• General Interest
IEEE Technology and Society Magazine · 2000

The earth is not yet an artifact

In the previous article in this issue, Brad Allenby argues for a more active style of planetary management. He notes, “the biosphere itself, at levels from the genetic to the landscape, is increasingly a human product.” While the earth is undoubtedly being transformed by human action, the implications of the transformation for environmental management are in dispute. Allenby suggests that the scale of human impact makes it appropriate to treat all landscapes as human products, subject to active management aimed at goals we collectively define. I question Allenby’s claim that “there are no ‘natural’ systems anymore”, and question the utility of engineering-based management methods as tools for planetary management. In contrast to Allenby, I suggest that we learn to control our environmental imprint before embarking on active planetary management.

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