The Ecomodernist Manifesto, a short but brilliant essay published online recently by 18 prominent greens, gets sustainability right at last.
Until now, green thinking has wanted us to go back to nature: to reject innovations such as genetically modified food, give up commerce and consumption and energy and materials and live simpler lives so that nature is not abused and the climate is not wrecked. The eco-modernists, who include the veteran Californian green pioneer Stewart Brand and the British green campaigner Mark Lynas, say this is a mistake. “Absent a massive human die-off, any large-scale attempt at recoupling human societies to nature using these [ancestral] technologies would result in an unmitigated ecological and human disaster.”
Instead of seeking to live in harmony with nature, we should decouple from nature. The ecomodernists argue that “intensifying many human activities — particularly farming, energy extraction, forestry, and settlement — so that they use less land and interfere less with the natural world is the key to decoupling human development from environmental impacts.”
The most striking example of this “sustainable intensification” is modern farming. By vastly improving yields, we use nearly 70 per cent less land today to grow a given quantity of food than we did half a century ago. On present trends we will need less and less land to feed more and more people during this century.
The Ecomodernist Manifesto promises a much needed reformation in the green movement. Its 95 theses should be nailed to the door of the Vatican when the pope’s green-tinged encyclical comes out next month, because unlike the typical eco-wail, it contains good news for the poor. It says: no, we are not going to stop you getting rich and adopting new technologies and leaving behind the misery of cooking over wood fires in smoky huts with no artificial light. No, we do not want you to stay as subsistence farmers. Indeed, the quicker we can get you into a city apartment with a car, a phone, a fridge and a laptop, the better. Because then you won’t be taking wood and bushmeat from the forest.
The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: Ecomodernism and sustainable intensification: Decoupling society from nature through innovation is good for nature