#127 | Climate Leviathan: Climate Change & Our Political Future w/ Joel Wainwright

In this episode, I speak with Joel Wainwright, professor at Ohio State University, and co-author of ‘Climate Leviathan: A Political Theory of Our Planetary Future.’ In this book, Joel and co-author Geoff Mann examine a question often overlooked within the broader discussion about global climate change and our planetary future: how will our political and economic institutions respond to global climate change? 

The governments of the world are just beginning to respond to the cascading and catastrophic changes currently underway on this planet. Our political institutions operate within certain political and economic frameworks, and by examining and proving an understanding of these frameworks in their book ‘Climate Leviathan,’ Joel and Geoff outline a compelling and accurate analysis of what our political future may look like. In this interview, Joel outlines each of these, including the provocatively titled “Climate Leviathan,” “Climate Behemoth,” “Climate Mao,” and “Climate X”. Joel provides a description of each of these, as well as the kind of decisions our economic and political institutions within these frameworks will make in a world made increasingly unstable and inhospitable to life as a result of abrupt climate change. Regarding our planetary future, what can we expect of our political and economic institutions responses to the existential threat of abrupt climate change? We discuss this, and more, in this episode.

‘In the face of these trends it is difficult to contemplate the future calmly. Merely to confront our perils can paralyze us with fear. As Mike Davis says, “on the basis of the evidence before us, taking a ‘realist’ view of the human prospect, like seeing Medusa’s head, would simply turn us into stone.” We have done our best to suppress that dread and wrote Climate Leviathan to think through the political-economic futures that climate change seems to us most likely to induce. The mandate for that undertaking, for all its limitations and guesswork, stems from the looming political-economic formations that are no small part of our peril. Above all, we must not be afraid to ask hard questions.’ Source: bit.ly/climateleviathan

Joel Wainwright is a professor at Ohio State University, where he teaches in the department of geography. He is the author of three books: ‘Decolonizing Development: Colonial Power and the Maya’ (which won the Blaut award); ‘Geopiracy: Oaxaca, Militant Empiricism, and Geographical Thought;’ and, most recently, ‘Climate Leviathan: A Political Theory of our Planetary Future,’ co-authored with Geoff Mann.


Episode Notes:

- Learn more and purchase Joel Wainwright and Geoff Mann’s book ‘Climate Leviathan’ here: bit.ly/climateleviathan

- Read an excerpt of the introduction to ‘Climate Leviathan’ here: http://bit.ly/2JSEZ6c

- Joel's Ohio State University page: http://bit.ly/2ypVNjE

- The song featured in this episode is “Gumbo Baby” by Jonwayne from the album Oodles of Doodles.

#65 | Political Theatre: Practical Questions at the End of the American Experiment

Perri Gardner, instructor of Political Science at the College of Southern Idaho, speaks with me about the US political system and government in the age of Trump, the cognitive dissonance political leaders have regarding Big Government vs. Limited Government, the decline and disintegration of the Great American Experiment, the recent British election, and the "Oh, shit" moment.

Episode Notes:

Check out Perri's TEDxTwinFalls talk "The Participation Problem: Solutions to Increase Voter Participation"; https://youtu.be/_OYe8hviIAo

Quoted in the episode: 

'I often think of the “Oh, shit” moment that comes along with a catastrophe. This is the moment where someone realizes that everything they thought was true was totally wrong, that what seemed impossible was actually quite possible indeed, and that there is no way to go back and fix the problem. It’s the moment where we become fully cognizant of the fact that there was no real logical reason to assume the thing wouldn’t happen, that we had just kind of assumed it because contemplating it was so unbearable. The last big “Oh, shit” moment was the night of Donald Trump’s election. Over the course of the evening, those who were horrified by the prospect of a Trump presidency, but were dead certain that he would lose, realized that they had been conflating desire and reality. They realized that actually, the polls had showed a close race, and the experts’ confidence had been completely unwarranted. They realized that the fact that a Trump presidency was inconceivable didn’t actually affect whether it was likely. But by the time that realization came, it was over. There was no way to go back and adjust one’s actions accordingly.

My fear is that nuclear war could be similar. It won’t seem possible until it becomes inevitable. And once it becomes inevitable, we will have an “Oh, shit” moment. We’ll realize that everyone’s certainty had been totally groundless, that it had been based entirely on wishful thinking rather than fact. But having the moment of realization doesn’t actually let you go back and undo anything. It’s too late. All you get is those two words. Oh, shit.'

- "PRETENDING IT ISN’T THERE: How we think about the nuclear threat…"
by Nathan J. Robinson: https://www.currentaffairs.org/2017/06/pretending-it-isnt-there


Credits:
*  "Lavender (Feat. Kaytranada", "Sour Soul (Instrumental)" and "Speaking Gently" by BADBADNOTGOOD