Climate crisis and the actuarial imaginary: 'the war on global warming'

New Formations - ISSN 0950-2378
Volume 2009 Number 69

Climate crisis and the actuarial imaginary: 'the war on global warming'
Brett Neilsen, Ben Dibbley pages -


Has there ever been a climate crisis? Or an economic crisis? This paper critically interrogates the proposition that the present is a time of crisis. Focusing on mobilisations against climate change, we ask how this vision calls forth regimes of risk that walk the line between danger and opportunity, protection and profit. To tease out these logics of risk and investigate how they imply particular modes of governance and subjectivation, the paper introduces the concept of the actuarial imaginary. This holds in a single optic the calculative rationalities of risk and the affective atmosphere they generate. From this perspective we interrogate the prevalent claim that action against global warming requires a war footing. The strategies of security and securitisation mobilised to address climate change demand an analysis that refers, on the one hand, to the pre-emptive logic of the war on terror, and, on the other, to the global economic meltdown. Any struggle to reclaim the terrestrial commons must, by contrast, proceed on the recognition that these strategies involve processes of enclosure, whether predicated on the absolute rent of primitive accumulation or the relative rent of finance capital.

SORRY - you are not registered as being permitted online access to the full text of this article

You have the following options:

  1. If you are viewing this via an institution or academic library you can ask that your institution takes out a Subscription to this journal.
  2. If you already have a Personal Subscription please login below

    Forgotten your username / password? Click here to locate

  3. Purchase an annual Personal Subscription
    PRINT + DIGITAL personal subscription (£45 / year)
    DIGITAL personal subscription (£30 / year)
    A Personal Subscription provides immediate access not only to the single article you are seeking, but also to all past and future articles in this journal up to the expiry of your annual (calendar year) subscription.
  4. Purchase immediate access to this single article (UK£7.00) - Buy article Coming Soon

To cite this article
Brett Neilsen, Ben Dibbley (2009) Climate crisis and the actuarial imaginary: 'the war on global warming', New Formations, 2009(69), -

Share this