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.

Latest posts by Justin Gammill (see all)

  • Emerald Horizon


    • Justin Gammill

      don’t worry, Christian Bale (the 3rd or 4th John Conner) will save us!!

  • 2girlsincollege

    I never thought we’d become slaves of our technology, but that it would make some people dumber…just a bunch of people drooling and watching a screen. But for those that are smart enough to use it to their advantage (as opposed to the droolers), it is absolutely essential.
    Thanks for the laugh….

    • Justin Gammill

      Yeah, I think my belief in the robo-armageddon thing might need to be put on hold, I am in the middle of an epic Words with Friends game…

  • JaneGoodallFan

    I’m really not sure if this site is supposed to be a reputable source of environmental news? If it is, I hope this particular author practices better grammar. I know that’s nit-picky but I’m tired of seeing news articles from various publications slipping in the way they use the AP style and the correct construction of sentences.

    If I’m wrong and this isn’t a paid author and more of a hobby-writer, then lax AP style usage and grammar is more acceptable, I suppose.

    Just a little friendly advice, though: I do feel like the bulk of this content was written to be witty or clever rather than present the facts at hand, which are the words of Jane Goodall. I had quite a bit of trouble following the flow and logic of this article.

    • Justin Gammill

      Yes ma’am, wit and humor is what I was aiming for. It’s part of what I’m always aiming for. I apologize for slipping on the “AP style”. I was too busy focusing on having a personality, and not being one of the robots that, as I mentioned, are going to take over the world.

      • JaneGoodallFan

        Surely you can retain personality and humor by following AP style.

        It’s every publication, and I’m still not exactly sure what this publication is. I can say, I’m damn tired of seeing the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times publish pieces with glaring, obvious errors–of the factual, grammatical, and style variety.

        I’m also a male..

        • Justin Gammill

          I apologize, sir. I guess I’m more concerned with readability and personal style, than making the way I write fit some cookie-cutter format that was established by people who I guarantee don’t have a sense of humor.

          • JaneGoodallFan

            I think it’s possible you may not know much about AP style or any other style guides. It’s not about making the written word boring or less entertaining. It’s more about uniformity. For example, numbers under ten should be spelled out. Like, “3” should be “three”. Following any of the major style guides (including Chicago, MLA, APA, and AP) actually increases readability because it promotes a certain level of familiarity. It’s more than just writing a certain way, it’s about referencing sources, the construction of a good title, how to attribute a quotation properly, especially when that quotation is rather long, etc. It’s not a device meant to stifle a writer’s voice at all. It’s simply for professionalism and standardization.

            I think you and I can both agree communication is very important and our language has been deeply affected by short forms of communication like text messages. And of course, the shortfalls of education.

            Some of the greatest, most interesting Op-Ed and feature pieces in history, whether they were of a thought-provoking or comedic nature, were aligned with some type of style guide.

            I was a journalist for decades, and then a columnist. I’m just offering my professional advice. And I will say, I had a wicked sense of humor and it certainly came through in my columns.

          • Aaron Styles

            Hi Fan,

            I still think we should use more “s” than “Z”, I think colour should be spelled that way and I think Tuition is actually a product and not a monetary amount. The problem with style guides is deciding which one. There are many and I actually use the Gregg Reference Manual, call me old-fashioned or just call me english.

            The fact is, this site is worldwide and its hard to use simply one style and have it so the whole world gets it.

            Loved the feed back though


          • Justin Gammill

            now you say “had” a wicked sense of humor…what happened to it?

          • JaneGoodallFan

            Now you’re just being rude. Arrogance and lack of civility does not make for a long writing career. I know from experience. I had to learn to stifle my hubris and accept that writing is a craft one will never master. There is always room to improve– and when a veteran of the industry tries to have a professional-to-professional conversation about the craft with you, it’s best to evaluate what they have to say and give thoughtful response, rather than acerbic, rude ones. But, alas, bears do shit in the woods.

            I have written for British publications and I agree in many ways. Fortunately, the AP style and even others, like Chicago and MLA were designed to help increase readability to non-USA, English speakers.

            I didn’t only mention AP for a reason. Any will do, most of the time. By the way, the Gregg Reference Manual is great. Thank you, sir.

          • Justin Gammill

            wait, wait, wait, wait…
            I wasn’t trying to be rude, I was trying to make a joke. You used the word “had”, not me. If you would have said “Have”, and then I came back and said something about you not having a sense of humor, that would be rude.

            I’m not here to berate anyone, people do that to me enough. I’m here to start a conversation, which in this case has nothing to do with the actual article :)

          • JaneGoodallFan

            Well, I guess I lost my humor when I started forgetting how to play the piano and what my daughter’s husband’s name is (I’m still not sure if it’s Jay, Jimmy, or James). I’m a dinosaur.

            The world hasn’t changed in the treatment of writers. Back in my prime, suggesting that Napalm was bad for the environment meant angry letters to the editor that I was a closet communist, and when I covered topics regarding birth control and abortion, I got some pretty serious death threats. None of that matters, I suppose. We write because we are supposed to, because nothing makes us happier.

            I guess I’ve got myself into trouble. I’m a few bad exchanges on the Internet away from my wife insisting that I get one of those take-pity-on-the-elderly jobs at some dirty supermarket.

            I used to think Goodall was quite the catch. Joni Mitchell was another woman who was after my own heart.

          • Justin Gammill

            Well Sir, I imagine you still have an excellent sense of humor, it’s generally not something you lose.

            In all honesty, I’m glad that you commented, and that you expressed your opinion. Even if that opinion wasn’t necessarily flattering, it’s still okay to say it.

            Understanding your writing past, you can appreciate that I am young in my writing career. I am still developing my voice, and even if I may argue your point, that doesn’t mean I won’t take the advice to heart.

            And Yes, Jane Goodall was quite the fox back in the day, and remains an amazing woman.

          • JaneGoodallFan

            I try to help new writers. I mentor a few. They get thrown into the bull pen these days and ripped to shreds. I think this is because they are required to post fast with this information age, and the kiddos I know have to self-edit. Being an old fart, it is hard to show that I’m trying to be helpful. Hell, it’s hard enough to convince people this old bag o’ bones still has some miles left on it.

          • Justin Gammill

            Well, I for one, appreciate it.

          • Mailitx

            Well, good sirs, I’m still curious to know what JaneGoodallFan’s opinion of the story is aside from the grammatical issue discussed at length…

  • Sharon Malone

    We are becoming slaves to technology.everyone is on cellphone,smartphones,tablets,commuters.gaming system,watching tv,and movies to keep us entertain at all is becoming ridiculous.