Tag Archives: Biopolitics

Federal climate change report paints grim picture for Midwest

John Kiefner checks soybean plants on his farm near Manhattan, Ill., on July 24, 2018. Midwest farmers will be increasingly challenged by warmer, wetter and more humid conditions from climate change, according to a federal report released Nov. 23, 2018. (Zbigniew Bzdak/Chicago Tribune)


Tony Briscoe, Chicago Tribune
November 26th, 2018

Rising temperatures in the Midwest are projected to be the largest contributing factor to declines in U.S. agricultural productivity, with extreme heat wilting crops and posing a threat to livestock, according to a sweeping federal report on climate change released Friday.

Midwest farmers will be increasingly challenged by warmer, wetter and more humid conditions from climate change, which also will lead to greater incidence of crop disease and more pests and will diminish the quality of stored grain. During the growing season, temperatures are projected to climb more in the Midwest than in any other region of the U.S., the report says.

Without technological advances in agriculture, the onslaught of high-rainfall events and higher temperatures could reduce the Midwest agricultural economy to levels last seen during the economic downturn for farmers in the 1980s.

Overall, yields from major U.S crops are expected to fall, the reports says. To adapt to the rising temperatures, substantial investments will be required, which will in turn will hurt farmers’ bottom lines.

According to the report, the threat to Midwestern agriculture is just one potential blow to the region.

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READ MORE: Major Trump administration climate report says damages are ‘intensifying across the country’ »


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Monsanto Still Trying to Discredit Rachel Carson

The Deafening Criticism Against Silent Spring

The Saturday Evening Post
Published: September 27, 2017

Attacks on Silent Spring and the ideas it put forth are still numerous. Their intentions, however, are sometimes more transparent, like the website http://www.rachelwaswrong.com, which alleges “her extreme rhetoric generated a culture of fear.” The site is run by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, who is in turn sponsored by corporations from Monsanto to Murray Energy to the Charles Koch Foundation. An article titled “Rachel Carson’s Genocide” in Capitalism Magazine speaks to another side of sensationalism.


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Shifting toward an Ethics of Sanctuary

Shifting toward an Ethics of Sanctuary

“If Harambe and his gorilla family lived in sanctuary rather than on display at the Cincinnati Zoo, he would still be alive. No curious child would have been in a position to crawl into the enclosure and no care staff would have had to make the horrible decision to kill a highly endangered gorilla. The gorillas would interact with each other and caregivers when they decided to; would exercise their bodies and minds as they wanted; and would be free to make choices about how to spend their time. Many respectable sanctuaries report on the personalities and interests of the animals who live there, so the public can get to know them. Some sanctuaries have live webcams. Supporters may be invited to pitch in on site and special educational activities might be arranged, but the animals decide whether they want to be seen by the occasional visitors. Harambe’s curiosity could have been safely peaked in such an environment and he would have been able to continue to develop into a majestic silverback adult.”

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Source: Shifting toward an Ethics of Sanctuary


Filed under Animals, Environmental Ethics

David Roden: Accelerationism and Posthumanism II

. . . brought to you by Environmental Critique via Synthetic Zero and Alien Ecologies. (Pull back plastic wrap at a corner to vent and microwave on high for 10 minutes.)

Break The Code

David Roden just posted a new essay Accelerationism and Posthumanism II.In it he addresses the Leftwing Accelerationist’s like Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams among others. A couple points he raised:

First, “that technology has no essence and no itinerary” (i.e., no autonomous structure or stable nature, nor a teleological or final goal toward which it is moving.) As he explicates it:

In its modern form at least, it is counter-final. It is not in control, but it is not in anyone’s control either, and the developments that appear to make a techno-insurgency conceivable are liable to ramp up its counter-finality. This, note, is a structural feature deriving from the increasing mobility of technique in modernity, not from market conditions. There is no reason to think that these issues would not be confronted by a more just world in which resources were better directed to identifiable social goods (See Roden 2014…

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by | April 29, 2016 · 14:01

‘What Is Grounding?’ Deleuze’s Journey through the History of Philosophy

Critical Fantasies

In this early 1956-1957 lecture previously unavailable to the public, Gilles Deleuze takes his students through a tour of the history of philosophy by using the red thread of the notion ‘grounding.’ What Is Grounding’ is unsurprisingly insightful and sweeping in scope, explaining the general thrust of many canonical philosophers and how the concepts of each prepares the way for the philosophers that follow them, forming a single story. The big attention-grabber for these lectures for those well-read in Deleuze’s oeuvre is that finally a published work in which he “positions” himself with respect to other famous philosophers of his day or era, especially Martin Heidegger. We also get a discussion of Hegel and his placement within the history of philosophy. But emphasis on this common thread of ‘Grounding’ has much more to reveal about the obsessive work of European philosophers than taking names and claiming lines of affiliation.


