[Note to readers: the following is a guest post by Jeff Filipiak, a Lecturer in History at the University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley, and a Lecturer in Environmental Studies at UW-Oshkosh. His intellectual interests include Wendell Berry, Wes Jackson, John Denver, popular culture, the food movement, and winter.]
What Direction Ecomodernism: a Manifesto’s Place within the Environmentalist Tradition
by Jeff Filipiak
Should those concerned with environmental issues turn to ‘ecomodernism’ as a solution? Recently, a group of eighteen authors published an Ecomodernist Manifesto, which has been receiving a fair amount of media coverage, including a piece by two of the authors in USA Today, “Want to Save Nature? Leave it Behind.” The authors provocatively argue that in order to deal with key environmental issues like climate change and biodiversity, most humans must have less contact with nature.
When a bold statement like this posits a new direction for the future of a social movement, it is useful to ask: how can we connect its perspective to previous arguments within the movement? The manifesto suggests that the existing ‘environmental movement’ has significant shortcomings, and thus a new movement, ecomodernism, is required to deal with the most important environmental problems. At this point, ecomodernism basically just exists as a manifesto, a media discussion and a group of supporters; what organization might follow the proposal remains to be seen. The manifesto looks to draw upon some key aspects of the movement: concern for climate change, attempts to manage resource use, and attempts to develop more sustainable technology. But it also represents a dramatic shift away from key principles which the environmental movement has promoted, including the belief that humans should be close to nature, that average citizens should have a voice in government, and the precautionary principle. Continue reading