In my previous letter I complained about how much I missed the rough Chilean sea so I had to go to Tenerife to be hit by the volcanic sea and the stoney coasts of Canarias. I was happy.
I sensed that locals had an environmentalist approach which was very similar to the one I observed in Hawaii when I went in 2020: there was a generalized sense that the ecosystem of an island is more fragile, so there is concern about things like not throwing away food and having everything relatively clean. Maybe we need the floods and disasters to end up living in islands and finally behave decently?
It is interesting that here in gatito we make transpositions between very localized issues and matters that concern mega geologies, including extra-planetary perspectives. For example the other day I came across this article about the influence of the Moon on the Earth’s climate, and a short time later I read about this idea by the disgusting and friendless Elon Musk who wants to use his satellite internet to advertise in space.
This month I read Re-Enchanting the World by my idol Silvia Federici, there she comments that on Earth we are living in conditions that are proper of a space colony: no oxygen to breathe, limited social and physical contact, a desexualised life, difficulties in communication, voices of migrated birds missing, appearance and attitude being monitored.
Again this feeling of helplessness emerges and the solutions we have at hand are not the most promising. For example, this month I also finished the book by Felicity Scott that I mentioned in a previous letter and to a large extent it is a strong criticism against existing strategies to face the current crises. Scott goes against international conferences (ahem, like the one in which we will participate in in December) explaining that in the long run they simply function as suppressors of conflict and that with their logic of forced consensus they only lead to mask structural inequalities. Scott also expands on how digital technologies share values with these global instances of advocacy regarding their goals of eradicating the conflict by design. There is also a criticism against the glamorization of the “do it yourself” philosophy and how it is even ridiculous for poor people. Finally, and this is the criticism that perhaps hurt me the most, there’s a critique to the idea of unity with the universe, Scott quotes Freud to say that this vision is nothing more than a religious consolation and that it does not influence any materiality.
So the answer is the same since 1848, right?
Federici finds in the concept of the commons, a key that can serve to advance in that direction. She is tremendously critical of technologies referring to the myth that technological advances generate prosperity (tech scammers from around the world panicking). Since in reality the capitalist application of science and technology to production has proven so costly in terms of its effects on human lives and on ecological systems that if it more generalised it will destroy the Earth. Most important, computerisation has not reduced the work week not the burden of labour, computerisation has just added to the general state of misery.
“The mining tailings constitute, above all, the Chilean Anthropocene.”
Oh, Danae, what the Chilean sociologist, Sebastian Ureta, said a few days ago in an excellent conference, Diálogos del Litio, which I recommend, does not stop me thinking. Mine tailings cross quite a lot my life; I mean: CODELCO used to throw its mining waste in the El Salado River (in the photo) -bah, a trickle of water in the desert- and with my dad, my sisters, and my dog we used to walk there on weekends; there was not much to do in the eighties, without internet, with dictatorship, in the middle of nowhere. I have too many loving memories with a toxic and polluting tailing over the river. We always joke like; I’ll order this whole processed food because I’m already radioactive.
I don’t quite know how to explain it. I’ve been reading about the climate crisis for years but thinking about the geological climate footprint of Chilean tailings -of “my” tailings- in terms of the Anthropocene, was very :O Geology was always something very present in my childhood, too. I remember countless walks with my father, in the interior of the Andes Mountains, in search of fossils, which – at least at that time – could be found very easily.
The tailings as a geological layer of the Anthropocene; the Anthropocene as a loving layer.
All in all, I have been reading a lot about climate geoengineering. There is a good book, by Holly Jean Buck, called “After Geoengineering. Climate Tragedy, Repair, and Restoration” that looks at this set of technologies and processes that seek the deliberate, large-scale modification of the earth’s climate to combat global warming and which range from ocean fertilization so that more co2 is absorbed, to the various mechanical methods of carbon capture and storage that I think we’ve talked about at least somberly before in Gatita. But, beyond the multiple problems that these experimental methods present (from their scaling issues, their technosolusionism, or the distraction -prompted by fossil fuel companies- from the real problem), what I liked about Buck’s book is that it is a reflection of how the left has given up on thinking and developing technologies as a form of almost neo-Luddism and how that discussion is being left to an elite.
The bottom line is that, like it or not, to avoid a climate catastrophe – and according to the latest IPCC report – at this point, it would be necessary to remove carbon from the atmosphere and not just drastically reduce emissions.
Oh, my love, I am going headlong into the books you recommend. Will we be able to commemorate our September 11 dead this year?
I send you a peach blossom to the north of the world.