If the Roman Republic had understood the conditions that caused climate change, they could easily have put an end to it. All you have to do to stop climate change is to stop using fossil fuels and plant a large number of trees. Together, these actions would reduce the excess supply of manmade carbon dioxide that is currently damaging the atmosphere and causing chaos on our planet.
This idea – that an ancient civilization without electricity and without a technological-industrial complex similar to Silicon Valley could solve it – sounds like a clever idea for the sophisticated entrepreneurs and their journalistic lackeys who invest in these kinds of things Sacrosanct. In fact, the media landscape has been littered with casualty puff pieces for at least a decade, with headlines such as:
"This machine has just begun to suck CO2 from the air to save us from climate change" (Fast Company). May 201
"Start-ups who want to fight climate change while other tech companies make money" (New York Times, May 2019)
"The Swiss company is sucking carbon from the air and Wins New Means for Climate Change "(Reuters, August 2018)
" These companies are leading the fight against climate change "(CNN Business, October 2018)
" Why and how companies must now tackle climate change "(Forbes , October 2018)
The unsaid message behind these stories? Climate change is the kind of monetizable "problem" that companies can "solve" – as if it were the equivalent of overcoming a supply chain hiccup or PR crisis.
But that is not the case. Climate change is a political problem with a political solution. At its peak, the Roman Republic had a well-organized, representative government capable of carrying out large-scale public works, such as the Roman aqueducts or the extensive Roman road network that stretched across North Africa and southern Europe. If there were political will among the citizens, the republic could certainly organize itself to solve the climate crisis.
With a restructuring of society and industry we could easily do it like the Romans. However, our civilization has been collectively hypnotized by the tech industry, believing that everything can be solved by more gadgetry and more money thrown into the tech sector.
Due to the fascinating nature of the gadget manufacturers in Silicon Valley, we often can not see this when it happens in front of us. But you just have to go to other industries where Silicon Valley has innovated to see the results.
Take, for example, Juicero: a $ 400 juice squeezer that squeezes proprietary packages that can be easily wrenched out by hand, and that have no marking improvement over the millennium-old "technology" of the citrus press. What the now defunct Juicero did, however, was to make its users dependent on its absurd and wasteful subscriptions to juice packages. Google invested hundreds of millions in Juicero before going bankrupt. "Innovation" indeed.
Or you might consider another "innovation" of Silicon Valley like social media, a sophisticated digital social system whose primary function seems to be to get us excited about it. It has proven to make people more narcissistic and less happy. Now social media companies are working collectively on strategies to repair the damage.
This is how Silicon Valley fixes things, or better said, does it: First, by inventing problems, they "solve" their own. It is not a model that I would apply to the delicate issue of surviving all life on Earth.
The more pressing problem, however, is that technology simply can not solve the problems it creates . Never forget that 100 companies are responsible for 71% of all global emissions. or that technology giants are among the worst offenders when it comes to making disposable items or participating in an endless cycle of planned aging.
Recently, the consumer-oriented technology industry has become a reindeer model. In this model, you do not necessarily own devices, software, or media. They simply rent them forever from a company. Businesses prefer this model, because instead of buying something once, you pay to rent it forever – and that means far more money for them in the long run.
We will end up with a similar situation: the governments of the world will hire a group of technology giants with the carbon sequestration that we will pay forever to rent their equipment and keep things in a stable state. If they fix the problem and remove the excess carbon from the atmosphere, their services will be rendered useless – and that would certainly not please their shareholders and investors. It is better to keep the problem for as long as possible in order to keep the public sector dry for ever – ironically, to solve the problems most of the technology has caused. It's the perfect grip.
Unfortunately, the magical thinking in Silicon Valley has poisoned us so that few can see the idea of a technological solution to climate change as a farce. Capitalism treats the environment as an externality and insatiably creates waste and pollution. This is a lesson that is incompatible with the survival of life on earth.