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Is Technology to Blame?


Weve come a long way baby. Not just women. Everyone and everything.
The advances in technology during the last 100 years is amazing. Mind boggling really.
But I find myself questioning the benefits of all this super technology.

Weve gone through a major portion of the fossil fuel resources to produce energy and put the climate in peril, not to mention the longevity of the human race. Weve nearly destroyed entire ecosystems to get at those fossil fuels. We can now turn vast swaths of forests into lumber and engineered flooring with the flick of a few switches and the help of logging machinery, as tall as 3 story buildings.

The "gadget" technology has gone over the top and is rapidly depleting the natural resources used in their manufacture while polluting landfils with toxic metals when they are discarded.

Some metals and minerals are also showing signs of severe depletion.

With all of the advances in medical treatments we have extended lifespans, yet those extended lifespans create pressure on the natural environ as demand grows exponentially.

The simple creation of a garden hose, while making life easier for many, has allowed indiscriminate use of water to maintain green lawns, yet we see aquifer depletion becomming a major issue for many.

I could go on and on but I'd like to hear your opinion on the subject.



  
1/27/2009, 11:11 am Link to this post   Blog
 
HOMBREDELATIERRA Profile
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Re: Is Technology to Blame?


This is one of the questions I want to explore on my blog: The Awakening of Gaia.

My take is similar to that of James Lovelock. He speaks of our era as a crossroads, a time of choosing:

1- self-destruction, partial or total, through "ecocide" (destruction of Gaia's Planetary Life Support Systems which support us) or

2- transition to a new phase of biological evolution, Post-Darwinian Evolution: "The Awakening of Gaia". In this new phase evolution is no longer a blind groping but a process consciously directed by life itself. "Man is Nature become conscious". (The Cabala says, cryptically, that Man - the species, not A person - is the Messiah of the Fallen Daughter (the sensory-physical world).

Such massive, transforming, transitions are necessarily painful (at least at our present stage of evolution): "learining through pain".

A good analogy of the current transition is provided by the example of the evolution of OXYGEN BASED BIOLOGY. Several steps (somewhat simplified) can be discerned in this evolutionary process:

1- early microorganisms (prokaryotic and eurkaryotic bacteria) latched onto the neat trick of photosynthesizing food (= energy) from sunlight, much as modern plants do. In the process of converting carbon dioxide and water to energy containing molecules (sugars, starches, oils and fats..), oxygen was released to the atmosphere.

2- but there was a big difference between the early earth and today! The EARLY atmosphere of earth contained NO oxygen (O2). Why? Too reactive: it combined with O2 eating minerals (example: those containing iron). The tiny amounts of O2 produced by the first photosynthesizing lifeforms were rapidly sponged up by the environment (technically: a highly REDUCING environment). And this was a good thing! O2 - being so reactive - was TOXIC to early life forms: if O2 had been present in significant quantities it would have deregulated metabolic processes and oxydized - destroyed - essential biochemicals. <<Our modern O2 based ("aerobic") biology has simply learned to exploit the benefits of O2 based metabolism while minimizing the toxicity of O2.>>

3- as LONG - VERY long - geological ages passed, photosynthisizing microbes came to dominate, multiplied and dominated the biosphere. Meanwhile, all those O2 eating rocks became oxidized to the point they COULD NO LONGER ABSORB O2

4- then the "fun" began emoticon O2 levels began to climb. At about .2 percent (one one HUNDREDTH the modern atmospheric content in O2), life on earth began to die off, literally DROWNING IN ITS OWN WASTE (sound familiar?)

5- this was a problem - crisis - situation. Then, as now, "necessity is the mother of all invention" and early life rose to the challenge. Mitochondia capable of using O2 to oxidize organic energy containing molecules - in a safe way - were invented:
 
[sign in to see URL]#Origin
 
In effect, life started off by drowning in its own waste (O2) and learning the trick of turning this poison into a power agent for the CONTROLLED RELEASE OF ENERGY from organic molecules (sugars, starches, oils, fats..)
 
6- things went so swimmingly that life ended up becoming an O2 Junky: the new high octane O2 powered (aerobic) metabolism was one of Life's greatest success stories.

It permitted multicellular organisms to evolve (it takes energy to PUMP nutrients to interior parts of multicellular organisms; early microorganisms simply absorbed nutrients from the environment through their cell membranes. It also takes energy to PUMP wastes out of the interior parts of multicellular organisms. An O2 powered metabolism meets these energy demands.)

A new form of life appeared: animals - the biggest O2 Junkies of all! (muscular system, nervous system..)
 
Life has simply never looked back..

But it is interesting to note that this major biological revolution occurred as a result of a SELF-INFLICTED CRISIS (O2 auto-intoxication).

I hold we are in an analogous situation today: on the threshold of a major psychobiological revolution as a result of a SELF-INFLICTED CRISIS (SciTech out of control)
 
The only question that remains: do we have to suffer as much as early microbes to pass through our Great Transition? Are men, in fact, brighter than microbes..
2/3/2009, 6:03 pm Link to this post Send Email to HOMBREDELATIERRA Blog
 
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Re: Is Technology to Blame?


Are men in fact brighter than microbes?

I doubt it. The microbes didnt have the opportunity to think about how they would react. The just went with the flow.
Man on the other hand, gets to think about his reaction which includes the option of ignoring the need to change.

Right now it looks like the microbes are winning. They will still be here adapting to their environment after man has wiped himself out.
2/3/2009, 11:33 pm Link to this post   Blog
 
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Re: Is Technology to Blame?


