ISSUE 4 (OCTOBER - DECEMBER) 2016
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HUMANITIES SCIENCE POLITICS
Science, People & Politics ISSN 1751-598x, 25th November, 2016. 18.00 GMT
ANTHRPOCENE FEATURE | 20
"... we affirm one long-standing environmental ideal, that humanity
must shrink its impacts on the environment to make more room for na-
ture, while we reject another, that human societies must harmonize with
nature to avoid economic and ecological collapse."
The manifesto says our salvation in the anthropocene lies in nuclear
power rather than landscapes covered in wind farms; in intensive agri-
culture rather than organic farming; and urban living rather than rural
idyll. It requires wearing polyester rather than cotton, eating farmed
fish rather than trawling the oceans, and living at high densities so
nature can prosper beyond the city limits. By doing so we can occupy
less space and give much of it back to what one guru of ecomodernism,
Jesse Ausubel of Rockefeller University in New York, calls the "great
restoration" of nature.
Dystopian environmentalists ask how many people the planet can
sustain. Their unwritten answer is that we are already beyond the
planet's "carrying capacity". But ecomodernists argue the planet has no
fixed carrying capacity, because technology is not fixed. Neolithic
toolmaking and the first farmers both transformed how many humans
the planet could support. So while the industrial revolution pushed our
relationship with natural resources off balance, the way to restore that
balance is by embracing technology not rejecting it.
The building blocks of this future are not rocket science. In much of the
rich world we have already reached "peak stuff". That is, each individual
requires less land, less nitrogen fertiliser and less water to grow their
food than did their parents. We consume less metal and other materials,
while recycling more. Even our carbon emissions are falling as energy
efficiency improves and low-carbon energy sources are adopted. "The
total human impact on the environment... can peak and decline this
century", the ecomodernist manifesto argues.
Some say that even if each individual can reduce his or her planetary
footprint we are still doomed by rising human numbers. Yet even here
there is hope. The population bomb is being defused. Women today are
having half as many children as their grandmothers did. The global
Continued on page 21...
Issue 4 (October - December), 2016. Volume VII. Science, People & Politics ISSN 1751-598x.
Published Friday 25th November, 2016
A print version would additionally have two blank pages, so this version is not routinely for sale as print, unless really wanted.
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