.
(forthcoming in Meteorologies of Modernity. Eds. Sarah Fekadu, Tobias Döring, Isabel Kranz and Hanna Strass. REAL: Yearbook of Research in English and American Literature. Tübingen: Narr)
Vulnerable Lives: The Affective Dimensions of Risk in Young Adult Cli-Fi
The article focuses on the psychological dimensions of readers’ engagements with dystopian young adult climate fiction, arguing that the mental simulation of a fictional climate-changed world can offer much more than simple entertainment or escapism. Instead, it might impact teenagers’ understanding of the social, economic and ecological risks associated with climate change. The article builds on research in the psychology of fiction in its examination of the narrative strategies of Paolo Bacigalupi’s YA cli-fi novel Ship Breaker. It demonstrates how the novel invites young readers to an imaginary and yet embodied experience of a dystopian future world that may wish to avoid.
(forthcoming in a special issue of Textual Practice on ““Fiction in the Age of Risk,” edited by. Golnar Nabizadeh and Tony Hughes-D’Aeth)
Touching the Senses: Environments and Technologies at the Movies
The essay explains how film techniques and technologies play on human brains’ embodied simulation to create empathetic responses in viewers, and then analyzes Jeff Orlowski’s Chasing Ice and the results of the reception study about the film that I conducted together with Brigitte Hipfl. It not only shows how the film creates emotional responses in viewers, but also addresses the reasons that those responses do not necessarily translate into action. Despite the ways in which we “live in denial,” the essay argues that such films can contribute to long-term cultural change.
(forthcoming in The Routledge Companion to the Environmental Humanities. Eds. Ursula K. Heise, Jon Christensen, and Michelle Niemann. New York and London: Routledge)
QUOTE FROM ACADEMIC IN EUROPE: - "The term cli-fi has not only been proliferating at recent international conferences, but also within university curricula as educators in many disciplines embrace the recent spate of fiction and film dealing with climate change in humanities courses and beyond. ...In my study of cli-fi, I consider the proliferation of the term and theorize about its usefulness. If the novelty of the term itself provokes discussion, perhaps that too makes it an asset in generating interest climate change-related fictional and screen texts.''
 

 


Cli-fi novels. Any word on new and upcoming cli-fi novels in the pipeline, either from the publishing world or self-publishers?

The ''next big thing'' is Kim Stanley Robinson's new cli-fi novel titled ''NEW YORK 2140'' and skedded for a March 14, 2017 pub date

Where's cli-fi headed these days?

#Writersofcolor penning ''cli-fi'' novels worldwide - part of our 25-part #CliFi YouTube Video series https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4_PbuCnVb8&t=21s

Who's in charge of cli fi these days and who owns the term, if anyone?

Nobody is in charge, it's an open meme, and nobody owns cli-fi or ever has. It belongs to the world,  and has taken on a life of its own after its initial quiet and almost invisible launch. Most people still have never heard of the term yet -- 90 percent of the general public have never heard the term or seen the term in print. It's still early days. But things are cooking, yes. Slowly. Simmering.

Overseas Tweets? Yes!

  1. Jonáš Zbořil @jonaszboril 20 小時20 小時前
  2. neporadíte mi dobrý non-fiction o ekologii, civilizačních kolapsech, dystopickejch vizích a věcech jako je svalbard global seed vault?
  3. Jan Nemček @jan_nemcek 18小時18 小時前
    Moc jsem toho z cli-fi nepřečetl, ale líbil se mi Solar od Iana McEwana.​

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Do today's crop of dystopian cli-fi novels have to be so grim? Yes, they do. And here's why! AGREE OR DISAGREE? COMMENTS MORE THAN WELCOME

 
 
Do today's crop of dystopian cli-fi novels have to be so grim? Yes, they do. And here's why!
 
