Climate Mathematics

  • Key MacFarlane University of California, Santa Cruz
Keywords: climate, mathematics, politics, algebra, fractals, geometry

Abstract

This essay is a critical response to Geoff Mann and Joel Wainwright’s (2018) Climate Leviathan. It focuses on the political alternative fleshed out towards the end of the book: “Climate X.” For Mann and Wainwright, X is a variable to “solve for.” I seek to take this seriously as a mathematical statement, exploring the extent to which a politics of Climate X can be considered algebraic, especially in light of Mann and Wainwright’s references to “fragments” in the work of Theodor Adorno and Walter Benjamin. The book’s algebraic approach, I argue, reduces the fragment (X), and politics along with it, to something numerable. From a different reading of Adorno and Benjamin, I show how two other fields of mathematics—set theory and fractal geometry—help address some of the pitfalls of Climate X, while pointing towards another climate politics that embraces deviation, infinity, and nothingness.

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Published
2019-09-12
How to Cite
MacFarlane, Key. 2019. “Climate Mathematics”. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies 18 (4), 803-15. https://acme-journal.org/index.php/acme/article/view/1719.
Section
Interventions