Technology and the Environment


JaneGoodallStory_141286639As a man who has not only spent his adult life surrounded by technology, but has also seen all of the Terminator movies; I have to tell you, I’m pretty sure the robots are going to show up soon. It’s only a matter of time before our smart phones and Keurig machines become self-aware and make us into their slaves. Then again, maybe they already have? Take a smart phone away from its owner and see if they don’t go at least 2 or 3 shades of crazy. Deny a coffee drinker their coffee and see how many stitches it takes to close the ensuing head wound. The only thing that is growing steadier and speedier than technology is the Chinese obesity rate as we build more and more McDonalds and KFCs. I, for one, am kind of terrified. (Glances suspiciously at iPhone)

Apparently not everyone shares my same, somewhat irrational, fear of a pending robot take-over. In a recent article written just before her 80th birthday, environmental legend, Jane Goodall, wrote; “I believe strongly that it [technology] can — and must — be used as a force for advancing the work of environmental conservation.” Jane even goes on to point out that; “While I analyzed my early field work by hand with the help of a slide rule, today conservationists use sophisticated computer software to determine things like the DNA profiles of wild chimpanzees. My organization, the Jane Goodall Institute, partners with innovative groups such as Google Earth, Esri and others to use technological tools to map and monitor changes to chimpanzee habitat in real time. We are also employing local villagers to use Android tablets to record illegal activities in the forests where chimpanzees live.”

Sure Jane, that’s all good and well, but what happens when these chimpanzees get ahold of one of those tablets? All of the sudden their social patterns will degrade to a bunch of apes sitting around staring at their smart phones and not interacting. Assertions of dominance will occur in the airing of dirty laundry on Facebook. Even the all-time greatest chimp act of all times, poo flinging, will probably just take place on Twitter. Two words, Jane: Monkey Selfie.

“Technology alone will not solve every problem,” she goes on to say, ”But it is part of the solution. Let's use technology as a way to amplify our voices in support of the environment. Let's turn to Facebook, Twitter and the myriad other ways to connect and strategize with likeminded individuals about how to make this world better. Let's use technology to extend the reach of our personal influence in support of the planet we love. You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you — for better or for worse. What you do makes a difference. Technology can help us all make a positive difference.”

Well, I guess I can’t argue too much with that point. Technology does have the ability to extend our reach and add volume to our voices. Without technology, you wouldn’t be reading these words, and I wouldn’t have a job. So maybe I can cast aside my robot take-over fears for now and embrace the impacts that technology has on our world. If the legendary Jane Goodall is for it, then I am for it. But I am telling you now, if the robots show up, expect a giant “I told you so” from this guy.

Justin Gammill

He is "stealthy like a ninja at midnight, yet brazen like a champion Mexican fighting chicken". Justin Gammill approaches his topics in a manner that provokes thought, laughter, and the occasional “did he just say that?”. Chances are, yes, he most certainly did just say that. So, buckle up … you never know where the train of thought is going.

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