Comments Disabled; Reply to Pete Morris

Dear Readers,

After much consideration, I have decided to disable the comments section (Disqus) on GeoCurrents. Relatively few constructive and engaging comments are received, minimizing the utility of the function. I also find the occasional insults from offended readers quite dispiriting, especially when they focus on something that I have merely quoted rather than advocated. Readers who want to engage in serious discussion about GeoCurrents posts are welcome to email me at mwlewis@stanford.edu.

Just before disabling Disqus, however, I received a constructive comment from Pete Morris, which deserves a response. His comments are in italics, and my answers follow.

  1. What is the status of your other book project on geopolitics and the idea of the nation-state? I very much enjoyed the early excerpts you published here.

Unfortunately, this is another abandoned project. The more I worked on it, the larger it became, and eventually the whole project was out of control. The topic is so large, and the relevant scholarly literature so vast, that I lost motivation. I have also lost my desire to write anything that requires payment to read and that necessitates dealing with editors and publishers. I have realized that I like preparing and giving lectures much more than writing texts. As I am now retired, I am going to focus on what I most enjoy doing. That includes some blog-writing but more in the way of lectures – as well as vegetable gardening, traveling, and playing with my grandchildren!

  1. On the subject of environmental politics, what do you see as the promise of, and limitations of, ecomodernism? And how should we understand the work of Vaclav Smil, a geographer who seems to be on the margins of academic Geography, and an eternal skeptic when it comes to stories of ecomodernist optimism? I read Smil, and he seems almost Malthusian at times–not because he’s particularly worried about population growth but because he seems to embody geography as the new “dismal science”. To Smil’s credit, though, he also is skeptical toward today’s popular attitudes of eco-catastrophism, where the truly dismal, neo-Malthusian ideas about degrowth come from. Perhaps these are addressed in your essays, but I’m curious to hear your thoughts.

Excellent points and questions. I recount my disillusionment with ecomodernism in the second essay that I have posted on this website. I still find it preferably to any other form of environmental philosophy, but I do have some serious misgivings about “modernism.” I did not address Vaclav Smil directly in either of these essays. I greatly value and respect his work – although he does seem at times a little too skeptical. But it has been a while since I have read any of his works, and perhaps I should revisit them.  Many thanks for your comments!