For Kingsnorth, the notion that tech­nol­o­gy will stave off the most cat­a­stroph­ic effects of glob­al warm­ing is not just wrong, it’s repel­lent — a dis­tor­tion of the prop­er rela­tion­ship between humans and the nat­ur­al world and evi­dence that in the throes of cri­sis, many envi­ron­men­tal­ists have aban­doned the prin­ci­ple that “nature has some intrin­sic, inher­ent val­ue beyond the instru­men­tal.” If we lose sight of that ide­al in the name of sav­ing civ­i­liza­tion, he argues, if we allow our­selves to erect wind farms on every moun­tain and solar arrays in every desert, we will be accept­ing a Faus­t­ian bar­gain.

The core of the demon­stra­tors’ com­plaints was not that the new high­ways would wors­en air pol­lu­tion, cause car acci­dents or frac­ture com­mu­ni­ties; it was that some things, like wilder­ness and beau­ty, were — despite, or per­haps because of, their “use­less­ness” — more impor­tant than get­ting to work on time.

Peo­ple think that aban­don­ing belief in progress, aban­don­ing the belief that if we try hard enough we can fix this mess, is a nihilis­tic posi­tion,” Hine said. “They think we’re say­ing: ‘Screw it. Noth­ing mat­ters.’ But in fact all we’re say­ing is: ‘Let’s not pre­tend we’re not feel­ing despair. Let’s sit with it for a while. Let’s be hon­est with our­selves and with each oth­er. And then as our eyes adjust to the dark­ness, what do we start to notice?’ ”

This was an intense read, but I’m pret­ty sure any­one who has giv­en some seri­ous thought to cli­mate change has at some points enter­tained some of these ideas. And between the lines, there are some inter­est­ing per­spec­tives on instru­men­tal ratio­nal­i­ty, play­ful­ness and (dare I say it) mind­ful­ness.

(via It’s the End of the World as We Know It … and He Feels Fine — NYTimes.com)

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Kars Alfrink

Kars is a designer, researcher and educator focused on emerging technologies, social progress and the built environment.