Seeds of a Good Anthropocene

Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Ecomodernist Movement

The UN's Framework Convention on Climate Change's twenty-first Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris is less than a month away. I'm not a huge fan of forums for hundreds of negotiators to figure out how to make business-as-usual sound like ambitious target-setting, but okay.

Paris does give us all a chance to discuss the different strategies on the table to decarbonize economies. That's why I was pleased to see that leading climate scientists Jim Hansen, Tom Wigley, Ken Caldeira, and Kerry Emanuel will be there to insist that nuclear power be given an significant and expanded position in countries' climate agendas. I'm as astounded as they are that the Climate Action Network still contends that "nuclear has no role to play in a fully decarbonized power sector."


Now that "An Ecomodernist Manifesto" is available in their language, it appears many Germans are fans. In Die Welt, Hannes Stein has penned an op-ed that Google translate tells me reads "Bring on genetic engineering and nuclear power, because of the environment!" Check it out.


I can't keep up with all the good stuff the ecomodernist moms keep producing. Last week, Julie Kelly was interviewed on the Independent Women's Forum podcast about GMOs and biotech alarmism. Kelly and Amy Levy also have a great op-ed in the Huffington Post on what someone might describe as neo-colonialist anti-GMO positions that Moms Across America has taken over bananas in Uganda.


Oscar Archer brings us a lovely little reflection on his environmental upbringing:

My childhood was intertwined with the ecosystems of this valley. Countless adventures and day-long exploration let me experience it all – and it, me. It instilled in me a preconscious environmental awareness, which now as an adult and a father is balanced by an appreciation of the structure and services of the advanced industrial society that enabled my idyllic youth. It’s from this perspective that I embraced Ecomodernism when I found it.

Archer reminded me of Janne Korhonen's essay and my own recent reflection on my love for cities and nature. I'd love to see more folks' ecomodernist origin stories.


Seeds of a Good Anthropocene, a collaboration between the Stockholm Resilience Center and FutureEarth, is asking folks to send in their own "seeds" of a Good Anthropocene:

We believe that potential elements of a Good Anthropocene currently exist on the planet, and we are calling these projects, initiatives and ideas ‘seeds’. 'Seeds' are initiatives that exist, at least in prototype form, but are not currently dominant in our world. They can be social, technological, economic, social-ecological, ways of thinking or doing, case studies, or any initiative that you think could contribute to creating a Good Anthropocene.


Don't miss Michael Shellenberger's interview with Samir Saran, an energy expert at the Observer Research Foundation in Dehli. Saran describes how Indian development is being held back by Western environmental and climate agendas, agendas that have yet to place similar constraints on Western economies themselves.

Earlier this year I was speaking at a premier Washington DC think tank around the time India announced it wouldn’t commit to overall emissions reductions at the climate negotiations. Someone in the audience said to me, “Why can’t India play by the same rules everyone else is agreeing to?” My response was “Why can’t India develop like everyone else did?”

For more on this ongoing conflict in India, see Annie Gowen in the Washington Post.


Earlier this month saw the White House Summit on Nuclear Energy, an exciting event at which the Obama Administration committed new resources to helping nuclear startups in the United States design and test their reactors. Breakthrough's Jessica Lovering was a featured speaker. You can watch Jessica's talk at the video below (starts around 3:00:50):

World Nuclear News, MIT Tech Review, Forbes, and Energy & Environment Daily all had great coverage of the summit.


President Obama recently rejected TransCanada's bid to build the Keystone Pipeline after, like, six years or something. I don't want to look it up because I never want to think about Keystone ever again.

I'm told that as someone concerned about climate change I was obligated to "pick a side" on the Keystone debate, but I personally always thought it was a silly and unproductive campaign and I still think that. Ultimately, I agree with Steve Hayward and Robert Bryce, who noted correctly in USA Today that it was cheap oil, not environmental organizing, that killed the pipeline. I especially like their policy conclusion, which is that we should spend less time playing supply-side whack-a-mole with fossil energy projects and more time making clean energy cheap.

Photo credit: Per Peterson