It’s been a few weeks now since I began my dissertation reading, and a few days since I began seriously planning my Final Year Project (FYP), but already things are moving very quickly, both for good and bad.
During my reading I read a number of authors who expressed concerns about the disconnect between people and the natural world, and other authors who explained different arguments in the ongoing debate about technology’s role in the environment. But in my mind these two topics are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, it is undoubtable that the environment and technology are so deeply entwined that either one has the potential to wipe out the other with only humanity’s will stopping it. By this I mean that if humanity so wished, it could put technology first and completely obliterate much of the natural world in the process, while on the flip side an ecocentric approach could see the complete abandonment of technology and innovation.
Additionally, in solving many of the technology-, industry-, and human-driven issues (not just climate change), some believe that a decentralisation of technology is needed to democratise technology. Polls suggest that the majority of people worldwide see climate change as at least a very serious problem. Despite this, action on climate change has been slow. Innovation driven by government and industry is not enough alone to solve problems, the populace also needs to be involved (Robinson, 2004). By decentralising technology away from government and big-industry, and giving it back to the people, progress can be made much more quickly.
In a speech to the Royal Society in 2002, then Prime Minister Tony Blair spoke of the need for society at large to be involved in the scientific and innovative process. Meanwhile, NGOs like Friends of the Earth and World Watch lobbied for decades against industrialisation in favour of a decentralised approach to technology and innovation (Nye, 2006).
A revolt of local small producers and local consumers against the global industrialisation of the corporations
(Berry, n.d., in Nye, 2006)
It is a combination of techno-decentralisation and the individual connection to the natural world that is influencing my project the most. Without getting into any technical detail, my plan is to build a device that uses technology to physically connect the individual’s life or home to the health of the wider natural world, thus recreating a dependence on the natural world. To do this, and to fulfil the decentralisation context of my project, the plan right now is to build a small garden in which the health of the produce is directly linked to the health of the planet, echoing any worldwide ecological occurrences in the home. Thus, the connection reconnects the individual to the environment, whilst decentralising food production and the technology behind it.