The need for emancipating ourselves from the work ethic of the Technosphere

Recently, I read the book The Birth of Energy. Fossil Fuels, Thermodynamics, Energy & the Politics of Work by Cara New Daggett. This is a fascinating analysis of the role of thermodynamics as a worldview in the 19th century colonial and imperial expansion of capitalism. The linkage between science and ideology runs via Protestantism, with …

Why technological progress is a delusion and how can get rid of it

Economists and many others are deeply convinced that there is technological progress. Technological progress is a defining idea of Western modernity, originating from the Enlightenment. This is also recognized in the most comprehensive and apparently conclusive account of progress, Pinker’s book ‘Enlightenment Now’. So, it seems insane denying that there is technological progress. Yet, the …

Anthropocentric ecosystem services versus geocentric technosystem services

In previous posts I have argued against the flawed anthropocentrism of the ecosystem services concept. But what is the alternative? How can we practically achieve a geocentric turn? Literally, that would mean that we reverse the direction of functional analysis. In the ecosystem concept, we ask what ecosystems do for us. Now we might ask …

Saving the Biosphere or Saving by the Biosphere? The Thermodynamics of Negative Interest Rates

A decade ago, the German economist Carl Christian von Weizsäcker mused that the phenomenon of declining opportunities for profitable investments that is behind the trend towards declining interest rates might reflect the Second Law of thermodynamics, in the sense that the more capital we accumulate, the more we must struggle to keep it in order, …

The Evolutionary Epistemology of the Technosphere

Technology and science are deeply interwoven. Often, this is interpreted in terms of scientific progress driving the emergence of new technologies. But historians of science have always emphasized the fact that science is also enabled by technology that is generated outside the epistemic venture of science. For example, artisanal advances in watchmaking contributed to the …

Is Anthropocentrism Good Science? Why Sir Partha Got It Wrong

In these days, the ‘Dasgupta Review' receives much attention in policy circles and news reports. The Review pursues the laudable goal to include environmental concerns into economics and to show economic strategies for putting biodiversity at the centre of our efforts to cope with the challenge of climate change. The Review submits many important suggestions, …

Nature-based Solutions: ‘Naturally’ Growing the Technosphere

In recent initiatives of coping with the challenge of climate change and designing sustainable economies and societies, ‘nature-based solutions’ NBS have become a buzzword. Broadly speaking, this term refers to all sorts of alternatives to techno-engineering (‘grey’) measures directed at adapting and mitigating the impact of climate change which intentionally activate and strengthen ecosystems or …

Weighing the future more than the present: Paying a negative natural rate of interest to the biosphere

The interest rate is a crucial, if not the pivotal parameter in modelling challenges and strategies facing climate change. It reflects our stances towards the future. There are two basic, though conflicting principles how to determine it, as reflected in the seminal debate triggered by the Stern report in 2007, which opposed William Nordhaus’s position. …

The messiness of human life: the ultimate limit of technosphere expansion

Recently, the term ‘technosphere’ is increasingly used in a slightly different sense than in the Earth system context (see the new issue of ‘The Economist’ and the briefing that inspired and informed this post). The technosphere would be the world of the internet, roughly defined. This refers to the global and comprehensive connectivity and the …