The browser you are using is not supported by this website. All versions of Internet Explorer are no longer supported, either by us or Microsoft (read more here:

Please use a modern browser to fully experience our website, such as the newest versions of Edge, Chrome, Firefox or Safari etc.

Three essays on our planetary future


  • Rasmus Karlsson

Summary, in English

This thesis propounds a techno-environmentalist position. Seeking to combine the need for natural restoration with human development, the thesis explores to what extent more radical forms of ecological modernization can offer a basis for political compromise and open new paths to global long-term sustainability. Based on three published articles, the thesis engages with existing literature on (a) intergenerational justice, (b) sustainable development, and (c) political economy.

Written as a normative inquiry, the thesis advances the “planetary future” as a generative political metaphor. Reflecting the tension between natural dependency and human freedom, this metaphor aims not only to remind us of our shared vulnerability, as engendered by ecological decay and omnicidal weapons, but also to inspire a sense of global political agency. By taking the Enlightenment idea of a self-directing democratic future to the planetary level, the thesis hopes to turn our attention to the possibilities of human agency and help to spark a debate about what we, as an emerging planetary civilization, can hope to achieve in the century ahead.

At the same time, the thesis seeks to offer an epistemological and political critique of its own macro-level perspective on human history, arguing that a one-sided focus on the “big picture questions” of humanity can risk relativizing local struggles for sustainability and trivialize more grounded forms of knowledge. Contrary to the managerial approach of Earth System Analysis and other similar perspectives, the thesis emphasizes the need for political deliberation and the value of diversity, both in its own right and as a source of social innovation.

Publishing year





Lund Political Studies



Document type



Lund University


  • Political Science


  • democracy
  • intergenerational justice
  • Global change
  • sustainable development
  • innovation policy





  • ISSN: 0460-0037
  • ISBN: 91-88306-81-x
  • ISBN: 978-91-88306-81-4

Defence date

17 December 2010

Defence time


Defence place

Edens hörsal, Paradisgatan 5 H, Lund


  • Sverker Jagers (Professor)