The Roots of Technological Environmentalism
Technological environmentalism, or ‘technocentrism’, as O’Riordan calls it, represents in modern Western societies the official, dominant, set of attitudes to the environment. It is the outlook of those groups in society which exercise most power. As described in section 1.5.1, it is characterised by an apparent rationality, a belief in an ‘objective’ approach, and a conviction that although careful management must be exercised in order to avoid fouling the environmental nest, man is able to manipulate and appropriate nature for his own ends – and is justified in so doing. The high technology and material consumption which is achieved through this appropriation is regarded as the ultimate indicator of social ‘progress’. Progress is attainable by knowing and manipulating natural laws and working within the framework of economic laws, ergo those who know most about these laws, the objective scientific ‘experts’, are those in whom trust should be placed when it comes to decision-making about the environment. Because of their relative ignorance the general public are disqualified from participation in this process at any level but the most general.