Ecomodernists Without Permission

Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Ecomodernist Movement

A delegation of Finland's ecomodernists flew to London to see Breakthrough speak last month, where they were apparently quite thrilled to be welcomed as "Ecomodernists without permission." As vice-chair of the Ecomodernist Society of Finland Rauli Partanen (@Kaikenhuippu) wrote in a reflection, "we should not feel the need to ask permission when we do something we we believe (and what evidence suggests) to be a good thing." We agree! Hopefully lots more ecomodernists without permission emerge in the future.

Finland ekomodernistit also published a brief on their policy positions. What do you think?


The Dutch covered a couple talks by Ted Nordhaus and Linus Blomqvist last week, in de Standaard ("They call themselves green guys, but there are of a special kind) and Climate Gate NL ("Ecomodernist The Eagle has landed).


It's early days yet, and already Steve Fuller has emerged as maybe the deepest thinker on ecomodernism's philosophical underpinnings. Fuller, a scholar of transhumanism and sociologist at the University of Warwick, might be said to have begun his inspection of ecomodernism at the 2015 Breakthrough Dialogue, where he stood on stage and declared "I am an ecomodernist." The harmony makes sense -- in the past, Fuller has preached the "up-winger" movement and the "proactionary principle," which fit quite nicely into an ecomodernist politics.

In his latest, Fuller reflects on the theology of ecomodernism, continuing a series of debates he's been having with Australian ethicist Clive Hamilton. For more, check out Michael and Ted's 2011 essay "Evolve," in which they describe a proto-ecomodern "theology of modernization."


Speaking of the theology, we were obviously psyched this week to receive this endorsement of ecomodernism from Harvard's Steve Pinker:

Pinker contrasted the manifesto to Pope Francis' recent encyclical on climate change. I think it's fair to say ecomodernists have mixed feelings on the encyclical, but regardless, it's a wonderful honor to be praised by Pinker, author of one of the best books of the last few years.


Checking in this week with An Ecomodernist Mom, who explores why traditional liberals seem to have such a problem with ecomodernism upon first encountering it.


In a similar vein, journalist Brendan O'Neill challenges ecomodernism not to modernize environmentalism, but to leave it entirely behind. "We shouldn’t build on environmentalism," he writes, "we should criticise and expose its profound inhumanity, as ruthlessly as Marx criticised and exposed Malthus’s misanthropy."

O'Niell's was a reaction against Mark Lynas' op-ed in The Guardian last week, in which he lamented the "screw-up" debut of ecomodernism in Europe. I think everyone on any side of this political discussion can agree, however, on one thing, which helps to wrap up the manifesto:

Too often discussions about the environment have been dominated by the extremes, and plagued by dogmatism, which in turn fuels intolerance. We value the liberal principles of democracy, tolerance, and pluralism in themselves, even as we affirm them as keys to achieving a great Anthropocene. We hope that this statement advances the dialogue about how best to achieve universal human dignity on a biodiverse and thriving planet.


Photo Credit: Rauli Partanen