Why are we talking about cats as killers? Mini nukes are the future? Beyonce caused the power outage?

There is a story in national media, filtering down to the local media, that cat’s are nature’s greatest invasive species, killing by the millions.  And that Beyonce did an amazing job performing at the Super Bowl. My question is: why are these top stories?  Maybe there are some other really important news topics that we can talk about, such as, maybe, the fact that there are continual threats to democracy in our own backyard, not just in Israel?

It reminds me of this video of Neil Smith reading the newspaper.  And of the course I took as an undergrad with Robert McChesney on media, power, and politics. These paper topics are not just about the science of cats or about a power failure.  These events are (not so strange) hybrids of natural, social, semiotic and discursive worlds, all  mixed together, but separated neatly into the “business” or “science” or “politics” or “entertainment” section of the newspaper (Latour!). How can we separate the political, scientific, and bureaucratic composition of infrastructure from the social and personal lives of those who enjoyed the pinnacle of sports spectacle?

The Super Bowl could ignite (probably won’t) a new discussion of energy politics. The blackout, maybe caused by Beyonce, but probably an abnormality, was an eye opening event for those who don’t understand or ignore the fragility of our energy infrastructure and the cities it serves.  Are these articles discussing energy politics? I think that is exactly what politics can do, highlight the cultural and social character, not just technical, of energy systems. From generation to distribution and transmission to consumption, its hard to deny the multifaceted character of energy systems with its inherent social and political dimensions.  So what does it mean for the future of energy? Are we destined to adopt decentralized mini nuclear reactors? Possibly. For a different future, we need to assert ourselves in the epistemologies that govern our infrastructures, question their underpinnings and the social and political order they co-create, and understand the rationality which governs these actions.  We cannot just sit by as each neighborhood is adorned with a nuclear reactor and as the ill-effects are inequitably dispersed. There must be more sustainable and just futures. Where do they lie dormant is the question?

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About anthony

Urban.Studies.Energy.Politics.Ecology.

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