Category Archives: Disaster

We need to think about redefining citizenship in the Anthropocene

The concept of citizenship originally described inhabitants of (probably walled) towns. Some insistence on specificity of place certainly remains, although the concept today generally refers to nations rather than cities. But what are concerned citizens to do in the face of problems such as climate change, which cannot easily be contained by walls or borders, and to which we all contribute?

Introducing the terrifying mathematics of the Anthropocene

In 2000, Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen and Eugene Stoermer proposed that human impact on the atmosphere, the oceans, the land and ice sheets had reached such a scale that it had pushed Earth into a new epoch. They called it the Anthropocene and argued the current Holocene epoch was over.

A Bibliography for Teaching Flint

This bibliography is designed for professors who want to “teach Flint” in their classrooms. The Flint, Michigan water crisis is an extreme but quintessential case study that shows the intersections of environmental health, governance, the built environment, systemic racism, and social inequity.

Piping as poison: the Flint water crisis and America’s toxic infrastructure

Over the past few decades, we have met with much success in curbing some of Americans’ exposure to lead. Yet they have struggled to contain this continuing danger precisely because it is literally built into our water systems.

Visually Representing Slow Disasters

Slow violence and chronic disasters create a representational challenge. How do you visualize a non-event so that it imparts the severity of the problem without turning it into an event?

New report on Race, Poverty, and Chemical Disasters

The report, called “Who’s in Danger? Race, Poverty, and Chemical Disasters,” sought to examine who lives in “fenceline” neighborhoods adjacent to large chemical plants. The report said those residents were more likely to be black or Latino and have lower home values, incomes and education levels than average Americans.

Commissioner of NYC’s Department of Sanitation on Hurricane Sandy

The following is a statement by John Doherty, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Sanitation, about the department’s response to Hurricane Sandy.

Waste-Wilderness: A Conversation between Peter Galison and Smudge Studio

Galison argues that the categories of wastelands and wilderness are far from dichotomous; that their relation is far more intriguing (and disturbing) than a binary of purity and corruption. Removing parts of the earth in perpetuity – for reasons of sanctification or despoilment – alters a central feature of the human self, presenting us in a different relation to the physical world, and raising irreducible questions about who we are when land can be classified, forever, as not for us humans

Where Are We Now? Tsunami Debris Three Years Later

What we perhaps did not realize, as we geared up our initial response, was how deep the partnerships between all stakeholders would become. As months went by and debris washed up piece by piece, the scenarios and plans turned to real action. The action became more routine and the coordination more efficient. What has happened, in the three years we have worked on this issue, is that we now have a solid network of marine debris responders in our Pacific states.

The visual culture of post-disaster high water marks

f you look at enough photographs of disasters, you will see people posing with high water marks. It is a genre of photography onto itself: over and over, they will point to the mark, put their bodies in front of the mark, or photograph the high water line alone. This post explores the possible roles that the visual culture of post-disaster high water marks play, especially given the prevalence of the genre across disasters, geography, and time.