Environment and Ecology

environment - ecology - nature - habitat - gaia - permaculture - systems - sustainability ...

  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size


E-mail Print PDF

Technogaianism (a portmanteau word combining "techno-" for technology and "gaian" for Gaia philosophy) is a bright green environmentalist stance of active support for the research, development and use of emerging and future technologies to help restore Earth's environment. Technogaians argue that developing safe, clean, alternative technology should be an important goal of environmentalists.[1]


Clean techThis point of view is different from the default position of radical environmentalists and a common opinion that all technology necessarily degrades the environment, and that environmental restoration can therefore occur only with reduced reliance on technology. Technogaians argue that technology gets cleaner and more efficient with time. They would also point to such things as hydrogen fuel cells to demonstrate that developments do not have to come at the environment's expense. More directly, they argue that such things as nanotechnology and biotechnology can directly reverse environmental degradation. Molecular nanotechnology, for example, could convert garbage in landfills into useful materials and products, while biotechnology could lead to novel microbes that devour hazardous waste.[1]

While many environmentalists still contend that most technology is detrimental to the environment, technogaians point out that it has been in humanity's best interests to exploit the environment mercilessly until fairly recently. This sort of behaviour follows accurately to current understandings of evolutionary systems, in that when new factors (such as foreign species or mutant subspecies) are introduced into an ecosystem, they tend to maximise their own resource consumption until either, a) they reach an equilibrium beyond which they cannot continue unmitigated growth, or b) they become extinct. In these models, it is completely impossible for such a factor to totally destroy its host environment, though they may precipitate major ecological transformation before their ultimate eradication. Technogaians believe humanity has currently reached just such a threshold, and that the only way for human civilization to continue advancing is to accept the tenets of technogaianism and limit future exploitive exhaustion of natural resources and minimize further unsustainable development or face the widespread, ongoing mass extinction of species.[2] Furthermore, technogaians argue that only science and technology can help humanity be aware of, and possibly develop counter-measures for, risks to civilization, humans and planet Earth such as a possible impact event.[1]


One controversial example of technogaian practice is an artificial closed ecological system used to test if and how people could live and work in a closed biosphere, while carrying out scientific experiments. It is in some cases used to explore the possible use of closed biospheres in space colonization, and also allows the study and manipulation of a biosphere without harming Earth's.[3] The most advanced technogaian proposal is the "terraforming" of a planet, moon, or other body by deliberately modifying its atmosphere, temperature, or ecology to be similar to those of Earth in order to make it habitable by humans.[4]

Sociologist James Hughes mentions Walter Truett Anderson, author of To Govern Evolution: Further Adventures of the Political Animal, as an example of a technogaian political philosopher;[5] argues that technogaianism applied to environmental management is found in the reconciliation ecology writings such as Michael Rosenzweig's Win-Win Ecology: How The Earth's Species Can Survive In The Midst of Human Enterprise;[2] and considers Bruce Sterling's Viridian design movement to be an exemplary technogaian initiative.[1][6]

Related environmental ethical schools and movements

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Hughes, James (2004). Citizen Cyborg: Why Democratic Societies Must Respond to the Redesigned Human of the Future. Westview Press. ISBN 0-8133-4198-1.
  2. ^ a b Rosenzweig, Michael (2005). Win-Win Ecology: How The Earth's Species Can Survive In The Midst of Human Enterprise. Clarendon Press. ISBN 0195156048.
  3. ^ Gitelson, I. I.; Lisovsky, G. M.; and MacElroy, R. D. (2003). Manmade Closed Ecological Systems. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 0-415-29998-5.
  4. ^ Zubrin, Robert, The Case for Mars: The Plan to Settle the Red Planet and Why We Must, pp. 248-249, Simon & Schuster/Touchstone, 1996, ISBN 0-684-83550-9
  5. ^ Anderson, Walter Truett (1987). To Govern Evolution: Further Adventures of the Political Animal. Harcourt. ISBN 0151904839.
  6. ^ Sterling, Bruce (2001). Viridian: The Manifesto of January 3, 2000. http://www.viridiandesign.org/manifesto.html. Retrieved 2007-01-28.

External links


Choose Language