2009 volume 27(6) pages 1010 – 1029

Cite as:
Yusoff K, 2009, "Excess, catastrophe, and climate change" Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 27(6) 1010 – 1029

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Excess, catastrophe, and climate change

Kathryn Yusoff

Received 24 August 2007; in revised form 19 March 2008; published online 26 October 2009

Abstract. This paper seeks to give expression to notions of excess within economies of climate change. The paper begins by addressing the dominance of scientific modelling in the scientific and political constructions of climate change manifested through general circulation models and scientific visualisation. Considering this ‘digital earth’, the paper further investigates how the unit-based accumulation of earth data has actively secured the production of political responses that have both emulated and reinstated a model of accounting (such as the Stern Review and carbon trading). Considering the rendering of digital earth as a specific assemblage of globalisation produced through digitalisation, I argue that the digital realm is productive of its own forms of excess (expressed in aesthetics and globalism). I suggest how this excessive globality reveals its own fragmentation through negative presentation. Drawing from Georges Bataille’s notion of expenditure and Maurice Blanchot’s writing of the disaster I seek to describe a terrain of knowledge and loss that breaks with this aforementioned circuit of accounting, and instead considers another kind of relation (Bataille’s concept of expenditure) to account for the wasting of the world. The paper concludes with a Bataillean ‘sketch’ to consider how this excess may be recuperated as an emergent ethic within the disaster yet to come.

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