Nature’s Broken Clocks: Reimagining Time in the Face of Environmental Crisis

By Paul Huebener. University of Regina Press, 2020.

Nature’s Broken Clocks examines how cultural narratives of time are intimately connected to the challenges and disruptions of ecological time.

The environmental crisis is, in many ways, a crisis of time. From the distress cries of birds that no longer know when to migrate, to the rapid dying of coral reefs, to the quickening pace of extreme weather events, the patterns and timekeeping of the natural world are falling apart. We have broken nature’s clocks.

Lying hidden at the root of this problem are the cultural narratives that shape our actions and horizons of thought, but as Paul Huebener shows, we can bring about change by developing a critical literacy of time. Moving from circadian rhythms and the revival of ancient frozen bacteria to camping advertisements and the politics of oil pipelines, Nature’s Broken Clocks turns to works of fiction and poetry, examining how cultural narratives of time are connected to the problems of ecological collapse and what we might do to fix them.

“Urgent and profound, Nature’s Broken Clocks is essential reading for anyone interested in time and the environment.” —Nicholas Bradley, author of Rain Shadow

Nature’s Broken Clocks will inspire readers to reflect deeply on our manipulations of time, and on the impact of our shifting temporal imaginations and practices on the ecosphere.” —Sarah Wylie Krotz, Assistant Professor, Department of English and Film Studies, University of Alberta