Environmental action is plagued by an underlying fear. This fear, which often remains unspoken, is that we have already gone past a point of no return, that even the most stringent action could not prevent irreversible changes in climate that would make our planet uninhabitable for humans and for countless other forms of life. In his latest book, Facing the Planetary: Entangled Humanism and the Politics of Swarming (2017), William Connolly—Krieger-Eisenhower Professor and teacher of political theory in John Hopkins University’s political science department—addresses the dread of this “tragic possibility” (149) and, crucially, the dangerous inaction that results from such a fear.

Four years after Connolly identified how neoliberalism dangerously aggravates the fragility inherent in self-organizing ecologies in The Fragility of Things (2013), he rejoins the debate with a pluralist manifesto for practical action. The text combines scientific knowledge of planetary processes with theoretical...

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