On Earth Day, tens of thousands of protestors gathered in Washington DC and elsewhere to draw attention not only to the crisis of climate change and other forms of environmental emergency but also to defend scientific reasoning in public policy. That this was but one of numerous large protest gatherings this year about a variety of issues, ranging from immigration to gender equity to health care, might leave supporters and skeptics asking, is climate change really “a crisis”? Everywhere we look there are crises today, leading to proliferating calls to mobilize specific domains as existential dangers. Why focus on this one now?
On the one hand, the answer is obvious: The Trump administration has made it matter of principle to oppose or otherwise undermine efforts to address climate change and undercut both environmental science and regulatory agencies. Stopping the administration’s agenda is politically urgent.
Yet, the bigger issue here predates Trump. Climate change is a particular kind of crisis, and one that has come to the fore in a cultural context where “crises” are ubiquitous. The predicament points to what might be thought of as the crisis of “crisis.” “Crisis” itself is in crisis, such that both the structure and urgency of the crisis of climate change could elude us. Continue reading
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