David BondFeb 21, 2023
Fossil Fuels and the Discovery of the Environment
University of California Press 2022
So much of what we know of clean water, clean air, and now a stable climate rests on how fossil fuels first disrupted them. Negative Ecologies: Fossil Fuels and the Discovery of the Environment (U California Press, 2022) is a bold reappraisal of the outsized role fossil fuels have played in making the environment visible, factual, and politically operable in North America. Following stories of hydrocarbon harm that lay the groundwork for environmental science and policy, this book brings into clear focus the dialectic between the negative ecologies of fossil fuels and the ongoing discovery of the environment. Exploring iconic sites of the oil economy, ranging from leaky Caribbean refineries to deepwater oil spills, from the petrochemical fallout of plastics manufacturing to the extractive frontiers of Canada, Negative Ecologies documents the upheavals, injuries, and disasters that have long accompanied fossil fuels and the manner in which our solutions have often been less about confronting the cause than managing the effects. This history of our present promises to re-situate scholarly understandings of fossil fuels and renovate environmental critique today. David Bond challenges us to consider what forms of critical engagement may now be needed to both confront the deleterious properties of fossil fuels and envision ways of living beyond them.
David Bond is the Associate Director of the Center for the Advancement of Public Action and teaches on the environment and public action. Trained as an anthropologist, Bond studies oil spills and their imprint on environmental science and governance. His work shows how toxic disruptions can fix vital relations with new forms of knowledge and care.
Cody Skahan (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a student in the MA program in Anthropology at the University of Iceland as a Leifur Eriksson Fellow. His work focuses on environmentalism in Iceland, especially the social and political implications of the youth environmentalist movement in an arctic country that has created for itself a façade of being environmentally and socially progressive. More generally, his other interests span anywhere from critical theory, psychoanalysis, queer theory, anarchism, cultural studies, anime, media and applying theory through praxis. Cody has a blog here where he is trying to write more rather than just only read and talk about books.