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« Global Security & Economics | Main | The Future of Humanity »

May 03, 2006


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George Elvin

When Steffen says that early environmentalist efforts failed because “they called for tightening belts and curbing appetites, turning down the thermostat and living lower on the food chain,” he’s not rejecting technology, he’s rejecting conservation.

That’s the danger of nanotechnology—it is, perhaps more than any other technology, held up as a utopian solution promising the satisfaction of virtually every human desire. Unless we can match nanotech’s green potential with an attitude of conservation, we’re doomed. We’ll just end up using it to pursue the same old selfish ends, only the consequences will be even greater.


You can't change human nature (well maybe you can change human biology with advanced technology, but I think you know what I mean). Thus, conservation will never "work." It would be better to design policies and organize ourselves in ways that go with the grain, so to speak, of human nature... not against it.


Although now that I think about it, a giant normative campaign that seeks to change cultural beliefs on a massive scale, might create enough conservationists that would solve many of our environmental problems. I still think though, that it would be more practical, cheaper, and easier to design policies based around current human cultural tendencies with regard to conservation, instead of trying to change humans to fit a policy.

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