“No Good Choices Left”: Our Dilemma Under a White Sky

—Techno-fixes won’t circumvent the need to change our lifestyles


Elizabeth Kolbert – Olaf Bruns

fter her Pulitzer-winning The Sixth Extinction, Elizabeth Kolbert’s new book, Under a White Sky, describes the world of “techno-fixes” to the damage we have inflicted on nature. Today, the world faces the dilemma that even the most well-intentioned interventions risk making matters worse, though we may no longer have the luxury of refusing them. In a century that will be shaped by the climate crisis, learning to navigate humanity’s “mixture of hubris and cluelessness” when dealing with nature will be essential.

US climate envoy John Kerry recently said that Americans would not necessarily have to change their lifestyles because there’ll be a techno-fix to all problems.What Kerry said played badly in Europe, but in US politics there’s a saying: you don’t touch our system of retirement payments and social security – the “third rail of US politics” – unless you want to get electrocuted. It would be the same to tell people they have to change their lives: you just never do that! On the very progressive wing of the Democratic party, there’s the proposal for the Green New Deal, a very optimistic project that tries to gather a large coalition: organised labour, communities of colour, the whole broad tent of the Democratic party. But nobody says people will have to change the way they live. It’s sort of an article of faith in the US. Even people much more progressive than Kerry wouldn’t say it. I don’t think anyone would be willing to say it, at least not for political purposes.


For a full read of this brief, click here or on the picture to download the pdf file.


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