The concept of extinction is at the heart of the modern conservation movement, and massive resources have been spent on developing models and frameworks for quantifying and codifying a phenomenon that has been described by American researcher and naturalist Edward O. Wilson as an obscure and local biological process. Scientists, environmentalists, and politicians have repeatedly used extinction rhetoric as a core justification for a global conservation agenda that seeks to influence a wide range of human activities despite the inherent difficulty and uncertainty involved in estimating current and future rates of extinction, or even in verifying the demise of a particular species. In this article we trace the historical origins of the extinction concept and discuss its power to influence policies, agendas, and behaviors. We argue that conservation needs to develop a more culturally meaningful rhetoric of extinction that aligns scientific evidence, cultural frames, institutional frameworks, and organizational interests.
Richard J. Ladle and Paul Jepson
A Review of Global Hydropower Assemblages
Grant M. Gutierrez, Sarah Kelly, Joshua J. Cousins and Christopher Sneddon
This article reviews how global hydropower assemblages catalyze socioecological change in the world’s rivers. As a quintessential megaproject, massive dams and the hydropower they generate have long captivated the modernist development imaginary. Yet, despite growing recognition of the socio-ecological consequences of hydropower, it has recently assumed a central role in supporting renewable energy transitions. We highlight three trends in hydropower politics that characterize global hydropower assemblages: mega-dams as markers of nation-state development; river protection by territorial alliances and social movements opposed to hydropower; and transitions from spectacular, centralized hydropower installations to the propagation of small and large hydropower within climate mitigation schemes. We offer insights on how global hydropower assemblages force examination beyond traditional categories of “mega” through more holistic and grounded analyses of significance.
Topographical Mementos in the High Arctic
This article explores the predominance of ice and the role of topographical mementos in the High Arctic environment. The ice is its own argument in complex ways: it is an actor in the human/non-human network, as well as in the hunter-scientist relationship. Whatever climate history one wants to tell, it begins and ends with the ice.
Flux and Stability in Past Environments
This article introduces and illustrates the need to reassess the way we conceive of human 'adaptation' to the natural environment. The primary case considered is the south-eastern Baltic Sea region during the mid-Holocene. The article argues for the importance of the notion of a metastable ecosystem in debate about climatic and environmental changes. Through a discussion of the culturally governed choices made by human communities in non-equilibrium ecosystems, we are able critically to examine highly influential theories of environmental determinism.
Greed Accusations in an Australian Coal Mining Town
In Australian mining towns like Moranbah, relationships between labour, capital and the state have long been defined by struggles over housing amidst cascading cycles of boom and bust linking global commodity markets to local real estate. Most recently, the emergence of ‘fly-in-fly-out’ labour arrangements, partially in response to rampant real estate speculation, have challenged mine workers’ rights to housing and community. Focusing on the schadenfreude that accompanied the public vilification of one failed, small-time real estate speculator as a case study who is contrasted with the figure of the Cashed-up-Bogan, this article shows how accusations of greed are mobilized to political effect. While greed’s tendency to emerge discursively as an accusation might make it seem like an attractive critical discourse, its putative connections to embodiment and the visceral give it an individualizing tendency that allows it to be wielded more easily against persons than institutions, undermining broader structural critiques.
-long campaign by Brazil to shift from being a leader in deforestation to a leader in climate change mitigation. Brazil has reduced rates of deforestation from 19,500 square km per year through 2005 to 5,843 square km in 2013, a 70 percent reduction ( Nepstad et
The Promise of “El uno por mil” in Ecuador’s Yasuní-ITT Oil Operations
In 2013, President Rafael Correa announced his decision to end the much-heralded Yasuní-ITT initiative. The Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini (ITT) initiative, which had been ongoing for six years, proposed to combat climate change by leaving 850 million
Time Trickery, Ethical Practice and Energy Demand in Postcolonial Britain
by the 2008 Climate Change Act, which legislates a reduction in the UK’s carbon emissions of 80 per cent by the year 2050 from a 1990 baseline. Resource scarcity, together with economic recession and the housing crisis, as underlying conditions of
Aquatic Imagery and Ecocritical Complexity in Titus Andronicus
This article revives the agency of Lavinia in Titus Andronicus through a blended ecocritical and complexivist approach. A ‘blue’ ecocritical lens identifies Lavinia’s alignment with aquatic imagery, and tracks the development of this imagery across four main phases in the play: human tears, a river, a flood, and a freeze. These phases broadly map onto different modes of ecological relations as the play explores alternative patterns of human–environmental interactions. Lavinia is reinterpreted as an active and independent complex ecosystem, and one capable of communicating through the same aquatic imagery which is utilised in the narrative to attempt to contain and commodify her. Titus’s aquatic discourse finds parallels in our own climate crises, in ongoing problematic associations between women and nature, and in our need to generate new models of agency and ecological relations.
This first issue of a new volume of the journal – volume 31 – takes us into the biosciences and into discussions about climate change. In so doing, this issue incorporates a diversity of voices from within anthropology and beyond it.