Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Walking Away From Nature?

The UK Royal Society - the scientific body founded at a previous time of profound change - has reviewed the technological solutions to climate change that are currently being proposed and has concluded that many are technically possible. See here.
These include: a giant mirror on the Moon; a space parasol made of superfine aluminium mesh; and a swarm of 10 trillion small mirrors launched into space one million at a time every minute for the next 30 years.

The numbers of suggested technological fixes for the earth system crisis are steadily increasing. Although many of them remain only ideas and the time and investment to realise them is just not being made available, they are significant in what they represent. Human beings are ingenious and creative. A crisis always brings out this trait. Many environmentalists advocate a down-sizing return to nature, a turning away from technology which has been the cause of pollution, species loss, climate change and an over-reliance on finite resources. What may happen however is the exact opposite.

The future, on the other side of the inevitable crisis, may well be more technological not less. The technology may be more subtle and more in tune with natural processes - see biomimicry for example - but it will nevertheless be one more step away from our origins, enabling us to maintain our unique position on the planet.

If human bio-engineering, mirrors in space, carbon capture, GM farming and robotics increase our chances of survival then is that what people will go for even if it increases our disconnect with nature or even changes the understanding of what it is to be human?

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