The claim that one lives at a unique moment in history should always be treated with skepticism, especially perhaps when it coincides with the onset of a millennium. But my reading of our current environmental predicament convinces me of that fact: by inadvertently altering the entire climate system, we have crossed a threshold until recently unimaginable.
It also seems clear that we stand ready to consciously cross other thresholds in the next few years. The emerging technology of genetic engineering, perhaps soon to be followed by nanotechnologies and robotics, give reason to believe that our push for "progress" will take us ever further toward a human-dominated world.
There are questions of safety and practicality about all these developments, and they have rightly claimed much of our attention. But there are also harder questions of propriety--of whether we have thought deeply, or at all, about what it means to be taking this much responsibility for altering the fundamental shape of our world. I think it is those questions environmentalism will next have to address, as it moves from being a reactive strategy for dealing with the worst excesses of our push towards growth to being a philosophical system for understanding, and deciding about, the possible paths into the future.
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