The problem with environmentalism & conservationism on AEWCH 156 with science writer Michelle Nijhuis!

13 Jul

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Buy Michelle’s book, Beloved Beasts, and all the books mentioned on/related to this episode via my booklist for AEWCH 156 on sources from independent bookstores in the US, not a big corporate shipping warehouse where the workers are treated like machines. Plus when you click through here to order, the show gets a small affiliate kickback!


I’m very excited to share this episode with journalist and author of Beloved Beasts: Fighting For Life In An Age of Extinction, Michelle Nijhuis.


  • The tensions between environmentalism and conservationism (and why I’m more pro-conservationism)
  • Conservationism as globalization and/or a transformation of space
  • The need to erode the centralization of environmentalism
  • The need for science to be met with the social sciences and humanities
  • The death of the Earth
  • Conservation as a protection of possibility
  • The problem with “deadline mentality”
  • How Michelle talks about climate change with her daughter
  • What a non-materialist climate change would look like
  • The reason why “religion versus science” is almost a straw man argument
  • How the core of cryptozoology has become a mainstream conservationist message


• For more on Michelle, go to her website, which has an extensive listing of her (many!) article. And here’s Michelle’s discussion with Judith Lewis Mernit (about Jonathan Franzen’s essay, “Carbon Capture”) which captures the tensions between environmentalism and biodiversity quite well. Here’s her essay on the book about color that influenced Darwin.

Some episodes of AEWCH on science and the environment:

  • AEWCH 34 on how sex confronts materialism
  • AEWCH 82 on why we need to destroy the concept of nature
  • AEWCH 91 with microbiologist and geoscientist Lynn Margulis
  • AEWCH 113 with Duncan Laurie on the un-science of radionics
  • AEWCH 155 on Occult extinction

• When Michelle was talking about how we are bound to consume the environment, I kept thinking about the Friends theme-esque song “Someone Has To Die” by a band I love, The Maritime.

The Quagga Project is one of many initiatives to re-engineer species back from extinction. Sort of.

John Dupré‘s excellent essay, “Are Whales Fish?” appears in the anthology Folkbiology.

• Here are some notes on how Rachel Carson was deeply influenced by the work of Rudolf Steiner.

• “If we want to attain a living understanding of nature, we must become as living and flexible as nature herself.” -Goethe

Until next time, friends!

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