AGREE OR DISAGREE? COMMENTS MORE THAN WELCOME BELOW!
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: ''Do today's crop of dystopian cli-fi novels have to be so grim? Yes, they do. And here's why!''
An oped from the ideas behind cli-fi dystopiana
Cli-fi is a genre ripe for popularity in the times we live in and here's why. In an era of impending climatic meltdown, the rising new genre is jammed with dark reflections of the age. On film, there have been a handful of recent examples— 2014’s The Rover, last year’s Mad Max: Fury Road—but the phenomenon has been more pronounced in novels. .
We are, as the old saying goes, living through interesting times, and today's cli-fi novelists and screenwriters are clearly as receptive to that as the rest of us. They’ve being influenced by the chaos creatively: If you’re going to make a novel set in the future, a dystopia just makes more sense. Dystopia means disorder and conflict, two things that the storyteller thrives on; a vision of the future where all is well is likely to be less compelling.
Some might say the moment for dystopian climate novels has come at the wrong time. But no, the time is right.
If the function of a fictional dystopian future is to scare us out of complacency, then there must be merit in the many of the current crop of cli-fi novels and upcoming movies being as dark and unforgiving as possible. It may not be wholly pleasurable to be subjected to such grim visions but this kind of cli-fi has an important role. Critics can argue that such novels are too bleak, but what would be the point of offering false hope? What would be the use in pretending otherwise?
The fictional utopia of a future like Star Trek’s is so comforting as to allow us to relax and ignore what troubles we face as a species. But the likes of the current crop of dystopian cli-fi novels offer no such comfort. They force us to sit up, elucidating as they do future fears we aren’t fully able to contemplate. For example, though we’re far from feeling the worst of climate change, many of these cli-fi novels today, present a worst-case-scenario for where we might end up if we don’t swerve from the current path—the equivalent of a smack to the head. Such novels and upcoming cli-fi movies are more useful than those that are cautiously optimistic, and inspiring in their own way, precisely because they’re so cynical.
Sure, messages of positivity and hope are useful right now, but there should also be no illusions about the enormity of the dangers we currently face. The day may come when we get to bask in the warmth of a plentiful Star Trek utopia. To get there, we first have to face reality: that we’ll see no utopia on this present trajectory. Dystopian cli-fi may not always be fun to watch, but at least it helps us come to grips with some sobering, essential truths—and, hopefully, get some way toward figuring things out.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The End Times: a cli-fi newspaper that does not go defunct until January 1, 2500 A.D. -- that's 30 more generaations of man (and women)

''The End Times'': a cli-fi newspaper that does not go defunct until January 1, 2500 A.D. -- that's 30 more generaations of man (and women)

WRITERS WANTED: we want to interview cli fi novelists worldewide who are working on dark cli-fi novels about the END TIME, circa 500 years from now, and how they novelists envision the End Times and how we can help prepare our descendants for what's coming -- psychologically, spiritually, mentally, -- as things get progressively worse over the next 30 generations.

SEND EMAILS TO ABOVE ADDRESS: we still have time, lots of time, but HURRY!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

David K.L. Jones reviews POLAR CITY RED, cli fi novel by Jim Laughter

BOOK REVIEW


When a book producer and book packager asked me if I could review Jim Laughter's new cli fi book POLAR CITY RED, I said ''sure, send me a copy and I will review for the paper here, probably in August or September, when I have the time''. So Jim sent me a copy of the novel here in Alabama, I confirmed I received it in the mail, and would read it and review it for the paper before the end of the year, if my way busy schedule permitted it, and here is my review:



Global Heating Novel 'Polar City Red' Not For Everyone, But I Enjoyed It Immensely:

IT'S THE FUTURE! AND A TERRIFIC READ!








I have seen the future and it's dank, dark and dystopian. At least in

one Oklahoma author's eyes, it is. Alaskans need to read this book

with care and concern.



When veteran sci-fi writer Jim Laughter sat down last year to start in

on a new novel about mankind's shaky future on this third rock from

the sun, he wasn't sure where the book was actually going.



