Center for World Indigenous Studies
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High Tech Gas Emissions Threaten Life

Published: October 24, 2008, Author: MHirch

The manufacture of liquid crystal television screens, microcircuits and photo voltaic cells for solar panels produces the deadly gas nitrogen trifluoride–a gas released into the atmosphere 17,000 times more deadly than carbon dioxide. Scripps Institution of Oceanography scientists led by Ray Weiss point to results of a study that concludes how high technology industry gas emissions have been measured at four times greater levels in the atmosphere than earlier thought. High levels of toxic gases emitted from the manufacture of technology like solar panels seriously undermines the argument that technology is the solution to global warming. One need not be a high tech Luddite to conclude that technology must be heavily regulated and controlled for unintended environmental consequences. Indeed, a growing number of “alternative energy solutions” have unintended consequences as “biofuels” demonstrate by their adverse effects on food prices, deforestation and green house gas emissions. The so called high technology solution to green house gas emissions is apparently as threatening to life as the 19th and 20th century technologies of coal powered rail and internal combustion motors for automobiles have proved to be.

Well, what can be done given the obvious crisis now faced world wide as a consequence of global warming and climate change?

Clearly the system of economy built on petroleum must come to a sudden stop. Instead of serving the demand for capital accumulation economy must be organized to promote and support life–human, plant, animal…life.  This is a tall order since a powerful slice of the human family demands a capital formation based economy.  Neither Karl Marx nor Adam Smith was correct.  Their theories have clearly been shown to be merely two sides of the same coin.  Both have lead to disaster for life. Huge examples of environmental destruction became obvious in the USSR after that empire’s collapse in 1991. Both the United Kingdom and the United States of America–capitalist bastions both–have demonstrated similar negative consequences for the environment.

If there are to be technological proposals for producing electricity or other types of energy then they must be heavily regulated for their adverse environmental emissions. Systems of gas and toxic product capture must be a part of the process of manufacture. This includes extraction of raw materials and the recycle of post-use materials.  Technology development must respect life in every way.

Food production must be localized and increasingly reliant on “natural gardening.”  By this term I mean that food (animal, fish, plant, insect, etc) must be produced as a product of human cooperation with nature where the goal is production of food and maintaining the health and fruitfulness of nature. Native peoples all around the world have a knowledge base for producing substantial quantities of food if they are allowed to maintain access to their historic territories. (Industrial forestry, farming and urban development have forced thousands of native populations from their original lands world-wide.)

The world must cease promoting growth as an aim in and of itself. Indeed, organizations that grow beyond human scale–beyond the possibility of human control–they must automatically be divided or broken down to smaller scale operations.  Size does matter. Even forests naturally break down into smaller units after growing too large. Native peoples have long understood the importance of maintaining smaller organizations and reducing large ones. We must learn again from native peoples.

Many indigenous nations have begun to forget the lessons of survival by adopting 19th and 20th century solutions to their social, economic, political and security problems.  These nations must reverse themselves and reclaim their ancient knowledge and make that knowledge a part of their 21st century solutions. Indigenous nations must also incorporate beneficial parts of western science, but reject those parts that clearly fail to support life.

High technology produces conveniences for entertainment, transportation, food processing, housing materials, and a large number of other products on which at least half the world’s population has come to depend. The other half of the world’s population does not have access to high technology. What do we conclude from this observation? There must be a global compromise between the two halves to transition immediately to life supporting tools and methods for producing the basics for life.  The transition must be negotiated from the ground up and not from the top down. Subregional meetings involving indigenous peoples, rural peoples and urban peoples must be urgently organized.  These meetings must seek a consensus on the transition.  Regional meetings must follow and agreements at the regional level must guide global behavior. All must look to supporting life.

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