Hi Agnes,
 
Sorry you are in a black funk.. emoticon

I can play that game too emoticon

If men are bright enough to ignore change they are also bright enough to imitate the microbes and "go with the flow". Gotcha there emoticon

At any rate, we can't predict the future (some things, yes: death 'n taxes 'n all that). But we have to act as moral beings if we want to live as humans - and to hell if our efforts turn out vain.. "Virtue is its own reward" and all that. It turns out that old proverb is right, after all. We rejected that wisdom and look where got ourselves to. emoticon

Last night I was thinking about this thread. We must rethink technology. We must learn from nature which has been designing organic machines - and self-organizing organic machine systems - which work for zillions of years

[sign in to see URL]
 
If we studied how nature works we would learn to RECYCLE properly:
 
- contrary to New Agers, Nature does produce toxins. Example: spider or reptile venon, bacterial toxins. These, however, are designed to be broken down (by bacteria, molds,..) into harmless simpler molecules which, in turn, are recycled back into the environment. People did not think of this when they invented organohalides like freon for use as refrigerants. These "alien" - non-recyclable - molecules ended up accumulating in the atmosphere and destroying the ozone layer.

- recycling objects (bottles, cans) and material (metal, paper, plastic..) saves energy: it takes less energy to re-refine scrap metal than to dig fresh ore out of the ground and fabricate new metal. Environmental damage is reduced because 1- less mining is required and 2- less energy used means less pollution. Generally, 85% of metals can be recovered, reducing the need for mining by six sevenths. This extends the life of non-renewables by a factor of about 7. <Eventually, if SciTech culture survives, asteroids, Kuiper Belt and Oort Cometary Cloud bodies will provide all the exotic metallics an advanced civilization needs>

[sign in to see URL]
 
We also need to learn to USE ENERGY AND RAW MATERIALS EFFICIENTLY. Using raw materials efficiently reduces waste and environmental damage (less extraction). Energy efficiency reduces environmental damage (less extraction, less pollution, less greenhouse gases and climate change). At least as important: green energy won't work without efficient end use applications (lighting, refrigeration, heating..). A little math show this all too clearly.

Assume: green energy costs 50% more than conventional energy. Multiply your electric bill by a factor of 1.5 emoticon

Assume: that energy efficiency cuts energy consumption by 50% ("DOABLE!" say the experts). Divide your augmented electric bill (computed above) by a factor of 2.

1.5 / 2 = .75 which, expressed as a percent, is 75%. That is to say, your electric bill with energy efficiency is 25% LOWER than what you are paying now despite the fact green energy is more expensive. Neat, yes.. ??

MODULARITY. We gotta get modularized, baby. A modular system is a hierarchy of semi-autonomous subsystems which performs some funtion(s). The top levels of the hierarchy set the general goals and the lower levels (modules) execute bits 'n pieces of the overall plan. Each lower level of the hierarchy of control has one or several semi-autonomous modules (which, in turn, may contain smaller, "nested", semi-autonomous modules). The semi-autonomy of the lower level modules prevents the Master Module - at the top of the control hierarchy - from have to micro-manage all steps of the plan (IN PRACTICE: IMPOSSIBLE! The Soviet Union and Red China tried to and they imploded..).

In a well designed system, info flows now just downward, from the Master Module, but between modules occupying the SAME level of the hierarchy. In addition, info flows from the lower levels UPWARD toward the Master Module, informing it of problems and the need to modify the original plan. Modularity plus Feedback thus provides for flexibility and adaptability. There are other advantages to modularity:

1- redundancy of modules provides backup in case a module malfunctions (Examples: spare tire, the internet's modularity permits it to send / receive messages even if a major router is down..)

2- geographical modularity can save energy. "Eat what is grown within 200 miles of where you live" is a good example. In addition, such a practice would limit the spread of diseases like mad cow disease, thus providing a natural firewall.

3- on a human level, modularity would rebuild community as communities took back responsibility for their own well-being and management.

[url][sign in to see URL]

Author Chris Turner discusses his book, "The Geography of Hope".

For distributed energy production / consumption networks:
 
[url][sign in to see URL]

Gives a review of Jeremey Rifkin's book "The Hydrogen Economy". The last part of the book - on the general philosophy of distributed energy production / consumption networks - is relevant to this discussion

4- In general terms, modularity provides for increased evolutive potential. The application to biological systems is discussed in Robert Reid: Biological Emergences
 
[url][sign in to see URL]

According to Dr. Reid, nature evolved hierarchically organized modular systems BECAUSE they had the most evolutive potential. They simply out-evolved the competition.

As an example of hierarchically organized biological modularity consider how an organism is constructed: molecules - cellular "organelles" - cells - tissues (made up of many cells) - organs (made up of tissues) - organ systems (co-operating organs: cardiovascular system..) - whole organism (the Master Module)
2/5/2009, 7:19 pm Link to this post Send Email to HOMBREDELATIERRA Blog
 
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Re: Is Technology to Blame?


Hi Frank,

I read an article some time ago written by a fellow that had given great thought to recycling. He figured out that almost everything manufactured today could be recycled and used to manufacture new products. He did the math and the numbers were very favorable. (just as you explained). His only question was how long will we wait before we implement a serious recycle program. Japan has taken steps in this direction (mostly with household garbage) simply because they have no ability to store waste.
2/5/2009, 7:45 pm Link to this post   Blog
 


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