“A new idea is gaining ground, under the term ‘Ecomodernism’, which celebrates that economic growth and technology can go hand in hand with green living”.
Right idea, clunky name.
“Modernism” has all sorts of unfortunate connotations among British intellectuals and policy wonks, whom it seems are now to be addressed in earnest. In a British context “modernism” evokes utilitarian concrete tower-blocks and snooty obscurantist art, and even (for political types in the know) the taint of modernism’s fascist roots. Plus, it failed.
But… shorten the name to the more mellifluous “EcoMod” and it perks up a bit in a British context — with the “mod” bit evoking the sharp-suited energetic young mods of the My Generation era in the optimistic London of the 1960s, and the “all the mod cons” self-made optimism of Mrs Thatcher’s 1980s boomtime — while also being usefully vague.
By contrast, Matt Ridley’s “rational optimism” just doesn’t shorten or trip off the tongue so well. Let’s face it, “I’m an opti-rat!” was never going to sound cool in the sixth-form common room or at a London dinner-party, and even less so when in conversation with a passing Joe Public while hauling litter out of the local river.
Anyway, the Ecomoderism name was kicked into the UK public field with a debate in London this morning, and some articles in The Telegraph. I hope someone got a good podcast of the event that can be listened to and linked. If not, there’s the April 2015 manifesto in PDF.