It’s been almost a year since I read An Ecomodernist Manifesto. I’m not sure where I read it but it intrigued me so I did what any sane person would do, I shared it on Facebook and waited for someone to respond. Crickets. No one even threw me a gratuitous “like.” I cried.
So then I tried to work it into some dinner party conversations. I was already becoming known for preaching about the benefits of genetic engineering at this point so most people took this as further confirmation that I was becoming an eccentric character. [Note to EM authors: The word “manifesto” is not easy to work into happy hour chit chat.]
Amy: Did I ever tell you about Golden Rice?
Entire Party: YES
Amy: May I have more sauvignon blanc?
Amy: And tell you about a manifesto I read?
Entire Party: NO
Entire Party: *leaves kitchen*
Amy: *drinks alone* *checks Twitter*
For several months, I would randomly post a Mark Lynas piece on Facebook but I was mostly just reading and observing. Lynas is a former eco-warrior/destroyer of gmo crops turned nerdy science advocate for those who don’t follow environmentalist drama. If environmentalism has a rock star, it’s Lynas. Environmentalist wars are fascinating, by the way. It’s like the Pearl Jam vs. Nirvana fan wars of the 90s but with apocalypse-porn and better the exact same clothes.
It wasn’t until August that I decided to start a blog about all of it. [Can I admit now how much I hate the title of my blog? The mom thing makes me sound like I have bad jeans and a mushroom haircut.] It was like – Hey now! I have this shiny new hobby and nobody will listen to me so I shall start a blog where no one will listen to me but at least I could DO SOMETHING (if writing is considered doing something). Because that’s what the whole ecomodernist thing inspired in me about climate change. It made me feel like we could actually do something about it rather than continue to shrug it off and think, “Whew! Sure am I glad I’ll be dead soon! Sucks for you, grandkid I’ll never meet.”
That’s what drew me to it, I guess. It’s not a plan so much as it is an idea on how to make a plan. Plus, it’s optimistic and pragmatic, which are two things I value. Actually, that’s a total lie. Shiny, happy optimists bug me and I loved The Road (barbecued baby!) but I appreciate dark, serious, secretly hopeful people and their ideas because those are the ones made of common sense. And that’s what ecomodernism is – common sense and pragmatism. So much of the modern environmental movement and its ideas to address climate change are wonderful and beautiful but they will never work.
Beautiful Environmentalist: Capitalism is the enemy. Buy my book!
Regular Person: *watches football*
Beautiful Environmentalist: We shall all live on small farms and churn our own butter!
Regular Person: *visits farm* Ew! Chicken poop. (That’s a true, personal story. Chickens are gross.)
Beautiful Environmentalist: We shall wear hemp bonnets and read by candlelight.
Regular Person: WHY IS THE GODDAMNED WIFI OUT AGAIN?
So, yeah. While I think the idea of all of us pulling together as one big happy Earth family is beautiful and I think the idea of a small, bucolic farm with happy children and windmills and a goat is magical, it’s well, just a magical idea. We’re not going to Social Movement ourselves into cleaner air or Small Donkey Farm our way into enough food to feed everyone. It’s lovely but it’s not going to happen. Most people don’t even want to sacrifice closet space so it may take a teensy bit too long to convince them to do more than recycle. Speaking of which:
Son’s Field Trip to Recycling Plant Yesterday
Me: How was your field trip?
Son: Fun. Ella farted on the bus.
Me: I meant, how was the recycling center? What did you learn?
Son: Someone tried to recycle a dead dog once.
Me: Awesome. What else?
Son: They get a ton of milk cartons filled with heroin needles.
Me: *explains heroin to 8-year-old*
Anyway, while I love the concept of a slow pace and no sounds except chirpy birds and a water wheel, we will never convince the world’s population to go backwards. Going backwards is really just the luxury of people who have everything. I think the writers of the manifesto recognize this and honor humanity’s tendency to look forward, to innovate, and to strive for something better for themselves and their children.
So, happy birthday to An Ecomodernist Manifesto and thank you to all of you brilliant people who have let a Regular Person be a part of ecomodernism this year and have been patient and welcoming while I learn.
With love and admiration – Amy
Edited to add: The world lost an incredible mind today. Professor David MacKay was a big part of why I started looking at renewable energy differently. Please check out his Ted Talk. He’s wonderful and witty and might make you look at energy in a new way. He will be missed terribly.