Monday, October 25, 2010

Technology or Balance with Nature?


Letter from a Reader

For a man who writes continuously about new technological advances, can you really hold such an anti-technological outlook? If so, why are you looking for the next big green solution?

Nuclear neither most Dangerous or Toxic?

As for dangerous and toxic technology, look around! Nuclear power is neither the most dangerous, nor the most toxic technology that we use in Ireland. For that you only have to look at the car and the coal-fired plant in Moneypoint. CO2, NOx in the air. Heavy metals in air and ground water. Elevated radioactivity in the environment (coal stations release more radioactive material into the environemnt through the flyash and the slag than a nuclear power station). Not to mention the direct fatalities: coal has the highest fatalities per kWh electricity produced of any power source (mainly through coal mining accidents); cars kill over 300 a year in Ireland alone.

A Solution for me?

The only consistent solution for you is to just strip off all your clothes and walk out your front door to live naked in nature, taking the trials and privations of hunger, sickness (e.g. due to dirty water), and exposure to the elements as part of the "living with nature". Anything else will depend on, and encourage the rapid move towards that type of technological society we have now. (it only took 5000 years to move from Archimedes to the Gas turbine - we'll probably do it quicker the next time!).

The only way is forward. Embrace technology. Help shape the policy decisions that have to be made based on a realistic assessment of the desires and motivations of people all over the world to protect themselves and their wives/children/husbands/parents from the arbritrary cruelties of "living with nature", as well as an honest recognition of the complexity of the problems (and solutions) that we face. As a starting point, read David MacKay's book.

My Reply:

You misread me totally I think. You jump on my metaphors and take them too literally. I love technology passionately, since a small child I have played with science and I see us advancing to yet unimaginable levels in time.

However, we (the human race) have allowed ourselves to grow both in numbers, and in our appetites for consumption, at a rate that the planet simply cannot sustain.  The trend is amplified all the more because we depend on finite energy sources to fuel our rapacious hunger for more and more. My hope is that either we soon learn to harness fusion or failing that, we learn to stay our dangerous level of expansion.

I have David MacKay's book with a year or more - good stuff indeed.

My wife enjoyed the picture you draw of me heading out my front door in the “full Monty" pot belly and all - and heading to the woods to hug some trees.

I enjoy your sharp - might I say - acidic humour. I look forward to further contact.

Kindest Regards,

As I have not had a reply, I think my correspondent is NOT amused, nor inclined towards an empathetic approach to differing, if less technological, points of view.

On second thoughts, should I have been insulted by the suggestions made?  - hmmmm!


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