- ItemOpen AccessPessimism and the Anthropocene(Colorado State University. Libraries, 2023) Witlacil, Mary E., author; Macdonald, Bradley J., advisor; Daum, Courtenay W., committee member; Dickinson, Gregory, committee member; McIvor, David W., committee memberThis dissertation provides an intellectual history of critical pessimism in the twentieth century to develop a novel theory of ecopessimism sensitive to the challenges of the climate crisis. To theorize ecopessimism, I have considered pessimism alongside the critical philosophies of Friedrich Nietzsche, Michel Foucault, Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, and Walter Benjamin. By theorizing alongside post-foundationalist philosophers and critical theory, pessimism challenges monolithic concepts, suprahistorical narratives, and technological optimism. As well, pessimism invites us to be a part of this world and to see it as it truly is—for all its sinister violence, injustice, and misery—but also to relish in the beauty of existence without specific expectations. In this manner, and drawing on Nietzsche, pessimism is a life-affirming ethos of spontaneity, which aims to will differently, while being deeply attuned to suffering and injustice. Critical ecopessimism is a form of weak theory that emphasizes contingency and historical discontinuity. Furthermore, because pessimism engages with and accepts the possibility of worst-case scenarios, it provides the intellectual and political resources necessary to deal with environmental crisis, as well as the collective grief for all we stand to lose. Ecopessimism uses critique to cut through the outmoded narrative of progress, the cruelty of technological optimism and ecological modernization, as well as the eco-authoritarianism of the overpopulation alarmists. This dissertation theorizes a critical pessimism that asks us to expect nothing specific as the present dissolves into the future; beckons us to live as though the worst were possible and to live joyfully in the face of adversity; and calls us to be sensitive to the injustice and suffering of human and more-than-human others while being critically attentive to the world we have inherited.
- ItemOpen AccessTowards a dialectical account of eco-neurosis: developing a framework on the unconscious in an age of ecological degradation(Colorado State University. Libraries, 2023) Leal McCormack, Rudy, author; McIvor, David W., advisor; MacDonald, Bradley J., committee member; Fattor, Eric, committee member; Sbicca, Joshua, committee member; Moore, Jason W., committee memberIn 2019, the United Nations Climate Summit in New York described climate change as the defining issue of our time. In an age of climate volatility owing to over-production and over-consumption, capitalism's transformation of nature has developed negative environmental impacts and physical health concerns. At the same time, research in psychology and related fields is uncovering worrying mental effects due to the changing climate. The production of uncomfortable psychological effects now has a direct corollary with ecological doom; burgeoning labels for this occurrence are climate anxiety, eco-anxiety. The prefix "eco" in front of the names establishes that mental conditions can be related to environmental shifts or transformations, including climate change. I wish to contend with these initial conceptual names and say they are too narrow in focus. I am presenting the term "eco-neurosis." I do this for two reasons, one I use it as an umbrella concept for all forms of emotional discomforts and maladies due to climate change (e.g., grief, mourning, anxiety, depression, etc.) Second, while psychological literature has abandoned the use of neurosis, post-Freudian psychoanalysis provides strong historical precedent for the use of neurosis as a concept that indicates the political rumblings associated with the term. Thus, I claim that Eco-neurosis (EN) is a byproduct of a historical civilizational development in the form of climate change. In effect, climate change is not only altering "business as usual" but appears to be leaving a mark on the human psyche.
- ItemOpen AccessThe provisions and implementation of just transitions: lessons learned from Colorado's Just Transition(Colorado State University. Libraries, 2023) Aghababian, Sidra, author; Stevis, Dimitris, advisor; Scott, Ryan, committee member; Fremstad, Anders, committee memberAs the world progresses on a path towards decarbonization to achieve emission reduction and climate goals, the question of how to transition from fossil fuel energy sources arises. Transitions from fossil fuel energy sources have the potential to be "just" by addressing social and environmental justice implications. It is important to understand how to create and implement transitions that are "just". This work explores the provisions and implementations of Colorado's Just Transition Policy. Using qualitative analysis, it first examines and evaluates the goals or provisions of Colorado's Just Transition Policy. It then examines whether and how the implementation of the policy is weakening, reproducing, or strengthening these goals.