Seven months later, after typing each chapter of "Polar City Red" on

his computer keyboard, Laughter, 59, was finished and ready to face

critics on the right and on the left. Climate denialists are going to

say it's not science, and die-hard climate activists are going to say

it's just fiction.



Sarah Palin is not going to read it, that's for sure. Neither will

Mitt Romney or other national politicians with their heads in the

sand. But Laughter's book could make a cool movie in the future

dystopia department, following up on such Hollywood films as "City of

Ember" and "The Road."



Laughter's pulp "polar western" is set in the Last Frontier of Alaska

in 2075 and it poses a very important and headline-mirroring question:

will mankind survive the climapocalypse coming our way as the Earth

heats up over the next few centuries?



As sea levels rise and millions of "climate refugees" make their way

north to Alaska, Canada, Russia and Norway, think scavenger camps,

"Mad Max" villages, and U.N.-administered ''polar cities'' -- cities

of domes, as Laughter (his real name) calls them.



"Polar City Red" is more than mere sci fi. Laughter is a retired USAF

technical writer who has lived all over the world on military

assignment. The retired grandfather of four comes across as a probing

moralist and a modern Jeremiah. His worldview befits a Christian

pastor who has built two churches and finds in religion both an anchor

and a place for hope.



His book is not just about climate change or northern dystopias. It's

also about the moral questions that must guide humanity as it tries to

keep a lid on global warming's worst-case scenarios while also looking

for solutions to mankind's worst nightmare -- the possible final

extinction of the human species due to man's own folly and extravagant

ways. Can a small 200-page book do all that? No, it's just

entertainment, a good book to put on your summer reading list.



Writing the novel took Laughter seven months of non-stop research and

keyboarding, he told me, but I have a feeling that what he wrote will

last 100 years.



It's more than a cli-fi thriller. It also exposes the underbelly of

humankind's most terrifying nightmare: the possible end of the human

species and God's deep displeasure at what His people have done to His

Earth. Even if you're an atheist, as I am, Laughter touches a nerve.



The book is prophetic, futuristic and moralistic. You as reader will

get through this one alive, but will our descendants, 100 or 1000

years from now, survive the Long Emergency we find ourselves in now?

That's the question that Laughter poses.



Fortunately, the book ends on a note of hope and redemption, so it's

not a downer at all. You and your loved ones need to read it. As

Laughter himself says in the introduction, quoting Christopher Morley:

''When you sell a man a book you don't sell just twelve ounces of

paper and ink and glue -- you sell him a whole new life."



"Polar City Red" won't give you a whole new life, and it'll probably

just give you a headache and heartburn. But Alaskans might benefit

from reading it, since

it's about Alaska front and center, as the world heats up.

-----------------------------------

David K.L. Jones is a freelance writer in Alabama.



Polar cities in the futire and the people of the Alaskan Mesa

If we do not take action, soon, NOW, Alaska will be flooded by millions of climate refugees from the Lower 48 and Asia and Mexico, in 30 generations or so as climate chaos hits the world hard and only "polar cities" will save mankind at the time. the time is prepare for polar cities is now. Google them
http://pcillu101.blogspot.com




FAIRBANKS - Did you know, Alaska was once the setting for an environmental shift so dramatic it forced ANCIENT people to evacuate the entire North Slope? Yes,, according to Michael Kunz, an archaeologist with the Bureau of Land Management.

About 10,013 years ago, a group of hunting ESKIMO people lived on the North Slope, the swath of mostly treeless tundra that extends north from the Brooks Range to the sea. These people, known as Paleoindians, used a chunky ridge of rock west of the Colville River as a hunting lookout. Michael Kunz first discovered stone spear tips at the site, known as the Mesa, in 1978.



The people of the Mesa lived at a time when the Arctic was undergoing a change similar to what Alaska is undergoing today. As the world emerged from the last ice age, grasslands covered much of the Bering Land Bridge, a swath of land as wide as the distance from Barrow to Homer.



