Related terms: Common, Composition, Compost, Critical Zone, Earthbound, Fragility, Heimat (German), Refuge, Umwelt (German)
The term »terrestrial« tries to capture the general trend toward the Earth that has marked the beginning of the twenty-first century. Political ecology tried to interest people in the fate of »nature«. But »nature«, by definition, is exterior to society and doesn’t enter easily into a political agenda. Another word is necessary to target the goal of landing somewhere after a few centuries of emancipation away from the Earth, toward the infinity of progress. But for the beings who live on it, Earth is not a planet viewed from out in infinite space, as one celestial body among all the others. It is much too specific, much too unique, and it is also much more material and »earthly«. The strange thing is that all industrial societies are discovering at the same time that they know very little about the fragile and restricted conditions of the habitability of the Earth. »Terrestrial« is the name of their surprise and anxiety.
[This entry is a contribution by Bruno Latour to the Glossolalia.]