Teach-in: Techno-Utopianism & the Fate of the Earth

October 20, 2014

45 LEADING SCHOLARS, AUTHORS AND ACTIVISTS will convene at The Great Hall of Cooper Union, New York City, for a public “TEACH-IN” on the profound impacts—environmental, economic and social—of runaway technological expansionism and cyber immersion; the tendency to see technology as the savior for all problems. A change of direction is required, returning the fate of nature to the center of economic and social decision making.


Speakers include: Jeannette Armstrong, Debbie Barker, Shannon Biggs, Chet Bowers, Tom Butler, Helen Caldicott, Eileen Crist, David Ehrenfeld, Aiden Enns, Joshua Farley, Bruce Gagnon, John M. Greer, Susan Griffin, Patricia Gualinga, Clive Hamilton, Randy Hayes, Richard Heinberg, Craig Holdrege, Michael Huesemann, Wes Jackson, Andrew Kimbrell, Dave King, Lisi Krall, Winona La Duke, Neisen Laukon, Jerry Mander, Bill McKibben, Victor Menotti, Stephanie Mills, Anuradha Mittal, Pat Mooney, Ralph Nader, Helena Norberg-Hodge, Koohan Paik, Douglas Rushkoff, Linda Sheehan, Vandana Shiva, Katie Singer, Gar Smith, Atossa Soltani, Charlene Spretnak, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Jim Thomas, Bruce Thompson, Mary Reynolds Thompson, Doug Tompkins, Severine von Tscharner-Fleming, Ralph White, Langdon Winner et. al. (View speaker bios and program). Plus films, workshops and bookstore.

This event comes at a crucial historical moment. Ecological systems are near collapse—global climate, soils and fertility; fresh water supply; deep ocean life, forests, biodiversity; diminishing global food production; and unprecedented rates of species extinctions. Human life is also threatened by these, as well as by shocking rates of economic inequality, and the expanding threat of wars to control lands and scarce resources. But proposed solutions rarely stray off the corporate message: “Technology will solve our problems. Leave it to technology.”We do not share this optimism.

[When President Truman dropped the A-Bomb, he said “for the good of mankind.” He should have said, “for the good of General Electric” and a new technological era that brought us hundreds of nuclear power plants including Fukushima.]

Substitute nature

Many in our society see the ecological crisis as a grand new economic opportunity for growth and profit. If nature is being destroyed, we can create new nature. Technologies are rolling out to introduce substitute nature. For example: GEO-ENGINEERING (to “solve” the climate crisis by “re-seeding” the heavens and inventing techno-climate); GMOs (to re-arrange the genetics of food, animals, and trees, making them more profitable); SYNTHETIC BIOLOGY (creating new artificial life forms, including genetically redesigned humans–taller? smarter? better looking?); and NANOTECHNOLOGY (to replace the planet’s billion-years-old molecular structures for greater efficiency.) We prefer the old planet.

We can also look forward to INTELLIGENT ROBOTS on farms and in factories and homes (eliminating need for human workers!); and vast numbers of MILITARY AND HOUSEHOLD DRONES, as well as a potpourri of such inventions as Google glass, driverless cars, app-after-app-after-app, and ever more handy instruments for cyber-envelopment of our consciousness and everyday lives. Did anyone ask for these? They are all expressions of science in service to corporate profit and growth. They do not serve people, but do serve the needs of desperate capital, running out of nature’s resources. Meanwhile, human experience—now increasingly embedded within our new global technological cocoon—is losing its awareness and connection with nature. This will not solve our problems. It does not bring us together; it does not bring happiness. It is isolating our minds and feelings within computer algorithms. As Sherry Turkle writes, we are now “alone together.”

New consciousness

What is needed is new consciousness, and new economic strategies that break from the assumption of human dominion over nature and the planet (“anthropocentrism”), while rejecting the idea that more technology is the way to save the world. What is required are new economics that will bring us together; reforming our economies toward fairness, and placing the health of nature as the final measure of success. Tweeting won’t save us. Alternative ideas, policies, programs and actions will be pursued and discussed in detail.

Further information & advance tickets

This is a project of:
The International Forum on Globalization in collaboration with The International Center for Technology Assessment, The New York Open Center, and The Schumacher Center for New Economics.

CO-SPONSORS INCLUDE: ABC Carpet & Home, Agrarian Trust, Amazon Watch, Center for Genetics and Society, Earth Law Center, The Foundation for Deep Ecology, Foundation Earth, Geez Magazine, Global Exchange, The Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power In Space, The Greenhorns, Local Futures/International Society for Ecology and Culture, Navdanya, The Oakland Institute, Pachamama Alliance, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Post Carbon Institute, Species Alliance, Tebtebba: Indigenous Peoples’ International Centre for Policy Research and Education, United States Society for Ecological Economics (USSEE) (more to be added).

TICKETS: $45 for Saturday/$40 for Sunday/$75 for both. $25 for students and seniors.
 Brown Paper Tickets, the International Forum on Globalization orThe New York Open Center.