ABSTRACT

In the previous section, we saw how the programme of ‘green nanotechnology’ appears to bring together two strands that have commonly been seen as contradictory: on the one hand ‘green’ represents strategies of preservation by referring to the lawful limits to growth – in short, by saying ‘no’. On the other hand there is the boundless space of ‘nano’ that is full of discursive and technical possibility and which elicits the pleasure of saying ‘yes’. Looking for a moment at this ‘no-but-yes’ situation, we can perhaps better understand the seductive power of a term like ‘green nanotechnology’. e promise of ‘green’ consists in part in its reference to the historical success of the environmentalist discourse, which seems to o er the possibility of saying no and therefore of bringing a limiting factor into play. However, as soon as it is brought into play, the notion of (unlimited) possibility introduced with newly emerging technologies – be it cabin ecology, nanotechnology or synthetic biology – draws us beyond these limits into a realm of technological opportunity. is di culty of maintaining a ‘no’ while being pulled towards a ‘yes’ has also been given voice within environmentalist debates. In their provocative book Break Th rough: From the Death of Environmentalism to the Politics of Possibility (2006), Nordhaus and Shellenberger call on fellow environmentalists:

to replace their doomsday discourse by an imaginative, aspirational, and future-oriented one … We should see in hubris not solely what is negative and destructive but also what is positive and creative: the aspiration to imagine new realities, create new values, and reach new heights of human possibility.2