Sustainable Living and Technology
Paul Goettlich 11may02
There are many areas of sustainable living that require attention—physical, social, economic—at all philosophical and practical levels. There are many contradictions within each that must be considered. For instance; we are told that plastics, pesticides, and other synthetic chemicals provide a higher quality of life. Dow Corporation claims that it provides "better living through chemistry." General Electric claims to have a rich tradition of campaigns built on the theme of progress—"We Bring Good Things to Life," "Live Better Electrically," "Progress is Our Most Important Product." These slogans cause one to concentrate on the good will of the company.
It is taken for granted that progress is good. If you is against that corporation or its product, then you are backwards; you would have us live like animals. Immediately our minds are filled with grunting Neanderthal people clubbing each other over the carcass of a dead elephant in a tar pit. We are told that Luddites are modern-day Neanderthals.
What is a Luddite?
The term Luddite is derived from Ned Ludd. He was an early 19th century worker who directed the destruction of weaving machines that were threatening workers jobs and livelihoods. Contrary to the image that most people have as a result of industry's disinformation, Luddites did not destroy all machines; just the ones that threatened their employment. The term was born with that action on 4 November 1811. At that time, technology belonging to the wealthy, stole the work of the common folk, and laid them to waste in all areas of the world. In the case of Ludd, it was the weavers. They were not against helpful technology such as the wheel, the shovel, or the hand loom. But they saw that it was necessary for their survival to draw the line somewhere. Just because the wealthy could increase profit by reducing the number of workers didn't mean that they had to put up with it. If they don't do the work at all, then the owners and bosses would not profit. The balance of life has been broken by our extreme dependence on technology.
Just because we can bring our dreams to life doesn't mean they are good. Imagination is good when it is of peace and justice for all. When it is one of inclusion rather than exclusion, then its merit increases exponentially. The common good of all—not just humans, but all living things—must be included in the thought process. Ones imagination must be tempered with the inclusion of all. If it is not, then chaos dominates, wars are declared, people starve in the streets, species become extinct. Disinformation becomes the norm as infomercials replace news shows.
Kris Kristofferson's movie Millennium (1989) portrays the concept of our over-dependence on technology very well. In it, people of the future time-travel to capture the bodies of people in the past. They need the body parts from them because their own bodies are decaying and need replenishment. They've mistreated the environment and it cannot sustain them any longer. They no longer reproduce naturally. The image at left is of one of the leaders, showing her connected to her life support system.
The similarities to present-day life are evident. In the last 50 years, since the beginning of the mass-production of synthetic chemicals, cancers have increased at astronomical rates, the sperm count has been falling at a rate of greater than 1% per annum, behavioral disabilities have grown rapidly, sexual ambiguities and deformities have grown rapidly. The list of problems originating with our scientific progress in synthetic chemicals is quite large. It will most likely expand at exponential rates in the near future with their new toy, genetic engineering.
What should we hold onto and what should we jettison? Feeling that technology is not here to help us, I am quite inclined to jettison as much as possible. Technology has brought us longer lives, but at what cost? It is controlled by the extremely wealthy such as Bill Gates. According to a Wall Street Journal article on 9may02, "An international consortium led by Bill Gates' charitable foundation plans to address malnutrition around the world by offering economic incentives to Kraft, Procter & Gamble and other food companies to bring fortified processed foods and food commodities to impoverished nations." This is a prime example of leadership in our nation. Make no mistake about it, Gates is one of the leaders of this government. Putting it more accurately, our government follows him. Through the amazing generosity of his big heart, Gates will bring junk food to starving people. This is but a deception to garner still more control over the lives of millions of poor starving people. Without even considering the control aspect of this technology, fortified junk food is the last thing that people with reduced immune system capacity need, whether it be processed, fortified, sugar- and salt-coated, or crops genetically engineered with the genes of pigs and fish. This technology isn't about feeding people; it's about profit and control, just as that which the Luddites dealt with in the 19th century.
