Ethical Futurist Jamais Cascio: Hacking the Earth

Writer, speaker and techno-progressive guru Jamais Cascio is one of the most inspiring people I know. Guess what his day job is? Basically, it’s Trying To Save The World. (I mean, I doubt that’s on his business card, or how he introduces himself at dinner parties, but it’d be a pretty accurate title.)

“Pessimism is a luxury in good times… In difficult times, pessimism is a self-fulfilling, self-inflicted death sentence.” –Evelin Linder (as quoted by Jamais Cascio during his 2006 talk at the TED conference)

On any given day, Jamais keeps busy wrangling with a wide variety of ideas that may help keep our “hellbound handbasket” from going down in flames. He speaks and writes frequently on the use of future studies as a tool for anticipating, combating or averting all manner of crises, be they related to environmental change, exponential technological growth, natural and man-made catastrophes, or global development. We’re talking Serious Business.

He’s a Fellow at the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies. He’s a Global Futures Strategist for the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology. He’s a Research Affiliate at the Institute for the Future. Jeez a loo. You guys impressed yet?! (If not, don’t come anywhere near me. I don’t truck with zombies.)

Jamais has recently written a book called Hacking the Earth: Understanding the Consequences of Geoengineering. Here’s the gist:

What do we do if our best efforts to limit the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere fall short? According to a growing number of environmental scientists, we may be forced to try an experiment in global climate management: geoengineering. Geoengineering would be risky, likely to provoke international tension, and certain to have unexpected consequences. It may also be inevitable. Environmental futurist Jamais Cascio explores the implications of geoengineering in this collection of thought-provoking essays. Is our civilization ready to take on the task of re-engineering the planet?

Pay attention to the nice futurist. He’s here to help. Buy the book.

7 Responses to “Ethical Futurist Jamais Cascio: Hacking the Earth”

  1. fortheloveofthestars Says:

    It must be in the air. My friend Loz posted a vid from TED Monday. God what it must have been like to be there hun? Like Lou says “My week beats your year.”

    I had more to say, but I’m late for work. Thanks for posting this.

  2. Chris L Says:

    All my favourite blogs are teaming up.

    I’ve been following Cascio since I saw his Carbon Footprint of a Cheeseburger video… I think via Warren Ellis. I am not an expert on important ideas, but it seems like he has a lot of them.

  3. Jon Munger Says:

    I’ve been watching the TED talks since they started posting them online. It was through them that I first heard of Worldchanging, and then later through Warren Ellis. I distinctly remember the revelatory feeling that came over me as I read through the Worldchanging site, the knowledge that no matter how bad it got, there were smart people thinking of solutions. It’s the perfect antidote to the infantile nihilism or infatuation with Luddite philosophy my peer group is so susceptible to.

  4. Jerem Morrow Says:

    TED is my absolute fave YouTube channel. Everyone should be watching. Keep an eye on FORA too.

    Fascinating stuff, this vid!

    “Pessimism is a luxury in good times… In difficult times, pessimism is a self-fulfilling, self-inflicted death sentence.” YES!

    Cascio’s book, ordered.

    Lulu are good people. Published my first utterly crappy comic with ’em.

    p.s. “I don’t truck with zombies.” Hehehehe.

  5. Vivacious G Says:

    Thanks for this post, Mer! Definitely a topic that is near and dear to my heart. Will check out that TED channel as well.

  6. Tequila Says:

    Years ago most video game junkies like myself got a taste for “Hacking The Earth” via SimEarth. The game was one in a long series of “Sim” titles, most famously with SimCity and now The Sims. What made SimEarth a bit different and not particularly well loved was the HEAVY use of science and menu after menu of reading in how the Earth essentially worked on everything from the amount of oxygen in the sky and seas to the effects of having one type of geography over another.

    It was the best $15 I ever spent! Of course at the time I simply wanted to know how much oxygen was needed to make things spontaneously set ablaze but in time…one learned a thing or three.

    Fast forward to the topics hit on in the book above and others like it and a weird deja-vu hits.

    Personally I’m all for it…devastating consequences aside. I mean really we’re already doing this and the military has had its hands in this since forever it seems…so why not open up the game to the brighter players?

    Worst case scenario we lose Utah in some strange terraforming accident.

    I will buy this book…and scream its wisdom from my high altitude hot air balloon as I seed clouds…

    (For those playing the Coilhouse drinking game a mention of Warren Ellis in the comments section requires only a healthy gulp of your drink of choice.)

  7. Samantha Says:

    Great post, I’d Digg this.