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Techno-optimism

Hopepunk, Solarpunk: Here are climate narratives that go beyond the Apocalypse

Alyssa Hull writes: We desperately need narratives that move past apocalypse as an endpoint, not only because there are people and societies already living through the Western world’s vision of climate apocalypse, but also because it can only inspire a helpless waiting for the post-apocalypse to arrive, suddenly, to cleave the past from the future.

2020: The Incipient Bet

From CounterPunch: He whipped out a check for a thousand dollars and said, “I bet you US$1000 that in the year 2020, we’re not even close to the kind of disaster you describe.” He had obviously planned to maneuver me into this kind of challenge. “We won’t even be close. I’ll bet on my optimism.”

Why technological solutions cannot combat ecological challenges

From The Hindu: More fuel-efficient cars usually mean that car owners take many more trips, in effect nullifying the saving of fuel from the technical innovation. This simple example shows why any advocacy of a lasting technological solution to ecological challenges is only destined to set the stage for the next generation of ecological problems.

An apology from an environmentalist

Jack Thomas writes: I have worked for the last 15 years or so as a professional in various parts of the environmental movement. And I’m sorry. All of us who have feasted off the carcass of a dying planet bear some responsibility, but those of us who got paid to know what was happening and

Paul Kingsnorth: Confessions of a recovering environmentalist

Paul Kingsnorth was once an ardent environmentalist. But as it began to focus on ‘sustainability’ rather than the defence of wild places for their own sake and as global conditions worsened, he grew disenchanted with the movement he once embraced. Here is Kingsnorth’s classic essay, full of grief and fury and passionate evocations of nature.

Paul Kingsnorth: Dark ecology

Ted Kaczynski, known to the FBI as the Unabomber, sent parcel bombs from his shack to those he deemed responsible for the promotion of the technological society he despises. Is it possible to read someone like Kaczynski and be convinced by the case he makes, even as you reject what he did with the knowledge?

Six science-fiction authors parse the implications of our unhinged era

From Nature: Science fiction is increasingly in the here and now. With technological change cranked up to warp speed and day-to-day life smacking of dystopia, where does science fiction go? Has mainstream fiction taken up the baton? Six prominent American science fiction writers reflect on what the genre has to offer about our common future.

J.M. Korhonen: I’m no longer advocating for clean energy; here’s why

We’re not going to get a decarbonized energy system by 2050. We’re going to fail the climate targets, probably by a large margin, and I suspect that a warming of about 3 degrees centigrade is going to be almost inevitable. It’s perfectly possible that self-amplifying feedback mechanisms under way will amplify this change even more.

The seven megatrends that could beat global warming: ‘There is reason for hope’

From The Guardian: A series of fast-moving global megatrends, spurred by trillion-dollar investments, indicates that humanity might be able to avert the worst impacts of global warming. From those already at full steam, including renewable energy, to those just emerging, such as plant-based alternatives to meat, global trends show that greenhouse-gas emissions can be halted.

Coal vs Renewables: An open letter to India’s chief economic advisor

With the national energy policy about to be finalised, a recent lecture by Dr. Arvind Subramanian, India’s chief economic advisor, revealed the government’s thinking on the question of coal vis-a-vis renewable energy. This rejoinder by an energy expert flags crucial issues and suggests alternatives that are vastly more healthier for the country and the planet.

Reality check: Fossil fuel expansion crushes renewables

Barry Saxifrage writes: What determines our climate fate is how much climate-polluting fossil fuels we burn. Renewables are great, but only if they actually replace oil, gas, or coal. Sadly, rising renewables haven’t stopped our fossil fuel burn. Instead, we keep expanding both renewables and fossil fuels at the same time, in a new business-as-usual.

Blade Runner 2049 gets it wrong: Technology cannot defeat nature and still exist

James Kunstler writes: I watched Blade Runner 2049, the latest from Hollywood’s dream-shop. It was an excellent illustration of the over-investments in technology with diminishing returns that are dragging us into collapse and of the attendant techno-narcissism that afflicts the supposedly thinking class in this society, who absolutely don’t get what this collapse is about.

India’s chief economic advisor is clueless about energy. And that’s worrying.

A recent lecture by Dr. Arvind Subramanian, the Indian government’s chief economic advisor, offers clues on its thinking on coal vis-a-vis renewable energy, crucial for meeting its stated climate goals. In this stinging rejoinder to the lecture, energy expert Prof. Mahesh Bhave shows conclusively why mainstream economists like Dr. Subramnian simply do not ‘get’ energy.

This Swiss company aims to capture 1% of global CO2 emissions by 2025

CarbonBrief reports: On the roof of a waste incinerator outside Zurich, the Swiss firm Climeworks has built the world’s first commercial plant to suck CO2 directly from the air. They claim that their direct air capture process –a technology often considered too expensive– aims to capture 1% of global CO2 emissions each year by 2025.

Light, bright or dark – what shade of green are you?

Kari McGregor writes: The green movement is no longer unified, if it ever really was. Bright Green, Lite Green, Bright Green and Dark Green tribes form around divergent worldviews, theories of change, an accepted range of tactics. Each tribe vies for attention to its message in a world of time-constrained news cycles and manufactured consumerism.

The global crisis and the role of so-called renewable energies in solving it

In this essay, a contribution to the‘Pathways to the Post-Carbon Economy’ symposium by Insurge Intelligence, the author argues persuasively that the much-hyped “renewable energy technologies” cannot play any role in solving the multifaceted global crisis of today; on the contrary, investing in them is a waste of time, effort, energy and, most important of all, scarce resources.

Bernie Sanders and Al Gore on solving the climate crisis

From The Guardian: In 2006, former U.S. Vice-President Al Gore triggered a worldwide debate about climate change with his Oscar-winning documentary, An Inconvenient Truth. Now, he’s back with a rousing follow-up for the age of climate change denial under Trump. Fellow climate champion and U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders recently discussed the film with Gore.

Google engineers say today’s RE technologies won’t save us. So what will?

From IEEE Spectrum: At the beginning, engineers at RE<C, Google’s now defunct renewable energy initiative, had shared the attitude of many environmentalists: They felt that with steady improvements to today’s renewable energy technologies, society could stave off catastrophic climate change. They now know that to be a false hope—but that doesn’t mean the planet is doomed.

Solar power: Do the ends justify the means?

From World Economic Forum: People often have an idealised view of solar as the perfect clean energy source. Direct conversion of sunlight to electricity, no emissions, no contamination, perfectly clean. This however overlooks the messy reality of how solar panels are produced, right from the extraction of materials to scaling up the power generation process.

Environmentalism used to be about defending the wild – not any more

From The Guardian: According to Paul Kingsnorth, environmentalism’s increasingly urban mindset means that instead of defending wild places we now spend our time arguing how to best domesticate these wild places –deserts, oceans, mountains– to generate the “green” energy needed to fuel things that, until recently, we couldn’t even imagine, let alone claim to need.

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