The horizon is everywhere:

In the future and the present, in the distance, below the ground and amongst the clouds - both actual and biodigital.

The horizon is where our imaginations, sciences, technologies and cultures experiment. It’s where billionaires, ideologues and big business construct their long term strategies in order to capture our futures. It is where movements build cultures and power.

The horizon can be found in the rhymes of history and the play of culture. It is told in stories, visible in data, explored by art. The horizon is always arriving in snippets - promising, threatening, dancing at the edge of our comprehension and pulling us unwittingly towards it.

The value of the big picture.

As activists and change-makers engaged in the turmoil of the now, looking up to scan the horizon helps reorient us in our strategies . We assess what is coming. We notice patterns , objects and dynamics. We build alliances, analyse, situate ourselves and prepare better.

Who am I?

My name is Jim Thomas. I am an activist, writer, researcher and poet. I have almost three decades international experience tracking emerging technologies, ecological change, biodiversity and food systems - on behalf of movements and in UN fora. See below for a short sketch of my last 30 years of activism.

Until recently I shared in the work of the ETC Collective where i was formerly Co-Executive director and Research Director. Now, as a free- roaming sentinel, I’ll be recording my observations and reflections here. I welcome learning from what others are noticing also.

What is Scan The Horizon?

Scan the Horizon is an online space I have set up for occasional writings, big picture noticing, analysis and links. It is for those who are interested to follow along (and maybe join in) the task and joy of horizon-scanning in these times of rapid change.

Why subscribe?

You don’t have to subscribe to read items here but it’s a way to keep up to date with the Scan The Horizon newsletter and website. if you subscribe then you won’t have to worry about missing anything. Anything I write and post to Scan The Horizon goes directly to your inbox.

Be part of this.

Change takes collaboration and co-learning. I am curious to hear what signals, patterns, objects-on-the-horizon you are noticing. What should movements and activists be watching and preparing for? Do leave comments and send me anything interesting. We can better analyse our horizons together to shift our futures towards justice and the survival of life and diversity.

I’m also available to support civil society groups, social movements, philanthropies, policymakers and other allies with horizon-scanning and strategy.

Drop me a note at


A brief sketch of my activism 1993-2023

I have about 3 decades of international activism behind me confronting emerging technologies and working for Food Sovereignty and Ecological Justice .

Originally hailing from the UK ecological non-violent direct action movement (Earth First!), in my late teens I organized local campaigns for civil liberties, lectures on ecological politics and helped found the  ‘New Luddites’ in the UK. We held ‘technology trials’ (including at York castle, where the original Luddites were executed) to draw attention to the corporate and military takeover of science and technology.

I later went to work for Greenpeace. There I designed creative direct communications and was a Greenpeace campaigner for 7 years on 4 continents. In this time I helped  co-ordinate a network of direct action groups against the oil industry in the lead up to the  Kyoto climate protocol. Through my twenties however  I was mostly engaged in setting up a grassroots movement of groups opposed to release of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s) . Through  catalyzing a major public debate we were  successful in ridding the UK of GMO’s for about a decade or more. I then worked for Greenpeace in helping establish and support anti-GMO campaigns in  South East Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico and the US .

In my thirties I became concerned about new nanotechnology developments  which prompted me to work for global activist and research group ETC Group - again  working to foment public concern and policymaker action on corporate molecular technologies .  I became increasingly focused on the emerging area of Synthetic Biology (nanobiotechnology) , helping build early networks of critical  activists on that topic ( I still serve on the UN’s Multidisciplinary Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group - mAHTEG-  on Synthetic Biology. I played a role in proposing and later  helping the negotiations for international UN processes for oversight of Syn Bio.

This past decade I have been  involved in raising  concern and convening movements around geoengineering (climate manipulation technologies) and securing initial global moratoria on these technologies in different UN fora. I have collaborated in nurturing civil society-led ‘technology assessment platforms’ - particularly in Africa - and helped push to embed technology assessment into UN level debates on so-called  ‘frontier technologies’ (including AI).

For the last 3 years much of my time has been taken with analysing and helping convene groups to address digitization of industrial food and agriculture - which includes use of AI systems to remake the food system. I have collaborated  with food sovereignty allies to clarify the contribution of  peasants to food security, to sketch out long term strategic options for global food activism, to resist false solutions in the food system and to explore options for defunding agribusiness. I am now working with other tech-critics towards mounting a public Teach-in opposing algorithmic technologies/AI for 2025.

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Jim Thomas tracks new trends, emerging futures and interesting developments on the policy horizon - in technology, biodiversity, food, justice. You don't have to subscribe to read the posts.