Book Talk
Climate Leviathan
by Kathryn Nicolai ’20 and Sherri Kimmel
Joel Wainwright ’95 is a geographer by trade, but one who dove deeply into the classic foundational texts of Western political philosophy to develop a political theory that addresses the challenges of resolving climate change. The result is Climate Leviathan.
Joel Wainwright author headshot
Photo: Ohio State University
Joel Wainwright’s book grew out of a talk he gave at Bucknell.
Wainwright, an associate professor at Ohio State University, and his co-author, Geoff Mann, director of the Centre for Global Political Economy at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, make their living by teaching geography, but they read Hobbes, Locke, Hegel and Marx to inform their writing, because they didn’t feel there was a coherent political theory undergirding efforts to rein in global climate emissions.
Their term “climate Leviathan” is a takeoff on Thomas Hobbes’ 17th-century political treatise, Leviathan, written during a time of social change. Says the environmental studies major, “Geoff and I are thinking in a manner akin to Hobbes. We’re looking around the planet and seeing that the order we’re living in is wracked by major problems, ones that the current order doesn’t seem capable of resolving.”
According to Wainwright, governments and institutions have failed to create a global response to climate change. “The two main groups who are suffering the consequences are poor people and the children, great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren yet to come,” he says. “They don’t have a say in how we respond. The wealthy and powerful people of the world today hold all the cards. That’s why we need to step back and ask some radical, fundamental questions and look at things differently.”
Five years ago Wainwright returned to Bucknell for a geography department forum. “The title of my talk was ‘Climate Leviathan.’ It was the first public version of the argument Geoff and I had worked out. The Bucknell impression lies deeply in the book. My two most influential teachers, Ben Marsh and Paul Susman, didn’t just teach about environmental issues, they did so with a historically minded and philosophially grounded analysis that I hope is exemplified in our book.”
Climate Leviathan: A Political Theory of Our Planetary Future. Joel Wainwright ’95 and Geoff Mann (Verso, 2018)
Joe Scapellato (English)
Big Lonesome (Mariner Books, 2017)
This collection of 25 short stories conjures worlds, themes and characters who are at once unquestionably familiar and undeniably strange. Scapellato navigates the history of the American West exploring place, myth, masculinity and what it means to be whole or broken.

James Mark Shields (comparative humanities and Asian thought)
Against Harmony: Progressive and Radical Buddhism in Modern Japan (Oxford University Press, 2017)
Shields explores how progressive and radical Buddhism during the late 19th and early 20th century shaped modern Japan, providing a historical and contextual overview of the primary figures and movements, and examining the interconnection between Buddhist ideas and broader intellectual currents.

Alumni Books
Matt McCormick ’90
The Prototype (self-published, 2018)
New guy at Advanced Research Technologies Robert Dulaney gets drawn into a high-stakes spiral of cyber espionage, murder and mayhem, as his employer races to beat foreign competitors to market with their solar power storage prototype. McCormick drew on his 20 years in programming and cyber intelligence to craft this thriller.

Jon Methven ’96
Therapy Mammals (Rare Bird Books, 2018)
Told from the perspective of unreliable narrator Tom “Pisser” Pistilini, the Patrick Bateman of the private school community, Therapy Mammals is the story of the lengths one father will go to protect his children, his marriage and his worthiness. The novel is in an intriguing romp through modern parenthood navigating class privilege, digital media, hacker culture and gun violence.