Eva Lövbrand, Malin Mobjörk and Rickard Söder

The proposition that we now live on a radically transformed and damaged planet is uncomfortable and troubling. It suggests a dangerous rupture in the earth’s trajectory that calls for new ways of thinking about safety, protection and collective survival. For many the Anthropocene marks an existential moment for modern civilization that radically unsettles the nature/culture divide that under pins much of Western philosophy, science and politics. Faced with the devastating effects of melting Arctic ice sheets, loss of critical habitats and mass species extinction, the idea that we can secure humanity against external threats is precisely the problem that needs to be overcome. In a time when our global modes of economy, trade and consumption are disrupting the planet’s lifeupholding systems, dualistic understandings of an active and morally countable human subject and a passive and external nature no longer seem to make analytical or moral sense. The distinction between humans and their surrounding environment, so central to the environmental policy and security paradigm, is replaced with a more fragile and entangled universe that binds human and nonhuman worlds together in complex and unpredictable ways.

2 thoughts on “Eva Lövbrand, Malin Mobjörk and Rickard Söder

  1. shinichi Post author

    Anthropocene (In)securities: Reflections on Collective Survival 50 Years After the Stockholm Conference

    SIPRI

    https://sipri.org/sites/default/files/2021-09/anthropocene_insecurities.pdf

    1. One earth, multiple worlds: Securing collective survival on a humandominated planet

    by Eva Lövbrand, Malin Mobjörk and Rickard Söder

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    III. Anthropocene (in)securities

    Over the past decade the Anthropocene concept has opened up a more speculative lens for studies of the environment–security nexus. In earth system sciences where the concept was invented, the Anthropocene encapsulates the unprecedented and acceler ating human imprint on the earth’s biosphere following the past 50 years of economic activity, consumption and resource use. As outlined by Will Steffen and colleagues, the Anthropocene entails ‘an unintended experi ment of humankind on its own life support system’. By changing the composition of the atmosphere, degrading lands, polluting waters and driving species to extinction, humanity has dangerously disrupted the structure and functioning of the earth’s bio logical fabric as a whole. Hence, we have entered a new phase in planetary history when nature no longer functions as a stable backdrop to human development and wellbeing.

    The proposition that we now live on a radically transformed and damaged planet is uncomfortable and troubling. It suggests a dangerous rupture in the earth’s trajectory that calls for new ways of thinking about safety, protection and collective survival. For many the Anthropocene marks an existential moment for modern civilization that radically unsettles the nature/culture divide that under pins much of Western philosophy, science and politics. Faced with the devastating effects of melting Arctic ice sheets, loss of critical habitats and mass species extinction, the idea that we can secure humanity against external threats is precisely the problem that needs to be overcome. In a time when our global modes of economy, trade and consumption are disrupting the planet’s lifeupholding systems, dualistic understandings of an active and morally countable human subject and a passive and external nature no longer seem to make analytical or moral sense. The distinction between humans and their surrounding environment, so central to the environmental policy and security paradigm, is replaced with a more fragile and entangled universe that binds human and nonhuman worlds together in complex and unpredictable ways.

    Although the transformed and risky world described by the Anthropo cene has produced discomfort, disillusionment and a looming sense of fatality, it has also inspired a wealth of new secur ity concepts and ideas. In the vibrant and expanding literature on Anthropo cene (in)security, scholars are asking critical questions about what it means to be human on a damaged planet and how security can be achieved in interconnection with the many non human beings upon which our collective survival depend. Ecological security is one of many concepts that has emerged from these efforts. It is a formulation that reorients security prac tices towards the maintenance of ecosystem’s lifesustaining functions in the context of perturbation and change. Recognizing the dynamic inter relations between human and nonhuman worlds, eco logical security belongs to a new security language that challenges the anthropo centric belief that only humans can and should be the subjects of security. Sensitive to the complex and lively relation ships across people, animals, plants, rivers and rocks, this new vocabu lary seeks to foster ‘worldly’ accounts of security oriented towards coexistence, solidarity and care.

    Ontological security is another concept that has developed in response to the existential questions posed by the Anthropo cene. This is an account of security that asks what it means to secure a continuous sense of self in the midst of radical uncertainty and change. While the environmental security debate has high lighted the dangerous effects of sealevel rise on, for instance, lowlying islands states, it typically frames climate change as a threat to the physical survival of island communities. However, losing land to the sea can also threaten traditional ways of life and peoples’ sense of meaning and place in the world. The Anthropocene extends this onto logical insecurity across new temporal and spatial scales and transforms the very essence of how humans can think and be in the world. Rather than protecting ourselves from the great forces of nature, we as humans now subsume those forces and hereby become the object and subject of security. Faced with cata strophic pro jections of runaway climate change and mass species extinc tion, the task of humanity in the Anthropocene is therefore to ‘secure itself in the future from itself in the present’.

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  2. shinichi Post author

    Security, Insecurity and the Anthropocene

    SIPRI

    https://sipri.org/events/2022/security-insecurity-and-anthropocene

    Fifty years on from the Stockholm Conference—the 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment—we find ourselves in a world marked by profound, accelerating and possibly irreversible environmental change. No ecosystem is untouched by human influence. And no area of human activity is unaffected by environmental change.

    The Anthropocene concept has been advanced to capture this new world. When humanity dangerously disrupts the earth’s biosphere and life-upholding systems, what new insecurities emerge? What, fundamentally, does security mean in the Anthropocene, and how can we deliver it?

    In this webinar, the editors and chapter authors of the new volume Anthropocene (In)securities: Reflections on Collective Survival 50 Years After the Stockholm Conference will discuss some of the key issues of security and insecurity raised in the Anthropocene.

    This online event is organized by SIPRI, the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) and Mistra Geopolitics.

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