A Planet in Crisis, a Cacophony of Solutions: Competing Narratives about Science, Technology, and Innovation in the Anthropocene

Friday, 20 July 2018: 18:00
Oral Presentation
Gary BOWDEN, Sociology, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, NB, Canada
The idea that we have entered a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene, where human activities are fundamental drivers of earth system processes is presently the center of considerable debate. The core idea , that humans have shifted from inhabitants of a planet defined by the operation of various bio-physio-chemical processes to co-creators of that planet, has generated diverse reactions toward the human achievements (notably science, technology and innovation) responsible for the transition. The purpose of the paper is two-fold. First, it will describe the three major narratives and the vision of science, technology and innovation associated with each: 1) the 'good Anthropocene' narrative in which planetary problems are rendered as a great opportunity for science, technology and business, 2) the 'bad Anthropocene' narrative which emphasizes the peril humanity faces and argues we must radically transform contemporary society (e.g., ending capitalism, consuming less) in order to avoid extinction and 3) the 'contingent Anthropocene' narrative which emphasizes both the magnitude of the peril and the potential (though not the certainty) for humans to avoid catastrophe through the appropriate application of science, technology, and innovation. Second, the implications for science, technology and innovation policy will be addressed. How should we proceed when faced with such a diverse cacophony of voices and the competing implications they present for science, technology and innovation policy?