It is so weird to do normal daily things in this context of global pandemic. Still I have been thinking about the climate and the weather every day, I think that my years in the UK left me with this obsession and this longing for the sun as if I was a plantita.
Days have been beautiful here in Rotterdam, it’s really hot and since I’m lucky enough to have a big balcony I’ve been on the outside a lot, taking care of my plants and watching everything around me turning green. But since we have to be anguished about something, I had to think about an idea that James Bridle mentioned in his book New Dark Age: “weather that is nice is often weather that is wrong”. This idea, of course, comes from a very European perspective of a centenary history of cold that now is switching to a reality of a lot of sunny days per year, we get super excited but deep down we know that something is not right.
In this same book there is a whole section about interactions between technology and climate and I found lots of information we can use for future investigations. I felt this sense of urgency when I read that access to internet will be compromised because of the lack of thermal capacity of the transmission cables that won’t resist the rise on temperatures. It’s like when your phone is too hot because you left it under the sun and you see this notification indicating that you need to wait for it to cool down so you can use it again. Well, that same thing is going to happen with internet infrastructures, we will probably have internet blackouts because of the heat and some researchers estimate that the first cases will appear by the year 2050.
In relation to the pandemic, I like to see the analysis that show clarity about the fact that environmental factors increment the risk of death and contagion, this is the case of air pollution for example. I would like that vision to be predominant rather than the perspective that proposes that this problem is going to be solved with apps or fancy inventions. Here in the Netherlands they came with some type of telethon for applications that will supposedly save us from this crisis. The good thing, I guess, is that civil society is coordinated raising concerns about the lack of user privacy of these solutions and about the general waste of time of this whole shitshow. This is why I was inspired by this news of a pig who had a pedometer attached to his feet to certify he was “free range”, he ate the device, shitted it out and somehow started a fire that burnt 75 square meters of land. Hahah I know it’s not something to celebrate but it is so good when life herself demonstrates that she cannot be tamed with well-meaning technologies.
Look, I don’t want to say that I had a good time these days in quarantine so the internet ascetics do not come and accuse me of being privileged (LOL), but I’ve been improving myself with lots of love and lots of art. This is why I connected with something I read on Pleasure Activism by adrienne maree brown, she quotes an affirmation made by my idol Octavia Butler in which she said that “Apocalypse ages and equalizes us”. Now is a moment that allows us to see which are the things we were prioritizing in the past, and at the same time, to see our true passions sparking. Also, of course I’ve been listening a lot of music and while I was revisiting by beloved Re by Café Tacvba, I put my attention in the song Trópico de Cáncer and realised it is a very pertinent fable to describe the relation between the climate emergency and the capitalist adoration for business, see my translation below:
How is it that you are leaving, oh savior of the company. There is still a lot of greenery around. And progress is our job. And there is still a lot of indians who do not know what it is to live in a city like decent people. Don’t you see that you are a bridge between savagery and modernism. Salvador the engineer, savior of humanity. It is very good what you think but why do you not remember that ours is a very advanced civilization, that’s what people say. Don’t you see that our minds should not take into account the environmentalists, retrogradists, indigenousists or humanists?
Oh my Civil Engineers and Associates do not think that it does not hurt to leave your side but I believe that the time has come to make room for spaces without concrete. THAT’S WHY I’M ALREADY GOING, I DO NOT WANT TO HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH THAT UGLY RELATION OF ACTION, CONSTRUCTION, DESTRUCTION.
So I leave you with that energy, my friend, saying goodbye to Silicon Valley, oil is over and soon they will be over too. I’m already going, I don’t want to have anything to do with thaaaaaaat
So nice to hear from you, d, always.
How crazy it is to see that the last time I wrote to you, Italy was starting the lockdown. Now the number of deads in the world is growing every day, and I am confined in Santiago, like you in Rotterdam and, I tell you, it is bizarre to be living the daily life in a pandemic with a neoliberal state. It is the persistent feeling of helplessness and humiliation: an “every man for himself” and a “sorry, someone has to die (and it will not be the elite).” But it is also a permanent moralism that our neoliberal beings know how to exploit so well and, as you say, immediately, look for someone to blame: do not find a minimum pleasure in confinement, IT IS A PRIVILEGE! I have learned, for example, that having a job amid the pandemic is a privilege and not a right :S
I haven’t read much because I’m neurotic and tired, I suppose. But from here and there, I liked what Geoffroy De Lagasnerie wrote, who talks – among other things – about the common idea now of humans as viruses, that “the problem is us,” in a rare exercise to avoid to mention the economic system. Or, as if the economic system were equivalent to humanity. It appeals, I suppose, to the dangerous anthropocentric and patriarchal idea of “nature” that Timothy Morton (of which we had already spoken) also denounces.
Besides, De Lagasnerie talks about how confinement privileges the most conservative and institutionalized forms of relationship: you stay with your family, with whom do lovers confine themselves? What about sex workers? On this subject, the pandemic has made me think a lot about how digital technologies are so comfortable with capitalism because they sanitize the erasure of the working class. For example, Amazon, in the developed world, or Rappi and related services here: their poorly paid workers get sick and die, however, with two buttons and without seeing them even coughing, I have at my front door all the groceries for my confinement.
Do fans of “hackathons for good” know that nothing they do turns out well because, beyond the app, they need workers?
It’s like those surveillance apps to control COVID-19 infections. Pure trash to not hire workers: “To succeed, contact tracing programs require that people trust the entity to whom they are reporting. Trust is built on empathy, patience, and the ability to help someone who has just been exposed to a life-threatening disease”.
To succeed in the tech world, finally, you need hordes of workers and, if they are underpaid in a second-rate country like Chile, Ireland, or the Philippines, the better. Take a look at Facebook, with all those crowded content moderators exposed 24/7 to all the hate speech crap. Or Airbnb, which must be one of the companies I hate the most for all the adverse effects of gentrification. They need thousands of indebted and precarious homeowners to flourish. If they go bankrupt due to the pandemic, they will destroy many people with them, especially in the third world.
That is why it bothers me to see that the discussion of technology and climate crisis concentrates on, for example, carbon emissions. Yes, OK, but they are going to invent some more efficient technology. The problem is the sanitized extractivist logic with which they continue to operate, and that will keep us eating green extractivism for the next few years.
But in the face of the negative, great humor will always win: when the technology industry behind 5G makes up news to sell, it is called “technological journalism,” when others make it in a time of the pandemic, it is called fake news. Ups.
Anyway, d, the quilas continue to flourish in the south. Here, the drought is increased by the ocean-atmosphere phenomenon La Niña. People in Chile, despite the pandemic, are already encouraged to go out to protest, and the criminal government says that perhaps the election of next October will not be held “because of the economic crisis” (?). Bolsonaro looks more and more like Hitler physically. The gringos dismissed Bernie despite the climate crisis. Notwithstanding everything, people get pregnant and have babies in a huge bet of confidence with themselves that I admire, always. I learn to cook, and I watch repeated movies that I like, and, most of the time, I would say, I feel good.
I’m reading a little bit of poetry, and Dani S. uploaded one by Ryan Eckes that I loved and immediately reminded me of you and Gatito Earth.
Hugs d, we will win.