Blogs by J. O. Quantaman
Ethics for Sci-Fi Writers
9/21/2009 7:31:26 AM
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Conceive a future that really works.
Sci-Fi and fantasy authors ought to be careful of what they wish for. Technology is NOT a cure-all. Innovations can and do cause dangerous side effects. Wonderful plots can fizzle in a hurry if they are based on unlikely or impractical advances. For myself, I am wary of technological developments since the adaptation of electricity, circa 1900. I like bicycles. They've proven themselves to be a hassle-free alternative for horses across smooth surfaces. Electrical gadgets are OK if they are well-made and durable. I wish the makers of digital devices would quit trying to reinvent the wheel every six months. Otherwise digital devices show promise as long as they aren't hooked into printers.
Some thoughts on home-grown energy.
The most-effective way of making biodiesel is to begin with used deep-frying oil from restaurants. 36 months ago in Texas, there was a controversy over the thefts of such oil. A biodiesel company signed agreements with a number of restaurants to remove their used oil. The restaurants would leave used oil in large drums outside in the alleyways. The company would then collect the drums nightly or weekly, depending on the amount of oil accumulated. During the heady years before the economic downturn, the worth of used oil rose greatly in price. Soon, bandits began swiping the drums before the company's trucks could make their rounds. The company complained to the law enforcement authorities who refused to act, since the drums were being collected free of charge. The police discounted thefts which were valued at zero dollars. Even if caught and arrested, the preps would receive a figurative slap on the hand for stealing valueless junk.
This example illustrates the problem of a consumer society, where producers can sell stuff and then thumb their noses about whatever may happen to their products after the sales. Consumers have the obligation of disposing or recycling their garbage. Products are priced lower than their true cost. Economists have always ignored this evident truth in the same way they have always ignored the natural environment. Wall street bankers are not in the habit of assigning a capital loss to a forestry company that has clear-cut 100 hectares of woodland. Lumber rolling out of the sawmill is added to the Gross National Product, as if money truly does grow on trees. The dislocation of thousands of song birds and ground squirrels is never factored in. Nor is the boost in erosion and the fouling of nearby streams and lakes.
Luckily, a few people are beginning to realize that the tracts of forest are not infinite; the potential fish to be caught in the sea is not limitless.
I have little hope that free market capitalism will solve the problems associated with global warming. Think about it. Who has suffered worse from the recession? Solar panel manufacturers, windmill venders, producers who make stuff from discarded materials. The relative worth of plastic, aluminum cans, tins cans have all bottomed out lower than brand new goods. Meanwhile, politicians are enticing everyone to buy new cars! Go figure.
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