A Tale of Two Planets

by Mark Lynas, coauthor of An Ecomodernist Manifesto

Our new geological epoch does not have to be a bad one, if we consciously seek to manage our collective impacts intelligently. This does not mean abandoning the notion of progress and seeking to wind back the clock, but using science and technology as our most potent tools for first identifying and then solving problems.

I do not see humans as arrogant children wrecking Mother Nature. I see us instead as young adults, looking around us wide-eyed with awe; nervous and conflicted but increasingly aware both of our agency and our responsibility as conscious managers of our own destiny.

It is true that we are just apes, gods only in metaphor not reality. We are no more special or chosen than any other species of life form; there is no divine guiding hand. But no other species since the dawn of life on Earth has achieved this epoch-making combination of global impact and global consciousness.

For the essential truth of the Anthropocene is this: neither God nor Gaia is in charge. We are. We now get to decide everything from the pH of the oceans to the temperature of the biosphere to the very composition and future evolutionary path of life on Earth.

Ducking or denying this responsibility will not make it go away. By virtue of our global influence, we have landed ourselves with this awesome task of planetary management. The Anthropocene is best understood not as a passive state, but an active one.

Viewing it as such is not a gloomy prospect but a liberating one. There is nothing so liberating as letting go of your pessimism.

Those of us who are parents can enjoy our children growing up, without imagining that their future will be worse than our past.

Those of us who are activists and campaigners can continue to dream of a better world and try to build it, without fearing that all our efforts will necessarily be in vain.

And those of us who are innovators and entrepreneurs can try out new ideas with as much hope of success as fear of failure.

Ecomodernism has a vision, and I believe it is both a realistic and an enticing one.

The above is an excerpt from a speech presented at the 2015 Breakthrough Dialogue. Read the full speech here.