Pedro Galvao Cesar de Oliveira's Reading Reflections

Monday, May 16, 2022

Instead of suggesting a primer on the climate emergency, or a list of the “must read essential books” that addresses the imminent environmental collapse, I would rather tell you about the books and readings I currently have on my desk that examine the sociopolitical intersections between technology, equitable futures, and climate-resilience.

The first one is “Lo-TEK: Design by Radical Indigenism” in which Julia Watson re-traces the genesis of the concept of sustainability to indigenous philosophies and knowledge while introducing a catalog of vernacular architecture, sustainable adaptive technologies, and design for resilience. The book counters the idea that indigenous technology is primitive and lacks innovation, but rather it is instead rooted in deep understanding built upon hundreds of years of hands-on knowledge and stewardship of the habitat. The author introduces early on in the book the concept of TEK (Traditional Ecological Knowledge), a “cumulative body of multigenerational knowledge, practices and beliefs” that is the base of indigenous technology. This book contains multiple examples that combine complex ecosystems with indigenous mythologies to create a careful and deliberate balance between nature and culture.

The second one is by Nicolas Nova and DISNOVATION.ORG, “A Bestiary of the Anthropocene”, a book that highlights the consequences of an unleashed hyper-techno-driven society and the impact on the biosphere. Nova poses the question "What happens when technologies and their unintended consequences become so ubiquitous that it is difficult to define what is natural or not?” Inspired by the medieval bestiaries and remarkably illustrated, this book presents a collection of hybrid of organic, mineral, and synthetic creatures, and speculates what it means to live in a post-natural era among these new technologically-altered specimens.

The third book currently on my desk is “How to Blow Up a Pipeline”. In this radical book, Andreas Malm highlights how economic decisions in the Global North have devastating ecological effects on the Global South, and argues that the climate movement needs to change its approach and escalate its tactics. Malm presents a compelling narrative that bridges the academic discourse with grassroots activism while introducing arguments in defense of a more aggressive attitude against the big corporations that are profiting from this ecological collapse. For the author, a saboteur himself, the only way to combat climate change is to destroy the fossil fuel industry, however, that destruction “can be performed without a column of smoke. That is preferable. Sabotage can be done softly, even gingerly”, he adds “doesn’t have to come in the form of explosions, projectiles, pyromania.”

Last but not least are a few readings about Ecopedagogy, a form of critical ecoliteracy with strong roots in Latin America, that examines the intersection of social-political, economic, and environmental systems. The concept was first introduced at ECO92 (Earth Summit - the United Nations environmental conference held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992) and was heavily inspired by Paulo Freire’s critical pedagogy and his book “Pedagogy of the Oppressed”.