America loves its technological prowess. In fact, we appear to be enraptured with our ability to 'control' and 'manage' Nature, and to tease more and more 'convenience' and 'luxury' into our lives. Truly, within the last fifty years, we have witnessed innovations as never before seen in this civilization. It is easy, and maybe somewhat expected, to get carried away with ourselves. However, before we do, we ought to look around and see the shape we've left the natural world. We have poisoned the water, desecrated the land, and made foul the air. Entire forests have been cut down. Grasslands have been turned into mosaics of monoculture. Wetlands have been filled in for subdivisions. Fertile soil has been drained of nutrients, laced with synthetic chemicals. We have stopped listing endangered species only because the government does not have enough manpower to keep up with them. Is this progress?!
The notion here is elementary: simply because we discover we can do something, does not mean we should blindly pursue it, regardless of the consequences. We absolutely must get beyond this myopic attitude. Any endeavor that threatens the health of Mother Earth is just that - an endeavor that threatens. Mega-developments, extractive industries, dams, nuclear weapons and power (a terrible danger), fossil fuels, and biotechnology (as currently practiced) are examples of projects that must be phased out. As for the latter, while the arguments pro and con rage on, there is a sufficient amount of legitimate, peer-reviewed data to support the notion that genetic engineering to enhance food production is a bad experiment just waiting for a disaster to occur.
Technologies to be embraced are those that enhance the collective experience for all. In an increasingly mobile and fast-paced age, communication and transportation alternatives that perpetuate efficiency without adverse ecological effects should be explored. It is absolutely possible and proven to harness energy in ways that do not degrade the planet, or each other. We can live comfortable lives without impairing the natural processes that support such life.
Recent events in California and elsewhere point out what should have been obvious decades ago. Energy production which focuses on renewable sources, e.g. solar / wind / biomass, are clearly the preferred alternative. As we decrease our dependency on fossil fuels for energy, we will stabilize the Earth's climate and reverse global warming and the greenhouse effect. We will also zero out our need to become involved in oil wars, which is what all recent conflicts in the Middle East and Central Asia are actually associated with. This is another area in which our politicians are too timid or 'bought off' to take action. As citizens, the time is over for us to be timid.
We can decrease our waste stream dramatically, even eliminate it altogether, by increasing our recycling and composting efforts, while simultaneously exploring innovative manufacturing techniques that do away with extraneous materials and pollution. Imagine a society in which nothing was made that could not be recycled, reused, or biodegraded. Does this not make more sense than piling unused and unwanted goods in increasingly scarce "landfills", i.e. beautiful canyons and valleys now filled with trash?
It is possible to live in a world of remarkable technological ingenuity without impairing the natural processes of the planet, or each other. These systems exist, and only need to be refined and brought to the marketplace. Of course, the subsidies that prop up the existing destructive industries will need to be removed.
One industry's waste can become another's raw materials. This is a principle being espoused and perfected by many, perhaps most prominently by William Schultz at the University of Virginia. As with everything included here, this is a common-sense approach. It seems as though our history with technology can be likened to an unsupervised child in a laboratory. We discover we can do something, then zealously pursue it regardless of the repercussions. We ought to be more mature by now. We ought to realize that just because an industry will make money and 'bolster the economy' does not mean it will positively augment our lives, nor that of our fellow creatures.
What good is a strong economy if it exists on a dead world?