Lessons learned from Biosphere 2 for ecomodernists and deep ecologists alike

The history of Biosphere 2, an attempt to recreate the Earth’s 7 biomes in a bubble. What both deep ecologists and ecomodernists might learn from it.

Quote: ‘ “Deep ecologists” see all of nature as intrinsically valuable: it’s simply impossible to substitute for the unique and irreplaceable value of any given organism. For other ecologically minded thinkers, including proponents of “degrowth,” the prospect of substituting technology for complex natural processes that we don’t even fully understand is a typical demonstration of human arrogance, one that’s certain to result in unintended consequences. In this view, technology is synonymous with the “techno-fix,” a futile attempt to avoid deeper social and economic change through innovation.

Neither of these positions is satisfying. It’s true that the Ecomodernists are wildly optimistic about human capacities and willfully obtuse about their limits. But it’s not enough to smugly tut-tut at human hubris while the planet burns. Given how quickly the effects of climate change are materializing, even drastic decarbonization is unlikely to stop more mass die-offs and other forms of ecosystem dysfunction. We should hope that at least some ecosystem activities have substitutes, even if they can’t be perfect ones.’

Quote: “As Biosphere 2 demonstrates, filling in for the work of nature is unlikely to be a profitable enterprise. Capitalism is unlikely to pay the extra costs. The question of what can replace it may be the biggest substitution problem of all.”