Thank you everyone for the well wishes for my paper presentation yesterday. It went super well. The best part of it all is the paper is now in solid shape! I am really excited to start sharing the ideas in it.
In one word, my essay is all about ‘greenness’. In two words: ‘ecological contribution’. You see, as we’re becoming more and more aware of the severity of our ecological crises today, more and more of us want to DO something. And so, many of us are attempting to do stuff to “help the planet”: to live, to do business in a “green” way.
But what actually is “green”? What is actually “helping the planet”? What does that even mean?! Although, it may seem simple, it gets confusing fast.
Bill Gates is in the news right now with a chemical cloud technology to dim the sun. Are such geoengineering ideas good for the biosphere? How about Coca Cola’s new paper cup? How about my bamboo bike? Or ecobricks for that matter? How about that company you’re about to start or product to launch?
Many of you might be suspicious of some of the ideas above. But how to definitively evaluate them? How does one evaluate and discern benefit to the biosphere? I’ve come to see that we lack a simple framework to make sense of technologies, processes and enterprises that aspire to be greening ecological contributions. Because of this all sorts of crazy ideas –that may have the very best intentions– are paving that infamous road we all want to avoid.
While we may have strong intuitions about these things, even scientific critiques and rationales, without a solid, consistent framework, it’s hard to make confident decisions about “greeness”. The ethics we do have now (right, wrong, law, religion, sustainability, UN goals) are largely human centered. However, because they come from a human-centered perspective they are unsuited for making impartial ecological evaluations. With all the great intentions out there, more than ever we need a means to make impartial, confident, and definitive ecological evaluations… and decisions.
What we need is a new fresh ethics for our moment, that is rigorous enough for a scientist yet simple enough to grasp for a child, that resonates with all those of us reverent of a religion as well as those of us who revere the spirits of the land– and to all those in between. Most importantly, it must apply equally to the enterprises of plants, animals and ecologies, just as it applies to our households, companies and corporations.
I am really excited– because I think I am on to something solid that meets these criteria.
My philosophy professor used to call claims of having a solid rational “sky hooks” ( if you’ve ever explored philosophy you know how notoriously difficult it is hang any ideas and prove even that the table before you exists). However, through my long and deep dive into plastic and my time with the Igorot people, plus lots of paleobiology research, I’ve found not a sky-hook… but an Earth hook.
I am going to start sharing segments of my essay week by week on Medium and snippets here. Stay tuned. 🙂