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Keywords:

  • Edward Bellamy;
  • environmentalism;
  • social construction;
  • utopias;
  • weather and climate

ABSTRACT. Utopian thinkers have often assumed that radical geoengineering is necessary for the creation of a perfect world. This assumption necessarily puts them at odds with environmentalism, but the conflict is not inescapable. Human difficulties with the biophysical world can instead be interpreted as arising from the interaction of environment with society and thus as capable of being eradicated simply by reforming the latter. One notable early exponent of this kind of social constructionism was the American utopian novelist and publicist Edward Bellamy (1850–1898). His fictional and nonfictional writings analyzed the ways in which the troubles that Americans of his time had with weather and climate grew out of their ways of life and political-economic institutions and would disappear if these were reformed. This line of thought allowed Bellamy to portray a utopia where human beings had ceased to suffer serious harm and inconvenience from the weather yet had not tampered with the atmospheric environment itself.