John Tresch at Public Books:
In Facing Gaia: Eight Lectures on the New Climate Regime, Bruno Latour aims to reintroduce us to our own planet. The Earth emerges as a bizarre and unfamiliar presence, dimly glimpsed but exerting a colossal and uncertain pressure on all our actions. Though its unpredictable effects promise no meaning or redemption, this alien power forces our attention to the immediacy of terrestrial life.
Latour’s work has set the pace for science and technology studies since his ethnographies of laboratories in the 1980s and 90s; since We Have Never Been Modern, he has upended received wisdom about the bond between science and progress, challenged academic habits of critique, and inspired radical approaches to objects and ontologies across the social sciences and humanities. The concern for ecology that runs throughout these works takes center stage in these much-awaited lectures, pushed forward by what Isabelle Stengers calls the “intrusion of Gaia”—the catastrophic fits of an Earth whose tolerance has been exceeded.1
Human-caused climate change reawakens an apocalyptic sensibility, altering everything we do, think, and feel, whether we acknowledge it or not. “We have become the people who could have acted thirty or forty years ago – and did nothing, or far too little.”