To survive in a place like the North Slope, where life is dicey in the best of times, humans needed a few things, Kunz said. One was technology, which the Mesa people had in the form of bone needles they used to sew weather-tight clothing. Another vital element was a large, plentiful source of food. Caribou were scarce during the time of the Mesa people, but bison roamed the grasslands in good numbers. Those bison are the key to how climate change affected these ancient Alaskans, Kunz said.



For many thousands of years, the area that is now Alaska was part of an enormous swath of dry grasslands that made up much of the Bering Land Bridge. About 15,000 years ago, the planet started evolving from the last ice age. Air temperatures became warmer, and things started to change. Glaciers began melting, sea level rose, and salt water slowly drowned the Bering Land Bridge. The encroachment of the ocean caused an increase in precipitation around the North Slope that allowed cottongrass and other sedges to nudge out the grasses preferred by bison.



About 12,000 years ago, as the North Slope evolved to what it looks like today, bison disappeared. The last evidence of the Mesa Paleoindians comes from around the same time. Kunz thinks the extinction of the bison from the North Slope, along with the simultaneous scarcity of caribou, caused the Mesa people to move or die out.



“This is totally the effect of the environment,” Kunz said. “Not only did it run the Paleoindians out of there, it made the place unlivable for anyone for 1,500 years.”



By examining bones and stone tools, archaeologists found that people moved back to the North Slope about the same time caribou returned after what seems like a population crash that lasted more than 3,000 years.



Kunz pointed out that car exhaust did not trigger the warming that may have chased the Mesa people from the North Slope. He said climate change has occurred many times before and is inevitable today. He suggests that the human species as a whole should think of how it will work around problems, such as rising sea level and the changes in agricultural zones caused by different weather patterns.



“The system has always been dynamic,” he said. “We’re not going to stop climate change. Just like the Mesa Paleoindians — if you can’t adapt or adjust, you’re going to disappear.”

And to adapt, when millions of climate refugees flood Alaska in the coming centuries, polar cities just might save the day for the human species. Or it might be curtains.


And in the future, if we do not take action, soon, Alaska will be flooded by millions of climate refugees from the Lower 48 and Asia and Mexico, in 30 generations or so as climate chaos hits the world hard and only "polar cities" will save mankind at the time. the time is prepare for polar cities is now.   http://pcillu101.blogspot.com

Saturday, December 29, 2012

So Much Information, So Little Time: Making Sense of a Big Data World

SEMINAR TITLE in ASPEN COLORADO in 2013:

So Much Information, So Little Time:
Making Sense of a Big Data World


Digital technology has made it possible to create, move and store information at previously unthinkable magnitudes.

As a result, individuals and organizations are navigating an ever-growing ocean of data, including billions of new emails and social-media comments each day.

Where is Big Data taking us?

Is access to the ever-expanding digital trove making us more creative and productive, or just more overwhelmed?

Is the workplace becoming more efficient, or is hyper-connectedness exacting a price?

This seminar focuses on both the promise and challenges of the digital era. It will examine the history of information overload - it's not as new as you might think - as well as twists that are unique to the 21st century.

We'll look at what scientists are learning about the cognitive issues - how can we process all this information?

And we'll glimpse over the horizon at innovations that might help society meet this challenge, and define the next stage of the information revolution.



Moderator: William Powers, author of Hamlet’s BlackBerry

http://www.williampowers.com/hamlets-blackberry



Carbonist Manifesto by Jeff Berkowitz in OREGON USA

Jeff Berkowitz has worked for a variety of computer, instrumentation and software companies since the 1970s. His programming travels have included embedded systems, proprietary Unix kernels, RDBMS toolware, middleware, and both web and desktop application development. Jeff is equally uncomfortable with Unix and Microsoft programming environments, having been intermittently successful with both. Over the past few years Jeff has enjoyed the virtues of verifiable bytecode while developing systems in Java and C#. Jeff has lived in the Portland, Oregon area since 1988 and is presently employed by Oracle Corporation in Portland. Jeff is married and enjoys nothing better than a warm day spent hovering over the smoker, microbrew in hand, slow cooking some kind of barbecue.



