Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Teaching Today

Setting up a debate between Mike Davis and Stewart Brand on slum ecology as a kind of post-millennium sequel to the mid-century debate between Jane Jacobs and Robert Moses and a set up for tomorrow's discussion of technofixes and futurological derangements of environmental praxis. Yes, I still teach anti-futurology even if I no longer write about it much these days, here at any rate... It's the last week of summer intensives and I'm feeling a combination, twelve weeks in, of exhausted burnout and anxious anticipation of fall courses beginning with nary a respite to recover in. A couple of student presentations remain to be done, evaluations will happen some time today or tomorrow depending on the pacing of the lectures, who knows if students will be keeping up with the readings and ready to discuss them as they scramble to complete their final projects. Everybody is ready to be done. And given the subject matter, we're all cooked anyway.


jollyspaniard said...

I am optimistic nowadays. It might be just side effect of deleting my social media accounts.

We are reducing emissions much faster than the BAU projections.

And we can probably pull CO2 out of the atmosphere and sequester it in soil. It sounds far fetched but it's doable. And we don't have a choice in the long run.

Dale Carrico said...

I know what you mean. The super-rapid declining costs and rising adoption rates of solar and wind are highly encouraging, I agree, higher than I had dreamed possible, and recent news on "organic" flexible carbon solar (to sheathe skyscrapers and better accommodate nonflat surfaces even comparatively light textiles) is pretty exciting.

For all the reasons you already know, of course, I am highly skeptical of techofixated responses to what are ultimately educational, organizational, regulatory, infrastructural, that is to say *political* problems and possibilities... but even there I am feeling more optimistic than the horrorshow of the present moment might otherwise seem to indicate.

I've been teaching thirty years now, and never has my student cohort been more righteous and engaged. Also, I have come to realize that the diminished numbers of my generational cohort -- Generation X -- made it hard for us to defend our rights and liberties and entitlements and norms and good ideas against the usual inertial selfish short-sightedness of the Boomers behind us, driving the Reaganomic-Gingrichian-W-Trumpmerican wrecking crew... But the rising diversifying secularizing socializing Obama coalition of millennials together with the tattered remains of progressive GenX are assuming the position with which to fight know-nothing white-supremacist cisheteronormative patriarchal extractive-industrial corporate-militarism in the nearer term than Trump/Brexit/austerian/denialist/racist spectacles of our terrible moment might otherwise seem to merit hope for.

Carbon sequestration does seem a bit of a stretch in some of the claims I've seen made on its behalf, but, hey, I'm all for hiring folks to plant a billion trees right now. I agree the turning of the tide can get some pretty dramatic results, simply from cracking down on already illegal fires, logging, poaching practices, mandating energy efficiencies, making public school and clinics sustainable, building affordable/free public housing with solar panels, front porches, attic fan/geothermal pump cooling, good insulation and appliances, edible/appropriate landscaping.

When I think of the full employment at a living wage program we could institute encouraging agroforestry/permaculture soil reparative farming practices, farmer's market community centers to redress food deserts, rapid rail systems connecting our cities and towns, lead removal and wire burial and ruggedization programs (not to mention teachers, inspectors, caregivers) it fills me with hope -- for at last, at long last, after decades of teaching, large numbers of the rising generation of students seem quite ready to hear proposals and work toward ends that have long seemed too radical to take seriously even while they were scarcely equal to the demands of the real problems at hand.

jollyspaniard said...

Carbon sequestration could be as simple as changing agricultural practices. Ie switching to free range cows and changing the way we use compost. The biggest sequestration doesn't come from trees but bacteria and fungi.

I am generation x as well. The younger generation are passionate and smart. They can't replace the boomers fast enough for my liking.

Dale Carrico said...

I am generation x as well. The younger generation are passionate and smart. They can't replace the boomers fast enough for my liking.

From your lips to a billion billion local gods' ears, my friend!