The Climate of History: Four Theses

The current planetary crisis of climate change or global warming elicits a variety of responses in individuals, groups, and governments, ranging from denial, disconnect, and indifference to a spirit of engagement and activism of varying kinds and degrees.

These responses saturate our sense of the now. Alan Weisman’s best-selling book The World without Us sug- gests a thought experiment as a way of experiencing our present: “Suppose that the worst has happened. Human extinction is a fait accompli…. Picture a world from which we all suddenly vanished…. Might we have left some faint, enduring mark on the universe?…Isit possible that, instead of heaving a huge biological sigh of relief, the world without us would miss us?”

The Climate of History: Four Theses. Chakrabarty, D. Critical Inquiry, 35(2), 197–222. 2009.

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