Techno-Fix : Why Technology Won't Save Us or the Environment

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2011-10-04
  • Publisher: Consortium Book Sales & Dist

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A powerful and insightful critique of modern techno-optimism.

Author Biography

Micahael Huesemann, PhD is a research scientist with a special interest in sustainability and critical science. He has specialized in environmental biotechnology for more than 25 years. Joyse Huesemann, PhD is an activist and academic who has taught at several universities and participates in many environmental, wildlife protection and companion animal organizations.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. xv
Forewordp. xvii
Introductionp. xxiii
Technology and Its Limitations
The Inherent Unavoidability and Unpredictability of Unintended Consequencesp. 3
Interconnectednessp. 3
Human Improvement upon Naturep. 5
Unavoidable Negative Effects of Technologyp. 7
Irreversible Consequencesp. 8
The Limitations of Reductionismp. 11
When Things Bite Back: Some Unintended Consequences of Modern Technologyp. 17
Unintended Environmental Consequencesp. 17
Unintended Consequences of Industrialized Agriculturep. 23
Unintended Side Effects of Genetic Engineeringp. 25
Unintended Consequences of the Automobilep. 28
Intended and Unintended Consequences of High-Technology Welfarep. 31
Unintended Consequences of High-Tech Medicinep. 33
Unintended Consequences of Technological Revolutionsp. 43
The Decline in Fitness of Future Generationsp. 46
Technology, Exploitation and Fairnessp. 49
Technology and Exploitationp. 50
Technological Exploitation of Naturep. 53
Human Domination of Naturep. 56
Machines and the Control and Exploitation of Workersp. 60
Television: A Powerful Tool for Social Control and Manipulationp. 64
Military Technologiesp. 68
In Search of Solutions I: Counter-Technologies and Social Fixesp. 71
Counter-Technologiesp. 73
Social Fixesp. 75
Environmental Counter-Technologiesp. 77
Military Counter-Technologiesp. 83
Medical Counter-Technologiesp. 86
Unintended Consequences of Counter-Technologies and Social Fixesp. 88
In Search of Solutions II: Efficiency Improvementsp. 91
Technological Progress and Rising Material Affluencep. 94
Efficiency Improvements and Limited Resourcesp. 98
Inherent Limits to Efficiency Improvementsp. 109
Unintended Consequences of Efficiency Solutionsp. 112
Sustainability or Collapse?p. 117
Sustainable Development and Eco-Efficiencyp. 119
Three Conditions for Long-term Sustainabilityp. 122
Challenge #1: Serious Environmental Impacts of Large-Scale Renewable Energy Generationp. 125
Challenge #2: Replacement of Non-Renewable Materials with Renewable Substitutesp. 133
Challenge #3: Complete Recycling of Non-Renewable Materials and Wastesp. 135
Sustainability or Collapse?p. 137
The Uncritical Acceptance of Technology
Technological Optimism and Belief in Progressp. 145
Belief Progress: A Brief Historyp. 148
Comparison of Belief in Progress to Religious Faithp. 152
Ignorance: The Basis of Most Techno-Optimismp. 154
Medical Techno-Optimismp. 159
Techno-Optimism and the Mass Mediap. 167
The Decline of Techno-Optimismp. 169
The Positive Biases of Technology Assessments and Cost-Benefit Analysesp. 173
An Overview of Cost-Benefit Analysisp. 174
Problem #1: Boundary Selection and Externalization of Costsp. 176
Problem #2: Prediction of Potential Impacts and Selection of Appropriate Indicatorsp. 180
Problem #3: Institutional Biases and the Perception of Costs and Benefitsp. 183
Problem #4: Monetization of Non-Market Valuesp. 185
Problem #5: The Ethics of Cost-Benefit Analysesp. 187
The Uncritical Adoption of the Automobilep. 189
The Hidden Costs of Biofuelsp. 192
Limited Testing of the Effectiveness of Medical Therapiesp. 194
Gross Domestic Product (GDP): A Biased Indicator of Economic Progressp. 200
Happinessp. 207
Technological Innovation, Consumerism and Materialismp. 208
Material Affluence and Happinessp. 214
Explaining the Paradoxp. 216
Sources of Happinessp. 224
The Destruction of Traditional Sources of Happinessp. 226
The Uncritical Acceptance of New Technologiesp. 235
The Myth of Value-Neutralityp. 235
The Myth of Autonomous Technologyp. 241
The Technological Imperativep. 243
Technological Dependency and Loss of Freedomp. 245
The Undemocratic Control of Technologyp. 248
Profit Motive: The Main Driver of Technological Developmentp. 253
Technological Development as a Social Processp. 253
Understanding the Meaning of Profitp. 255
Profit Maximization and the Development of New Technologiesp. 258
Profit Maximization: Agriculture and Foodp. 261
Profit Maximization: Medical Carep. 263
Profit Maximization: Military Technologies and Foreign Policyp. 266
The Next Scientific and Technological Revolution
The Need for a Different Worldviewp. 271
The Power of Worldviews and Paradigmsp. 271
Conflicting Worldviews and Paradigm Shirtsp. 273
A Different View of Realityp. 277
A Different View of the Economyp. 279
A Different View of Science and Technologyp. 285
A Different View of Medicinep. 286
The Need for Increased Awarenessp. 289
The Design of Environmentally Sustainable and Socially Appropriate Technologiesp. 295
Design Criteria for Environmental Sustainabilityp. 295
Design Criteria for Social Appropriatenessp. 300
The Prevention of Unintended Consequencesp. 304
The Democratic Control of Technologyp. 306
Local Organic Agriculture: A Model of Environmentally Sustainable and Socially Appropriate Technologyp. 309
Critical Science and Social Responsibilityp. 313
The Myth of Value-Neutralityp. 313
A New, Critical Sciencep. 320
The Question of Responsibilityp. 325
The Problem of Professionalismp. 328
The Need for Comprehensive Professional Ethicsp. 330
Toward a Critical Science and Engineeringp. 334
For Further Thoughtp. 339
Bibliographyp. 355
End Notesp. 383
Indexp. 415
About the Authorsp. 435
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