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Climate Change and US National Security

Atalantic council

“The publication examines the past, present, and future of climate security in the United States. The term climate security implies that climate change ought to be seen as a threat to core US national security interests, both at home and abroad. Climate change is an environmental stressor that will have potentially serious effects on physical systems (Earth) as well as on human systems, including international relations and geopolitics. Under a climate security framework, US policymakers could use national security grounds to justify both mitigation and adaptation strategies: mitigation strategies to reduce the threat of a changing climate, and adaptation strategies to increase American society’s resilience in the face of that threat. Climate security has become a useful concept in a five-decades-old field tying environmental change to national and global security. The question going forward is whether climate security will remain restricted to discussions within academia, civil society, and a few dedicated places within the US government, or if it will acquire a more pivotal role in the formulation of US national security strategy.”

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Plant Theory: Biopower & Vegetable Life


Jeffrey Nealon’s Latest: Read it and Reap

Read this book if you are interested in plant life, animal life, being human, philosophy, critical theory, political theory, environmental science and studies, Heidegger, Derrida, Foucault, Deleuze and Guattari . . . the past, present, or future . . . but especially if you’re not particularly interested in any of the above and bored with “life.” In all seriousness, Plant Theory may be a cure for intellectual malaise, as well as seasonal allergies (read Primary season). Though this is certainly an academic book written for humanities scholars and philosophically-minded non-academics, its relevance is far ranging. It could be adopted as an entree into biology, ecology, critical theory, ethics, and empirical research for graduate students in various fields (including action research). I might also assert that Plant Theory should be required reading for seasoned scholars invested in the first dozen topics listed above, though this advice may be misleading because it’s also a book that scholarly audiences will enjoy.

Jeffrey Nealon, Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of English and Philosophy at Penn State, once a kind of prodigy and then “indy,” crossover rock star, will be more widely recognized as a world-class intellect in the expanded territory of this new book. This is Nealon’s fifth monograph and will surely appeal to fans of his earlier “Big Theory” publications. Nealon’s relatively modest public intellectual presence, to date, is partly a testament to his ethos as a serious theorist and his earnest, career-long engagement with a living, critical-theoretical canon. This is not an opportunistic book, but a timely and fortuitous (for us) masterwork from a responsible and hard-working meta-theorist, and truly exceptional writer.

Plant Theory illustrates that animal studies, while it has drawn attention to the abject status of non-human animals has also reinforced a Modern paradigm of the human as noble animal, and illusions of the self-sovereignty of animals in general. Because animals arrive in often cute and typically mobile packages (to paraphrase for a general audience and oversimplify Nealon’s argument), we tend to think of them as independent and fun-loving, and thus worthy of our consideration and protection. (The social media have confirmed “they know how to party.”) And while this inclusion of non-human animals in our clique is certainly a step in the right direction, identification with animals also blinds us to our own ecological co-emergence, co-dependence, and co-experience. In other words “being animal” without sufficient reflection on our non-animal non-origins reinforces our illusion of autonomy. If Elsa was “born free,” as some of us learned at a young age, then surely we too are free, autonomous, sovereign.

Cue Nealon’s vegetable entourage.  Plants, so obviously dependent on soil, air, sun, water, and minerals, remind us that we too rely, categorically, on these elements, and are also dependent on plants, the only real “producers” at the party. When corporations like Monsanto “own” plants as intellectually property, they own our food supply . . . and they own us. We become pesticide-tainted, genetically-modified, and spray-painted produce, planted, cultivated, and harvested by transnational corporations uninterested and unconvinced by our sense of autonomy. This may still be consumer capitalism, but we are not at the top of the food chain by dint of being human.

Nealon is not another naïve critic of big agriculture, big pharma, or transnational consumer capitalism, however. His focus throughout is on theoretical biopolitics. Resuscitating Foucualt, qua Foucault, he reminds us that change is not as simple as the next social revolution. (Certainly not how we imagine it.) A radical redistribution of power, as Nealon points out, undermines traditional modes of speaking to power. Decentralized, agile, irreverent, rhizomatic power is not only impossible to locate but reigns us in through the play of potential rather than limitation. The media, institutional, and (sometimes) political embrace of alterity (a kind of group hug), not only blinds us to increasing local and global injustices, but recruits us in a ubiquitous quasi-ethical performance. (Quasi grass-fed, process-verified, cage-free, vegetarian, and vegan . . . we are not so much free, as anxious and angry at ourselves for leaving the reusable bags in the trunk again, as if this were an ethical act.)   Nevertheless, as Derrida, Foucault, and Judith Butler (marginal here, but not elsewhere in Nealon’s corpus ) have argued and illustrated, even decentralized power can be redirected, iterated with a difference. Academics are still not quite sure how this is accomplished for practical purposes (obviously), but “diagnostic” studies like Jeffrey Nealon’s may be a big phototropic move in the right direction.

Beginning to understand and appreciate plant life helps us to understand animal life in ecological context, and the ecology of life in general. Plant Theory alternatively charms and embarrasses us out of the illusion that life is contained within charismatic, tedious, mobile, and even deeply-rooted single organisms. Indeed Nealon, like his sage friend Richard Doyle, is involved in the general project of redefining life, for ethical as well as intellectual purposes. As we begin to chronicle the decline of our own species, it seems we may be ripe for reflecting on our legacy. Though life after human being may not be literate in a sense that we can appreciate, it will surely read our collective will and inherit our degraded estate.

Image Source: Amazon


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