A professor from WIU-QC will discuss “Our Spaceship Earth”

Like many college professors, Everett Hamner, professor of English at Western Illinois University-Quad Cities in Moline, is concerned with the big issues affecting humanity.

He certainly has an important topic – climate change – which he will address on Thursday, October 6 at 4 p.m. in his presentation, “Welcome to Spaceship Earth” at WIU-QC’s Riverfront Hall (Room 111), 3300 River Drive, Moline. If you cannot make it to the conference in person, you can join via Zoom at http://wiu.zoom.us/j95633191005.

Hamner teaches 20th and 21st century American literature and film; Science, health and culture (especially climate and biotechnology); Religion, spirituality and post-secularism. He got his doctorate. at the University of Iowa after a master’s degree at Johns Hopkins and Regent College (Vancouver, BC)

For Thursday’s talk, Hamner filmed in WQPT’s on-campus studio and edited in the style of a TV show like HBO’s “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.”

Following this 35-minute video presentation, there will be an in-person Q&A session which he will lead, both available via Zoom. He named his talk “Welcome to Spaceship Earth”, because we all ride on this planet and are responsible for it.

“I want us to better understand where we are as passengers of what is literally a spacecraft, which is deeply dependent on environmental controls, life support systems that are destroyed by a relatively small group of people on board this ship. ,” Hamner said Tuesday.

He will criticize the fossil fuel industry for contributing to global warming and destructive climate change.

“One of the things that’s crucial for me to do is invite people to discuss not just the facts, but also the stories that we imagine living with them,” Hamner said. “And to highlight how the fossil fuel industry is trying to make us live a story through its propaganda.

“Imagine being in a situation where we can afford to just continue business as usual, maybe a few, what they call green shifts, what I call greenwashing,” a- he declared. “And instead, what I want to give people is a story that’s much more integrated with science fact.”

But it’s not a single story, but many diverse stories, including movies, Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning literature, young adult fiction, comics, and video games.

Make a difference alone and together

Hamner will try to empower people to make a difference individually and collectively.

The oil and gas industries, with their powerful lobbyists, have been lying to politicians and the public for decades, he said.

Smoke rises from a fire near a logging area in the region of the Transamazonica highway, in the municipality of Humaita, Amazonas state, Brazil, September 17, 2022. Brazil has a major role to play in tackling climate change as home to the world’s largest rainforest, but after the Sunday October 2 election the subject is less likely to come up than ever. (AP Photo/Edmar Barros, File)

“Their goal is to evade all regulations for the benefit of an extremely small number of people,” Hamner said. “We must understand that all the personal choices we individually make in the world will not be close enough, if we do not include among them demanding that those in power act responsibly and evade grip of the club of ultra-rich billionaires.

Among the pop culture references he will discuss are the Netflix movie “Don’t Look Up,” the Paul Schrader movie “First Reformed,” and an Icelandic-Ukrainian collaborative film from a few years ago called “Woman At War”. ”

The cover of “Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands”, by Kate Beaton.

“There are several other films that I will share excerpts from,” Hamner said, noting among other recent things a new comedic memoir titled “Ducks,” set in the Canadian tar sands, exploring the “rape of our planet.” he declared. This term is “appropriate when you look carefully at what is happening and the consequences for all of us”.

Not just another problem

Unfortunately, many people see environmental issues as one of many problems in the world, Hamner said.

“There’s racism, there’s fascism, there’s corruption in government – and the list goes on and they just add the environment to that list,” he said. “One of my goals is to let these stories invite people to understand that our spacecraft’s life control systems are fundamental to absolutely every other issue that concerns them and shapes their lives.”

There are studies that show our responses to climate destruction, that stories and our imagined sense of personal character in those stories shape our decision-making just as much – if not much more – than the known facts on the ground, said Hammer.

Orange County Fire Rescue first responders use an inflatable boat to rescue a resident of a home in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Orlando, Florida. Climate change added at least 10% more rain to Hurricane Ian, a study prepared immediately after the storm shows. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

“We can appeal to those facts to justify our decisions, but the decisions themselves are much more driven by our sense of who our people are – what is our history that we are a part of,” he said. “Those we are open to listening to; the facts we are able to actually encounter and hear often depend on the story we think we are part of.

Everything from commercials to television, movies, video games and social media shapes our sense of who we are and the history in which we live, Hamner said. “And I try to make my audience a little more aware.”

The October 6 conference aims to challenge and encourage people “to recognize that they are not as alone as they think”, he said. “We’re constantly told this is a niche issue and polls show that a huge and overwhelming number of Americans – including Republicans, not just Democrats – want clean energy. They want to deal with threats that they are taking more and more seriously.

The number of people alarmed by what they hear about climate change continues to rise, Hamner said.

There will be a series of follow-up conversations at WIU, and how the institution can take this more seriously in everything it does and teaches.

“One of my beliefs is that it’s less about setting up a completely separate dimension of our society’s attention,” Hamner said. “It’s more about getting all the organizations – whether they focus on global refugee issues, on poverty around the world and in the Quad Cities, or whether they focus on racial tensions.”

The increasing incidence of scorching and sustained temperatures, frequent floods, storms, hurricanes, forest fires, etc. results from climate change and the growing influence of big oil companies, which matters to every organization, he said.

“How can we relate better, so we’re all working together here?” Hamner asked. Nor can the public leave the solutions to the younger generation.

“It’s so pressing – on the one hand hard to think about, because it’s abstract and unfolding slowly, a slow urgency,” he said. “It’s a problem for everyone right now. There’s so many stories out there that just say, well, the kids are going to fix it and it’s awful and that’s not an excuse that can be granted.

Discussion on the upcoming Holocaust

Hamner is also set to host an in-depth discussion on Art Spiegelman’s Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel “Maus” on Monday, Oct. 10 at 6 p.m. at the Rock Island Public Library, 401 19.e St.

The cover of the Pulitzer-winning graphic novel, “Maus.”

If you need a copy of this book before the event, go to the downtown library reference desk to get a copy. Copies are available while supplies last.

Serialized from 1980 to 1991, “Maus” depicts Spiegelman interviewing his father about his experiences as a Polish Jew and Holocaust survivor. The artwork depicts the Jews as mice, the Germans as cats, the Poles as pigs, the Americans as dogs, the British as fish, the French as frogs, and the Swedes as of reindeer.

In 1992, it became the first and so far only graphic novel to win a Pulitzer Prize (the Special Prize in Letters). The October 10 event is in partnership with the QC community-wide project, “Out of Darkness: Holocaust Messages for Today.”

For more information on this series, click HERE.


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