    In ''The frightening elegance of 'The Carbonist Manifesto'''  DOWNLOAD HERE
Joel Makower writes on
2012-12-24 that:

Humans were put on Earth for the primary purpose of returning carbon to the atmosphere in order to warm the planet, at which point our services will be done, our world will become inhospitable, and we will depart, having helped restore planetary equilibrium along the way.
No, this is not a Mayan prophesy. More like a Gaian prophesy.



This is the premise of a fantastical and fascinating essay written in 1992, some 20 years, ago by a self-described “extremely nerdy” computer programmer named Jeff Berkowitz who loves nothing more than to sit outwide in the backyard with a microbrew and some good stuff on the BBQ grille on a nice summer or fall afternoon in Oregon and who also has a a longtime interest in both environmentalism and alternative energy, though he hasn’t worked professionally in either.



Earlier this year, I came across the 6-page essay, which could easily be mistaken for a scientific treatise but for the author’s précis stating that, while “loosely grounded in recent research in ecology and paleoclimatology,” the paper was “distinctly tongue in cheek.”



The paper, titled “The Consequences of Gaia, or The Carbonist Manifesto” (download if you google for it) was written in 1992 by a then 35-year-old computer programmer named Jeff Berkowitz. It is rooted in the Gaia hypothesis (also referred to as the Gaia theory or principle), the notion that Earth's biosphere is a dynamic, self-regulating system, first formulated in the 1970s by scientist James Lovelock and microbiologist Lynn Margulis. Their hypothesis states that the Earth is not just an amalgam of rocks and trees and water but a giant cell capable of adjusting to both small and large changes in an intelligent and holistic manner.



According to "The Carbonist Manifesto," we humans are one of those adjustments.



Berkowitz begins his essay by explaining how the temperature of the biosphere is largely controlled by the quantities of greenhouse gases, primarily carbon dioxide, or CO2, in the atmosphere. Seeking equilibrium, various geophysical and biological processes cooperate to lower the level of CO2 when the biosphere warms and release CO2 when it cools. But over the past 500 million years, the amount of available carbon in the biosphere has slowly decreased, as carbon was captured in hydrocarbon deposits, such as coal, oil, and seafloor sediments. That is to say, for millions of years, Earth gradually cooled as CO2 was sequestered.



Here, I’ll let Berkowitz take over the story:



The last 100,000 years have seen some of the coldest times in the 500 million years that have elapsed since the Ordovician period. These 100,000 years form less than 1/1000th of the intervening 500 million years. Oddly, they're the same 100,000 years that Homo Sapiens Sapiens have existed on Earth. Clearly, the biosphere has reached a point of crisis. The relatively stable processes of self-regulation that have worked for the past hundreds of millions of years have reached the limit of their ability to correct.



In response to the impending crisis, Gaia evolved a solution. At the edges of the ice sheets that flowed down over the northern hemisphere during the last ice age, Gaia brought it to fruition: a short-term corrective process designed to restore the natural balance of free carbon dioxide in the biosphere.



Man.



Yes, Man. Not the destroyer, the pillager, the environmental rapist of the popular lore; an utterly different view of Man the restorer, the savior, the solution to an environmental crisis more dangerous to the biosphere than even the giant stone that ended the age of dinosaurs. Man, whose only purpose in the Gaian system is to extract carbon from the rocks and put it back in the atmosphere where it belongs.



Next page: An elegant and poetic theory



Whatever you think of all this, it’s hard to refute that, while frightening to ponder, it is an elegant and somewhat poetic theory: that our primary role on Earth is to liberate the carbon on behalf of a larger geological and biological purpose. And that we’re damn good at what we do — we’re succeeding mightily at fulfilling our mission. So much so that we'll eventually work ourselves out of existance.



Recently, I tracked down Berkowitz, now 55, married, and living near Portland, Oregon, where he works as a principal software engineer for the computer company, Oracle.

