The Crisis of Nature

Can we save what's left of the natural environment? Can we eliminate pollution, protect species and prevent catastrophic climate change? Or is it too late?

Consider the following: 'nature, the nature that preceded human history, today no longer exists anywhere.' Marx wrote this in 1845, when neither the automobile, nor plastics nor electricity played any part in social life. What happened since was a stunning increase in industrial production, mobility, urbanization and consumption of goods all of which based on massive resources and energyuse . The consequences of this progress are all around us: the ecological crisis is so widespread, it has become a new normal.

This unit is motivated by the deceptively simple question: what is the future of 'nature? We acknowledge that answers to this can be many, but in this unit we try to answer it by going backwards: how did we get where we are today and what have we learned that can help us move forward? We go to the very roots cultural, economic and religious of our 'post-natural' civilization and explore the master-concepts of our environmental crisis: modernity, risk society, pollution, and, above all, nature. Your part in this exploration will be crucial: will have your say in research projects and in the weekly debates on issues such as water futures, climate catastrophe, oil dependency, the Great Pacific Plastic Gyro, genetically modified foods, overfishing, military weather modification (and even chemtrails).

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