Hamilton says “I think those who argue for the “good Anthropocene” are unscientific and live in a fantasy world of their own construction.”
Revkin often drives me crazy but I expect I will come down firmly on his side on this one.
Well, I watched Revkin’s whole hour, and he is a bit self-congratulatory for my taste. He offers homilies as opposed to strategies.
But as far as he goes, it all seems reasonable. The main thing I could object to is his downplaying of “numbers”, but he somewhat makes up for it in his plea for discipline, which of course will bring numbers right back into it.
I wish he would stop talking up Kahan, and I wish he’d stop thinking he is a musician worthy of public note. But these are quibbles.
I totally agree with his “reveal” pitch, which the badly filmed video, ignoring his images, ironically buried.
But nobody seems to be addressing the actual content of the talk. There is some irritation about the generally optimistic feeling of it, and indeed as a public address it is light on consequences, but this is intended for us sustainability obsessives, not for the public, and as such I fail to see the concern.
No the argument is whether it is permissible to juxtapose the words “good” and “anthropocene”. But “good” is such a vague word that objecting to it seems to me a very weak posture. Indeed, in his Dot Earth piece he mentions that he is using ‘good’ in an ethical sense, not in a sense of outcomes. He says
I was invited to give the opening talk, which I called “Paths to a ‘Good’ Anthropocene” — with quotation marks around the adjective “good” to stress that values determine choices:
Not only do I entirely agree that we can have an ethically ‘good’ future, I also believe that we can have an actually ‘good’ future in terms of dignity, sustainability and joy. Some say it is automatic, and we should just eschew meddling with the corporate economy which will inevitably deliver left to its devices. I don’t believe that for a minute. A good outcome will require a lot of work and a fair amount of courage. But if I thought it was out of reach, I’d go all doomer and hide in a cave.
What motivates me to keep going is the following by Bruce Sterling:
Our capacities are tremendous. Eventually, it is within our technical ability to create factories that clean the air as they work, cars that give off drinkable water, industry that creates parks instead of dumps, or even monitoring systems that allow nature to thrive in our cities, neighborhoods, lawns and homes. An industry that is not just “sustainable,” but enhances the world. The natural world should be better for our efforts and our ingenuity. It’s not too much to ask.
You and I will never live to see a future world with those advanced characteristics. The people who will be living in it will pretty much take it for granted, anyway. But that is a worthy vision for today’s technologists: because that is wise governance for a digitally conquered world. That is is not tyranny. That is legitimacy.
Without vision, the people perish. So we need our shimmering, prizes, goals to motivate ourselves, but the life is never in the prize. The living part, the fun part, is all in the wrangling. Those dark cliffs looming ahead — that is the height of your achievement.
We need to leap into another way of life. The technical impetus is here. We are changing, but to what end? The question we must face is: what do we want? We should want to abandon that which has no future. We should blow right through mere sustainability. We should desire a world of enhancement. That is what should come next. We should want to expand the options of those who will follow us. We don’t need more dead clutter to entomb in landfills. We need more options.
It needs to happen. It must happen. It is going to happen.
That’s the Planet3.0 Manifesto, in case you missed it.
Is that Polyannish? I don’t think so. Is it true? Well, maybe not the part about hydrogen cars, but basically yes. Our capacities are immense.
The future is not yet written. We must mourn our losses, but it is far too soon to be giving up.
Those dark cliffs looming ahead? That is the height of your achievement.