Their faith is laudable. Their recognition of past techno-solutions is evidence of humanity’s creativity and innovation. So perhaps they are correct in declaring that technology will save us. The blinker however is in the word will. Will implies a future tense. The technologists announce that humanity will create the necessary technology in the future.
The Future is Now
But we have the technology NOW. We have the technology to transform our energy sector. We have the technology to transform our transportation infrastructure. We have the technology to transform our food production and distribution.
In short, we have the technology right now to save us.
Here are just a few examples from the energy, transportation and food sectors showing the already available technology that can transform our present wasteful and destructive patterns.
A Canadian report indicates that for an investment of $1.3 billion more than 20,000 jobs can be generated in wind, solar, hydro and biomass energy production, more than 18,000 jobs in energy efficiency methods, or almost 19,000 jobs in wind and solar power to meet Canada’s emissions targets. Yet, the same $1.3 billion invested in oil and gas extraction generates only 2,300 – 2,800 jobs.
Two young inventors in the Philippines have developed prototypes of solar panels that can be printed from 3D printers.
Solar roadways are being trialled in Idaho, USA and if implemented could generate more than three times the electricity that Americans currently use per year.
From 2015 Dutch trains will begin running on electricity supplied by wind power and could be fully powered by this source as early as 2018.
Over 500 cities in 49 countries have introduced bicycle sharing schemes. Paris has gone the extra step and recently introduced a kids version (P’tit Vélib) of the popular scheme.
Beyond that, the French have gone even further with twenty companies (employing 10,000 people) joining a trial that pays people to walk to work. The scheme is designed to boost peoples health, reduce air pollution and cut fossil fuel consumption.
A number of European cities have experimented with providing free public transport, with results varying from minimal difference to substantial increases in patronage, reduced pollution and less carbon emissions.
It has been suggested that buying local from small farmers could reduce ones food footprint by about 15%. Such small farmers use up to 40% less energy by cutting out intensive pesticides and fertilisers. Small scale diversified farms are more likely to have a higher total output per unit of land than do large scale monocultures.
Permaculture (the principle of working with, rather than against, nature) has been available for at least 50 years. The word permaculture (permanent + agriculture) was coined by an Australian game ranger, Bill Mollison, who put forward three guiding ethics:
- care of the earth
- care of people
- sharing of surplus.
Following a devastating hurricane in Nicaragua in 1998 a study showed that those farms using agro-ecological principles were considerably more resilient than those based on intensive chemical and pesticide use.
Where there’s a Will
So, we have the technology. It is not a question of: when will technology save us? It is a question of: do we have the will to use what we already have?