Volume 19, 2018

Pieter Lemmens
Pages 55-64

Re-Orienting the Noösphere
Imagining a New Role for Digital Media in the Era of the Anthropocene

According to geologists and Earth System scientists, we are now living in the age of the Anthropocene, in which humans have become the most important geoforce, shaping the face of the planet more decisively than all natural forces combined. This brings with it a huge and unprecedented responsibility of humanity for the future of the biosphere. Humanity’s impact on the planet has been largely destructive until now, causing a rupture of the Earth System which completely changes the planetary conditions that characterized the Holocene, the generally benign period of the last 11,000 years in which human civilization as we know it has emerged and was able to flourish. In the Anthropocene these conditions can no longer be taken for granted. On the contrary, humanity itself will have to become responsible for the preservation of the biosphere as its ultimate life-support system. This means that its influence on the Earth System has to become a constructive one, among other things by inventing a cleaner and more sustainable modus vivendi on the planet. In this article it is claimed that such a transformation presupposes the invention of a global noösphere that allows humanity as a planetary collective to perceive and monitor the Earth System and interact more intelligently and sustainably with it. The response-ability required for taking responsibility for the Earth System presupposes the existence of a global noösphere that can both support a permanent collective awareness of our embedding in and critical dependence on the biosphere and function as a collective action platform. Based on a Stieglerian diagnosis of our current predicament, a case will be made for the huge potentials of digital media for our future task of caring for the earth.