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Three metaphors for sustainability in the Anthropocene
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political Science.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1291-5254
2016 (English)In: The Anthropocene Review, ISSN 2053-0196, Vol. 3, no 1, 23-32 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper presents three different metaphors for sustainability in the Anthropocene. The first metaphor is the widely used notion of an ‘ecological footprint’, which offers a snapshot of what sustainability would require today using existing technologies. The second metaphor is one of a rocket taking off. Unlike the static footprint metaphor, this metaphor allows for the possibility that achieving a long-term sustainable trajectory might require entering a temporary state of even higher levels of unsustainability. Finally a third metaphor is presented, in which human civilisation is likened to an airplane and modernity to a runway. This metaphor suggests that sustainability can be achieved either by (1) a take-off into a post-scarcity space-faring civilisation or (2) a deceleration into a small-scale economy based on norms of frugality and simplicity. The third metaphor highlights the risk that insufficient political commitment to either trajectory might lead to (3) a catastrophic ecological overshoot.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sage Publications, 2016. Vol. 3, no 1, 23-32 p.
Keyword [en]
global change, sustainable development, future studies
National Category
Political Science
Research subject
Political Science
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-106736DOI: 10.1177/2053019615599415OAI: diva2:844420
Available from: 2015-08-06 Created: 2015-08-06 Last updated: 2016-03-15Bibliographically approved

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Karlsson, Rasmus
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