How do you celebrate Earth Day? My Facebook feed is a mix of dire warnings, and warm fuzzy hug a tree type messages. I guess what it comes down to is Earth Day is an attempt to pause and think. But what to think about? The catch for me is the meaning of The Earth how it is understood in terms of our relationship to everything else. Humans have a habit of seeing everything as serving our needs to survive. This anthropocentrism is most entrenched in our current global economic and political structures. So for me I am wondering about the constraints on our thinking and relating to the diversity of life. I’m curious about the other cultural and ancient views of harmony with life that have been forgotten or suppressed and who’s interests this has served.
Science is keenly invested in finding answers with climate change being a bit of a well-worn path of common concern. But as Cary Wolfe and Karen Barad note:
‘Notwithstanding the diversity of possible reasons, the stakes in managing and accounting for these conceptual configurations are significant, for how the fault line of discrimination between the human and the nonhuman/animal/environment is drawn also motivates the reasoning behind claims for which life forms deserve more equitable kinds of moral treatment.’
So my call is for the brave step into something ‘epistemic vulnerability’ (Jennifer Logue) when some forms of knowledge are seen as dangerous or threatening there can be a shutting down, she notes that:
‘By examining ignorance as a defense, the activity of its process becomes clear. We can see non-knowledge is consciously constructed, used to leverage authority, close down community, and exonerate the culpable in a range of different legal and cultural arenas. This ignorance is a series of carefully constructed forms of not knowing that are used to protect power.’
So I am putting my certainty aside about how to ‘save the planet’ to question my own assumptions and beliefs about what it needs saving from. I’ll also compost more just to be on the practical side.
Articles referred to:
Chiew, F. (2014). Posthuman Ethics with Cary Wolfe and Karen Barad: Animal Compassion as Trans-Species Entanglement. Theory, Culture & Society, 31(4), 51-69.
Logue, J. (2014). The Politics of Unknowing and the Virtues of Ignorance: Toward a Pedagogy of Epistemic Vulnerability. Philosophy of Education Archive, 53-62.