Particle ‘atmopolitics’

Just read a great article in the New Scientist on the geopolitics of air pollution. The article shows how microscopic small of airborne particles can cause a major and highly complex international health crisis.

 “22 per cent of air-pollution-related premature deaths in 2007 were associated with goods and services produced in one country and consumed in another… Emissions from east Asia can make their way across the Pacific Ocean on atmospheric currents… That’s the penalty of living in a world that shares air”

I have recently written a piece in Borderlands on China’s “War on the Air” (available as PDF from their website) in which I attempt to argue that the air is an actively political medium.

The paper argues that the [Chinese] state’s historical dependency on economic growth is propelling attempts to keep the air ‘breathable’ and the weather ‘controllable’ so as to maintain social stability. The air has subsequently started to function as a calculable extension of state interests. Climate change and particle pollution are not presented, framed or perceived as a problem of existing politics but rather as a challenge to it. This paper will especially look at the state’s infamous weather modification programme and the way it governs air pollution. I finish the paper by arguing for the possibility of thinking about a different politics of the air as a means to challenge ideas that accept the air as a passive medium of state interest.


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