Hatred of the Earth, Climate Change, and the Dreams of Post-Planetary Culture

  • Brad Tabas ENSTA Bretagne
Keywords: Post-Planetarism, Climate Change, Eco-Criticisim, David Brin, Gregory Benford, Kim Stanley Robinson, Science Fiction

Abstract

      This text examines the effects of climate change on cultural ideas regarding the colonization of space. More specifically, this paper explores the ways which the looming danger of climate catastrophe has fueled the growth of post-planetary culture: a culture that dreams of a human destiny beyond the Earth. It takes as its object both science fiction texts and non-fiction futurological pronouncements by scientists and entrepreneurs. What emerges from this study is the observation that unlike climate skeptics, post-planetarists believe that climate change is real. Yet like climate skeptics, they subordinate climate action to other priorities, putting the construction of a means of escaping this planet above climate action. But why do these post-planetarists wish to fly? Via a close reading of David Brin’s Earth, we argue that one of the key characteristics of post-planetary culture is a feeling of hatred and alienation towards the Earth. This hatred is both re-enforced by the ravages of climate change even as it contributes to this destruction by blocking post-planetarists from whole-heartedly engaging in climate action. In order to illustrate an antidote to this pathological cultural reaction to our current crisis, I present a close reading Kim Stanley Robinson’s Aurora, exploring how this text is both a critique of post-planetarism and a guide to renewing our love for the Earth.

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Author Biography

Brad Tabas, ENSTA Bretagne

Brad Tabas is an Associate Professor (maître de conferences) in the department of Social and Human Sciences at the École nationale supérieure de techniques avancées (ENSTA) Bretagne and member of the research team EA 7529. A native of Philadelphia, he earned his BA from the University of Pennsylvania and his MA and Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at New York University before emigrating to France. His research interests are wide-ranging, though his most recent work has been devoted to two inter-related projects. The first draws on science fiction texts to explore the ecological politics of the post-planetary imagination. The second deals with questions related to engineering pedagogy, with a primary focus on developing teaching dispostives (FuturesLabs) that prompt STEM students to critically re-imagine anticipated socio-technical futures in the name of encouraging them to develop more sustainable attitudes towards innovation (and more sustainable innovations).

Published
2020-04-01
Section
Articles: Cultures of Climate. On Bodies and Atmospheres in Modern Fiction