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Joseph Webster

In Gamrie, an Aberdeenshire fishing village home to 700 people and six millennialist Protestant churches, global warming is more than just a 'hoax': it is a demonic conspiracy that threatens to bring about the ruin of the entire human race. Such a certainty was rendered intelligible to local Christians by viewing it through the lens of dispensationalist theology brought to the village by the Plymouth Brethren. In a play on Weberian notions of disenchantment, I argue that whereas Gamrie's Christians rejected global warming as a false eschatology, and environmentalism as a false salvationist religion, supporters of the climate change agenda viewed global warming as an apocalyptic reality and environmentalism as providing salvific redemption. Both rhetorics - each engaged in a search for 'signs of the end times' - are thus millenarian.

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Richard Widick and John Foran

Social movements move and grow by autopoesis—by calling their prospective ranks to order using public pronouncements replete with consequential assumptions about the world as they see it. In the same way, governing bodies and vested economic interests stake out opposing public positions. In the wake of the crucial international climate negotiations in Paris, December 2015, at which the nations adopted the first truly universal climate treaty, we look back over five years of participatory ethnographic research inside the UN climate talks and the social movements for climate justice, identifying key lifeworld assumptions inscribed in the public position-taking of central economic, public, and political sphere actors. Our findings include grounds for skepticism that UN climate policy can transcend the power of the fossil fuel companies to attenuate both international ambitions and national contributions to the universal effort, but also an exciting possibility that climate justice philosophy and tactics, aided by bold counter-spectacle techniques from the Occupy movement, might return to the stage in the coming years and lead the necessary deep culture shift that decarbonization will require.

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Temperature and Capital

Measuring the Future with Quantified Heat

Scott W. Schwartz

The quantification of human environments has a history—a relatively short history. This article explores how the notion of quantifiable reality has become naturalized through the privileging of predictive utility as the primary goal of knowledge production. This theme is examined via the invention and application of temperature— how it was sociomaterially constructed and how it is globally restructuring social organization today. Temperature does not exist pervasively throughout all space and time. Physicists may affirm that fluctuations in relative heat are ubiquitous, but as a measurement of these fluctuations, temperature only emerges through arrangements of political and environmental observations. What phenomena do populations deem worthy of observation? How do populations manipulate materials to make such observations? By tracing the origins of thermometry and investigating modern efforts to reconstruct and model ulterior temperatures, I illustrate that temperatures, like other measurements, are cultural artifacts pliable to sociopolitical efforts of control and domination.

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Jim Clarke

J.G. Ballard's early novels The Drowned World (1962) and The Crystal World (1966) take a climatological approach to apocalyptic dystopia. This has led survey studies of climate fiction to identify these novels as founding texts of the genre. Yet Ballard wrote in an era before global warming had been identified by climate scientists, and his fiction is as much psychological and ontological as it is physiological. Ballard both adheres to and deviates from the global warming narrative now accepted by contemporary climatology, working within and beyond the SF subgenre of post-apocalyptic fiction. This paper assesses the extent to which these dystopian narratives can be understood as climate fiction and explores the debt that more recent cli-fi may owe to Ballard.

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Non-normative Bodies, Queer Identities

Marginalizing Queer Girls in YA Dystopian Literature

Miranda A. Green-Barteet and Jill Coste

In this article we consider the absence of queer female protagonists in dystopian Young Adult (YA) fiction and examine how texts with queer protagonists rely on heteronormative frameworks. Often seen as progressive, dystopian YA fiction features rebellious teen girls resisting the restrictive norms of their societies, but it frequently sidelines queerness in favor of heteronormative romance for its predominantly white, able-bodied protagonists. We analyze The Scorpion Rules (2015) and Love in the Time of Global Warming (2013), both of which feature queer girl protagonists, and conclude that these texts ultimately marginalize that queerness. While they offer readers queer female protagonists, they also equate queerness with non-normative bodies and reaffirm heteronormativity. The rebellion of both protagonists effectively distances them from the queer agency they have developed throughout the narratives.

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Lam Yee Man

Many people believe risk drives change. Environmental degradation, depletion of the ozone layer, and global warming all help advance global environmental development. However, why do some countries react promptly while some are slower to react to environmental risk? Reasons vary, but this article focuses on how the specific way risk was formulated and introduced in Hong Kong impeded drastic and swift environmental development. Tracing back to the time when the notion of pollution was first formulated in Hong Kong, this article argues that pollution was not defined as what it was. Instead, pollution was defined and introduced to the public as a problem of sanitation, turning pollution into a problem of categorization—a risk that could be easily resolved. This article contributes to the study of both pollution and risk by studying pollution as a social construct in the unique case of Hong Kong. A warning from Hong Kong—instead of addressing and resolving it, risk could be discreetly displaced.

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Riding alone on the elevator

a class experiment in interdisciplinary education

Anna M. Frank, Rebecca Froese, Barbara C. Hof, Maike I. E. Scheffold, Felix Schreyer, Mathias Zeller and Simone Rödder

The ability to conduct interdisciplinary research is crucial to address complex real-world problems that require the collaboration of different scientific fields, with global warming being a case in point. To produce integrated climate-related knowledge, climate researchers should be trained early on to work across boundaries and gain an understanding of diverse disciplinary perspectives. This article argues for social breaching as a methodology to introduce students with a natural science background to the social sciences in the context of integrated climate sciences. The breach of a social norm presented here was to ask people whether the experimenter could ride on an elevator alone. We conclude that the approach is effective in letting students with a natural science background explore and experience the power of social reality, and is especially suitable for a small-sized introductory class.

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Imagining Futures of Energy

Views from Central Asia

Markus S. Schulz

The future of energy is crucial for human mobility and well-being on a finite planet. What energy types are available to cover global needs? To what extent can they be produced and consumed safely? How can the negative effects of global warming, climate change, and environmental degradation be avoided? Who will benefit, and who will be at risk? Faced with such urgent questions, it was timely that the World Expo 2017 was dedicated to the theme of “Future Energy.” Held from June to September in Kazakhstan’s capital, Astana, a total of 115 countries, 22 international organizations, and several transnational corporations set up their own pavilions and exhibition spaces. Close to four million people visited the three-month-long expo, including an estimated five hundred thousand from abroad.

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Gillian Brock

In Cosmopolitan Justice1 Moellendorf carries on the work begun by theorists such as Charles Beitz and Thomas Pogge,2 further developing a cosmopolitan model of justice. Like Beitz and Pogge, he too modifies the Rawlsian approach to support a model of global justice that is more focused on individuals rather than states and proposes much bolder principles that are to define just interaction at the international level. Moellendorf also goes further than either of these theorists has hitherto gone in showing how a cosmopolitan model of justice could actually be applied to a range of pressing problems of global justice (including immigration, protectionism, justified intervention, debt cancellation, and dealing with the costs of global warming) and this is one of the key strengths of the book. With the exception of justified intervention, I will not discuss these applications here, though Moellendorf’s treatments of all these issues contain insights worthy of more attention. Rather, my focus in this paper will be on some central theoretical aspects of what cosmopolitan justice demands of us.