The theories of the relation between risk and modernity proposed

by Perrow, Hughes, Giddens, and Beck, among others, foreground

how experiences of risk are imbricated in far-flung ecological,

technological, economic, and social systems that operate

across a variety of scales from the local to the planetary.1 Beck’s

concept of the “world risk society,” indeed, represents one of

the most important recent ways of imagining the global from an

environmentalist perspective.2 Lawrence Buell has gone so far as

to envision Beck as the latter-day counterpart of James Lovelock, in

that Beck turns Lovelock’s theory of Planet Earth as a self-sustaining,

harmoniously balanced feedback system upside down into a theory

of a world thrown permanently off-balance by the unintended and

uncontrollable consequences of technological development.3