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History and Philosophy of Media 2012 Seminar 9

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  1. 1. MECM90015 History and Philosophy of Media 2012 9. Ecocritique "If a lion could talk, we would not understand him" (Wittgensteins Philosophical Investigations, II, xi, p. 223)
  2. 2. Every living being is connected intimately, and from thisintimacy follows the capacity of identification and as itsnatural consequences, practice of non-violence .. Nowis the time to share with all life on our maltreatedearth through the deepening identification with lifeforms and the greater units, the ecosystems, and Gaia,the fabulous, old planet of ours. (Arne Naess)
  3. 3. “The non-alignment of media with messageseems terribly ironic at a time when there issuch an intense awareness of environmental re-sponsibility and all things “green. Businesses inNorth America spend $65+ billion per year onprint media advertising. The average office work-er generates 2 pounds of paper waste per day.Paper and printing related expenditures typicallyrepresent 15 to 30 percent of every corporatedollar spent, exclusive of labor, according to theInstitute for Sustainable Communication. Addingwebsites, email blasts, direct mail and events tothe mix and the size of this communication ac-tivity is significant. However, few enterprises to-day can tell you the footprint of their marketingcommunication, print or digital. That is about tochange.”Lisa Wellman, CEO SustainCommWorld.
  4. 4. The problem (1) Extracting materials some basic digital materials: indium gallium arsenic germanium sapphire copper aluminum lead gold zinc nickel tin silver ....Sebastiao Salgado, Serra Pelada gold mine, Brazil, 1986
  5. 5. The problem (2): manufacturing The number of toxic materials needed to make the 220 bil- lion silicon chips manufactured annually is staggering: highly corrosive hydrochloric acid; metals such as arsenic, cadmium, and lead; volatile solvents like methyl chloroform, benzene, acetone, and trichloroethylene (TCE); and a number of su- per toxic gases. “The materials are just part of the problem,” pointed out JoLani Hironaka, director of the San Jose, California-based Santa Clara Center for Occupational Health (SCCOSH), which works on behalf of computer chip industry workers in Santa Clara County, where Silicon Valley is located. “There has been a tremendous growth in the number of industries manufacturing chemicals and other materials used at com- puter chip plants and in the amount of waste generated in the production process.” According to Graydon Laraby of Texas Instruments, the manufacture of just one batch of chips requires on average 27 pounds of chemicals, 29 cubic feet of hazardous gases,"Under NAFTA, maquiladora employment increased by 54% in Ciudad Juárez, nine pounds of hazardous waste, and 3,787 gallons of water,spurring significant population growth.Yet Juárez still has no waste treatment which requires extensive chemical treatment.facility to treat sewage produced by the 1.3 million people who now livethere." at 5, Global Trade Watch)
  6. 6. The problem (3) consumptionAggregate electricity use for servers doubled over the pe-riod 2000 to 2005 both in the U.S. and worldwide. Almostall of this growth was the result of growth in the numberof the least expensive servers, with only a small part of thatgrowth being attributable to growth in the power use perunit.Total power used by servers represented about 0.6% of to-tal U.S. electricity consumption in 2005. When cooling andauxiliary infrastructure are included, that number grows to1.2%, an amount comparable to that for color televisions.The total power demand in 2005 (including associated in-frastructure) is equivalent (in capacity terms) to about five1000 MW power plants for the U.S. and 14 such plants forthe world. The total electricity bill for operating those serv-ers and associated infrastructure in 2005 was about $2.7 Band $7.2 B for the U.S. and the world, respectively.(Koomey,Jonathan G. (2007), ‘Estimating Power Consumption byServers in the US and the World, Lawrence Berkeley Na-tional Laboratory, Stanford University, Stanford, February. )We found that total direct power use by office and net-work equipment is about 74 TWh per year, which is about2% of total electricity use in the U.S. When el ectricityused by telecommunications equipment and electronicsmanufacturing is included, that figure rises to 3% of all elec-tricity use (Koomey 2000). More than 70% of the 74 TWh/year is dedicated to office equipment for commercial use.(Kawamoto, Kaoru,et al (2001), Electricity Used by OfficeEquipment and Network Equipment in the U.S LawrenceBerkeley National Laboratory, University of CaliforniaBerkeley, February
  7. 7. The problem (4) recycling In Lagos, while there is a legitimate robust market and abil- ity to repair and refurbish old electronic equipment includ- ing computers, monitors, TVs and cell phones, the local ex- perts complain that of the estimated 500 40-foot containers shipped to Lagos each month, as much as 75% of the imports are “junk” and are not economically repairable or market- able. Consequently, this e-waste, which is legally a hazardous waste is being discarded and routinely burned in what the environmentalists call yet “another“cyber-age nightmare now landing on the shores of developing countries.” The Digital Dump: Exporting Re-Use and Abuse to Africa, Basel Action network, 2005 The phosphors and other potentially toxic dusts must be removed from the CRT cullet and managed responsibly in developed countries, and The ‘competent authority’ of the importing country must formally consent to accept the cleaned cullet as a non-waste because it essentially meets specifications to be used as a direct replacement feedstock in a primary manufacturing process to create new consumer products without further processing, other than quality control – that is, it is not going to a recycling destination and no further cleaning or processing is needed prior to enter- ing into primary manufacturing.(Basel Convention) – Recently, the Malaysian government decided to no longer accept any CRT glass from the United States, as of December 31, 2008.
