By: Raymond Greiner
I recently received an e-mail message with an attached photo exhibiting a group of soldiers proudly surrounding a newly developed “bunker busting” bomb. The text of the message explained this was no ordinary bomb, constructed using state of the art technology; capable of destroying the most heavily fortified military bunkers. Praising this weapon reflects historical propensity for fusing technological resources with tools of war.
As modern technology assumes social prominence questions arise. Young people obsessed with incessant cell phone chatting and entranced by fantasy imagery depicting violent video games. Computer hackers use technology as a theft device. Privacy invasion and child exploitation are ubiquitous and expanding. These practices form social contractions. So, the finger of accountability is pointed at technology as the monster, which is an unjust accusation. Technology has self-replicated since inception. The monster is, and always has been, humanity itself. Thievery, privacy invasion and child exploitation existed long before computer development. However, modern technology intensifies method, range and ability. Communally we are challenged to orient technology on a more beneficial course.
Imagining discovery of fire, revealing power beyond any previously known. It is plausible tribal members pointed at fire and spoke of its danger and potential for devastation, how it would destroy and consume them. The ancients discovered they could warm their bodies and cook food by controlling fire. Applications of fire revealed ability to enhance or destroy life. Technologically induced power historically kindles apprehension and fear often wending toward war applications. War is humankind’s most profound nemesis. Futurists predict over great spans of time war will become extinct. Presently war remains steadfast and eminent.
In a recent issue of Orion Magazine appeared a thought-provoking essay titled Dark Ecology written by Paul Kingsnorth. This essay addressed convolution within environmental movements softening to destructive impact on ecosystems. These observations are valid and worrisome; however, influential goals remain achievable, capable of altering negative intrusion. Government interventions are plagued with missteps and fiscal bumbling providing minimal change. Corruptive forces frequently infiltrate and victimize organizations fueled by subversive power of money. If we seek solutions only via political means perplexity will prevail continuing to produce fragmented results. Technical applications can serve as pathfinders discovering methods of environmental healing and preservation. Combining knowledge with communication divulges power for change and no time in history have these two entities been so readily at hand. Knowledge and communication share a road with creativity. This cogent trio can enliven workable solutions beyond legislative efforts. Change can also manifest naturally through habitual, selective individual choices through local cooperatives, transcending the awkwardness of organizational efforts.
Paul Kingsnorth’s fine essay defines the ancient scythe as a superior tool to the motorized brush cutter. I also use a scythe on my property for cutting weeds and agree with Paul it is a superior tool to the motorized cutter and more soulful to use. Ecological management and nature’s preservation benefits from hands on efforts in unison with technology. As efficient as my scythe is, it cannot cut close to buildings, trees and fence posts as the motorized unit can with ease. It’s a splendid example of blending old technology with new.
Technology’s bright side is inspiring and gratifying. My home is in an isolated, rural location and the nearby hamlet is a microcosmic habitat. One resident is a paraplegic man who travels about mobilized using his highly technical motorized wheelchair. He visits the post office each morning, waves at passers bys, stops at the store and spends time at the small park. He enjoys discussing his wheelchair, explaining how it has opened his life to a broader dimension. When I contemplate this young man’s life without his wheelchair I envision an empty space, a small room with minimal human interaction. His life is expanded and fulfilled because of a technological device. Medical technology has enhanced lives in a myriad of ways, playing important roles improving daily functions for those with disabilities.
A respected scholar, author and environmentalist wrote an essay on why he does not own a computer. This essay made little sense to me. From my view it would be like an ancient Persian gardener writing an essay explaining why he does not own a hoe. Modern day attachment to technology reveals a garden of change, imposing intricacies plagued with weeds and vermin. Cyber thieves and child exploiters can only be eradicated using capable and equal methods. The computer is our hoe.
Government agencies and large-scale environmental movements have made some significant contributions. When I was growing up in the forties and early fifties I lived in a small town near the Ohio River. During this time the Ohio River was heavily polluted from dumping industrial waste directly into the river. Today the Ohio River is a much cleaner body of water because of government intervention and enforcement. The downside to government agencies and organizations is that change is slow and difficult, hindered by political posturing, influential lobby groups, dissention and bickering within leadership ranks. Individually it is difficult to implement sweeping changes upon industrial activity, which is considered a social necessity. However, personal choices can influence positive change toward overall betterment. The power of the people remains a force beyond what is typically perceived.
During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries vast exploitation of natural resources transpired. Widespread environmental devastation was an accepted standard. Train passengers traveling west were entertained by shooting buffalo from the train’s windows, leaving thousands of carcasses to rot in the sun. Millions of passenger pigeons were slaughtered using nets and mass shootings, causing eventual extinction of this magnificent bird that once numbered in excess of three billion. Redwood forests were clear-cut by lumber barons. Hydraulic gold mining desecrated landscapes driven by a quest for wealth. These horrid displays of destructive behavior demonstrated an absence of compassion, void of perseveration’s importance. We have advanced from such behavior; we don’t senselessly slaughter wild animals into extinction now or clear-cut redwood trees, and these positive changes are a result of social refinements. In these modern times the most vexing problem is our sheer numbers, a glaring issue.
Fossil fuel is globally ingrained creating a source for atmospheric pollution. As population and consumption increases need for fossil fuel also increases, forming a conundrum. Social design places economics at the forefront. Political candidates will not acquire votes discussing pollutants or energy alternatives. This taints the notion that government agencies offer solutions. What we do have is advancement of technological enterprise seeking and finding alternative energy sources displaying genuine and practical applications, with some presently in place. Technology bonding with creative enterprise may be our best approach. Technology eventually will prove significance to the “Holy Grail” of fiscal leverage awakening voters to the worth of environmentally friendly alternatives. Nothing is more important than a healthy environment. Earth, and its inhabitants form a singular organism with health standing alone as a priority. Life and a continuation of life is the natural process carrying us to the present. Technology may help discover solutions insuring perpetuity of life on planet Earth. It is techno-logical.
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