Environmental Apocalypse in Science and Art
By Sergio Fava
Routledge – 2013 – 226 pages
At a time when it is clear that climate change adaptation and mitigation are failing, this book examines how our assumptions about (valid and usable) knowledge are preventing effective climate action. Through a cross-disciplinary, empirically-based analysis of climate science and policy, the book situates the failures of climate policy in the cultural history of prediction and its interfaces with policy.
Fava calls into question the current interfaces between scientific research and climate policy by tracing multiple connections between modelling, epistemology, politics, food security, religion, art, and the apocalyptic. Demonstrating how the current domination of climate policy by models and scenarios is part of the problem, the book examines how artistic practices are a critical location to ask questions differently, rethink environmental futures, and activate social change. The analysis starts with another moment of climatic change in recent western history: the overlap of the Little Ice Age and the "scientific revolution," during which intense climatic, scientific and political change were contemporary with mathematical calculation of the apocalypse.
Dealing with the need for complex answers to complex and urgent questions, this is essential reading for those interested in climate action, interdisciplinary research and methodological innovation. The empirical analyses amount to a methodological experiment, across history of science, theology, art theory and history, architecture, future studies, climatology, computer modelling, and agricultural policy. This book is a major contribution to understanding how we are precluding effective climate action, and designing futures that resemble our worst nightmares.
Introduction. 1. Deadly Weather: Narratives of Nature and Agency During the Little Ice Age 2. Counting the Days: John Napier’s Exegesis and Mathematics 3. Drawing the End: Inigo Jones’s Banqueting House 4. Assembling the Worldmachine: Mathematical Modelling of Climate Change 5. Imagining Futures: The Special Report on Emission Scenarios 6. Creating One Future: The Doomsday Vault 7. Reclaiming Futures: Olafur Eliasson’s Weather Project
Sergio Fava is Lecturer in Photography at the Cambridge School of Art at Anglia Ruskin University.