Human ecology and the story of technology


The leaders of the G7 have all agreed to phase out fossil fuels by the end of the century and our Prime Minister thinks that “technology, not economic sacrifice” will achieve it. This line of thinking is not only a false dichotomy, but it sends the wrong signal: it implies that humans can – no, should – continue blindly producing and consuming an ever-increasing mountain of junk because some techno-fix will magically solve the problem upstream. This kind of narrow worldview is not part of the solution, it’s the source of the problem.  

Technology and economic development have a role in reducing our carbon emissions, but ultimately, relying solely on “technological solutionism” is a fool’s errand. Our consumption habits will outpace the non-renewable resources available.

That’s why we need to change the story, not (just) the technology. The author Paul Kingsnorth, as I’ve referenced previously, reminds us that our current ecological crisis is not rooted in inadequate technology or economics. It’s “rooted in the stories we tell ourselves as a civilisation about who we are and where we are going.” This begins by accepting the fact that humans are not the only species, the planet is not our sewer, and economic growth at all costs is not the only thing that matters.