Thursday, October 27, 2005

Doldrums and questions of blind faith

Talk about Peak Oil and the end of our highway travelin’ ways and you invariably get handed the mantra, “technology will save us.” We have this illogical and I’d add, pathological, faith in the ability of technology and mankind’s ingenuity. Take for instance the irrational belief so many Americans (and Europeans?) have in the free market to save our asses.

While I’d love to believe that some scientist will discover another substance that will give us 150 years of affluence and unlimited growth, I’m dubious about that epiphany occurring. Actually, I’m not sure our planet can take another 150 years of progress, or even another 15 years of our current abuse of the environment.

Human beings, with our unfounded arrogance and belief in our superiority, continually hold onto hope that science and technology is capable of solving every problem. Did you say global warming? Not a problem—we’ll just create new ways to cope with rising tides, increasing temperatures and frequency of natural disasters and approaching pandemics. Many in the scientific community, puffed up with pride in their perceived ability to forecast trends and shifts in climate, thought global warming would increase storms and consequently wind. As a result, there was a flurry to build windmills in the Netherlands and Germany to harness this abundance of natural energy and turn it into electricity. There is only one problem—these scientists apparently were wrong!

New research shows scientists could have been wrong when they forecast years ago that global warming would cause more storms and wind in northwestern Europe, Albert Klein Tank of the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) told Reuters.

"We said that 10-15 years ago and what we see in the observations is that the climate is warming but the number of storms is actually decreasing," said Klein Tank, who leads a team making climate scenarios for the Netherlands.

"We don't have a good explanation for that," he told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday.

It’s hard for us to accept that we don’t have all the answers. In an age of reality television and documented decreases in our cognitive capabilities, humans continue to believe that someone has the capability to figure things out. Despite the evidence that most humans have all they can handle trying to find their way to work in the morning, they continue to prostrate themselves to the gods of science and technology. Meanwhile, evidence clearly indicates that the future may not be as rosy as so many hoped for.

1 comment:

Joe said...

Global warming seems to be partly responsible for the increased number and severity of South Atlantic storms, however. (Global warming was also implicated in the flooding of Beaverton, Colorado, in a recent South Park episode, FWIW.)