Reading and writing the weather:climate technics and the moment of responsibility

Szerszynski, Bronislaw (2010) Reading and writing the weather:climate technics and the moment of responsibility. Theory, Culture and Society, 27 (2-3). pp. 9-30. ISSN 1460-3616

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In this article I argue that an adequate response to climate change requires an overcoming of the metaphysics of presence that is structuring our relationship with the weather. I trace the links between this metaphysics and the dominant way that the topic of climate change is being narrated, which is structured around the transition from diagnosis to cure, from the scientific reading to the technological writing of the weather. Against this narrative I develop a rather different account of the current ecopolitical moment. I first argue that an understanding of anthropogenic climate change must be grounded in a biosemiotic analysis of the evolving metabolism between society and nature, one that is alert to the way that metabolism involves a folded relation between inside and outside, and that recognizes the constant deferral of biosemiotic meaning in ecological systems. I then use a deconstructive reading of climate technics to problematize the distinction between the diagnosis and solution of climate change, and expose modern scientific practices of reading the climate as already containing within themselves a notion of weather’s technological writability. Exploring the notion that previous transformations of the metabolic regime of society have always involved transformations of notions of the human, I conclude by sketching out a different way of reading and writing the weather, one that takes place in the ‘opening’ of climate change, that problematizes the idea of the human as the end of nature, and that thereby implies a more radical version of climate responsibility.

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Journal Article
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Theory, Culture and Society
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06 Nov 2012 09:17
Last Modified:
29 Mar 2022 06:35