Trying to automate environmentalism alone won’t resolve political barriers to conservation, but it might help us think differently
There is a glaring discrepancy between the sophistication of our tools for monitoring earth and the sluggishness with which we respond to the alarming information they provide. As the undersea arrays, data processing centers, satellites, receiving stations, radar platforms, and aerostats bring us ever more refined images of our biosphere’s collapse, they also, in a sense, index the failure of our institutions to react. Beyond collecting climate data, environmental sensors pick up the signs of political paralysis and corruption.
But it hardly takes sophisticated measuring instruments to become concerned about the environmental movement’s political effectiveness. Though the UN’s first Earth Summit was hosted nearly 50 years ago in Stockholm, international action so far has culminated in the Paris Agreement of 2015: an accord which, even if followed to the letter, would bequeath the future a world without coral reefs or a West Antarctic Ice Sheet.
After decades of political indifference toward addressing the climate crisis, a growing number of ecologists have sought ways to automate environmentalism