technological project that could be completed to respond to that threat,
and a presumably sane and rational figure who could be relied upon not to
choose annihilation. Climate change undercuts these certainties at every
turn. It gives us a scenario loaded with paradoxes and contradictions, one
that seems to complicate the necessary urgency several times over.
If this quick, cursory look at our place within the history of the mod-
ern world teaches us much, it tells us at least that the terrors of the past
few centuries, along with their apparent moral certitudes, have not pre-
pared us for the present moment. Climate change ushers us into a truly
new era. Living with climate change throws us out of our familiar narra-
tives: it tells us that we have not surpassed the violence of the past and
that the apparent guarantees under which we live may be illusions. As we
live in the shadow of future devastation, the biter taste of what may even-
tually transpire invades our daily lives, giving us the uncanny sense that
our ordinary actions are accompanied by the trauma to come. Climate
change also cracks open the tale of the willed, instantaneous death of
nuclear annihilation, for it constitutes an event that finishes off one way
of life while leting us live on in a disaster that takes generations, if not
centuries, to unfold. It is as grave a threat to the Earth and its people as
any before it, yet it is less understood, less amenable to our control, and
more difficult to prevent. As this prospect weighs on us, it splits our real-
ity to the core, forcing us to live at once with and against our ordinary
lives, to cherish what we must also change. Our challenge today is to bear
up under all these difficulties nevertheless, to do what must be done, and
in defiance of the long odds, to sustain as habitable a planet as we can for
ourselves and for those to follow.
109. Mike Davis, Late Victorian Holocausts: El Niño Famines and the Making of the
Third World (New York: Verso, 2001).
110. On the genocide in South West Africa, see David Olusoga and Casper W.
Erichsen, he Kaiser's Holocaust: Germany's Forgoten Genocide (London: Faber
and Faber, 2010).
111. Although many observers use the word “genocide” regarding the events in
Darfur, it may not be the best term to capture the complexity of the violence