A More Than Human Manifesto (excerpts)


Calling time on human exceptionalism, urging contemporary creative spirits to make our practices less destructive, and adopt a vocabulary that can better support our planet’s ecosystems.

Excerpts from the manifesto published in Dezeen and the Superflux website.

We are more than human. We know where we are.

Our actions have caused disastrous imbalances. The Earth’s climate system is in peril: animal populations destroyed, soil degraded. People alive today will witness the extinction of thousands, if not millions, of species. But this isn’t just an abstract tragedy happening to other lifeforms. Our fates, it turns out, are more interwoven than our predecessors knew. Without our kin butterflies, birds, bees, lichen humanity cannot survive on earth. That’s why we’re calling time on human exceptionalism. It’s not working for the planet. It’s not working for humanity. We believe that humankind needs to think beyond itself.

Having survived Earth’s abrupt shift to an era of precarious climate, a multispecies community gathers in the blasted ruins of modernity to find new ways of living together. Refuge for Resurgence is a multi-species banquet with a fox, rat, wasp, pigeon, cow, human adults and child, wild boar, snake, beaver, wolf, raven, and mushroom. (Photo by Mark Cocksedge)

See also: Firebreak Banana Bread: An Edible Timeline by Genomic Gastronomy.

We need to remember that we are not just on this Earth: we are of this Earth.
The interdependence is real: humanity as ecology, ecology as humanity. Both the head and the heart demand this mental leap, this act of surrender.

Extreme weather conditions, economic uncertainty and broken supply chains have irrevocably changed daily life. Mitigation of Shock tells the story of people’s resourcefulness and radical adaptations to not only survive but thrive in a changed world. New ways of living within our planet’s limits are possible. (Screenshot by Superflux)

The awe of small things helps: the morning birdsong; the smell of rain; the winter sunset. We need to cultivate a reverence for the beauty and embodied intelligence of our ecosystem. We need to feel that its intelligence may be greater than ours.

Invocation for Hope. In the heart of the dead forest, a glimpse of an interdependent, tentacular flourishing, a glimpse of hope. A hope for new, collaborative world-making. Worlds where humans and non-humans carve and shape their destinies together. (Photo by Stefan Lux)

No more treating nature as a resource for extraction, exploitation and consumption. There is no nourishment here. Instead, we must foster mutual admiration and respect. This more-than-human spirit will encourage us to forge new relationships with the species we share our planet with. Stripping an ecosystem for our “needs” must become as aberrant to us as cutting a piece of your flesh off to feed yourself.

The Intersection artifacts: Server Frame Backpack and Airborne Pollution Sensor, handcrafted from the detritus of the Anthropocene. In the Intersection — a journey from a violent present to a cooperative future — the Server Frame Pack is carried by Jake, the journalist, to collect and share data and information, making him a physical network node. (Photo by Superflux)

The Airborne Pollution Sensor is part of a wider DIY hyper-local sensor network that illustrates just and equitable uses of technology. Such sensors are distributed within a natural environment to collect data about its ecology and key environmental indicators — allowing communities to gain a better understanding of environmental conditions such as air pollution. (Photo by Superflux)

See also: SmogOff, air pollution sensor developed by Then Try This.

For those schooled in a dichotomy between “humanity” and “nature”, we will need to change how we think. This will be hard. We will need a renewal of our beliefs, of what we value or think of as “good”. New taboos, too. We will rediscover old stories, stories that, though muted by the norms of an extractive capitalism, have never gone away.

Where there is life, hope remains. Life, Life Support and the Afterlives of (Im)Possible Worlds

Real change — more-than-human change — is possible.

We can pair incredible power with humility and care, foresight with stewardship. (Intersection Film Still by Superflux)