Today is international Blog Action Day on Climate Change

7000 people registered their blogs and pledged to link their main topic to climate change  - this is one of them.

As I wrote in the comment to her last blog entry, I was about to write pretty much exactly what Joanne Poyourow wrote in Getting from 385+ ppm to 350 ppm. So read that first if you haven't yet! As Joanne writes, avoiding catastrophe will involve political action, generating new structures in society, and changing our basic way of thinking about our use of Earth's resources.

What I would add is this: I am most hopeful and energized because Transition is about the excitement and fun in "powerdown". We can change the way we think about our way of life - powerdown is our choice for a host of good reasons. And building the structures for it is satisfying life's work. And it all makes sense because, contrary to oft-stated opinion, technology in itself is rarely neutral.

We often hear people say that a given technology is neutral, but the people using it make it good or bad. Television, we are told, can be a source of educational programming, or a dangerous way to numb the masses. The automobile can be a force that enables us to make a better living, or destroy our personal health and shared environment. The green revolution can save millions from starvation, or result in millions of family farm failures worldwide.

What this misses (and this is not just my lightly held "opinion", because I really do believe, here, that the opposing view is plain wrong), is the big picture. When we look at things holistically, and not through the blinders of reductionism, we can plainly see that a technology is railroaded into certain impacts on the world by its very characteristics.

The simplest way to see this is the comparison of the television and the internet. Television could never be an instrument of democracy, because it depends on costly, centralized programming, itself dependent on advertising by deep-pocketed interests. Inevitably, it ends up dumbing people down and brainwashing them. The internet, on the other hand, so far, has been accessible even by people without computers (some bloggers use the public library). Even then, it favors folks with enough money for their own PC and fast internet connection. Nevertheless, it is well-suited to facilitating communication and grassroots organizing.

So, can renewable technology solve climate change? Not likely. It is capital-dependent, resource-intensive (mining, manufacture, transport), destructive of habitat (hydro) and potentially very toxic (nuclear).

Can powerdown save us from climate change? Looks a lot more promising. Is there reason to believe powerdown is better suited to human quality of life than high-technology?

What do you think?

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