Pessimists with valid dreams
We might not survive.
Some people think cheap energy is the answer to all our problems.
It may well be the cause of many of them
Yoo hoo all that energy! Energy to run cars and boats and
Energy to break free of this fouled up planet.
We might not survive.
1 Global warming may be runaway. Nobody knows yet. Our demise might
be swift if surface temperature went to say, 70 degrees centigrade,
for a few years.
2 The ozone hole is spreading over southern Chile now. I read reports
of sheep blinded by UV in new scientist several years ago.
UV radiation (let in through the hole) could cause massive crop
failure worldwide (even in the US!).
But we can grow it in greenhouses! Perhaps. Perhaps not.
3. Its life, Jim but not as we know it, Captain
(These were words from star trek, spoken by an alien)
A leading researcher with the worlds premier computer technology
company (Sun microsystems) speculated this year that
intelligent sentient computer life will be here in the next 20 years.
He was frightened by the prospect. Will it be hostile? Will it be
shared on napster? Suppose it cut your cable connection. Can you
survive without TV? The Internet?
4. More life Jim, Maybe. What IS the meaning of life?
Suppose corporations or countries are lifeforms! We (mere cells or ants) are
never even going to recognize them as alive, are we?
Corporations react to stimuli, compete with each other and have kind
of brains (Boardrooms). I didn't say they were
intelligent or had a feeling of self or consciences. Most of
biological life isn't very smart either, but it lasted a long time.
Corporations love shedding their cells (people!) and replacing them
with stronger stuff.
mixed bag of goodies
5. Is technology alive and absorbing us into itself? Why do people
watch so much tv? It doesn't make them smarter, or more
attractive. Why do motor cars (theoretically 2 to 5 person vehicles)
almost always have 1 person in them (especially at rush hour). Is
technology dumbing us down and drugging us into believing that it is
working for us when the reality is the exact opposite?
6 Energy use damages the environment in many unusual ways
My personal opinion is that the ecosystem suffers collateral damageEmail
from wasted energy.
Consider an electrical light lighting a room.
A fire is usually burning somewhere to supply that light.
A few insects get fried by it. The light in the room attracts
moths who waste their fertile hours tapping on the window.
I have cycled on a narrow hill road in Germany where the stench of
squashed toads (migrating to breed) was overpowering. (Even though the
Germans make tunnels for them). Here in Canada, the toads have even
less chance because the roads here are a lot wider.
(The ill effects use of energy in transport)
The damage to the web of life is everywhere and some of the effects
are really subtle. I think that there is a limit somewhere.
Natures limits are soft and elastic. You can push through them for a
while but when they push back, it can be devastating.
I try to turn off the light. By the way, there are "brown outs' in
California at the moment. Brian White
It is not all bad news
7 Little robot helpers Before pesticides, grandma, the kiddies and all the family had to
spend all their time out in the fields hoeing weeding and removing
damaged produce. Experiments have started with small robots to do
The first experiments are aimed at slugs. Slugs damage wheat
crops to a significant degree, the usual remedy is very toxic (and
slugs are not particularly fast runners). I have not checked back
(the experiments are about 2 years old) but if and when it becomes
successful, there will be clear advantages for the eco system and
A The robots might be solar powered. If they can reliably tell the
differences between weeds and food plants, non chemical weeding will
become very attractive. It might end up as a system with relatively
static energy collector robots and smaller killer robots. The small
ones take their charge from the bigger ones.
B There need be no drift of chemicals
to the wild places. The robots
might be fenced in with sensors like those used in undersoil dog
fences. This would be a giant step forward because most spray misses
C The robots would be programmable (using something
or symbian's EPOC os). A different weed infestation, a late germinating
infestation or the need to clip off diseased leaves might require a
tweaked program. This can be done several times during the season as
the crop matures.
The things would be useful at the cat or mouse size or smaller.
The pesticide industry is a gigantic energy user. The energy savings
might be quite dramatic and food would be safer too!
mixed bag of goodies