Climate change is, like, so po-mo

This evening I have downloaded to my inbox a call for papers for a special issue of Environmental Communication: A Journal of Nature and Culture.

Now don’t get me wrong. As a professional science communicator who is deeply concerned about the tenor of the public debate surrounding global warming and the environment in general, I see a clear need for academic discussion (‘discourse’, even) about the issues involved.

I’m just not so sure about the following:

“Over the last couple of decades, climate change has in fact acquired a quasi-paradigmatic character, often standing for a diverse range of problems in the relation between humans and nature.”

I think I see what they are getting at, but a warning bell has sounded with the editors’ use of the term “quasi-paradigmatic”. It either is or is not “paradigmatic”, so what’s with the “quasi-“?

“At the core of climate change are political, social and ethical choices with implications for the future of all peoples and all other species in the planet. The paths ahead, the available options and the decisions on the issue have been subjected to multiple discursive constructions and contestations by a number of social actors.”

Actually, I was under the impression that at the core of climate change are human-induced variations in atmospheric chemistry. But of course I could be entirely wrong.

Would someone please tell me what is a “social actor”? How is this different from, say, a method actor or a has-been politician with a movie to sell and lectures to deliver?

“What can rhetorical analysis contribute to further our understanding of political and civic communication on climate change?”

If by “rhetorical” the journal editors are refering to the bollocks spouted by certain London media dahlings, including a strange, contrarian cult of middle class Trotskyists turned faux-Libertarians, then I’m with them all the way. But once again, maybe I’ve misunderstood what this is all about.


In the second quote above, did you spot this:

“…all other species in the planet.” (my emphasis)

This attempt to be really with-it falls flat on its face. One can and should talk of life in the biosphere, but in the planet is for subterraneans only.