Concentration of CO2 in the Atmosphere

Life in the Age of Unintended Consequences

Larry Plesent

We often speak of science and technology in the same breath. And there is logic to this as science can lead to changes in technology. The growth of technology is so basic to modern society that our financial system is largely based on investing in it, and in the predicted profits from its ongoing role in our evolving society.

For this article, we will narrowly define technology as toolmaking and its end products. Keep in mind that technology is often immediately used for making ever more complex tools, and for novel applications of these new tools as they emerge. I’m a big fan of technology and of tools, which I use constantly throughout the day to multiply my physical force and to increase efficiency of action. For the record, technology is not my primary focus in life.

Certainly, our to-do list is defined by the tools we keep. But is it sane and realistic to define our essential selves strictly by the technologies we manipulate?

Technology is like a birthday. Every once in a while, you actually get something you want that is useful and relevant in the life you are currently living. Often, it’s just another mess to clean up.

Now it gets really interesting.

EVERY technology brings with it unexpected and indeed often unintended consequences. Gone are the days of believing that the earth will always clean up our messes for us. OK. It will. But most of us will probably be wishing that we just did things differently from the start.

In many ways we are truly living in the Age of Unintended Consequences.

The easy way out of all this is to believe a very powerful and persuasive myth. Here it is. Tomorrow’s technology will save us from the consequences of today’s technology. Powerful words, and important to the continuation of financial markets and economies worldwide. Without a financial future, why bother investing at all?

While tomorrow’s technology will surely solve SOME of the hard issues inherent in older technologies, we are still just talking about a better way to bake a cake. Or power our factories. Or travel across the world. Or say hello to our neighbors.

I do not believe that the advance of technology will stop the portion of the current warming cycle that we are all directly responsible for. Not in any of our lifetimes. The entire financial system our lives revolve around depends on ever increasing production. What is needed, however, is most likely just the opposite.

I believe that what is required here and now is a more biological approach to meeting the needs of busy humans. Like building with mushrooms on the exterior surfaces that heal their own cracks. A mass conversion to organic farming which nurtures mineral rich soil which holds carbon. Converting uranium fueled reactors to 90% thorium fueled reactors. The use of enhanced micro-organisms to clean up toxic waste sites. We already have this stuff and more. Check it out.

On a local level let’s have more gardens and homesteads and far fewer lawns. Less nationalistic fervor and more sharing of culture and perspectives. How about a world-wide weather show that illustrates how weather is a worldwide phenomenon and that we are all affected by it? Weather doesn’t stop at the border, just on my weather application.

And while we are at it, here is a plug for a nonprofit group that brings you over eight thousand radio stations from around the world you can listen to for free. Rotate the globe and pick a region. Use the search feature to narrow your choices or choose stations geographically. What a great way to develop empathy with humans across the globe! Look up Radio Garden in Ecosia or use your favorite search engine. Ecosia plants one tree for every forty-five searches you do. Now there’s an easy way to make a difference!

This is the Soapman wishing you all a happy, healthy autumn. Start drinking your chaga tea when the leaves fall off the trees. And don’t be afraid of the vax.

Larry Plesent is a writer and human being living and working in the Green Mountains of Vermont. Learn more at

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>