What is the answer? [After a silent pause] In that
case, what is the question?—Gertrude Stein’s last
If you’re a university department chair attempting to get your environmental program successfully accredited, I am likely the last person you should ask for input. That’s because the technofetishistic fruit being marketed by contemporary environmental pornographers falls so far from the roots of environmentalism that it’s unrecognizable to me as having come from the same tree. In fact, I recently browsed the course catalog of a prestigious university’s environmental program. It detailed a host of courses on solar photovoltaic system design, biofuel reformation, and wind-turbine planning. These programs are meant to train the elite tier of future environmental experts, but it’s questionable whether such coursework will prepare students to perform environmentally meaningful work at all.
Entrusting alternative-energy technologies with solving environmental challenges, which at their root are social, economic, and political, produces numerous snags. Let’s begin with two