Rio Document Spurs Debate: Is Science An Ecological Foe?

CHALLENGING THE BASIC TENETS When the Heidelberg Appeal, delivered to the leaders of the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, assails an "irrational ideology" that questions technology and idealizes a so-called natural state, it is attacking, among others, those who embrace these notions, namely those who have come to be known as "neo-Luddites." The label "Luddite" originates from an early 19th-century English labor movement, inspired by Ned Ludd, who, upon seeing the industrial revolution repl

Ron Kaufman
Jul 19, 1992

CHALLENGING THE BASIC TENETS


When the Heidelberg Appeal, delivered to the leaders of the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, assails an "irrational ideology" that questions technology and idealizes a so-called natural state, it is attacking, among others, those who embrace these notions, namely those who have come to be known as "neo-Luddites."

The label "Luddite" originates from an early 19th-century English labor movement, inspired by Ned Ludd, who, upon seeing the industrial revolution replace skilled workers with machines, led his fellow workers in violent, machine-smashing revolt.

"There is definitely an anti-Luddite message in this document," says Howard Ris, executive director of the Union of Concerned Scientists, based in Cambridge, Mass.

Often branded as "anti-technologists," today's Luddites mostly advocate a critical look at new scientific advances; they promote the attitude that technology, because it is at the root of today's environmental catastrophes, should be considered guilty of causing harm until...