Contemplative Ecologies 6

This week’s top 5 posts from my daily feed include a VR meditation on aural ecology, a typology of eco-mental landscapes, a history of degrowth, photographs of the Anthropocene, and an article on space junk. Hope you enjoy!

1. Last week, the New York Times featured a fantastic virtual reality Op-Doc that “provides an immersive experience into the Hoh Rain Forest, told from the perspective of the acoustic ecologist Gordon Hempton.” He says, “Silence is the poetics of space— what it means to be in a place. A whole topography of the surrounding landscape is revealed to me in the many layers of the echo that comes towards me. And I think to myself, I know exactly where I am. Silence isn’t the absence of something, but the presence of everything… Silence is the presence of time undisturbed. It can be felt within the chest. It nurtures our nature. And silence is on the verge of extinction… When I listen, I have to become quiet. I become very peaceful. And I think what I enjoy most about listening, is that I disappear. *I* disappear.”

2. Several of my posts this week explored the psycho-spiritual effects of climate change, including this typology (shown below) of eco-mental landscapes, a thorough report on the psychological effects of climate change, an article on climate and mental health, and a recently issued call to action for the psychiatric profession to address climate-related mental health issues.

3. Michel Bauwens started a lively discussion on my page about decoupling growth from environmental impacts following my publication last week. That inspired me to post reviews of degrowth literature (here and here), a review of the movement, several articles analyzing material resource flows (here and here and here), and a collection of essays on degrowth and social movements.

I also posted part one of a two-part series on urban metabolism and degrowth which explores “the sensory, affective, and aesthetic dimensions of degrowth.” It explains the four major shifts Ted Trainer proposes as the ‘Simpler Way’: 1. Major spatio-temporal shifts… a slowed pace and a smaller geography for everyday life… 2. Major technological shifts. Less fossil and electrical energy will be spent… 3. A more intimate relationship with natural environments. First, available resources will be more determined by place—i.e. by weather, climate, season, and region… Second, the degrown society will be less climate-controlled and artificially lit. Third, there will be less of Rachel Carson’s ‘biocide.’ 4. A more intimate and leaner society, less individualistic, less globalized, and less mediated. People would enjoy more face-to-face interaction in cooperation, sharing, and borrowing. More commons would open, including lending libraries—not only for media, but also for tools, equipment, supplies, skills, and knowledge… Values will shift in countless ways. Surpluses, hoarding, and private stocks will become suspicious and undesirable.”

4. If you’re interested in photographs of the Anthropocene, check out Tama Baldwin’s online portfolio. I especially like her detail shots of the Depot River (shown below) and Black Mirror Diary, which is a time-lapse video of the Svalbard Archipelago. In her artist statement, she says “The intersection of human institutions and instruments and wild nature as it otherwise might exist without our presence on the planet is the theme that dominates my work. I seek out the pockets of wilderness embedded in the largest metropolises and the traces of human presences in the most remote wildernesses. Abandoned cities. Dissolving roads. The ruins of lost civilizations. Wildernesses rebounding around industrial injury. These are the subjects that draw my eye, the progress of nature despite the planetary spectacle our species has become.”

She also has a nice instagram page with this meditation on #ContemplativeEcology:

This is the world I find myself in right now of stark contrasts–not just dark and light but beauty and annihilation. Bizarre times call for long walks in snowy woods late at night. The silence was exquisite and gave me a chance to reflect on the things I love about the world including the fact that the globe will keep heaving itself around the sun and the stars will cast their net above our heads by day as well as night no matter what we do. It was so long before we were here and it will continue long after the last of us are gone . * * * #exklusive_shot #exploretocreate #discoverearth #natgeo #nightphotography #adventureculture #adventureisoutthere #adventurethatislife #wildernessculture #winter #colorado #instagood #2instagood #aspen #trees

A post shared by Tama Baldwin (@tamabaldwin) on

5. Finally, this excellent article on space junk broaches the subject of conservation and political ecology in space. “The U.S. Air Force tracks 23,000 objects in orbit the size of a baseball or larger—most of it derelict rocket parts, decommissioned spacecraft or wreckage. Aerospace experts said there may be millions more hazardous splinters too small to track… Within a few years there might be another 20,000 or so small craft launched into a narrow band of space around Earth, more than 10 times the number of all working satellites in orbit today… In June, something jolted the AMC9 telecommunications satellite, owned by Luxembourg-based SES, disrupting data and broadcast services over the U.S. and Mexico… The incident is costing SES about $23 million in lost revenues this year and another $44 million in the value of the spacecraft itself. Unchecked, the growing debris in orbit ‘might make some regions of space unusable in the future, and that would impact everybody—everybody who uses a mobile phone, who gets television, who relies on weather forecasts.’”

Questions, comments, or recommendations for future content? Please email <walsh_zack@yahoo.com>. Like what you see? Check out my personal Facebook page or scholarly publications. See you next Friday!

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