Thesis Number: #8 (Page 3 of 9)

Blaming Technology

Technology is one of the scapegoats of the eco-crisis. Because of the dangers of identifying root-causes, soft targets are selected. Some social commentators blame technology per se. They treat the loss of green space (for example) as a “mistake”, attributed to ignorance about human values. In reality, these are logical effects of prices that favour people who are enriched by practices that prejudice the lives of people and their habitats.

Through colonisation, this abusive model was transplanted by Europeans to the other continents. They took with them the technologies that might have been suitable for the lowlands of Scotland or Andalusia, but were inappropriate for the tropical soils of Africa or South America. But it was the quest for the rents of those lands, extracted through abusive forms of land tenure, which drove the changes to indigenous cultures and ecologies.

The Hispanic hacienda in South America was one outcome. Extensive cultivation meant that the woman’s hoe was replaced by the man’s plough. Technology was selected to favour cash crops that maximised rents. The needs of local household economies were of no concern to the new masters of the conquered territories. The collateral damage: disruption of interpersonal relationships (men, as well as women, were denied access to the means of subsistence), impoverishment of traditional ways of living, and the wrecking of natural habitats.

The fate of nations now hangs on our willingness to recreate the symbiotic relationship between nature and society.

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