Gary Patton on Environmental Activism

I speak with Gary Patton about environmental activism and how to make a difference.  Gary is an environmentalist extraordinaire: he was elected to the Santa Cruz Board of Supervisors when he was 29 years old and has fought for many important issues since then as a political representative, environmental attorney, and educator.   He publishes a blog and radio podcast, and is unafraid to think Big Ideas.  We talk about the importance of local politics and community activism, whether it’s best to create change from within or without, and how to engage more people in the political process.  Have a listen.

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The Alien Has Landed: Karl Marx on Nature

After our interview with Steve Vogel, he emailed us a copy of a chapter he wrote called “Alienation and the Commons” from the book Ethical Adaptation to Climate Change.  This followed up on a point he made during the interview: that there is a similarity between nature-as-other and “the market.”  It was a powerful idea and one that I was eager to investigate further.

Briefly: Marx thought that capitalism alienated people from the products of their labor.  While the things we produce are social products – created by us and countless other people – we see instead “facts” over which we have no control.

Similarly, when we fail to see the extent to which our environment is human-built, and see instead “nature”, we are experiencing alienation from our individual and collective actions.  Vogel writes:

For Marx, then, the appearance of nature is itself a symptom of alienation.

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Audio interview: Steven Vogel

Following up on an earlier post, Matt Leudtke and I interviewed Professor Steven Vogel about his article “The Nature of Artifacts.”

Professor Vogel says, “nature, shmature,” Matt compares Vogel to an old man telling riddles, and Zach’s mind is blown – live, on radio – by a comparison between wilderness and the free market.  Oh, and Matt’s dog makes an appearance as a natural object/artifact/you decide.

Enjoy the ideas, and please comment below.  Background music from composer Chris Zabriskie.