Techno-Utopianism and the Fate of the Earth

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates

If you are reading this, you probably missed the coming together of the world's leading miserabilists in New York at the weekend.  Never, mind, think of all the carbon the world saved by your not going, and the tedium you were spared.  Here's the programme, anyway.

And here's Mark Lynas on:

"... the rank hypocrisy of well-fed intellectuals flying in from all over the world to bemoan the march of technology.  I mean, where do even you start on all the ironies?  The fact that it’s promoted on the web?  That no-one is coming by horse?  That Vandana Shiva might have missed the party had she had to row over from India in a canoe?  That electricity will no doubt be an essential part of the logistics of the proceedings? ..."

It reminds be of a bloke I saw on South African TV during the 2002 Earth Summit.  He'd flown down to Jo'burg from Lagos just to bemoan the world's use of oil.  Well behind irony.

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates


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  • Just put the Lynas piece up on the Facebook for discussion. Should be a good time! Here are my initial comments on the piece:

    "I'm sympathetic to the anti-technologist stance, but only to a point. That's a brutal life in a lot of ways and I'm not comfortable telling people we should "go back" to it. I think environmentalists romanticize it too much in their discourse, especially around farming.

    But I also think that industrialized consumption and its implications within so-called "developed" countries is a first order problem. Eco-modernists like Lynas would have us believe that we can have our cake and eat it too through technologic innovation. I've looked at these numbers, especially around energy production, and I don't see how it works out at current levels of consumption. Someone's going to take a haircut here. Eco-modernists ignore that at their peril.

    So, while this probably isn't helpful - although it is familiar territory - I guess I'm sympathetic to both stances. I think we'll need to continue to innovate while also looking at which practices are no longer sustainable. That's going to be a political process, and in that sense there's nothing new here for it's really a political tension between conservatism and progressivism."

    FWIW Bill, this was the exact tension that I mined in my dissertation work. I wasn't sure what to do with it then, and I'm not now either. So it goes.