SOURCE: Vision Media

April 06, 2011 16:54 ET

Taming the Technology Monster --

Can We Protect Our Environment From the Technology We Create?

PASADENA, CA--(Marketwire - April 6, 2011) - In the 1950s, the Japanese monster Godzilla was the science fiction response to the new era of atomic weapons and nuclear testing. The destructive creature was symbolic of the unknown consequences of technological advance and how it would affect our environment. Today the looming threat of catastrophic radioactive release from the breached reactors of Fukushima Dai- Ichi serve as both symbol and substance: Can we contain the powers that we unlock?

The Vision article "Omega Men" examines this question posed as by three new books: Brian Clegg's, Armageddon Science, Peter Gretener's The Vanishing of a Species?, and Keith Farnish's Time's Up.

"Technology is a two-edged sword able to cut out a clear path forward or to cut short the path entirely," writes Vision science editor Dan Cloer. Although our creative powers are incredible," there has always been the specter, the hovering sense of possible doom at our own hands."

Each book contributes to understanding a facet of the conundrum of technological progress and how it affects our environment. Clegg dissects the litany of bad outcomes, things he says, "have the potential to end our world" including climate change, cyber-collapse, and collider-created black holes. Farnish gives insight into the mind of the eco-terrorist by proposing just that: individual action toward bringing down the system. Gretener, on the other hand, proposes ways to mediate between extremist views -- from the environmentalist and the developer -- because "both are bound to lead to short and long term disaster."

"These writers see many of the obstacles ahead, but few are sure of where the path leads," the article "Omega Men" continues. "Is preserving the species, or even the planet, the ultimate in human meaning? Recognizing that there is more to human existence than can be found in nature -- even the most satisfyingly imagined reconnection with nature -- is beyond our normal vision. That would take extraordinary insight; one would need a higher perspective, a beginning-to-end view."

Because the human imagination is unlimited, it is unlikely that technological advance will ever come to an end. What remains to be discovered is a better way forward. The solution, Vision suggests, is found in reevaluating why we wait for the proverbial tsunami to reveal the flaws in our systems, rather than taking corrective action before disaster strikes.

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