Technology, Planned Obsolescence and Environmentalism: Where Do You Stand?
Christina Sarich, Contributing Writer
In a recent post on multinaturalism on integrallife.com an Oregon bumper sticker was summoned as a representation of the factitious pluralism of modern society where tree, flower and the grand outdoors are concerned. It stated simply, “Are you an environmentalist or do you work for a living.” In my estimation, there is no better sound bite to sum up the seemingly either/or conundrum of technological advancement in a natural world. How is technology natural, after all, when landfills are overflowing with discarded computer parts? And if we all lived in grass huts, how would we support ourselves? These are emerging questions in a world that has obviously got to make up its mind about how to solve a global environmental crisis. The answers; however, are not always as obvious as they seem.
The struggle for newer, better, faster has given way to mounds of e-trash, or e-waste. In a Greenpeace article on one of the fastest growing waste issues, the US EPA is referenced, which claims at least 4.6 million tons of technological waste has been flooding our landfills since the year 2000, and since there are more cell phones in the world now than people, you can imagine how much more has ended up there since.
Furthermore, when e-waste is incinerated instead of piled up in landfills, it emits hazardous toxic chemicals into the air, like lead, cadmium and mercury. Whether you call being an environmentalist an ethnocentric practice or not, as Viveiro de Castro would argue in his 1998 paper entitled Cosmological Deixis and Amerindian Perspectivism, it doesn’t seem to require much objectivism to see that e-waste is damaging, along with the host of other environmental pollutants that have come out of a consumer-based society.
So, where does the latest form of planned obsolescence and the push for technology fit into naturalism? Are they completely mutually exclusive? Multinaturalism differs from pure environmentalism in that it allows for a more diversified and all-encompassing definition of natural. While I’m pretty sure anyone claiming to be a multinaturalist would still argue that clear-cutting forests may not be the best idea, they feel that human interaction in nature and even technology can be a good thing. Many pure, died-in-the-wool environmentalists are of a different persuasion. They believe we should but out completely. Anything but the romanticized, wild west and creeping Amazon is unacceptable. Green Anarchy, for example, completely eschews ‘green’ technologies.
Consider the integration of technology with nature; however. The areas of environmental science, green chemistry and environmental monitoring are all booming fields, providing several hundreds of thousands of jobs while cleaning up our toxic neighborhoods. They helped to develop solar power, lithium ion batteries which don’t leak mercury, and high-powered wind turbines to provide energy to organic farms. High tech lasers are being developed to utilize fusion energy and it is possible that someone will leak zero-point energy technology at some time in the near future. Are these methods of interacting with the natural world so horrific?
Due to the fact that our propensity to destroy mother nature has thus far, outweighed our ability to support it, one can understand the cries of old-school environmentalists who believe any sort of human technological interference is un-natural, but even nature evolves. David Wilcock discusses the 26 million year cycle of quantum evolution discovered by Dr. James Raup and Dr. David Sepkoski. It may be that we will overcome our past dirty deeds with technology, not despite it.
Smart cars and solar street lights may not have much to do with a glorious hike in unspoiled mountain air, or a walk through a bamboo forest. Passive solar heating and gold-infused lithium ion batteries may not restore the aquatic life of the Great Barrier Reef. The vertical axis wind-turbines used recently at the Olympics may not replace a ride on a radical swell on the Big Island in Hawaii, but technology isn’t necessarily evil. It all depends on how we use it.
Cosmological Deixis and Amerindian Perspectivism. Eduardo Viveiros de Castro. The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Vol. 4, No. 3 (Sep., 1998), pp. 469-488 Published by: Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland
David Wilcock http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uJtHi6IM5vk
About the Author
Christina Sarich is a musician, yogi, humanitarian and freelance writer who channels many hours of studying Lao Tzu, Paramahansa Yogananda, Rob Brezny, Miles Davis, and Tom Robbins into interesting tidbits to help you Wake up Your Sleepy Little Head, and See the Big Picture. Her blog is http://yogaforthenewworld.blogspot.com/
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