Strangelove Ecology: How we learned to stop worrying and love climate change
A talk by Pierre Charbonnier.
It is more and more widely recognized that climate change is challenging the current international order. Some scholars (notably Latour, and Chakrabarty) have even suggested that we are moving from a classical Westphalian interstate order to a “planetary” issue, where legal territories and borders are made obsolete by the interconnectedness of Anthropocene-related crises.
In this talk, Charbonnier engages with these questions by going back to Cold War nuclear rationality. In the late 40s and 50s, humankind experienced something that was already both an existential threat and a set of techno-scientific challenges on a planetary scale. For the first time, the international order was shaped by forces of destruction rather than modes of production. In the wake of the age of the atom, ethical debates and new forms of political epistemologies were developed to bridge power relations and planetary, and those ideas and controversies are still with us.
Mainstream climate economics above everything is in fact an offspring of nuclear rationalities: game theory, cost-benefit analysis, and the value of the future have been introduced in political thought to incorporate the atom-to-power relations, and are today recycled to face the climate emergency.
Charbonnier will talk about this historical, epistemological, and political echo between nuclear war and climate change to trigger a debate on the value of these forms of rationality.
Pierre Charbonnier is a researcher in Philosophy at the National Center for Scientific Research, EHESS, Paris, and the author of the much-praised monograph Affluence and Freedom: An Environmental History of Political Ideas (2021). The talk is related to Charbonnier’s current book project about Climate Geopolitics.
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