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Weekly Technetic #31: Environment
"The environment" is a hot topic today, but it's mostly used as a wedge to bring even more anti-human elements into society. Through exaggeration and outright fabrication, those who seek to destroy attempt to convince us that we are the problem, that we are corrupting some mythical Eden by our very existence. But that's not true, and it does humanity a great disservice merely to contemplate it.
Humanity's roots lie in the Ice Age. Our modern minds were born in a period of extreme cold made even worse when we were in our infancy. The Toba supervolcano erupted some 74,000 years ago, creating such a massive impact on our planet that it nearly smothered us in the cradle. By some estimates, the global human population dropped to fewer than 1000 during a volcanic winter that further dropped the already frigid Ice Age temperatures. Ash clouded the sky; we know from archaeological evidence that it fell thousands of miles away.
We survived. We persevered. And we grew into our inheritance. Our cousins of the genus _Homo_ were not so fortunate; except for Neanderthals and the "hobbits" of Flores Island, there aren't a lot of humanoid remains found after Toba that don't belong to our species. Thus, the world became ours after this cataclysm. We are a part of nature. We are the gardeners, the cultivators. And anyone who has ever tended a garden will tell you that letting it grow on its own is not a recipe for success.
The environment belongs to us. That's part of what it means to be human. We certainly shouldn't destroy it for no reason—you wouldn't do that to any of your other possessions—and that's why it's sensible to prevent things like arson, strip mining, and nuclear war. But the Sixth Key of Technetism applies equally to the physical world. We have a hoard of wealth under our feet and all around us, in our air and water and land. Throwing that away because of mythology and propaganda is nothing less than denying who, and what, we are.
Of course, there are those who say we are spoiling that environment. To some extent, they have a point. Urban jungles are unnatural, and they have a very obviously deleterious effect on humanity. Modern minimalist/brutalist architecture is an eyesore. Suburban lawns are not only a waste of perfectly good land, but their unyielding sameness interrupts the natural cycles of life beyond humanity.
Again, those cycles, like the animals and plants comprising them, are our resources. Resources should be used, but not frivolously wasted. That, not some kind of mystical animal empathy, is the reason why the technetic must have some care for the environment. But that care has little in common with what the "green" factions want.
Our environment is one in which humans are able to use the resources they need to prosper. This means power generation, particularly nuclear and hydroelectric, but also using fossil fuels where necessary, such as in our cars. Plastic is not some evil creation, but an invention of humanity that has made our lives better; rather than ban it, use it more judiciously, and return to more traditional materials—glass, wood, and paper, to name a few—when possible. Technology is undeniably good, as it is a marker of progress, but our current disposable culture is not the best use of it. Rather than a cheap phone that lasts two years, wouldn't you rather have a slightly more expensive model that lasts a decade?
Housing can be made more efficient and less wasteful, as well. Rooftop solar, for instance, is a decent supplemental power source, and the only reasonable use of solar power until we can create orbital arrays. Natural heating and cooling in climates where that is feasible. Gardens instead of lawns. City planning that looks for ways to use the existing environment, instead of paving over it. At the extreme, the works of Paolo Soleri provide a suitable guide. Though his politics were decidedly anti-human, his work on blending architecture and ecology—the portmanteau "arcology" was his creation—is a useful guide to designing for the high population densities we will achieve if allowed to prosper.
Most of all, the technetic must remember that this is our world. Treat it not as some fragile egg that will crack at a moment's notice, but as a workshop, a supermarket, a park, and a canvas for our great human arts. Protect what needs to be protected, that which is useful to humanity. Remove what isn't, just as you remove weeds from your garden.