Thumbs Down on Ecomodernization

“Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.” “How dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge and how much happier that man is who believes his native town to be the world, than he who aspires to be greater than his nature will allow.” (Both from Mary Shelley, *Frankenstein*) Earlier in this summer I wrote a post about ecomodernization in response to a new manifesto arguing that technology can and will save both our species and the Planet as well. Since then, I have read a few of the papers that were presented at a conference sponsored by the institution behind the manifesto. The sponsors… Read More

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Getting an Empty Diploma

I get periodic announcements from Mary Ann Liebert’s journal, *Sustainability*. Most of the time I don’t find anything I follow further, but this time one of the free articles got my attention. The subject was academic “sustainability” program. Having placed sustainability in quotes, you should guess where I am going to go. The article, “A Review of Non-Major Sustainability Programs in American and Canadian Higher Education: Trends and Developments across Institutions,” by Madeline M. Giefer surveyed some 20 plus programs at US and Canadian universities. I followed my reading by checking in at the websites of a sample of them. The article summarized the goals, in general terms, as >… Read More

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Get a Life

The front page of the Sunday New York Times carried a very long [exposé](http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/16/technology/inside-amazon-wrestling-big-ideas-in-a-bruising-workplace.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=second-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news) on human resource practices at Amazon. Today, the following Monday, the CEO, Jeff Bezos, responded refuting all the claims made. If true, and much of it is likely to be more or less true, given the reputation of the paper, the article makes the term, human resources, come alive in a very unflattering light. The secondary headline,”The company is conducting an experiment in how far it can push white-collar workers to get them to achieve its ever-expanding ambitions,” added a particularly negative tone. We do not allow uncontrolled human trials on unproven drugs, why not also… Read More

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Knowledge Comes in Different Ways and Forms

In my weekly digest from Newsweek, I read an [interesting article](http://www.newsweek.com/2015/08/21/presidential-candidates-should-talk-science-362063.html) about the role of science in the political campaigns, better the absence of it. It seems that the Matthew Chapman, great-great grandson of Charles Darwin, had started a project to engage presidential candidates in a debate centered on science. “Everything in my family was assessed through some form of the scientific method,” says Chapman…It was just really peculiar to see people we were going to give trust to not addressing either the scientific issues nor the method by which people assess truth in the best possible way.” The article is mostly about his failure to create any interest among… Read More

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Need I Comment?

I saw this this news morning, and thought, “The points I have been making about our addiction to technology jump out of news articles like this.” I find these quite frequently, not only about technology, but also about my other cultural bête noires: out-dated beliefs and norms. That’s to be expected because the news reflects our primary norms and beliefs. It may take you more than an instant to see the folly of creating a flourishing world by continuing to do the crazy things we do. But that’s how cultures work. I will publish more self-contained items like this one from time to time without any of my added prose.… Read More

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Taking on Complexity

In my last bunch of posts, I have noticed a pattern that seems worth making explicit. The hardest part of the work I have been doing is to come up with practical responses to the critical analyses. I have been seeing a tiny bit of evidence that the basis of my critique is catching on. Even if the specific remedies I have been proposing are not getting a lot of traction, the sense that something radical is needed is a recognition that our problems are paradigmatic, not merely malfunctions in the current modern culture and its machinery. Of course, misguided efforts like those behind the recent Ecomodernization Manifesto suggest otherwise,… Read More

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