It was one of those hot sunny afternoons where people in the house just decided to sit around, quietly and lazily together, after getting tired of the same routines they get stuck doing in their distant online lives. You would think that most people never get sick of the vastness of the Internet and the different pleasures it conveniently offers, but eventually, somehow, maybe after enough twitches of the eyelids, back cramps, and carpal tunnel syndromes, or perhaps it's our genetic impulse to socially interact with other humans in the physical realm that forces us, my sister and I finally decided to just lay back in this world we live in to witness. Looking out the window and seeing the blazing sun, the sweltering asphalt, and those almost visible waves of heat I swear I’m not just imagining that's clouding the air, it's almost impossible not to notice that the Earth must be having a dangerously high fever.
"This is our fault," my sister spoke. "Humanity's fault." She's holding a glass of ice-cold water in her right hand and fanning herself vigorously with the other. "This is global warming at its worst, caused by humanity's selfish desires to always just live easy and comfortably: digging up oil, cutting trees, burning fuel here and there, building machines, consuming electricity and everything. Behold the consequences."
Like my sister, I have always complained about the overwhelming heat of the sun. It's just natural for us to. I am aware that this kind of temperature and atmosphere didn't really exist before when I was a kid. I remember the sunny days of the 90's meant a fair day outside the house where kids could gather in the streets to play. Now parents in our neighborhood worry that if their children stayed outside in the heat they might get sick, and so they would rather have them tucked in their bed taking an afternoon nap. Not a lot of kids go outside to play anymore these days anyway, not with all the different kinds of gadgets and gaming consoles our modern Santa Claus'es have in store for them each year. I can imagine the 80s, 70s, and the other decades way back mostly had only trees and bare soil covered with grass as their outdoors, and they must have had cooler sunny days with more wind and clouds. My mom would say that’s right; she's born in 1955.
See, it is natural for me to get mad that there's too much heat in the air because it takes away a lot of fun, but the idea that this trouble is mainly brought by human technology, as pointed out by my sister, still bothers me. "So would you rather have nothing? No cars, no electricity, no Internet? Nothing?" I asked her. It is typical in our house to start arguments about different topics. We all get along that way.
"Yes. The Earth was better before. Life was normal," she said.
"But we can't survive without electricity, fuel and machines," I told her.
"You just think you can't, because you've gotten so used to it."
I honestly believe that the way people live in the modern era depends hugely on fuel and technology. I cannot deny the fact that a lot of inventions were made solely for the purpose of entertainment and that there are some things I can do away with. It's just gotten hard though for many to say they could live without television and computers. Life without the Internet is a nightmare to many, including myself, but these pieces of technology we only grew to depend on recently and could very well be considered as luxury should not be the basis of any judgment that the inventions brought about by human intellectual progress are not truly essential to life. Imagine life without fuel that speeds up transportation, electricity that set forth the creation of many wonderful inventions and has allowed access to new useful knowledge, and the automated machines that mass-produce our food. These things did not exist before and humanity thrived, but we cannot deny that today, in our time, these are key to our survival. What if all of a sudden, our online systems collapsed and people could not use their credit cards or withdraw cash from the ATM? What if our new sources of energy disappeared, public transportation stopped, the factories ceased to manufacture supplies and nobody could produce enough food for everyone?
It would be a total chaos.
I flinched. I looked outside and saw a few clouds had started to drift across the sky and yet it still failed to cast a shadow on the concrete which already seemed to begin steaming. The scenario I imagined was hard to bear and it couldn’t prove my point that technology is not to blame for our problems. If anything, that supported my sister’s argument that the world would have been better if these things weren’t created, in the sense that the human race would not have organized themselves in a way that such loopholes existed. We would not have been too dependent on things which if disappeared, such disorder would arise. Maybe after all, it was the greatest mistake humans ever made which our planet is now suffering from: going astray from a life that was more “normal.”
History had its way at some point. Even from the very beginning, human intellect strived, and triumphed, to bring about more efficient ways to live. Agriculture, animal husbandry, masonry and mining – these were the very first foundations of human technology. These gave rise to more developments as population grew and societies expanded. Technology was always there to improve life, not to destroy it. To demand a life that is more basic is to demand a stop in the technological timeline. To think that humanity in the 21st century could survive with only the more basic forms of technology is a dangerous, imprudent assumption.
I am more keen to look at facts rather than create assumptions and scenarios in my head. And what are the facts that I see? That we have seven billion people in this world right now needing more energy than the Earth is able to supply. An increase in food production implies clearing more lands and fewer forests. An increase in energy demand implies more mining and oil drilling, and even fewer forests. The plants and trees whose photosynthesis we depend on would’ve long gone scarce had we not come up with ways to improve agriculture and access to cellulose for biofuels. Technology is always meant to help us; the drastic change in human activity and behavior is what propels its repercussions. Maybe if population did not grow to what it is now, things would be better, but we need not gripe about how much better life used to be and wish it was still that way. What we are more capable of doing is to do, not to undo. We continue to seek new ways to reduce carbon emissions, finding alternative renewable sources of energy, and more people are becoming more aware of the threat of overpopulation to the planet. Technology is what we have now, and with enough people thinking scientifically in the world, solutions would never be far from our reach.
I leaned backwards on my chair, feeling more exhausted as the day went on and the heat never resigned. My sister placed her glass on the table, beads of water condensing on its outside. I looked at her sun-bathed face. Her eyes were closed and her left hand seemed to have been programmed to never stop fanning herself tirelessly.
“We cannot,” I reiterated, regaining my confidence. “We cannot survive without technology. We have billions of people in the world and the Earth would have no way to sustain human life if human technology were not involved. The only way we are able to continue to live on this planet anymore is because of humanity’s scientific progress.”
She opened her eyes, looked at me, and stood up. “We should agree to disagree,” she said. She smiled, and left to her room.
“Fine,” I said. I took the glass of water she left on the table and drank the little amount that was left of it. It was icy.
kudos to modern technology and environmental activists.