#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.