Who’s to Blame for Human Genome Editing? (….and other questions that don’t need answering but need thinking about)

With nearly two months elapsed since the world first learned of the existence of CRISPR-edited newborns living in China, it is worth pondering the response this momentous event generated. When considering what people have said about Chinese scientist He Jiankui’s exploits, a disconcerting feature emerges. The ethics of the scientist himself have been front and …

The Ethics of Wiping out a Mosquito Species

The latest blog post on the Plastocene reflects on a genetic technology that could eradicate an entire species of malaria-carrying mosquito. It sounds like an ethical no-brainer.  Some people, however, are a little more hesitant. "The announcement that a new genetic technology had successfully eradicated a carefully contained population of Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes grabbed headlines last week across …

Turning On, Tuning In, and Dropping Out of the Anthropocene?

In a March 19th article in The Guardian, Mark Boyle wrote about the lessons he has learned from a year spent living entirely without technology. A week earlier in The New York Times, Sam Dolnik profiled a different kind of digital hermit, Eric Hagerman, a man he called with suitable appreciation “the most ignorant man …

Solar Power Nerdiness and the Terrifying Problem of Albedo

I swear, it is almost impossible to stop yourself. I promised I would be more disciplined, but I’m not. When someone who cares about climate change gets solar panels on their roof, the temptation to keep looking at how much energy you are generating is virtually irresistible. After a long and dark “La Nina” winter …

Could Technology Make America Wild Again?

In a recent essay published in Aeon, Henry Mance asks “can technology mend our broken relationship with the natural world?”  At first, it seems, apparently not. Making points that echo those formulated by philosopher of technology Albert Borgmann in an earlier post on this blog, Mance show how technology tends to undercut any native closeness …