Confronting Collapse: Environmental Science at the End of the World

Michael Egan, McMaster University

This essay proposes a lens for examining the recent history of science as it pertains to the environmental crisis. I introduce the concept of “survival science” as an organizing tool for understanding the working worlds in which various sciences functioned during a period of intense environmental disruption. Survival science as I use it here brings together a series of historical practices that worked at the social boundaries of scientific work. Many of its practitioners (some are discussed below) recognized that the work in which they engaged functioned beyond the traditional interpretations of “pure” or “proper” science. I draw on survival science as an organizing tool to bring together various labels and to stress the social significance of survival as a new environmental imperative.

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