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Friday, June 06, 2008

Two from Ryan: 'Nukes not so clean or green' and Wired Magazine's hippies-suck special on ecology. The latter actually dovetails fairly nicely with the ecology post I put up on culturemonkey last night, both as a striking example of the sorts of myopic conclusions you're driven towards when you only think inside capitalist markets and as a nice lead-in to the (forthcoming) second half of the series, which will deal with ecology as a program for the conservation of nature vs. ecology as a program for the regulation of nature.

But mostly the Wired issue stands as a noteworthy testament to what happens when you allow an unholy trinity of technopositivity, kneejerk know-it-all contrarianism, and fierce resentment of hippies to drive your coverage: even your good insights get drowned in smarm.

Given the above priorities, Wired is forced down a peculiar chain of reasoning:

1. There are multiple environmental crises in progress.
2. Climate change is the most immediate of these.
3. Therefore in all matters we should ignore any and all considerations but the most short-term carbon calculus, no matter what the consequences will be with regard to the other crises.
This probably makes a lot of sense if you're marketing a magazine to nerds who like being right and who hate any criticism of technocapitalism, especially when it comes from dirty hippies—but it doesn't make any sense as a basis for environmental policy.
* Priuses are stupid because used cars still exist!
* Nuclear power has no relevant drawbacks whatsoever!
* Same with Frankenfoods!
* If you define the scope of the environmental crisis incredibly specifically you can conclude old-growth forests harm the environment!
* Same with organic agriculture!
* We're screwed no matter what we do, and anyway, don't people like it a little hotter?
Color me unimpressed.

This from the last link will probably serve as the intro for the zizecology 2 post:
In his 1992 best seller, Earth in the Balance, Al Gore derided adaptation as "a kind of laziness, an arrogant faith in our ability to react in time to save our own skin." Better to take Stewart Brand's advice from the opening page of the original Whole Earth Catalog: "We are as gods and might as well get good at it." We're in charge here. Let's get to work.