  8. 8. . . . the division between nature and politics, humans and non-humans, has had detrimental effects upon not only how we seeourselves in relation to nature, but also on democratic politicsand contemporary green political thought and practice. I arguethat political theory needs to put aside the distinction betweenhumans and the nonhuman world and build a democratic poli-tics based on a new ontology that incorporates the messy hy-brid entities of human and nonhuman, natural and social.Michael Nordquist, The End of Nature and Society: Bruno Latour and the Nonhuman in PoliticsPrepared for presentation at Western Political Science Association Annual Meeting March 16-18, 2006 Albuquerque
  9. 9. Behaviour can no longer be localised in indi-The Greek prefix epi- in epige-netics implies features that are viduals conceived as preformed homunculi;“on top of” or “in addition to”genetics; thus epigenetic traits but has to be treated epigenetically as a func-exist on top of or in addition to tion of complex material systems which cutthe traditional molecular basisfor inheritance across individuals (assemblages) and which transverse phyletic lineages and organismic boundaries (rhizomes). This requires the articulation of a distributed conception of agency. The challenge is to show that nature consists of a field of multiplicities, assemblages of heterogeneous components (human, ani- mal, viral, molecular, etc.) in which ‘creative evolution’ can be shown to involve blocks of becoming. (Ansell Pearson, K. (1999) Ger- minal Life: The Difference and Repetition of Deleuze. London: Routledge.: 171)
  10. 10. it is not enough to talk about nature and politics; we alsohave to talk about science. But here is where the shoe pinch-es: ecologism cannot be simply the introduction of natureinto politics, since not only the idea of nature but also theidea of politics, by contrast, both depend on a certain con-ception of science. Thus we have to reconsider three con-cepts at once: polis, logos, and phusis.CHAPTER 1: Why must political ecology let go of nature?. Because nature is not a particular sphere of reality but theresult of a political division, of a Constitution that separateswhat is objective and indisputable from what is subjectiveand disputable. To do political ecology, then, we must firstof all come out of the Cave, by distinguishing Science fromthe practical work of the sciences. This distinction allowsus to make another one, between the official philosophy ofecologism on the one hand and its burgeoning practice onthe other. Whereas ecology is assimilated to questions con-cerning nature, in practice it focuses on imbroglios involvingsciences, moralities, law, and politics. As a result, ecologismbears not on crises of nature but on crises of objectivity). Ifnature* is a particular way of totalizing the members whoshare the same common world instead of and in place ofpolitics, we understand easily why ecologism marks the endof nature in politics and why we cannot accept the traditionalterm “nature,” which was invented in order to reduce public to a rump parliament. To be sure, the idea that the Western notion of nature with it. Thanks to the sociology of the sciences, to the practice of ecologism,is a historically situated social representation has become a commonplace. to anthropology, we can thus understand that nature is only one of the twoBut we cannot settle for it without maintaining the politics of the Cave, since houses of a collective instituted to paralyze democracy. The key question ofdoing so would amount to distancing ourselves still further from the reality of political ecology can now be formulated: can we find a successor to the collec-things themselves left intact in the hands of Science. tive with two houses: nature and society?To give political ecology its place, we must then avoid the shoals of repre-sentations of nature and accept the risk of metaphysics. Fortunately, for thistask we can profit from the fragile aid of comparative anthropology. Indeed, Summary of the argument (for readers in a hurry . . .) (extract) from Brunono culture except that of the West has used nature to organize its political life. Latour, Politics of Nature, Harvard UP, 2004 (translation Catherine Porter)Traditional societies do not live in harmony with nature; they are unacquainted
  11. 11. Within the romantic imagination the global we need to look somewhere between the ancientlyis told as something very, very large, as interred traces of microbial promiscuity and the all-something very, very complex, but also as too-recent flourishing of electronic miscegenation. Itsomething that may be grasped and held as is in the city – at the hubs of human movement anda whole. Left to its own devices, romantic habitation – that we find a long but still relativelycomplexity leads to the holism of grand nar- accessible history of socially accelerated flows andrative. But there is an alternative: one can in- fusions, here that we might uncover a successionstead go looking for the global as something of culturally mediated human encounters with thethat is broken, poorly formed, and comes in aliens within and without. Before the Internet couldpatches; as something that is very small, and be constituted as a luxuriating ecology of life-likepretty elusive. entities, I would suggest, it was first necessary to the construe the city as a mesh of heterogeneous ele-John Law (2002) And if the Global Were Small and Non-Coherent? Method, Complexity and the Baroque ments, to experience the variegated life secreted in les passages and le paysage des grandes villes; if not literally, then at least metaphorically. To a far greater degree than during its recent enmeshing with new electronic media, the human body in the metropolis has been open to diverse flows, has entertained new forms, has participated in a ‘baroque sociability’ with all its invited and uninvited guests. Clark, Nigel (2000), ‘”Botanizing the Asphalt”? The Complex Life of Cosmopolitan Bodies’, Body & Society 6(3/4), 12-33.
  12. 12. 1. Do you understand the language I am using? 2. Do you understand that you are being given an order? 3.You do not understand what I am saying and you don’t need to. Just do as I say 4.You are incapable of understanding. I do the understanding (of the situation) and you do the understanding (of my order) 5.You understand language, I speak it 1. I understand that you are giving me an order 2. I understand that you are speaking and that you expect me to understand but you don’t expect me to follow your reasons 3. I understand that you are telling me we don’t speak the same language, or that you speak and I can only understand 4. Nonetheless I do understand you are giving me an order 5. So I also understand that you are lying when you tell me that I am incapable of languageDo you understand? Rancière, Jacques (1999), Disagreement: Politics and Philosophy, trans Julie Rose, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis.