At CRN, we routinely and purposely seek balance: emphasizing both benefits and dangers of nanotechnology; conducting both technical and policy research; understanding the legitimate -- but sometimes conflicting -- interests of commerce, security, and freedom of information.
We aim for a realistic outlook somewhere between optimistic and pessimistic, recognizing that all "progress" is not necessarily for the better, but also contending that science and technology on the whole have had tremendous humanitarian impact, and should not be hindered unreasonably.
When we point out the acceleration of change in today's world, it is not because we are starry-eyed technophiles.
Sometimes, accelerating change is bad.
A headline from the BBC says, "Amazon destruction accelerating."
The Amazon rainforest is being destroyed at near record levels, according to new figures released by the Brazilian government. The environment ministry said 26,000 sq km of forest were chopped down in the 12 months prior to August 2004. . .
Deforestation was worst in the state of Mato Grosso where vast swathes of land have been cleared to grow crops. The loss of 26,000 sq km means almost a fifth of the entire Amazon has now been chopped down. . . Just under half of the deforestation occurred in Mato Grosso, where trees have been replaced with soya fields. . .
Environmentalists [fear] that a shrinking Amazon will soon become a net polluter of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide as its absorbing properties are reduced and more and more felled trees are burned.
It is ironic that, in this case, the rainforest is being destroyed so more soya can be grown. Some well-meaning and concerned individuals (like me) have expressed the hope that diets could be shifted on a large scale from animal products to vegetable products, such as soy. But, alas, things are seldom as simple as they seem.