Journeys through the Offset World: Global Travel Narratives and Environmental Crisis


Environmentalist thought, at first glance, seems to have found more successful and less problematic ways of representing worldwide systems. After all, the image of the planet as a whole, exemplified by the Earthrise and Blue Planet photographs of Earth seen from outer space, became symbols of the emergent environmentalist movement soon after the Apollo 8 and 17 missions had made them public. The slogan “Think globally, act locally,” coined by René Dubos in 1970, similarly summed up environmentalists’ commitment to a vision of planetary connectedness, as did Kenneth Boulding and Buckminster Fuller’s metaphor of “Spaceship Earth.” At the same time, seminal books such as Paul Ehrlich’s The Population Bomb (1968) and the Meadows’ report on The Limits to Growth (1972) sketched highly publicized scenarios of global disaster if rapid action were not taken to remedy environmental problems. Yet closer analysis shows that the representation of global networks remains an unfinished task even in environmentalist thought, art, and literature.

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