During the past several hundred years, humans have begun to industrialize rapidly. Tons of new technologies with all sorts of capabilities have sprung up. In many cases, these added capabilities have been used to manipulate natural things for human benefit, often at the expense of other things. On the other hand, technological advancement has required that humans come to a better understanding of the world, bringing with it a greater potential to do good, to manipulate things for the benefit of the planet. Technological advancement has essentially given us the “can”, and so now the question becomes “should”. Should we do something because we can? Industrialization has increased the effect humans have on the environment, for good or for bad.
It is hard to argue that industrialization has not brought humans a greater ability to manipulate their environment. The list of things that we are now capable of is staggering. Computers, mind-bogglingly sophisticated machines in and of themselves, have enable a world of things to be possible, including the reading of genetic code, prompting Rifkin, in an interview, to deem genes “the raw resource of the biotech industry”. The genetic material that governs every aspect of the development of life is now merely a material for the manipulation of an entire industry. We can clone things (not very well, but still), creating identical creatures at will. “we can go to the moon, orbit earth in space for weeks at a time, send television images around the world in a matter of seconds, and transplant hearts” (Southwick, 170). We can so alter our environment that we are completely unaware of the natural things around us. A room in Japan can completel...
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...dearly-held, unconscious collective assumptions may impede our chances for survival. Or, as Poliakoff, et. al., noted, “fundamental changes in technology are adopted… only when they provide real advantage” (810). Are human beings inherently selfish, or are they capable of rising above that? Will we use this power we have developed to help ourselves, or to attempt to help the world? “Why can’t we achieve a better balance between people, resources, and the environment? … The complete answers to these questions lie deeply within the complex realms of science, philosophy, religion, economics, and politics.” (170). The answers may be complicated. The truth is, industrialization has changed our relationship to the environment. It has enabled us to hurt it far more than any other species, but it has also given us the ability to help. The power of choice now lies with us.
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