Thursday, 16 April 2015

Ecomodernism?

The ecomodernist manifesto.

Interesting. Their basic story is: technological progress is good for the environment - it makes us less dependent on it. The idea seems similar to the environmental Kuznets curve.

Here is a more gloomy point of view. Suppose that we have become less dependent on all ecosystems except one (fossil fuel extraction). Then, society has stopped damaging the environment in many ways, like deforestation, killing large mammals, nitrogen fertilizer; but it is doing more damage in one or two big, planet-sized ways – global warming and maybe ocean acidification.

It's like the Pinker/Taleb argument about violence: there are less murders than 500 years ago; but the chance of nuclear holocaust has increased. Or like financial products: they may help decrease individual risk exposure, but simultaneously increase the risk of big systemic crashes.

In other words, some social processes have the feature that they put all our risks into one basket. This looks like a reduction in risk – until the "big one" hits. Technological progress might be like that.

Just a possibility to consider! By the way, the manifesto does specifically address global warming, and argues that nuclear power is the only currently viable solution.