No to Nanotechnology
Source R. Bleier
Date 99/05/01/21:35

> /* Written 9:03 PM May 13, 1998 by in */
> /* ---------- "[PNEWS] DESIP: Addendum #4; Part 2" ---------- */
> In an age of growing awareness of the impact of human
> activity on the earth's diminishing resources, many look
> to more powerful and expanding technologies in order to
> maintain our standard of living as our populations and
> economic activity continue to grow.
> Nanotechnology is a process based on micro-electronic
> systems which manipulate particles as small as the atom
> and its constituent particles, For many, nanotechnology
> represents a leading hope for a breakthrough technique
> promising a revolutionary impact on the quality of our
> lives.
> From a theoretical viewpoint, however, it is inconceivable
> that nanotechnology can deliver on the promise that many
> hope for, argues Robert Mueller, a science writer and a
> former NASA scientist, in an article adapted by Real World
> ("Just a Waste of Energy,"Winter 1996/7) from an article
> in Earth First Journal.
> Mueller points out that the second law of thermodynamics
> raises fundamental questions about the premise and the
> promise of technological systems like nanotechnogy to
> dissolve the contradictions between growing human demand
> and the finite limits of the earth's resources.
> The second law of thermodynamics "states that the disorder
> or 'entropy' of any isolated system always spontaneously
> increases. In practical terms this means that although we
> can create technological order in local parts of the
> environment (e.g. an industrial site) there inevitably
> will be created a concomitant greater quantity of
> disorder, not only at that site, but in external regions
> from which ordering elements such as energy and materials
> were drawn.
> Mueller illustrates his view that greater disorder is
> caused by attempts at technological control, by pointing
> to some examples which are commonly regarded as marvels of
> human ingenuity. He argues out that current attempts at
> "supercontrol" of medical procedures like organ
> transplants and life support systems are so costly in
> terms of their material requirements that they drive up
> the costs of medical care beyond the reach of many who
> will never need these extreme procedures.
> Mueller also points to the enormous expense of maintaining
> the "monotonous monocultures of agribusiness" and to the
> "trimmed herbicide and pesticide-saturated yards,
> roadsides and other artificially vegetated areas," and the
> "inefficient estates of 'hobby agriculture', like golf
> courses, that destructively enslave more thousands of
> square miles, as well as the large expanses of public land
> devot ed to deficit timber, grazing and mining operations
> by the federal government.
> Mueller argues that proponents of technology tend to
> ignore the importance of wilderness as a crucial locus
> originating and sustaining life. He concludes with his
> view of wilderness as the place where the natural regimen
> of harmony between order and disorder can operate. He
> believes that if humanity is to flourish, we must preserve
> wilderness and not continue to destroy it.

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