2 December: ‘Of Flood and Ice’: a seminar with Cymene Howe and Dominic Boyer

Monday 2 December 2019, 3:30 – 5pm
Library at the Dock Performance Space, 107 Victoria Harbour Promenade, Docklands, VIC

Book here.

The melting of glaciers and ice sheets is accelerating, as is thermal expansion of the oceans, and these vectors together virtually guarantee that sea level rise by 2100 will meet or exceed the highest projections of UNFCCC scientists. Rising surface temperatures likewise guarantee new conditions of drought and flood, exacerbated by a slowing jet stream that will tend to stall weather systems in unpredictable ways. Our changing cryospheres and hydrospheres promise misery to millions across the planet. But they also reveal forms of material connectivity that could potentially be mobilized in the struggle against climate change and the petroculture that produced it.

In this presentation, we juxtapose Cymene Howe’s research on the loss of glaciers in Iceland with Dominic Boyer’s project on Houston area flood victims’ recovery from Hurricane Harvey to explore a concept we call “hydrological globalization:” the sociomaterial connections and cultural impacts that follow from the redistribution of water across the planet. We discuss in particular how glaciers are being reconceptualized as vulnerable beings and how Houstonians are coming to terms with the more common presence of floodwater. We introduce a new tool from NASA-JPL that allows us to better understand what specific glacial basins are contributing to sea level rise in the world’s coastal cities, allowing for a visualization of hydrological globalization in action. We close with reflections on the researchers’ recent initiative to install a memorial to the first major Icelandic glacier to be lost to climate change, Okjökull.

This seminar is supported by the Alfred Deakin Institute’s Culture, Environment and Science stream.