I began our conversation by asking how "The Carbonist Manifesto" came to be.



“It was just one of those amusing, contrary things that came to me,” he responded. "I've read a lot of science fiction all my life, and at the time I was particularly taken with the Gaia hypothesis. So it just came together in my head.”

Berkowitz grew up in Santa Barbara, Calif., and was a teenager in 1969 during the massive oil spill there — the largest in the United States at the time. It was one of several catalysts for the first Earth Day, in 1970, which began the modern environmental movement.



“That's always been a part of my thinking about the world,” he explained. “In addition, my dad was a big technology guy. After the Arab oil embargo in 1973, a lot of money became available to study alternative energy. So I had a bunch of these sort of environmental concepts and alternative-energy concepts floating around in my head, even as a kid.”



I asked Berkowitz how much he actually believed in what he wrote.

“Rather than directly answer your question,” he said, “I'll just say this: The essay sounds like nonsense. And I rarely if ever believe in nonsense. But I can't prove that it's nonsense, and neither can you or anyone else. That's the beauty of it.”



Berkowitz describes himself as an extreme skeptic, quick to question conventional wisdom. For example, he doesn’t view the possibility that a lot of species could be wiped out in by climate change as a tragedy. He acknowledges that this could make him sound “at worst insane or at best incredibly callous.”



“I don't believe I'm either insane or callous,” he says. “I admit no metaphysics in my world view. I think the history of the universe is a set of random events followed by other random events. For those of us who really think this way, the idea of putting value judgments on random events is kind of silly. Of course, I'd hate to be hit by a meteor — or, more likely here in Cascadia, crushed in a 9.2 quake.



“But the ‘I'd hate that’ part is about me; it's not about the event. Events are neutral. Goodness and badness happen inside the observer and are based on the observer's narrow perspective. The dinosaur killer was terrible if you were there, but maybe without it there would never have been any higher primates. So is that good or bad? I could ask the equally meaningless question: Is the existence of higher primates a good thing or a bad thing? Questions like this are just silly.”



Next page: Are consumers immoral?



According to Berkowitz, it’s equally silly to label consumers immoral for wanting certain products at the best price, or to label their suppliers immoral for supplying them. His point is that the sum total of human interactions is as “natural” a disaster as an asteroid hitting the planet leading to mass extinction.



“We're a species, naturally evolved, that at some point began passing cultural knowledge about modifying our environment to a much greater extent than any species before us,” he said. “That's all. It happened in the natural course of events. The common use of the word ‘unnatural’ to describe some of our more advanced technologies is perhaps the most dangerous of all our fallacies about the world. It implies that somehow we are separate from nature, or that the consequences of our actions can somehow lie above or outside of nature. That's a fundamentally broken way to think about the world and I believe it underlies some of our most serious problems.”



Berkowitz recognizes that his view is at odds with most people who call themselves environmentalists. And he’s concerned that it sounds negative and fatalistic. “My arguments about the neutrality of events in no way prevent us from using our free will to choose and guide certain outcomes at the expense of others for whatever reasons we may prefer. I bet I love polar bears as much as you or anyone else, and I'm willing to modify my economic behavior, within limits, to try and ensure that they survive.”

But if we fail to do that sufficiently or in time — well, that's just nature taking its course.



One of the things I found remarkable about Berkowitz’s 20-year-old paper is that it could have been written today. Indeed, it’s that much more salient given that it was penned well before climate change and global warming were well understood. And the questions he raises are as relevant as ever. Whether and how we successfully address climate change will depend on the collective actions of humanity.



“In order to prevent the widespread consequences of global warming, we need to make pragmatic choices about actions that will work,” says Berkowitz. “Making those choices starts with a hard-headed worldview that's not cluttered up with unexamined notions about natural versus unnatural, good versus evil, or some grand plan of a big guy upstairs.”



He concludes: “Getting people to think about these questions is perhaps the point of the essay.”