By now you have probably read about the so-called “tech backlash.” Facebook and other social media have undermined what’s left of the illusion of democracy, while smartphones damage young brains and erode the nature of discourse in the family. Meanwhile computers and other gadgets have diminished our attention spans along with our ever-failing connection to reality. The … Read more
My feeling on the contrary is that only by properly inhabiting that romance and re-enchanting the relationship between people and land as a precious food-giving resource will the problems George identifies be solvable.
It’s futile to argue with a fantasy but, even if driverless cars could become widespread, why would I want more technology when all I need is denser, car-free, walkable cities where jobs, goods and services are closer together?
A critical approach to utopian imaginaries is essential for any rethinking of political futures; without it, we risk being trapped in the same old stories even as we see ourselves as thinking outside the old story box.
I believe Pinker’s mechanical understanding of environmental problems in the age of climate change and massive species loss to be irresponsible. We need to counter Pinker’s view with a broader understanding of what our relationship to nature and to each other has been within the context of Western “progress.”
The god term I have in mind is, of course, “innovation.” The word derives from the Latin innovare, which means “to renew” or “to restore.” In everyday speech the word has come to mean something like: the activity of bringing new things into being that will generate sweeping renewal throughout the world.
The messages of the techno-optimists are both deceptive and dangerous as it makes people believe that most problems can be solved by technological innovation which in turn make them passive in the political, social and economic arena.
Technocornucopians see the world of the future as a great 3D printer with an unlimited supply reservoir.
From a degrowth perspective, technology is not viewed as a magical savior since many technologies actually accelerate environmental decline.
When talking about the perils of climate change or resource depletion, soil degradation or fisheries collapse, water pollution or nuclear waste–how annoying it is to have one listener respond dismissively, "They’ll figure something out. They always have."
From Berlin, top enviro journalist Christian Schwagerl on his controversial new book The Anthropocene: The Human Era and How It Shapes Our Planet. Then two eco-feminists, Charlene Spratnak and Susan Griffin on "Techno-Utopianism and the Fate of the Earth."
One of the wry amusements to be had from writing a blog that routinely contradicts the conventional wisdom of our time is the way that defenders of that same conventional wisdom tend to react. You might think that those who are repeating what most people believe would take advantage of that fact, and present themselves as the voice of the majority, speaking for the collective consensus of our time. In the nearly seven years since I started this blog, though, the number of times that’s happened can be counted neatly on the fingers of one foot.