Save us, [insert techno-fix here], you’re our only hope !  

Posted by Big Gav in

Grist has an article bagging the belief that geoengineering and genetically modified foods are solutions to some of the problems that face us - Save us, [insert techno-fix here], you’re our only hope! .

Watching SuperFreakonomics author Steve Levitt sitting next to Jon Stewart as they shook their heads in disbelief that everyone wasn’t on the climate change/geo-engineering bandwagon (It’s easy! it’s cheap! We know it works!) depressed me to no end. It seems like every challenge we face now has an “easy” technological silver bullet that will spare us sacrifice or even change. GMOs will end hunger. Geo-engineering will solve climate change. A pill will cure obesity. Cellulosic ethanol will eliminate our dependence on foreign oil. It doesn’t seem to bother anyone that none of these phantasms currently exist. Indeed, if you ask an expert when exactly we’ll get one or the other of these whiz-bang items, the answer is almost always the same: “within ten years.” And so it’s been for decades.

At root, I don’t think this is really about faith in technology. After all, the only plot twist more hackneyed and familiar than the miraculous, world-changing invention (a plot twist the media have a long history of falling for) is the unintended consequences that cause it all to go horribly wrong. Instead, this is, as Ralph Loglisci of the Center for a Livable Future put it regarding GMOs, “about political expediency.” I would also add a healthy dose of denial to that mix. Not necessarily a denial of whatever impending disasters face us. Rather it’s denial of the failure of progress—in other words, an unwillingness to accept that what we’ve been doing in this country more or less since WWII represents anything other than progress. Techno-fixers’ courage and will quails at the thought that we might be heading for dead-ends and not the limitless plains of the future.

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