the air we breathe

December 4, 2012


“the discovery of the ‘environment’ took place in the trenches of World War I. Soldiers on both sides had rendered themselves inaccessible to the bullets and explosives intended for them that the problem of atmospheric war could not but become pressing.” (Sloterdijk. 2009, p.18)

The twentieth century “ecologised” war. Subterranean defence encouraged atmospheric offense which for the first time instead of aiming at soldiers and their emplacements, targeted the air surrounding the enemy body, blurring the notion of a ‘hit’. During times of war, soldiers were of an opposing nation, spoke another language and dressed in a different uniform. In times of peace, ‘soldiers’ moved on multiple pairs of legs, and flew unassisted through the skies under guises of moths, rats and lice.

This “chemical war” – an attack on the enemy’s primary, ecologically dependent vital functions; respiration, central nervous regulations, and sustainable temperature and radiation conditions, is in fact the transition from classical warfare to terrorism.

“terror operates on a level beyond the naive exchange of armed blows between regular troops; it involves replacing these classical forms of battle with assaults on the environmental conditions of the enemy’s life”

Despite the saturation of terrorism in media, the world is at large a peaceful environment – between humans. Reluctant however to dismiss knowledge, we have normalised “atmosterrorism” on the global agricultural stage; crop dusting, insecticides, monoculture farming, all with an acknowledgment of environment and atmosphere but short of an understanding.

– Jordan Lane Peter Sloterdijk, ‘Gas Warfare–or: The Atmoterrorist Model, in Terror From the Air, LA: Semiotext(e), 2009.


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