Imagination doesn't always come with common sense. Einstein's theories were the building blocks of the atomic bomb that level cities, vaporized countless numbers of people instantly, and destroyed many of the survivors' descendants genetic makeup well into the future. Common sense and logic is not a prerequisite for being the wealthiest person in the world. With a net worth of $52.8 billion, Gates shows his lack of common sense with each day that passes. He's not alone in this category of wealth without common sense--Buffett, the Albrechts, Allen, Ellison, the Waltons, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, Quandt, Bettencourt, Thomson, Ballmer, Kamprad, Slim Helu, Dell, Rausing, Kluge, Anthony, Chambers, Li Ka-shing, Kwok, and Ortega, all have a similar lack of common sense. Without all people being healthy, none will be healthy, without all people being well-fed, none will be well-fed, and without all being happy and content, none will be happy and content. Without happiness for all, these controllers of the wealth are not truly part of society, and need a considerable amount of protection. Their lack of common sense inhibits them from seeing that we are all one people, one family, and that there is only one Earth.
you are going to go global you need to address armoring"
The technology of Mr. Gates is a controlling mechanism that offers just enough rewards to his army of controllers to keep them loyal to his cause. But to those held captive—the millions of homeless starving street people—what good is this technology? And the same goes for the millions of starving Africans, how will they pay for this technology? Would Monsanto spend billions of dollars developing a genetically engineered crop and then give it all away without profit? There may be some show-cased propaganda of technology giveaways, but these are meant to appease the masses of people who get their news from the TV or NY Times. No corporation that is driven by the need to produce profits for shareholders is going to go broke in a fit of benevolence. No drug manufacturer or producer of high-tech devices is going to give them away. They haven't done so to date, and realistically, it isn't going to happen in the future without a lot of force applied to them by we the people.
A fine example of technology's control at any expense is industrial agriculture. It has destroyed the farms and farmers, workers, land, and water. Over the years, through the use of technology, the control of agriculture was taken away from the farmer. He was once the geneticist, the labor, and the lover of the land. The knowledge was passed through the generations.
Today, the world's farmers but a slaves to corporate America. First we told them to give up their backwards farming methods in favor of chemicals and machinery. Seed companies took away their knowledge of genetics. Now genetic engineering is the latest technology they are being told will save them. But I ask; save them from what? . . . from the last Green Revolution of chemicals and machinery because their land has been destroyed. It is dry, depleted of nutrients, and lifeless.
Is technology working for us?
On a practical level, technology saturates our time at work, home, and leisure. We see it as time-saving and contributing to our health and long lives. But is the technology working for us or are we working for it? For the most part, I believe the latter is true. Considering the present state of our health and that of our environment, it is much to our detriment. The plastics, pesticides, food, cosmetics, soaps, shampoos, solvents, glues, transparent tapes, (computers!), dental and medical products, and electronics are delivered to us along with their toxicity and the breakdown of social order, common decency, honesty, and living conditions for more than 90% of the world's population. These are the "benefits" of technology that are swept beneath the rug and remain unspeakable in public.
From The Matrix (1999)
In order to be realistic, sustainable living must include all areas of life, least it be rhetoric. The technological does not have a holistic vision at any level. In fact, corporate scientists, or even common MDs, must have a great ability to shield their minds from facts that contradict their stated purpose. If they lack this denial mechanism then they fall to pieces or drop out. Once their mind's fortress is penetrated and they are no longer able to see what they are doing in a positive light, change is in store. The paradox becomes so great that it can no longer be denied. Each day brings new epiphanies, until there is a drastic paradigm shift. It becomes evident that it is no longer possible to produce enough energy to both filter and create this separate reality that allows one to be a part of the machine. Then the slow process of reunification with the natural begins, and the unnatural—technology—takes its place amongst the trash heap of bad ideas.
Be sure to see the movie The Matrix and its sequel The Matrix Reloaded. [56k/28k (dialup)—160k (broadband)—300k (broadband)] But keep in mind the points raised in this article, that problems, not symptoms, effects must be considered in order for a realistic sustainability assessment of any technology. While it is impossible to know, we must make every effort to include all known variables in any equation. The alternative material to truth is simply a lie or deception. And while those alternatives may make for a comfortable answer, they do not solve the problem.
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