- ItemEmbargoPillars of stone or pillars of sand? An analysis of sustainability discourse in U.S. cities(Colorado State University. Libraries, 2023) Means, Morgann K. R., author; Opp, Susan, advisor; Duffy, Robert, committee member; McIvor, David, committee member; Carcasson, Martín, committee memberSustainability has emerged as a common governance paradigm in the United States, supplanting traditional top-down command-and-control regulations with a policy approach characterized by decentralization, municipal innovation, and the goal of ensuring that economic, environmental, and social systems function symbiotically. With institutional gridlock preventing comprehensive policy change at the national level coupled with state-by-state disparities in addressing environmental concerns, cities currently operate at the forefront of the sustainability movement. City governments have taken up the task of translating the broad precepts of sustainability into concrete policy decisions and planning trajectories. Despite its widespread adoption, the sustainability concept is as elusive as it is pervasive. While numerous cities throughout the United States have embraced sustainability as a guiding paradigm, the concept lacks an agreed-upon meaning and clear standards for practice. The recent rise of cities at the center of sustainability governance opens up numerous questions about how city officials navigate the definitional ambiguity of sustainability and integrate the core tenets of the concept into their planning frameworks. This dissertation contributes to a broader understanding of sustainable cities in the United States by analyzing three distinct, yet interrelated, aspects of municipal sustainability governance. First, through a content analysis of 200 U.S. cities, Chapter Two paints a picture of how cities conceptualize sustainability and the various factors (such as municipal demographics, structure of government, etc.) that correlate with a city's tendency to prioritize certain aspects of sustainability while deemphasizing others. Chapter Three builds upon this analysis by exploring the meaning of sustainability in disaster-vulnerable cities. Through both quantitative analysis and qualitative interview data, the chapter analyzes the nuances of policy change, issue definition, and the focal power of natural disasters in the sustainability domain. Chapter Four uses data from interviews conducted with city officials to examine the role of citizen participation in structuring the meaning of sustainability and the policy goals that cities incorporate under the sustainability umbrella. The core ideas from each of these chapters are discussed holistically in Chapter Five, which identifies how the findings from this dissertation provide empirical support for certain theories and assumptions related to sustainable cities, while challenging others. Taken as a whole, this dissertation finds significant variance in how cities conceptualize sustainability, shedding light on the contested meaning of the term. While the sustainability paradigm is often touted for its capacity to reduce tradeoffs between environmental protection, economic development, and social equity and to bring these three systems into a productive balance, this research shows that the meaning of sustainability is constructed situationally and that cities often prioritize only one or two pillars of the concept. Each chapter also sheds light on the nuances of issue definition and policy change in sustainable cities, including the catalytic impacts of natural disasters and the role that citizen participation plays in shaping cities' unique conceptualization of sustainability.
- ItemEmbargoWhere the wild things grow: an analysis of urban agriculture in U.S. cities(Colorado State University. Libraries, 2022) Jeffrey Crew, Nichola, author; Opp, Susan, advisor; Duffy, Robert, committee member; Saunders, Kyle, committee member; Seman, Michael, committee memberIndustrial agriculture produces approximately 24% of the global greenhouse gas emissions emitted annually and agricultural nonpoint source (NPS) pollution is a primary source of water quality degradation to inland and coastal waters, as well as a significant contributor to ground water pollution (EPA 2017; EPA 2022). In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2022, supermarket food prices have increased 8.6% in the United States and are expected to swell an additional 3 to 4% over the course of 2022 while producers' profit margins continue to grow, with net income increasing by 500% (USDA 2022). Food benefits distributed through the Federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) were threatened with proposed cuts of $4.2 billion during the Trump administration. While the Trump administration's cuts were eventually blocked by Federal courts and the American Rescue Plan of 2021 invested $12 billion to fight hunger, increasing food prices and stagnant wages place a larger burden on lower economic classes, increasing food justice and food security concerns. It's clear that alternatives to the industrial agricultural system are direly needed, and they are indeed actively being sought, primarily at the local level. Urban agriculture (UA) presents a potential avenue forward, especially to address the social equity concerns inherent in the industrial agriculture system. However, the extant literature on the subject lacks external validity and a comprehensive index of what efforts cities are employing to combat hunger, inequity, and environmental issues. This dissertation establishes a catalog that demonstrates the wide array of the means by which U.S. cities are pursuing, attending to, and integrating UA, particularly within the context of sustainability goals; why cities vary in their approach to UA; and how this compares to our understanding of local level sustainability efforts in the extant sustainability literature. To explore these questions the first chapter of this dissertation provides a comprehensive discussion of the UA and sustainability policy context and literature. The second chapter presents an index of municipal programs and policies to examine cities' activities related to UA, with the goal of painting a detailed portrait of the UA landscape in large U.S. cities. With this additive index, UA initiatives are catalogued and U.S. cities with populations over 200,000 are ranked accordingly. The third chapter employs quantitative methods to examine why cities' approaches to UA vary and what factors help explain this variation. This study pays particular attention to eight independent variables related to political ideology, percentage of Hispanic residents, population size and change, median home value, median household incomes, the presence of land grant universities, and adult diabetes rates. Subsequently, the fourth chapter of this research will turn its attention to examining specific cities, for a more comprehensive and qualitative understanding of what initiatives and programs individual cities are engaging in order to provide a richer, more textural, and meticulous understanding of individual cases. Finally, the fifth chapter concludes this research by highlighting key findings and what they mean for current understandings of sustainability initiatives at the municipal level, in addition to avenues for future research. This research finds that cities are engaging in a wide variety of innovative urban agriculture programs and policies and a vast majority are doing so in the name of sustainability. Many of the same factors that influence the likelihood of a city's pursuit of traditional sustainability policies, such as larger population size, political ideology, and increased wealth, also influence city engagement with UA. However, percentage of Hispanic residents demonstrates an effect contrary to what we would expect in the context of the sustainability literature. Overall, it's clear population size has a dominant effect on how aggressively a city pursues UA. Additionally, the case studies in Chapter Four highlight the importance of a city's relationship with local food policy groups and how participatory a relationship the city and community share regarding UA matters. This research contributes to our understanding of UA in the context of sustainability by providing insights into city attitudes toward UA, cataloging pertinent programs and policies, and offering preliminary explanations as to why cities vary in their efforts. Future research can build upon the foundations this dissertation presents and explore more specific aspects to further the extant literature.