Warning: medley ahead. This is a blog post about anarchist-anthropologist David Graeber, documentary-maker Adam Curtis, children’s TV creator Mister Rogers, comic-strip writer Seth Tobocman, trade union newspapers, Switzerland and alternative economics. It all made sense to me when I sat down to write. It will contain some “square words” (=swear…

If I were into clickbait, I’d call this a story about cancel culture vs. a culture of cancellation, but I’m not. Also, to be honest, I am writing this while insomniac, stressed and exhausted. I am going to make sweeping oversimplifications (“left” and “right” being the most egregious, perhaps). …

A short course in planetary time, for planetary survival

This is less of a blog post, and more of a howl.

The planetary climate clock, in human time

Let’s start by some human and planetary timescales. I don’t know why we don’t learn them in grade school (I never learned them at all). But they matter. And let’s represent them visually, in a stark, plain way.

King Canute and Queen Aelfgifu, date circa 1020, from the register of Hyde Abbey, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

“_” : this is our unit of time, and it’s 1000 years long.

You should always at least try to meet your heroes, especially when they are as immense as Kirk Smith, so when I attended a conference in Berkeley in 2011 (one of my last long-haul work flights), I wrote to him to see if we could meet. Characteristically generously, he said…

Rich white dudes (here Voltaire, D’Alembert, Diderot & Co.) used to be able to sit together and talk about stuff, but we have to use the internet now because of a global pandemic. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

This is less of a blog post and more of a collection of essential readings at this time. I’ll be adding to it (especially if you send me links, hint hint). There are books in here: please consider ordering them from your local bricks & mortar bookstore.

[Update March 21st…

You who build these altars now,
To sacrifice these children,
You must not do it anymore.

-Leonard Cohen

The word sacrifice is bandied about by both sides of the debate on climate action. Shall we unpack this loaded shuttlecock?

The Sacrifice of Isaac by Jean-Hippolyte Flandrin, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Raising the spectre of sacrifice is the all the vogue in…

How do we start from imperfect places and end up somewhere better? …

This is not an easy blog, a single story, or a simple point. It’s simply the three intertwined threads of yet another sleepless night.

First strand: saying goodbye to my father and his century

It’s our last day in Geneva. Yesterday evening, my 98 year-old father shared a glimmer of his old self. “So, Julia!” he exclaimed, smiling at me…

Teaching climate science & action can seem daunting: for university-level lecturers, teaching to younger children can be quite intimidating. For primary-level teachers, the science and scope can seem too vast and fast changing to cover. For everyone, the content can be overwhelming. …

Failing to learn from past mistakes is the only truly unforgivable mistake in science. And on climate change, the scientific community (by and large) has been criminally negligent when it comes to observing — and especially learning from — its own track record. This blog post is a postmortem in…

Julia Steinberger

Immigrant, Swiss-American ecological economist at the University of Leeds. Research focus on living well within planetary limits. Opinions my own.

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