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Wayne’s World – Technology is not the answer

Posted on June 23, 2014 by Maple Creek

We have certainly had an unusual start to summer. Spring rains and summer’s warmth were significantly delayed and then rain finally began to fall as hay crops matured and were heading out.

Last week was characterized by the continuation of precipitation from the previous week and it certainly brought renewed hope and optimism.

It is interesting to note that in this age of technological advances there are many things man can control or manipulate. Weather is one of the most obvious examples of a force that we cannot control as it continues to defy all attempts to be tamed. We can seed clouds and sometimes cause rain to fall (in an uncontrollable manner), but all other attempts to control weather have failed. It is the one element man cannot control and that is a good thing because weather-control tactics would ultimately be used to force nations into subjection. In my opinion, that is a role that has not been reserved for man and will never occur.

It is intriguing that the side effects of the last 100 years of existence and technological achievements have resulted in an unprecedented and unwanted change in natural processes. Most obvious is the accelerated destruction of the Antarctic ice cap. Scientists are warning that sea levels may rise and cause flooding and unparalleled destruction of coastal cities and facilities.

More controversial, but undeniable is the global warming trend that is occurring. It is being accompanied by a change in weather patterns and an increase in severe weather events. We are totally at the mercy of Mother Nature and yet we drag our feet when it comes to pursing a lifestyle that works in conjunction with nature. We hesitate to lead the way in reducing greenhouse gases because there will be an economic cost and other countries may not follow suit. We need to personally reduce emissions from our vehicles, equipment and homes. Basically, we need to live a more sustainable lifestyle, but as human beings we also need incentive to change. Unfortunately, world economies are based on production (our gross domestic product), and therefore few nations are truly willing to make sacrifices for Mother Nature at this time as the world financial situation remains rather precarious. When it comes to business and dollars and cents, environmental safeguards are rarely put in place voluntarily by companies at the best of times.  Typically it remains the duty of the government and citizen watchdog groups to keep companies honest when it comes to safe environmental practices.

I don’t really think it’s that much different at a personal level. We may want to live in harmony with nature, but to truly do so requires a significant sacrifice that most of us, including myself, are not prepared to make. Who wants to give up their automobile or replace it with an electric vehicle that does not perform well in the winter? Who wants to pay considerably more for food and all other products due to the adoption of more environmentally-friendly production methods. The answer is very few people including myself, but it is a reality we must face (sooner than later).

We are consumers who spend a great deal of time looking for the best possible deals as we spend our earnings in our pursuit of material assets. Little thought is given to purchasing products that have been made in an environmentally sustainable fashion. In fact, many manufacturers have gone to the opposite direction and produce items that are designed to be thrown away instead of repaired. New items come with built-in obsolescence as they are poorly manufactured or parts are not available when they break down. Therefore, it is often cheaper to throw out an item than repair it.

The bottom line is we continue to extract resources from the earth using unsustainable practices and then produce goods using manufacturing methods that either pollute the environment or contribute to global warming. These practices are unsustainable in the long run and we do not want to address them because solutions are not easy or inexpensive. Therefore, we continue to live our lives in a short-sighted fashion that excludes provisions for our children.

We are instead leaving them a legacy of economic and social issues that they did not bring on themselves. We are reaping all the pleasures that a materialistic world has to offer and are choosing to let the consequences of our actions fall upon our children and their children’s children. It is like a curse that we have willingly placed upon all future generations.

A hundred years ago, the populace did not understand how their actions would impact the future. However, we live in an age of enlightenment and know otherwise, yet we willingly choose to saddle our offspring with environmental and social issues that do not have simple solutions.

I am as guilty as the next person, but together we can make a change. In fact, we can make a huge change if we start now by implementing small changes in our lifestyle. The key is to first identify areas where change can occur and then begin experimenting. My grandmother is the person who set the example in my family. I will have more to say on this matter next week.

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