The first thing I want to talk about is the technology aspect of global change. This for me is the most difficult issue to understand and produce an informed decision on. One of the most fascinating is how technology has changed the way we communicate. In the ancient times all communications were direct or relayed through another person. Now we find that many of our communications between each other are changing with technologies such as voicemail, sms, and e-mails. One of the most significant to note is that now a lot of the time we don’t even know if the person we are trying to communicate with have received the message. On the other hand these technologies enable us to extend the range of our communications in both time and space. We extend our communications in space because we can use existing networks over large distances. The example of voicemail is an instance of extending our communication in time. There are many good aspects to this advancement of technology. For Example, we can return to the political issues in northern Africa where the use of social networking has overcome a government. This is an excellent use of these new technologies and we will continue to see more of it in the future. However, we must look at another end of the spectrum, that being the disassociation between the sender and receiver of information. This disassociation is most evident on the Internet where there is so much information put up that most people who post this information have no idea who is going to read what they wrote or be able to interpret it as they intended. There are many aids we have for traditional methods of communication including things like footnotes etc. The quick changes and developments of communication have left behind many of these aids and now we expect people to be perfectly articulate in their intent and overall message of their writing. Also there is the issue of authenticity of writing because the more that is written, the more important it is to make sure that whoever thought of something first is given the reward they deserve.
Technology has also had an effect on climate change both good and bad. One of the four issues our society is dealing with is the consumption rate. The more we consume, the more we pollute. As our consumption has increased, so has our pollution. Reducing the carbon footprint of an industry has only recently become a publicity stunt for companies that are finding themselves in the red. Not that this isn’t a good idea, on the contrary but its important to keep in mind that no matter what happens the final business decision will always be in favor of the shareholders of a company rather than the environment. The interesting thing is how resilient Mother Nature has been in the past to moderate these emissions into the environment. In general I’m referring to disease and epidemics. Every time there has been a huge populous in a small area historically there are outbreaks of disease and the people become to dependent on land to produce a certain amount of food then whenever the rain never comes they have no fallbacks.
This may seem callous for our western thinking but it is our technologies and health innovations that have made this problem ascend to a dangerous level today. If we think about the problem it boils down to the consumption of non-renewable resources. What are the causes of these increasing rates of consumption? The answer is the increase of population worldwide and overconsumption and waste in developed countries. This also makes us think about how the healthcare systems in North America are having a negative effect on the environment because they allow people to consume longer and more efficiently in some cases. For example the consumption of meat is very taxing on the Earth and the response of Nature is to reduce this consumption inherently with heart attacks and strokes that are caused by the ingestion of these meats and foods that contain cholesterol. Now the healthcare and drug companies take these consumers and develop drugs and exercises for these individuals so they can keep consuming the same environmentally exhausting foods.
It is our inherent nature to increase the quality of life wherever we are. The best line in this entire chapter relates directly to this: “Hope elects the politician with the biggest empty promise; and as any stockbroker or lottery seller knows, most of us will take a slim hope over prudent and predictable frugality.” Hope drives us to invent new things to fix previous messes; we then inadvertently have a negative impact on the environment in our subsequent consumptions. “Hope, like greed, fuels the engine of capitalism.” The capitalistic mindset we have here is so contagious that we look down on other civilizations that do not live by our rules.
In the upcoming years our responsibility will be to deal with the problem our consumption has created. This is the frightening part because whenever we look at ancient societies we can see that some of them saw that there was a problem and they just kept doing what they were accustomed to until their greed and carelessness wiped their civilizations out. The scary part now is that this is a global issue and it wouldn’t just be a civilization that would be wiped out; rather it would be the entire population of the earth.