“Each new invention requires the viability of previous inventions to keep going. There is no communication between machines without extruded copper nerves of electricity. There is no electricity without mining veins of coal or uranium, or damming rivers, or even mining precious metals to make solar panels. There is no metabolism of factories without the circulation of vehicles. No hammers without saws to cut the handles; no handles without hammers to pound the saw blades. This global-scale, circular, interconnected network of systems, subsystems, machines, pipes, roads, wires, conveyor belts, automobiles, servers, and routers, codes, calculators, sensors, archives, activators, collective memory, and power generators—this whole grand contraption of interrelated and interdependent pieces forms a single system.”—Kevin Kelly (via inthenoosphere)
For the first time, scientists have fundamentally changed the genetic code of an organism, raising the possibility that researchers might be able to retool nature and create potent new forms of proteins to combat disease. Scientists from Yale and Harvard have recoded the entire genome of an o
The last Biosphere 2 project ended 18 years ago. Correction: The failed Biosphere 2 project ended 18 years ago. That’s right, our only real attempt to create an artificial, materially closed ecological system ended in complete failure. As it stands, we still do not know how to create a viable self-sustaining ecosystem â a frightening prospect given the current state of our environment and considering our future plans in space. It’s time that we revived the Biosphere projects â and here’s why.
The crew of the International Space Station (ISS) tasted their own urine Wednesday — and NASA didn’t even have to double-dog dare them. Astronauts celebrated by “clinking” their drinking bags together in a traditional cheers before sipping water composed of recycled urine, sweat and atmospheric …
Harvest Automation Inc., a Billerica company that makes robotic systems designed to cut costs and improve efficiency at commercial nurseries and greenhouses, said that it has closed an $11.75 million round in Series C financing. The round was led by Mousse Partners Limited. Existing investors Life Sciences Partners, Cultivian, Founder Collective, Entrée Capital, and MassVentures participated in the round, Harvest Automation said in a press release. According to the release, the funds will be used to further commercialize Harvest
The East River? Oh, we dammed that thing up and threw a new City Hall on top. The Hudson? Filled it with traffic years ago. New Yorkers have never been shy about changing the natural landscape of their city, but if you dig into the archives, you’ll find dozens of ideas so radical, they make present-day Gotham feel like a nature reserve.
Silkworms in a Japanese lab are busy spinning silks with a colorful glow. But these silkworms, unlike others that have been fed rainbow-colored dyes, don’t need any dietary intervention to spin in color: They’ve been genetically engineered to produce fluorescent skeins in shades of red, orange, and green.
China is taking steps to tackle its huge carbon output. Today, the country announced the details of its first carbon trading program, which will begin in the city of Shenzhen next month. The southern city is one of seven cities and provinces, including Beijing, which will take part in the pilot program, set to be […]
Nature. There is no (external) nature. All ecology is synthetic.
Space. Geographic scale has been reified. The totality of flows of energy, matter, and information that shape socio-environmental processes cannot be captured by any artificial boundary. There are no closed systems.
Energy. Energy is the master resource. Its availability is the main driver of historical change. Radical energy independence is crucial to the perpetuation of civilization.
Sustainability. When not being used for the purposes of “greenwash,” sustainability has been co-opted by thermodynamic pessimism. Neither of these acceptations is useful.
Economics. Scarcity is a human construct.
Capitalism. Capitalism is not sustainable, but the perceived socio-environmental crises are still epiphenomena of capitalism. Dealing with capitalism’s contradictions does not guarantee ameliorating the crises.
Boomsters. Technological optimists who declare themselves apolitical are tacit apologists of capitalism.
Doomsters. Ecological economists critical of capitalism rely on the same technological apparatus as technological optimists to successfully take on their managerial program. Further, their energy reductionism constitutes a thermodynamic dead end.
Critical theory. For all its analytical antisepticism, the left has not been successful in articulating a powerful anti-ideology of nature capable of capturing the general public’s imagination as effectively as the mainstream environmental discourse has.
Ethics. All calls for change reliant on an ethics of self-restraint and contentedness will never be considered the best option.