Example of tech-dependent thinking 


The Green Recovery Act 2020 proposed by Common-Wealth (a UK think tank) provides a strong example of tech-dependent thinking (i.e. the reflex to answer every problem by a search to technical solutions from elsewhere instead of a try to apply locally available resources, hands for example). The good thing about their story is that they want to challenge (make more communal) the current ownership of assets and insist on rewriting the legal rules regulating firm behaviour. But only in order to be able to continue undisturbed bathing in the opulence of large-scale global-centralized industrial productions. Because public or communal ownership of many large-scale economic activities does not guarantee for an inch the downsizing of high carbon lifestyles.

It is true that ownership is on the heart of the matter, but if you don't distribute it (in equal parts to people) and don't convert it to stable inalienable local resources you don't mute the demand for energy. In big companies − whoever owns them − everyone continues to work in a specialized way, compensation needs and innovations continue to boost, and transport needs continue to rise.

Their box of remedies to clean emissions thus contains mainly high-tech elements. A strong example of their limitless technology-dependent thinking is what they propose (at page 32 of the detailled act) in the context of agricultural policy: No, farmers will never have to use chemicals again because "small robots can monitor and remove all the weeds". My comment: This embodies such a shame and hatred for nature, such a overestimation of tech-efficiency and underestimation of cost of resources (show us a LCA-analysis of all mining, machinery, and transportation involved), and a total incompetence to keep the soil and crops and people in good shape.

For thousands of years, people have carried out the weeding job by hand or with a hand hoe. It was cosy to be there among all those creatures growing to you. People enjoyed it. Of the crop that they brought to growth and bloom, and of the diversity of herbs and life forms around and under it. They gave their existence a warm floor, made them tough and tired, so that they enjoyed the simple food after work and could go into the night satisfied. In living communities the weeding and harvesting operations were never a problem. That growth attack of nature each year educated and updated their patience. Patience and care with earth, themselves, and each other. Patience is gold. Without patience you can't loose, and can't let go your urge when your power is out. Without those two behaviour options, you cannot deal with major social or territorial imbalances, and certainly not with the narrow constraints at play in dealing with climate change.

Now that labour immigrants must slaughter our animals, pick our fruit, and clean our toilet, and the pills regulate our fear, must the hoeing of our crops be transferred to self-propelled plastic boxes powered by battery-powered electricity manufactured in China, not repairable but every two years replaced by an even smarter variant? Sorry, as an experienced farmer I wonder, Is this the logical next (and last) step in human evolution (where the problem becomes the problem i.e. dominance of intellect) or part of a sustainability delirium?

j. nijssen, 2018