A new ‘Ecomodernist Manifesto’ does not benefit the discourse of sustainable development in the Anthropocene

A new ‘Ecomodernist Manifesto’ does not benefit the discourse of sustainable development in the Anthropocene

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A new manifesto has just been published which is likely to fuel debates about the Good vs. the Bad Anthropocene. The ‚Ecomodernist manifesto‘ is supported by a variety of academics, many of which are associated with the Breakthrough Institute and have written in favour of an understanding of the Anthropocene as an opportunity for human development. With the manifesto, they seeks to change the conversation about sustainability towards a more openly eco-modernist discourse. Particularly, the authors advocate a stance that regards economic development as a precondition of environmental protection. The measures they thus propose include agricultural intensification, urbanisation and re-wilding as well as the provision of cheap energy even through the use of more coal. Although some of these measures may be needed, the manifesto falls short of providing new insights into the existing discourse on ecological modernisation. While the manifesto is interesting as a piece of advocacy, moreover, its authors do not engage with the long-standing criticism of eco-modernism and thus fail to contribute to a resolution of the prevailing divisions within the sustainability discourse. It is this dialogue between diverging opinions within the sustainabiltiy discourse, however, which is clearly needed and which the Anthropcoene, as a boundary object, provides an opportunity for. Although different interpretations of the Anthropocene are possible and valuable, to claim it entirely for such a distincly established and contentious position as ecological modernisation  fails to employ the idea of the Anthropocene to its full potential.

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