Thursday, June 21, 2012

Clive Hamilton — Prometheans vs. Soterians — The philosophical battle at the heart of Rio+20

...Yet we must now begin to ask ourselves a very serious question: Are we capable of managing the Earth? Are we up to the task or, by promoting ourselves from janitor to manager, are we destined to botch it?
On this, the defining question of the 21st century, we can expect the world to divide into two camps—the Prometheans, after the Greek god who gave humans the tools of technological mastery, and those who might be called Soterians, after the Greek goddess of safety, caution and deliverance.
Acutely aware of the history of hubris, Soterians will expect any Planetary Regulatory Agency to screw things up, with devastating consequences. Ever the optimists, Prometheans will be confident Homo sapiens can take control of the Earth and manage it well in perpetuity....
Earth system science is a kind of Newtonian mechanical thinking updated with the cybernetic ideas of feedback loops, control variables, critical values and so on. If we now think of the Earth as a cybernetic system then regulating it requires targeted technological intervention. We just have to work out what the control variables are and then set them at their optimal levels....
Perhaps turning the Earth into a “system,” knowable and controllable, is the last great conceit of humanity. Perhaps instead of a well-defined system the Earth is more like a wild beast, a beast that has now been disturbed from its slumber and will shrug off our attempts to tame it with our puny technologies.
Read at Adbusters
Prometheans vs. Soterians — The philosophical battle at the heart of Rio+20
by Clive Hamilton | Professor of Public Ethics at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics (CAPPE) and the Vice-Chancellor's Chair in Public Ethics at Charles Sturt University. He is the Founder and former Executive Director of the The Australia Institute.

No comments: