Simon Nicholson

Simon Nicholson is Assistant Professor of International Relations and Director of the Global Environmental Politics Program at American University.

  • New Earth Politics

    New Earth Politics

    Essays from the Anthropocene

    Simon Nicholson and Sikina Jinnah

    Prominent scholars and practitioners consider the role of global environmental politics in the face of increasing environmental stress.

    Humanity's collective impact on the Earth is vast. The rate and scale of human-driven environmental destruction is quickly outstripping our political and social capacities for managing it. We are in effect creating an Earth 2.0 on which the human signature is everywhere, a “new earth” in desperate need of humane and insightful guidance. In this volume, prominent scholars and practitioners in the field of global environmental politics consider the ecological and political realities of life on the new earth, and probe the field's deepest and most enduring questions at a time of increasing environmental stress. Arranged in complementary pairs, the essays in this volume include reflections on environmental pedagogy, analysis of new geopolitical realities, reflections on the power of social movements and international institutions, and calls for more compelling narratives to promote environmental action.

    At the heart of the volume is sustained attention to the role of traditional scholarly activities in a world confronting environmental disaster. Some contributors make the case that it is the scholar's role to provide activists with the necessary knowledge and tools; others argue for more direct engagement and political action. All the contributors confront the overriding question: What is the best use of their individual and combined energies, given the dire environmental reality?

    Contributors Erik Assadourian, Frank Biermann, Wil Burns, Ken Conca, Peter Dauvergne, Daniel Deudney, Navroz Dubash, Richard Falk, Joyeeta Gupta, Maria Ivanova, Peter Jacques, Sikina Jinnah, Karen T. Litfin, Michael F. Maniates, Elizabeth Mendenhall, Simon Nicholson, Kate O'Neill, Judith Shapiro, Paul Wapner, Oran R. Young

    • Hardcover $19.75 £15.99
    • Paperback $19.75 £15.99

Contributor

  • AI in the Wild

    Sustainability in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

    Peter Dauvergne

    Examining the potential benefits and risks of using artificial intelligence to advance global sustainability.

    Drones with night vision are tracking elephant and rhino poachers in African wildlife parks and sanctuaries; smart submersibles are saving coral from carnivorous starfish on Australia's Great Barrier Reef; recycled cell phones alert Brazilian forest rangers to the sound of illegal logging. The tools of artificial intelligence are being increasingly deployed in the battle for global sustainability. And yet, warns Peter Dauvergne, we should be cautious in declaring AI the planet's savior. In AI in the Wild, Dauvergne avoids the AI industry-powered hype and offers a critical view, exploring both the potential benefits and risks of using artificial intelligence to advance global sustainability.

    Dauvergne finds that corporations and states often use AI in ways that are antithetical to sustainability. The competition to profit from AI is entrenching technocratic management, revving up resource extraction, and turbocharging consumption, as consumers buy new smart devices (and discard their old, less-smart ones). Smart technology is helping farmers grow crops more efficiently, but also empowering the agrifood industry. Moreover, states are weaponizing AI to control citizens, suppress dissent, and aim cyberattacks at rival states.

    Is there a way to harness the power of AI for environmental and social good? Dauvergne argues for precaution and humility as guiding principles in the deployment of AI.

    • Paperback $24.95 £20.00
  • Deep Time Reckoning

    How Future Thinking Can Help the Earth Now

    Vincent Ialenti

    A guide to long-term thinking: how to envision the far future of Earth.

    We live on a planet careening toward environmental collapse that will be largely brought about by our own actions. And yet we struggle to grasp the scale of the crisis, barely able to imagine the effects of climate change just ten years from now, let alone the multi-millennial timescales of Earth's past and future life span. In this book, Vincent Ialenti offers a guide for envisioning the planet's far future—to become, as he terms it, more skilled deep time reckoners. The challenge, he says, is to learn to inhabit a longer now.

    Ialenti takes on two overlapping crises: the Anthropocene, our current moment of human-caused environmental transformation; and the deflation of expertise—today's popular mockery and institutional erosion of expert authority. The second crisis, he argues, is worsening the effects of the first. Hearing out scientific experts who study a wider time span than a Facebook timeline is key to tackling our planet's emergency. Astrophysicists, geologists, historians, evolutionary biologists, climatologists, archaeologists, and others can teach us the art of long-termism.

    For a case study in long-term thinking, Ialenti turns to Finland's nuclear waste repository “Safety Case” experts. These scientists forecast far future glaciations, climate changes, earthquakes, and more, over the coming tens of thousands—or even hundreds of thousands or millions—of years. They are not pop culture “futurists” but data-driven, disciplined technical experts, using the power of patterns to construct detailed scenarios and quantitative models of the far future. This is the kind of time literacy we need if we are to survive the Anthropocene.

    • Paperback $25.00 £20.00
  • The Environmental Politics of Sacrifice

    The Environmental Politics of Sacrifice

    Michael Maniates and John M. Meyer

    An argument that the idea of sacrifice, with all its political baggage, opens new paths to environmental sustainability.

    The idea of sacrifice is the unspoken issue of environmental politics. Politicians, the media, and many environmentalists assume that well-off populations won't make sacrifices now for future environmental benefits and won't change their patterns and perceptions of consumption to make ecological room for the world's three billion or so poor eager to improve their standard of living. The Environmental Politics of Sacrifice challenges these assumptions, arguing that they limit our policy options, weaken our ability to imagine bold action for change, and blind us to the ways sacrifice already figures in everyday life. The concept of sacrifice has been curiously unexamined in both activist and academic conversations about environmental politics, and this book is the first to confront it directly. The chapters bring a variety of disciplinary perspectives to the topic. Contributors offer alternatives to the conventional wisdom on sacrifice; identify connections between sacrifice and human fulfillment in everyday life, finding such concrete examples as parents' sacrifices in raising children, religious practice, artists' pursuit of their art, and soldiers and policemen who risk their lives to do their jobs; and examine particular policies and practices that shape our understanding of environmental problems, including the carbon tax, incentives for cyclists, and the perils of green consumption. The Environmental Politics of Sacrifice puts “sacrifice” firmly into the conversation about effective environmental politics and policies, insisting that activists and scholars do more than change the subject when the idea is introduced.

    Contributors Peter Cannavò, Shane Gunster, Cheryl Hall, Karen Litfin, Michael Maniates, John M. Meyer, Simon Nicholson, Anna Peterson, Thomas Princen, Sudhir Chella Rajan, Paul Wapner, Justin Williams

    • Hardcover $11.75 £9.99
    • Paperback $6.75 £5.99