To some, these protests are about the trees. But to many of the protestors themselves, they are about the forest. That is to say, many who protest the Keystone XL pipeline are protesting all the other pipelines, and the crowds protesting Michael Brown’s death are in fact protesting all the others.
Many of the most inspiring environmental movements of the last 50 years started among marginalised communities in developing countries. But despite these, many well-meaning Westerners still view poor people in developing countries primarily as potential threats to the environment.
It wasn’t until I recently read the original that I realised that Candide was alternatively titled ‘L’Optimisme” and in a sense, it seems Voltaire is suggesting that optimism itself is a willful suspension of disbelief.
Why is our enthusiasm for new technological solutions to societal problems undampened by previous failures?. Maybeit’s because the underlying belief that technology will save us is so seductive. And the search for a silver bullet is extremely comforting in that it allows us to put off reckoning with the problems we’re unwilling to confront (often because we caused them ourselves) until some new technology makes such a reckoning unnecessary.
I’ll admit that I laugh just as heartily as anyone else when Americans (and especially American announcers) make a mess of trying to talk about football. But, I’m refusing to be a snob during this World Cup.
As our world has grown ever more complex, our desire for silver bullet solutions has increased, even as the likelihood of such simple fixes has decreased. GMO seeds represent the hope for a simple, technical fix to a host of food security challenges. They also represent the height of reductionist thinking.