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Environmental Values

The New Prometheans: Technological Optimism in Climate Change Mitigation Modelling

Michael Keary

Environmental Values 25 (2016): 7-28. doi: 10.3197/096327115X14497392134801

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Technological change modelling (TCM) is quietly transforming the landscape of environmental debate. It provides a powerful new basis for technological optimism, which has long been a key battleground. The technique is at the heart of mainstream climate change mitigation policies and greatly strengthens environmentalism over ecologism. It seems to show that technological change can solve the problem. I argue that the models employ a flawed understanding of technological change and that policies based on them are a major gamble. The article aims to begin a wider debate on TCM, offering a defence of ecologism rooted in the history of technology and SCOT literatures.


Technological optimism, sustainable development, ecologism, social construction of technological change, technological change modelling.

REFERENCES to other articles in Environmental Values:

Hard Facts and Software: The Co-production of Indicators in a Land-use Planning Model. Laureen Elgert

Climate Change, Economic Analysis and Sustainable Development. Emilio Padilla

CITATIONS in other Environmental Values articles

Editorial: The Ethics of Engineering the Climate. Christian Baatz, Clare Heyward and Harald Stelzer

Incumbency, Trust and the Monsanto Effect: Stakeholder Discourses on Greenhouse Gas Removal. Emily Cox, Elspeth Spence, Nick Pidgeon

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