Technological Utopianism – Why bad ideas cause very real environmental problems

Technology in the hands

Is science going to solve all the world’s problems? Can we continue engaging in practices which cause environmental damage and disregard our impact on the planet because ‘one day in the future’, through our technological brilliance, someone else will be able to fix it and all other problems? This is what the ideology of Technological Utopianism proposes, and it’s a more commonly held belief than many people would imagine. What do you think?

Read the article I wrote for Permaculture Research Institute (PRI) on their website  – Technological Utopianism – Why bad ideas cause very real environmental problems


  1. I appreciate your article on Technological Utopianism. I do not believe identifying enemies is useful. I do believe we have the information needed to make better personal choices. Being informed consumers gives us clout and seeing ourselves as consumers instead of producers is the lexicon of our cultural biases since the industrial revolution. Identifying western culture as Thee enemy has become tiresome. As you have stated the solutions are there. I would suggest the first step is personal responsibility for our actions. Utopian thinking of any kind assumes humanity will do what is right if we find the right leaders with the right formula. I would disagree. I also believe faith in a higher power is an important part of living responsibly. All religions have some common threads: love your God first and your neighbour as yourself. Responsible stewardship grows from this. There is a great deal of need to examine these concepts from the personal to the communal.


    1. Hi Sandra, I’m in agreement with you, I don’t buy into the ‘western culture is evil’ narrative either, it’s important to not throw out the baby with the bathwater like some activists do. Acknowledging our debts to the past definitely goes a long way to tempering extreme idealistic positions. Modern western culture’s thinking and philosophy, science and medicine, logic and reason, systems of government, legal systems, basically everything we take for granted, we have inherited all these things from the ancient Greek and Roman western cultures. Also, logically, the Anglosphere is only a subset of the western world, and therefore Anglo culture is only a portion of all western culture, it is neither representative of it as a whole, nor is it the entirety of it or the pinnacle of it for that matter. If we compare the various cultures across the western world we find that they vary vastly. It’s a big mistake for some to tar a large and diverse range of cultures within the western world with a very wide brush.

      What is reprehensible in modern western Anglo culture are cultural perversions such as corporate oligarchies buying out governments, the morally bankrupt practice of putting corporate profits above the health of people and the environment, and blind faith in inherently flawed and harmful post-modern ideas such as technological utopianism. It has its unique share of problems like all imperfect human cultures do, it’s just that some cultural practices destroy the planet faster than others…

      The point of this article is that ‘the enemy is within’, in our very thoughts and beliefs. The seeds to the solutions lie in exactly the same place too. It’s also no coincidence that faith in something higher than mankind itself is an attribute common to all indigenous people of the world who have learned to live in harmony with the planet and whose societies have stood the test of time. This position places humans below something greater, and this allows for the definition of the higher, the sacred, and therefore allows for the easier formulation of rationalised ethics which are less easily discarded for convenience. Why don’t indigenous people trash the planet? Because they recognize the Earth as their mother, the sustainer of life, as something sacred, and therefore something to respect and care for. In the Anglosphere, modern man is placing faith in future modern man, not anything higher than mankind, ironically expressing contempt for religion while being blind to their own fundamentalist religiosity. Results talk volumes, and despite our culture’s self-conceited smugness and sense of superiority, the supposedly ‘primitive and superstitious’ indigenous people with their spirituality seem understand people, Nature, human communities and the planet much, much better than their detractors.

      We really do have a lot to learn from the people who have been doing all along what we still aspire to do.


  2. Questions like: ‘Can we continue engaging in practices which cause environmental damage and disregard our impact…?’ used to deeply upset me with their implications of total destruction.
    Now I recognise that, just as much as the questions with positive outcomes, it isn’t my business to see into the future. My business is to do the best possible in this moment.
    Maybe or maybe not.
    Yes or no.
    So much possibility either way, but this day has begun and there’s good things to do within it and that beloved is my business. To water little plants, to trim back larger ones, to check why my annoying alarm on my mobile is going off downstairs… {{{giggles}}} Here’s to the now and all who sail in her.


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